Online Employment Scams

During these tough economic times, scam artists are taking advantage of job seekers by offering alluring opportunities via emails, websites and advertisements  – from get rich quick schemes to work from home ploys. While job postings using phrases such as “Guaranteed Job Placement” and offering inflated salaries might seem like a quick fix to one’s financial woes, don’t be fooled by these common tricks used by online scammers. Bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, it is!

While your email spam filter might save you from some employment scams, those posing as job listings or news stories won’t be easily sorted out by your spam blocker. A typical online employment scam involves a scam artist posing as a real company in order to advertise a work from home opportunity. Since the phrase “work from home” is one of the most alluring employment options, it is an incredibly popular trap used by scammers (and a sure clue to avoid the listing). Once the victim replies to the job posting, the scammer will send the “new hire” a check.  The scam artist, posing as the employer, will then require the “employee” to wire a portion of the money back to the company. However, since the initial check was a fake, the victim ends up wiring back his/her own money, which can amount to thousands of dollars.

Other online employment scams involve paying money up front for a starter kit or other materials needed in order to profit quickly. Because the scammer often poses as a legitimate company, these ploys can be tricky to spot. Last fall, Google was the subject of such a scam when news stories popped up in multiple places featuring a work from home opportunity from the leading search engine. The job promised earnings of thousands of dollars while working from home with no experience required (another tip off that the offer was a scam). In exchange for this employment opportunity, participants simply had to purchase a starter kit from Google that cost $2 for shipping and handling. While the news articles and accompanying company logo looked legitimate, those who fell for the scam were duped into $80/month charges on their credit cards.

Common warning flags in postings for possible scams include: Inflated wages, vague wording or generic job openings, free training, guaranteed placement, no special skills or experience required, P.O. Box or out-of-state address, and job listings for government, civil service and overseas positions.  You should also avoid ever giving out personal information, such as your mother’s maiden name and social security number, when applying for a position. Reputable companies will never ask for this information during the application process.

If you’re unsure about a position, do a bit a research in order to verify the validity of the job position and never send money in advance. Or, use the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to check if a business is legitimate or if it has any complaints against it. If you are the victim of an online employment scam, you should report the crime to The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

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