Avoid Internet Job Scams
Category: Applying For Jobs
With unemployment at its highest rate since the early 1980s, record numbers of people are desperately searching for work. The Internet is the medium most job seekers turn to today--as do con artists, who use the Internet to prey on the unsuspecting. In today\'s economy, scam employment has become one of the fastest growing categories of fraud.
Fraud practitioners advertise on legitimate job-placement sites and message boards, or they send \"job offers\" by email. One typical guise is an international company that needs to hire U.S. citizens as agents to perform certain services. The scam is simple: the lure of a home-based job that requires very little work and pays big dividends draws victims, who end up losing money and, in many cases, becoming victims of identity theft (and sometimes even unwilling accomplices to crime).
Beware of requests to wire money
The too-good-to-be-true positions include payroll clerks, customer-service representatives, shipping managers, mystery shoppers, and craft assemblers--all promising hefty salaries, benefits, and huge commissions. The company obtains personal and banking information from the new hire, and checks are sent with instructions to wire a portion of the funds to a third party to cover expenses. In some cases, packages immediately arrive with instructions on re-shipping merchandise to international destinations. Once the checks are deposited and the packages are shipped, the dream job quickly becomes a nightmare. The checks the victims deposited are fake. The duped \"employees\" lose the money they wired and are often susceptible to theft and identity theft. And in many cases, they have also unknowingly re-packaged and shipped stolen merchandise, often purchased with stolen credit card information.
Beware of unsolicited emails
Spam has become the advertising tool of choice for many of the con artists. AIS Media, an Atlanta-based company that monitors Internet fraud, reports a dramatic increase in these scam emails--unsolicited emails featuring subject lines such as \"Immediate Placement,\" \"We Received Your Resume,\" \"Business Request,\" and \"We\'re Pleased to Offer You a Job.\" Thomas Harpointner, CEO of AIS Media, says, \"Many of these scams are just newer twists on an old fraud. ... The scammers appeal to the desperation of the unemployed, who in many cases have been out of work for more than six months.\"
Beware of these red flags
Harpointner warns that if the posting appears too good to be true, it probably is. \"Desperation should not cloud common sense,\" he says. \"As job seekers scour the Internet and their email inboxes anxiously looking for ways to generate much-needed income, they should always maintain a wary eye for scams. Avoid responding to emails from unknown sources, and take the time to go online to research the company to see if credible information is available from legitimate news agencies. It should be obvious that companies are not paying big money for someone to do basically nothing from home. Red flags for job seekers include requests for personal information like social security numbers and mother\'s maiden names, and for cash payments from the applicant during an application process.\"
The FTC and the recruiting industry crack down
The Internet scams have caught the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which launched a crackdown on con artists who prey on unemployed Americans. In \"Operation Bottom Dollar,\" the FTC--in cooperation with other federal agencies such as the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service--has begun targeting individuals and groups marketing deceptive and illegal jobs, as well as work-at-home and other Internet scams.
Con artists also place bogus employment ads on legitimate Internet job-placement sites, and the recruitment industry has stepped up its fight against them. Job portals and search engines have become proactive in attempting to reduce these scams by entering into partnerships to display FTC consumer information that educates job seekers about job scams. Recruiting sites, message boards, and other Internet services are quick to remove the scams as they are discovered, but with the fast pace of the Internet, the ads are posted as quickly as they are taken down.
Job seekers\' caution and prudence are still the primary defenses against job scams.
Rick Ellis has an MBA in e-commerce and is AIS Media\'s director of channel partner development. AIS Media is an Atlanta-based Internet interactive company dedicated to stamping out Internet scams and fraud.