Online Job Scam: Methodology

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The World Privacy Forum began study of online job scams in February2003.

1. Researchers did a background material search for information and collected and read background material on how job scams operated from sources such as newspapers, online news sites, law reviews, consumer protection agencies, the BBB, the FTC, and the U.S. Postal Inspector General.

2. A search for open fraud cases was conducted nationwide.

3. Twenty job sites that varied in size and focus were selected as a first study group.

4. A preliminary study was conducted.

a. Suspicious ads were collected and studied.

b. After suspicious ads were seen on multiple sites, researchers applied to the job ad to confirm whether or not it was a scam.

c. If the job came back with a request for funds, the job was concluded to be a scam.

5. Researchers chose a two-phase study model. Phase one was to study a single scam longitudinally. Phase two was to study the overall incidence of fraud across multiple sites in terms of percentages and type.

6. Phase one began in November 2003. A group of known scams were considered.

7. Researchers selected a particularly widespread scam to track.

a. Fifteen search engines were used methodically to search for multiple linguistic patterns found in the target ad/scam.

b. Researchers used company names, email addresses, contact names, and phone numbers found in the ads to search for the ad via search engines.

c. A group of control job sites were also checked regularly for incidences of the ad being posted.

i. If the ad was found “live” researchers applied to the ad under multiple names.

ii. If the ad was found after the fact, researchers documented the ad via cache and screen captures for documentation that it was posted.

iii. Contracts and emails resulting from job applications were documented and compared.

d. When researchers found incidents of the job ad being reposted “live,” those incidents were documented then reported to the job site.

8. Victims of the tracked scam were interviewed and asked to send documentation of applying to the job and so forth.

9. Company names were checked against legitimate company names.

10. Ads were compared for similarities in language, email exchanges, employment contract details, and other details.

11. A timeline was constructed of all documented ads that were strongly linked by enough factors to create reasonable certitude of it being part of the same scam “string.”



Roadmap: A Year in the Life of an Online Job Scam – A Longitudinal Study: X. Methodology


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