As the economic crisis deepens and more jobs are lost, people are increasingly falling victim to job scams while trying to find their way back into the workforce. The aftermath is typically many times worse than simply being jobless. Serious consequences; including complete financial ruin and even criminal charges await many of the victims.
It can be difficult to identify scams working the job angle and they are becoming even harder to differentiate from genuine employment opportunities. In order to stay safe, you need to make yourself aware of the variety of scams going on out there. Here are three common job scams to familiarize yourself with:
The reshipping swindle usually starts with an offer of employment, most often via a job advert on sites such as craigslist or an unsolicited e-mail. The “employer” gains the victim’s trust by offering fake contracts and official looking documentation to make their company and business dealings appear genuine. The job offered surely sounds simple enough: reship packages sent to your home.
Unfortunately, these packages are ordered by the scammer from a variety of retailers with stolen credit card and/or bank account information. So, reshipping these packages by the victim makes them guilty of dealing in stolen property. The reshipping scam usually results in a visit from law enforcement officers since all of the return addresses and shipping receipts lead directly back to the victim.
2. Check Cashing Job Scam
The check cashing job scam is one of the many advance-fee fraud variants. The scammer will attempt to convince the victim that they are entering into a legitimate business arrangement, through the use of official documents such as legal contracts, credit letters, payment schedules and bank drafts. Victims are told that a significant sum of money will be transferred to them, which they must then return, but in the process they will be allowed to keep a percentage, which is what entices them into agreeing to cash the checks in the first place.
Checks, money orders; and in rare cases, wire deposits are received by the victim for “processing.” They cash them, and then they return the funds to the scammers (typically via Western Union or MoneyGram), minus the percentage which they keep for themselves. Within a few weeks, the victim’s bank determines that the deposit was fraudulent and the victim then becomes liable for all the missing funds.
This scam is especially effective since most people think that a check has “cleared” once the waiting period between a deposit and the availability of funds is over. This is simply not the case. Banks in the United States are forced by the Expedited Funds Availability Act to make funds available to customers within an allotted amount of time – dependent on a handful of variables.
3. Envelope Stuffing Scams
Envelope Stuffing is a con in that it is just one person ripping off another. Basically this scam works by sending a “registration fee” to get the information required to start the job. After this fee has been received by the “employer”, the victim is asked to post an advert in their local paper or online and usually the advert will follow the exact same format as the one that they originally responded to. When they receive responses to their advert, the victim will “stuff an envelope” with instructions on getting started and information on where to send the registration fee and mail it to the applicant. This first victim will make money from however many “registration fees” they receive in response to their advert and so the cycle of deceit will continue.
Don’t Be a Sucker
To avoid setting yourself up for a big letdown, you should consider the following tips when looking into job offers:
- Remain cautious, even when a company you believe to be well known, approaches you via e-mail, many scams nowadays are carried out by scammers operating under the guise of reputable companies.
- Stay away from employment opportunities that are described with any of the following phrases: money transfers, wiring funds, package forwarding, reshipping. Jobs described with such wording should make alarm bells ring in your head.
- Your personal financial information should always remain personal and you should never give it to anyone. Legitimate companies will only request your bank details after you have joined the company and only for the purposes of being paid your wages via direct deposit.
- Never fax copies of your ID or Social Security number to anyone you have never met. This information can obviously be used to obtain credit and fake IDs.
- Never ever, ever transfer or send money from any of your personal accounts in relation to a job advert or on behalf of a new “employer”. Also, you should remain apprehensive if you are ever requested to “wire” money to an employer. No legitimate job requires you to make money transfers; the money would always be withdrawn from the employer’s business bank account, never yours.
- If you have questions or are suspicious of the legitimacy of a job advertisement or listing, please contact your relevant state or local consumer agency or the Federal Trade Commission.
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