I get a lot of flack for being paranoid, but sometimes it works out in my favor – like this weekend, where the wife almost got scammed out of a serious amount of cash.
She received a job offer this past Friday that seemed almost too good to be true: a part-time telecommute job as a payroll officer for what was supposedly a major international company. Thrilled at the opportunity to work from home and still bring in what would have been a nice bit of extra change, she jumped at the chance and began the interview process. However, as the weekend went on things began to unravel with this job offer to the point where it was revealed to us to be, alas, utter bullshit.
Apparently this is one of the newer employment scams making the rounds: you get what looks like a very attractive job offer after a quite grueling application and interview process, but it’s actually some non-native English speaker using his 10-year-old laptop to cut and paste interview questions. You’ll know this because if you go off-script this articulate and precise interviewer suddenly becomes stilted and bizarre. Of course it doesn’t help when you ask him questions like “how come the website you linked to me in your cover letter doesn’t actually exist?”
That was definitely the first red flag that was raised this weekend: the “Human Resources Department” for this supposedly major firm told my wife to go to a website with a .org extension to learn more information, yet it turned out to be a dead link. First off, a commercial organization would almost exclusively use a .com suffix, which got me immediately suspicious – and then when I ran a who.is check on the website to see who had registered it, it did not come back with the name of the company she was supposedly interviewing with, and this sent my Bullshit Meter into the red.
Finally, my wife received a follow-up letter that had the address of this company. Since my paranoid mind was already in overdrive at this point, I looked it up in Google Maps and found out that it wasn’t the corporate headquarters of a major multinational firm – instead it was a goddamn parking lot. Finally, the rest of the letter they had sent my wife was so filled with spelling errors that it blatantly clear that there was something completely and totally amiss (note to all you scammers out there: don’t misspell “Anti-Discrimination” if you’re trying to fool people).
At this point not even my wife’s enthusiasm at possibly finding an excellent job could misdirect her from the awful fact that this had to be a setup. A quick Google search revealed it to be the truth, and sadly this “fantastic career opportunity” turned out to be a very complex money laundering scheme that’s designed to leave the mark in trouble with the law. The way it works is the victim of the scam is approached with a job offer and is then told that the position requires an outlay of cash to buy something, such as accounting software (as it was in this case). If my wife had gone through with it, she would have been told to open a checking account with a specific bank, which the scammers would then deposit a large amount of (stolen) money in there for her to make the purchase; she would send the cash to the “vendor” via MoneyGram or something like that, and then these people would just disappear. Meanwhile once the bank traces the stolen money to the victim’s account, they’re the ones left liable for repaying it because there’s no way to trace cash transfers in or out.
It’s an ingenious little scam, but it’s also nefarious in that it ruins people financially and gets them in trouble with the law. On top of that, it’s incredibly emotionally damaging as well, and the heartbreak my wife had to face after learning that it was indeed a scam made me want to find the bastards that did this and choke the living shit out of them. However, the good news is that not only did we figure it out in time and avoid being taken, we also tipped off the online job website that these bastards found us through – and hopefully they’ll either catch them or at least ban them and prevent them from trying to victimize anyone else in the future.
Let that be a lesson to you, folks: if it sounds almost too good to be true, it just might be. Embrace your inner paranoiac and stay safe.