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Job Offer Scams — A New Trend in Fraud and Identity Theft

A new scam is circulating through free email carriers these days. With unemployment rates as high as 14% in some states, the out of work professional becomes perfect bait for a new identity theft scheme that becomes the perfect nightmare.Job Offer Scam

As one economic consultant stated in a recent article, Despite a national unemployment rate of 8.9%, more people are out of work today than at this time in 2010. This sets a stage for scam artists to con people out of personal information when they are think they are getting a job rather than becoming a victim of identity theft or a phishing scam.

 

Recently, I received three scams and out of curiosity allowed myself to interview for a position, to see what it was. Within the first few minutes the red flags waved and I knew it was a scam. But to share the experience I followed through for a while to see just what would happen.

 

Job Offer / Dear Applicant

 

The subject of the email reads JOB OFFER or DEAR APPLICANT. The offers appear genuine. Coming from corporations like Pfizer or AEG, they refer to your resume and cover letter submission for a posted job. If a link appears, clicking it leads to a real website for a recruiting site or job board listing corporations looking for new hires. It all looks legitimate.

 

You’re Qualified

 

The teaser is reading “You’re qualified” for a position, especially if you’ve been unemployed for a prolonged period. HR has reviewed your resume, scheduled an interview, and included  your interviewer’s name and email address. You simply set up an email account with “mail.yahoo.com” or “messenger.yahoo.com”, or related services through other free carriers. You’re given an established interview time and all you have to do is show up online at that time. Easy.

 

Beware the Interview

 

When your interviewer introduces herself (or himself) at the assigned time, a picture appears alongside the chat box with the interviewer’s name. As an HR Consultant with a national corporation, you’re told that the company is offering remote positions to help reduce the high unemployment throughout the company. A noble gesture for a company life Pfizer. But when the questions came, the red flags started flying.

 

Should This Question Be Asked?

 

The first red flag came when the interviewer asked my age and later the year I received my first degree, also age-related. Age-related questions can be considered discriminatory and should raise red flags in your mind. In 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received over 99,945 complaints; 23.5% related to age-discrimination. Age questions violate various laws; an interviewer should ask such questions only to ensure you can do the job. You can refuse to answer them or you may choose to give only your age. Giving your birthday is a perfect response for identity thieves.

 

If you want to know what questions are appropriate for an interview, use your search engine for “age related interview questions” and you’ll find several articles available.

 

Do Your Homework

 

My interview was for a Data Analyst/Accounting/Customer Service position through Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company. While I interviewed, I brought up Pfizer’s website and browsed the Careers tab. The position for which I supposedly was interviewing didn’t exist, nor did the website give any information about offering opportunities for remote positions to ease unemployment. Another red flag. So I began asking questions too.

 

Ask Questions

 

The interviewer said a new location was under construction in my area and once completed I would move to the office site. When I asked the specific address, the interviewer ignored my question. Red flag #3.

 

I would earn $27/hr for training, then $20/hr for the position moving forward. When asked why training pay as higher, I got no response. Red flag #4.

 

After a few minutes, the interviewer said, “You’re hired,” I would earn $27/hr, receive all benefits, would be paid bi-weekly and could receive my paycheck via Check or Direct Deposit. Red flag #5. Direct Deposit meant giving my financial information via email, a practice never recommended due to security issues.

 

Red flag #6 came when told I would receive an HP laptop sent to me to complete my new position as an accounting / financial data entry clerk. Prior to receiving the laptop I had to purchase specific software that I must acquire through their private vendor for $350. I would provide my financial information, they would purchase the software and I would get the laptop. When I asked the name of the private vendor, I got no answer.

 

Report Scams

 

At this point, I personally called Pfizer’s Contact number from its website. After explaining what I was doing, I was immediately connected to Zack in their Security Department. He laughed when I mentioned the situation. “It’s a scam,” he chuckled.  I’d known it earlier, I ended my interview without further conversation.

 

Reporting such scams can protect you if you’ve inadvertently provided too much data that could lead to identity theft. File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov. IC3 is a partnership between the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center. If you did provide too much information, contact your local financial institution and take early steps to prevention.  You can read about identity theft from one of my earlier posts, Identity Theft – Keep Your Name to Yourself.

 

Employers Connect through Email

 

Today’s employers use email to connect with applicants. However, those emails will reveal the employer’s name, address and the HR contact’s name, email address and other valid information. If in doubt about the legitimacy of the email, contact the company by phone to verify.

 

Don’t get caught in the scam. Never provide your birthdate, banking information, credit card or debit card information or social security number via email. Always find the website and call the HR department to verify first. Be cautious. Protecting yourself against such job offer scams and identity theft will be the difference between gaining a paycheck and living the nightmare of identity theft as someone uses your personal information for a vacation in Belize.

37 Responses to “Job Offer Scams — A New Trend in Fraud and Identity Theft”

  1. Vonnie March 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Good info, Linda. It’s scary how these creeps can be so enterprising about stealing your identity. If they would only use their smarts for something good, eh?

    • Linda A. Hamilton March 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      I agree Vonnie. In researching this one, it’s relatively new because I couldn’t find anything about this particular type. Other scams come via email as email requests from companies you’ve worked with who request payments or such, include logos and such, and you must stop and think NOT to reply to them. I’ve many clients who would fall prey to this type of scam and result with a nightmare.
      Thanks for commenting.

  2. Amina May 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Thank you very much Linda, you have saved me from making that 375 USD payment via western union. But unfortunately i gave too much info away. I will have to report the incident as you have suggested.

    Thank you once again and keep up the good writing.

    Amina

    • Linda A. Hamilton May 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      Amina: I’m so glad you were able to recognize the scam before making the monetary investment, but am sorry you didn’t realize what was happening before giving out too much information. Still, by sharing your catch you may help others recognize this before it’s too late.
      By all means pursue this by reporting it to the FTC and by notifying your credit card companies, credit agencies, and financial institutions of possible identity theft or fraud. Early detection by awareness is the best protection/prevention.

      Good luck and I sincerely hope you’ve caught it early to prevent any financial loss through fraud or theft.

      Best regards,

      Linda

      • George July 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

        Thanks Linda, I gave my name, email address and city.. I have no idea why???

  3. Donna Tuman May 24, 2012 at 5:35 am #

    Thank you for the info LInda, I too did not believe it but I played the game I received an email about 4 seperate job offers from 4 different yahoo messenger names and I played the game well. When told about the software I stated I had no money and they said they would send me a check and of course if I did get a check I was going to go to a bank and have it checked out and maybe even run it through even it took a couple of weeks just to see what happens.

    • Linda A. Hamilton May 24, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      Donna: I’m so glad it was helpful for you. I met someone the other day who would have responded and sent money to another scam if she hadn’t read about such scams from online commentaries. It saved her thousands. These scammers are getting clever and it is troublesome. I’ve received two additional types of scams in the past two weeks, which I’ve deleted.
      Let’s continue to spread the word about such scams so others don’t learn the hard way and lose their identity and hard-earned money in such a frustrating way.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Tpettit09 July 11, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    This is a GREAT help. I just “finished” and interview about a data entry job with AEG however bacame sceptical when they said they would send me a check to purchase the necessary software through their PRIVATE VENDOR. I did not ask very many questions just answered questions they asked. I had never EVER had any interview via yahoo messenger so this was my first red flag. Second, she advised i would be working from home and be placed into the office once everything had been set up in my ARIZONA area. She said i was hired and would be making 25/hr for the possition and 15/hr for training. Stated i would need to log in and contact her at 8am tomorrow morning to be connected to my supervisor who will email me the HR documents and i would need to return via fax and stated i would not be working as and INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, therefore taxes would be deducted which would involve me giving them personal tax information. I DID however, fall into the age trap and gave my age and Birthdate. Should i be worried?

    • Linda Hamilton July 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

      Hi Tpettit09,

      Your experience is exactly what I encountered and yes, this is a scam. If you gave your birthdate, I would take immediate action to contact you bank and alert them to this incident. Their fraud department can begin monitoring your credit cards for fraudulent activity. What might happen is the scammers will create a phony ID and credit card using your account information, then have a great time spending your money. You may need to close your current bank account and open a new one with a different number to protect yourself. Discuss that with you bank directly, don’t take any phone calls on this.

      I would also contact all three credit agencies: Transunion, Equifax and Experian and put an alert on your credit information for possible fraud activity. It could happen within weeks or months, but if you gave your birthdate they have that info and it may come back at you.

      Then go to the ftc.gov website to place a complaint. The more alerts that are reported, the more the FTC will take action.

      Glad this blog was helpful to alert you to what was happening. Spread the news to prevent others from getting scammed. Working together we can spread the awareness.

      Good luck!

      Linda

    • Linda A. Hamilton July 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

      Hi Tpettit09,

      Your experience is exactly what I encountered and yes, this is a scam. If you gave your birthdate, I would take immediate action to contact you bank and alert them to this incident. Their fraud department can begin monitoring your credit cards for fraudulent activity. What might happen is the scammers will create a phony ID and credit card using your account information, then have a great time spending your money. You may need to close your current bank account and open a new one with a different number to protect yourself. Discuss that with you bank directly, don’t take any phone calls on this.

      I would also contact all three credit agencies: Transunion, Equifax and Experian and put an alert on your credit information for possible fraud activity. It could happen within weeks or months, but if you gave your birthdate they have that info and it may come back at you.

      Then go to the ftc.gov website to place a complaint. The more alerts that are reported, the more the FTC will take action.

      Glad this blog was helpful to alert you to what was happening. Spread the news to prevent others from getting scammed. Working together we can spread the awareness.

      Good luck!

      Linda

  5. LC August 7, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    OMG I am glad I found this…I put my Resume up on a website and got an email for AEG also just like the person below…I thought it sounded too good to be true so I was researching it before I responded…Glad I found this page…Thanks! Thanks for the tips as well to know what to look for to see if it is legit

    • Linda A. Hamilton August 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Hi LC,
      Yes, these scams continue to occur and while our national unemployment rate remains unchanged, more and more people are falling prey to these unethical scams. I’m glad you stopped and researched the email before getting in too deep.

      Check out Lifelock as a way to overcome any identity theft issues and provide protection from future attacks. I know they are great professionals to help ease such scares.

  6. NANCY J September 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    I just got an email for a company named Satellite healthcare. Its a real company but i called them and they said that dont conduct interviews via yahoo messenger! They will try to send you a check to deposit in youre chk account in order to get your bank informaation…..DONT DO IT!!!!! BEWARE PPL!

    • Linda A. Hamilton September 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your success, Nancy! I’m so glad you caught this and called the company before falling prey to the scam. In our current economy it pays to be on top of your job searches and know how to ensure it’s a legitimate job offer and not a scam.

      Your post may help others from getting scammed. Thanks again for posting your comment.

  7. Venessa September 29, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    Wow, thank you so much for this post. I applied around midnight last nitoght and received an email at 3:00am for an instant messenger interview! Really? This was the first red flag. Then I check for company history to no avail. Lastly, I check Facebook and received a friend request from Nigeria! Finding this site confirmed my suspicions, so thank you and please beware.

    • Linda A. Hamilton October 10, 2012 at 12:30 am #

      Venessa,
      So glad you were able to catch this before it caught you off guard and sucked you in. I received a call not long ago from someone who was just reading this post and informed me that he’d fallen prey to a phishing scam, sending thousands overseas to someone. I told him to immediately contact his bank and explain the issue. He succumbed before he was aware of the dangers. I’m glad this post was able to help you toward some due diligence that saved you from lots of stress. Please feel free to pass along your information to others. I’m hearing more and more that these scams are increasing. Congrats on beating it!

  8. DVR October 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    I just saw this. Really helpful! The AEG smelled fishy to me. I asked te lady that interviewed me if it was a fraud and she said “no, that I can trust their company”. She asked for my address and age, name. Should I be worried? I did not give my social security information or bank information.

    • Linda A. Hamilton October 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      I’m glad that this post was helpful to you. It appears these scams are popping up more and more than earlier.

      To be safe, I would alert the three credit bureaus and password protect your accounts. This is extra assurance, but it will be helpful. I read you screen shots and yes, you were totally scammed based on the replies you received. As long as you didn’t provide your SS# and Bank Info you’re okay. But I would contact your bank tomorrow and discuss the situation and options they might suggest.
      Please share your experience with your friends and anyone looking for work. These are becoming more recurrent and any and all help to prevent ID theft is helpful.

  9. Tiffany October 22, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Thank You so much for this! I just got done with an “interview” with AEG representative, claiming that it was legit. I was iffy so I decided to do some research before really continuing with them. They seemed so real though. But after looking at AEG-Jobs, they clearly had a label saying they don’t conduct interviews online. Thank You.

    • Linda A. Hamilton October 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      HI Tiffany,
      So glad you did some due diligence and saved yourself a lot of grief. I’ve noticed since this has been posted a number of companies are now listing they don’t conduct online interviews, which hopefully will thwart more job interview scams such as this. Such a brief few moments can save you from a lifetime nightmare.
      Do you recommend any other ways people can safeguard themselves from such scams?

  10. Tamara Ruiter November 15, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    WOW, so glad I researched this scam. I just had my interview with a woman supposedly from AEG and when I went to the website there was no way to contact anyone regarding the onoine data entry position. I found the job on http://www.odesk.com JOB SEEKERS BEWARE!

    • Zizi December 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      I am also a victim of this AEG ltd too. I found the job on elance.com I was sent a check of $2765 to purchase supplies. the bank told me it a fraud check. Please when sent that kind of check pls show a banker before anything. they will verify if it real or not. people are wicked…be careful! I called the real AEG and I was told that those people are fraud and they have already filed a complaint with their sheriff.

  11. Maurizio Rosas Dominguez January 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Jesus Christ! These guys ALMOST got me this morning. Like some of the earlier posts, I went along with most of their interview until they asked for my banking information. That seemed REALLY odd to me; I avoided the question by saying I was switching banks. Then they said they’d be sending a check to me to purchase office equipment through their vendor, but that they needed my address, e-mail, phone number, etc. I was ABOUT to mention them too, but thought to ask if that was really all that was needed, and asked if there was any paperwork that I had to complete. Got no response whatsoever. Luckily the only thing I mentioned was my name. Don’t need to be falling for THAT one again!

    • Linda A. Hamilton February 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      I’m glad you caught yourself early Maurizio. This scam continues and I’ve begun to get even more emails from similar job scams. It’s never ending.

      Feel free to send your friends the URL for this blog post so they see, read and understand it. I’ve received many calls and private emails from people who have fallen prey to these scams and are embarrassed and face huge financial difficulties. The more we can spread the word to others the better the employment opportunities will be bring success and financial nightmares.

  12. chrisg12887@gmail.com February 12, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    So glad I cam across this website! I was just in that interview via yahoo messenger with AEG!! I knew at first it was too good to be true but for some reason I still continued with it. I even told her I hope this is a real job with real income, she said nothing so I knew it was a scam. I only gave her my name, age and location so I hope they can’t do anything with that information. This is truly sad to know that there are people out there scamming others who are vulnerable.

    • Linda A. Hamilton February 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      Hi Chris,
      Yes, these scams are truly slick. I’m glad you caught it before it evolved into something of a nightmare. And thanks for sharing your comments. Others will benefit from your comments and awareness.

  13. Fay Sexton February 14, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I heard from them too.

  14. Mélanie Hope February 19, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    It was the atrocious grammar and spelling in the invite that immediately tipped me off! Your article allayed my fears that I wasn’t being a snob. :)

    • Linda A. Hamilton February 19, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      Hi Melanie,
      You would think that the scammers would provide a more professional presentation, yet people still fall for the trap. I’m glad you found something to support your wisdom that you weren’t being a snob. Share the news with others.

      Even I received a call this morning from a scam group about computer upgrades and activity, to which I promptly put a stop to. Stay safe!

  15. Deanna Macaluso March 28, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    I too got this scam today. Though he did not ask my age he asked when I graduated from College I guess getting my age that way. Have they been known to hack your computer while your online with them? I have very little for these people to go after. I have no CC and I closed my bank accounts. one thing I should have checked was the persons yahoo profile right from the beginning When I checked towards the end of session it did not exist

    • Linda A. Hamilton March 30, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

      If you have a good internet security system you likely didn’t get hacked. If you aren’t sure of your security protection, Microsoft Security Essentials is recommended by several IT experts I know. You can get a free download from the Microsoft website.

      Check with your bank about extra security precautions and you should be fine. Since you only provided your college grad date that may not realistically reveal your age. Many people are returning to school later these days, so that date no longer is valid for a true age determinate.

      These scams continue. I recently received one and posted a short blog on my Facebook page about it. Glad you figured it out. Saved you a lot of headaches for the future.

  16. disqus_vg3F4TM0Uz April 8, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    I initially fell for this scam when I applied for a data entry job through Elance. I went through the entire interview process on yahoo messenger up until the point where they hit me with “deposit our check, send us the deposit slip receipt and purchase this software from our client approved vendor.” I had only given them my name, address and cell phone number – so no harm done.
    Then I did some research on this scam and found out some of the other fake names and emails they were using and I laid in wait. Finally, today I caught one of them on line in yahoo messenger and pretended that I was there for the interview.
    I let the idiot go through the entire process before I zinged ‘em. At the end of the interview, after I was “hired”, I let her know that I knew it was a scam from the beginning and wanted her to know what it felt like to waste someone’s time! REVENGE IS SWEET!
    By the way, they have added another incentive – they offer to send you a brand new laptop. I really had them scratching their heads when I asked why their third party vendor couldn’t just load all of the software on the laptop before it was shipped? They had no reply – LOL!
    And like the other posts, the scam is quite evident by the atrocious grammar, sentence structure and punctuation.

  17. Paula November 13, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    I just went through the interview process with a company called Data Entry Solutions. I had sent my resume online using a job listing website. They asked my name, age, gender and location. Which I told them, assuming that was normal since it is on my resume. I started researching while in the interview, the grammar and spelling were atrocious and the phone number on the website they sent was fake. I confronted the interviewer and was told I was an idiot. I am now really concerned about the information they have from me on my resume. Could they hack my computer or my identity with this information?

    • Linda A. Hamilton November 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

      Paula,
      Many of these types of scams are used to gather personal data through social engineering, i.e. they ask personal questions to get you to divulge information they can use for other purposes. They might be able to create a fake credit card using your name and someone else’s debit card information, which is fraud. Unless you provided your birth date and credit card or bank account information, they likely won’t be able to do identity theft on you. They could, however, use your name and obtained information to gain access to additional information using social engineering to access your bank account, etc. It’s always wise to put a password on your bank accounts and credit information to prevent fraudulent activity against those accounts.

      It doesn’t sound like you gave enough information for them to hack your email, and that’s usually done by someone who previously worked for you or for the company that is hacked. Inside information and back doors are always concerns for hacking.

      One way to ensure these interviews are legitimate is to check the originator’s website through another tab while you’re interviewing. You may find then that this is a scam, and you can turn the tables by gathering as much data on them as possible. It’s worked. Now that you’re aware you’ll be more savvy to these frauds and likely not get caught again. Sorry you had such an experience, share your experience with others to prevent additional such fraud.

      Linda

  18. Kerry January 28, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    I just received an interview offer from NTS Chicago. I applied on Indeed. They addressed me as Dear Applicant and instructed me to set up a yahoo account and add them so I could be interviewed. Flags went up at once! There was no contact information included and it mentioned free stuff. It was just very unprofessional. I did my research. There is a nation tax search in Chicago and on indeed but it is not associated with NTS and I could not find anything about them. I’m not going anywhere near these people. Gosh, job hunting is hard enough without stuff like this to worry about

    • Linda A. Hamilton February 2, 2014 at 2:34 am #

      Kerry,
      I’m so glad you did your research on the company when the red flags went off. Yes, these scams are still going and have reached the job boards like Indeed.com. Excellent job in catching it early, doing your due diligence, and not getting hooked to send personal information. Did you call Nation Tax Search in Chicago and let them know about the scam? If you didn’t you might want to. They may be aware, but giving them a heads-on about the company starting in Indeed.com could help catch whoever’s behind it.

  19. Linda A. Hamilton March 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    Hi Deanna,
    I’m glad you realized not to give out your banking information or birthday. Identity theft is on the rise based on the current economy and trends. These social engineers gather bits and pieces of information from people like you to create a profile that they then turn into false identities. Demian M. from Acadia Consulting Group recently said that such fraud has skyrocketed of late. He also works with security at a local grocery store saying credit card theft has risen where a wallet may be stolen out of someone’s grocery cart and within minutes the thieves are purchasing products at nearby stores.

    For your issue, contact your bank and connect with the credit card agencies. Have them flag your accounts to ensure addresses aren’t changed so your mail is re-directed. Monitor your mail to ensure you receive those bills you always need. Social engineers use other people’s addresses a lot, but the biggest concern is the SS#, birthdate and banking and credit info. I’d monitor both your business and personal addresses since you appear self-employed.

    Good luck! Contact companies like Lifelock at http://www.lifelock.com, if you want additional security protection.

    Linda

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