Consumer Tips: Critical Tips For Job Seekers to Avoid Job Scams

 

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If you can can remember the four tips below, you will help protect yourself from falling prey to payment forwarding scams. (A payment forwarding scam is where a con artist poses as an employer and tricks you into working as an “accountant” or “finance manager.” Victims are asked to forward money from one account to another as part of their employment duties. Many times, that money is stolen. If you forward stolen money, that is a crime. This is why it is so important to avoid these types of scams.

For more on how payment forwarding scams operate, please see http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/2005/02/report-call-dont-click-why-its-smarter-to-order-federally-mandated-free-credit-reports-via-telephone-not-the-internet.)

1. Never give personal bank account, PayPal, or credit card numbers to an employer.

2. Never agree to have funds or paychecks direct deposited to any of your accounts by a new or untested employer. (See more about this below).

3. Never forward, transfer, or “wire” money to an employer. (See below).

4. Do not transfer money and retain a portion for payment.

Legitimate employers do not usually need your bank account numbers (See exception below). One of the ways a fraudulent employer will attempt to get consumers’ bank information is by stating that they will only pay via direct deposit of a paycheck. While direct deposit of a paycheck is a convenience, if that is the only option an employer offers, then you should be cautious about accepting the job unless you have carefully vetted the potential employer. Most employers will give you the option of direct deposit, but not demand that it is used. Ideally, you should wait until you have met the employer in person before agreeing to a direct deposit option. Any employer who wants your bank account information up front is an employer you should check out as carefully as possible.

Note: The U.S. government typically does require that employees agree to direct deposit. Make sure you are genuinely dealing with a government agency when conducting these interviews. Also, if you have been working for an employer for a while and you are very sure about their legitimacy, then agreeing to a direct deposit is usually fine. However, “Work from home” and telecommuting jobs are most at risk when agreeing to direct deposit, especially from brand new employers. Use caution and good sense.

Regarding payment transfers, while some jobs may require an employee to make transfers for employers, legitimate employers making this request will go to extraordinary efforts to check the job seeker prior to making the hire. This would usually involve meeting the jobseeker in person and conducting rigorous interviews. This kind of job hire would not usually be made via email or even the telephone or a single meeting. And a legitimate employer would typically ask you to make transfers from their business accounts, not your personal accounts or from PayPal. You need to draw a line and understand that transferring money for employers from your personal bank account or personal PayPal account is off-limits, period.

A. Known Red Flags

The UMAB payment forwarding scam, like many others, contained what are now becoming known as “red flags” for job scams.

Red flags that should alert you to the presence of a job scam include:

1. Request for bank account numbers.

2. Request for SSN.

3. Request to “scan the ID” of a jobseeker, for example, a drivers’ license. Scam artists will say they need to scan jobseekers’ IDs to “verify identity.” This is not a legitimate request.

4. A contact email address that is not a primary domain. For example, an employer calling itself “Omega Inc.” will have a Yahoo! email address.

5. Misspellings and grammatical mistakes in the job ad.

6. Monster.com lists descriptive words in job postings that are tip-offs to fraud. Their list includes “package-forwarding,” “money transfers,” “wiring funds,” “eBay,” and “PayPal.” WPF researchers also found that the term”Foreign Agent Agreement” often appears in contracts and emails sent to jobseekers.

Please see Appendix A in the Job Scam report for examples of what the emails and contracts for this kind of money transfer scam look like. The Job Scam Timeline has multiple examples of what the fraudulent job ads look like. To see the fake job ads, click on the links and you will see a PDF of each job ad.

B. Most Effective Steps for Victims of Job Scams

Unfortunately, not everyone will escape job fraud in time. Jobseekers who are victimized by the UMAB scam and other payment forwarding scams are advised to take the following steps.

1. Close all bank accounts at the bank where the scam took place. It is a good idea to change banks to avoid “social engineering” attempts by the con artists to fool bank workers into giving out new account information.

2. Order a credit report from all three credit bureaus every 2 to 3 months. Watch the reports for unusual activity.

3. Victims of the UMAB scam should contact their local Secret Service field agent. Secret Service handles complaints of international fraud. UMAB victims and other victims of payment forwarding scams should file a police report with local law enforcement officials as well.

4. Victims should report the company name, the job posting, and all contact names to the job sites where the scam was posted.

5. Victims should permanently close all email addresses that were associated with the job fraud.

 

Examples of What Payment Forwarding Scams Look Like in Action

These examples are from victims of the UMAB scam. These emails and contracts will help you see what kinds of things a fraudulent scammer will say.

After you have applied to a job,  you can expect to receive an email with a request for information. The following email is from the Macrocommerce Intersales version of the UMAB scam.  This email asks for bank account information, a big red flag.

A. Step One:

After replying to the job ad, an email similar to the one below was sent to victims. The following email is from the Macrocommerce Intersales version of the UMAB scam. The victim this was sent to lived in Maine at the time.

(Spelling errors left unchanged.)

Dear sir,

Please let me to introduce myself, I am James Brown, sales representative of the Macrocommerce Intersales Company based in Berlin, Germany. Our company is looking to sign a Company / Foreign Agent Agreement in order to deposit their U.S sales founds into a company / individual US bank account. Our company agrees to deposit founds into a company / individual US bank account if the company /individual agrees to accept, 5 % of these founds as payment for services. The company /individual is then responsible for wiring the remaining 95% of the founds to one or more of the three designated local distributors. The service fees associated with wiring these founds will be deducted from the 95 % sent back to the company or the company’s designated local distributor.

In order for us as a company to deposit these funds into the U.S bank account we will be needing full info of the U.S bank account as:

1-ACCOUNT HOLDER’S NAME AND ADRESS

2-ACCOUNT HOLDER’S TELEPHONE NUMBER

3-BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER

4-ROUTING NUMBER

5-THE BANK ACCOUNT ISSUER(BANK WHERE THE U.S ACCOUNT IS OPENED)

6-BANK ADRESS

7-BANK TELEPHONE NUMBER

If you as a manager of a company or as an individual wish to sign a Company / Foreign Agent Agreement in the condition above mentioned please contactour department in order to send more information about the Foreign Agent Agreement papers work. We look forward to you partnership. Thank you for your time and understanding.

James Brown Sales Representative

Macrocommerce Intersales Company

Oranienburger Strasse 114

10 999 Berlin

Germany

0049/16092469119

B. Step Two: Request from Con Artists for Making Transfer of Funds

The following email was sent to a Texas-based victim of the Macrocommerce Intersales version of the UMAB scam. The email tells the victim how and where to transfer the money. This email is a good example of the kinds of things a con artist will request of a victim caught in a payment forwading type of scam.

(Spelling errors left unchanged.)

From: Foreign Agent

<foreignagent@macrocommerce.org>

To: xxx

Subject: Re: Incoming wire

Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 17:02:36 -0800 (PST)

Dear sir,

As soon as the money clears cash out the money that you have recived ($9600) and go to a Western Union Office and send the money to our company distributors as follows:

Here are the names of our Company Distributors where you will wire the money to via Western Union Money Transfer.

PETER ANDERSON

Street: Lijnbaansgracht 163

Zip code: 1016 VX

City: Amsterdam

Country: Netherlands

RENY STEVENSON

Street:Oudezijds Armsteeg 12

Zip code:1012 GP

City: Amsterdam

Country: Netherlands

ERNANDO BECKER

Street:De Wittenkade 120

Zip code :1012 DW

City: Amsterdam

Country:Netherlands

From the $9600 you keep please $480 for you. The other $9120 please split them to the three Company Distributors, the fees for the western union are include to the $9120 ! After that please let us as soon as posible know the MTCN # of each transfer from each name of our Company Distributors !! I want you to send the money to Netherlands because we need to pay for a new headquarter space in Amsterdam.

Notice: Doesn’t matter what the western union says about not transfering a amount like more that 2000 us $, cause in the past some nigerian mafiosis ripp a lot of money. but we do all our busines through western union int about 150 000 US $ each week.

Hope to hear from you as soon as posible.

Thank you for your time and understanding.

C. Example of how the same job scam operates under different names

The following email came from a potential victim who replied to a job ad from Omega Inc. The contract that Omega Inc. used is exactly the same contract that Macrocommerce Intersales used, complete with misspellings and unique grammatical errors. The job ad itself was slightly different, but it had certain key similarities and the posting pattern was the same as the UMAB scam. The contract below is confirmation that the company name of Omega is related to the UMAB scam.

(Spelling errors left unchanged.)

Dear sir,

Please let me to introduce myself, I am Helmud Luigi , sales representative of the OMEGA INC based in ROMA , ITALY. Our company is looking to sign a Company / Foreign Agent Agreement in order to deposit their U.S sales founds into a company / individual US bank account. Our company agrees to deposit founds into a company / individual US bank account if the company /individual agrees to accept, 5 % of these founds as payment for services. The company /individual is then responsible for wiring the remaining 95 % of the founds to one or more of the three designated local distributors. The service fees associated with wiring these founds will be deducted from the 95 % sent back to the company or the company’s designated local distributor.

In order for us as a company to deposit these funds into the U.S bank account we will be needing full info of the U.S bank account as:

1-ACCOUNT HOLDER’S NAME AND ADRESS

2-ACCOUNT HOLDER’S TELEPHONE NUMBER

3-BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER

4-ROUTING NUMBER

5-THE BANK ACCOUNT ISSUER(BANK WHERE THE U.S ACCOUNT IS OPENED)

6-BANK ADRESS

7-BANK TELEPHONE NUMBER

If you as a manager of a company or as an individual wish to sign a Company / Foreign Agent Agreement in the condition above mentioned please contactour department in order to send more information about the Foreign Agent Agreement papers work.

We look forward to you partnership.

Thank you for your time and understanding.Helmud Luigi

Sales Representative

OMEGA INC

STAZIONE TERMINI GALLERIA CENTRALE BIN,

13/14 LATO VIA GIOLITTI

ROME

00185

ITALY

Tel: (39 ) 80060143

omega incitaly [omegaincitaly@yahoo.com]

 

Resources

The full research report on Job Scams can be found at

http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/2005/02/report-call-dont-click-why-its-smarter-to-order-federally-mandated-free-credit-reports-via-telephone-not-the-internet/

The original consumer report relating to the UMAB scam may be found at <http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/2006/06/consumer-tips-consumer-fraud-alert-bogus-job-ads-pose-potential-harm-to-consumers/> and <http://www.privacyrights.org>

FTC Help Line: Call this number to file a complaint about fraudulent jobs. (877) 382-4357.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: www.privacyrights.org

NACAA (National Association of Consumer Affairs Administrators) can help job seekers find consumer help in their region: http://www.nacaanet.org/

Credit Bureaus: Equifax: (800)-685-1111 Experian (888) 397-3742 TransUnion (800) 888-4213

 

Most recent update: July 2008. Original publication date: July 2004.