Protect Yourself from Job Scams

Certain criminals try to exploit anxious job seekers. Don’t fall for their ploys.

Protect Yourself from Job Scams

By Mark Swartz


Scam artists prey on vulnerable people. Job seekers who might be financially stressed, or just very eager for work, are prime targets.

These swindles have evolved over the years. Criminals are using more sophisticated methods. Aided by technology most of these ruses begin online.

 A few of the older work-at-home rip-offs are still around. Now there are new ones to be watchful for too.


Mystery Shopper Scam

How fun it would be getting paid to go out and buy stuff! All you’d have to do after is report on the experience. Mystery shoppers employed by legitimate companies do this for real, though the job is more involved.

Here’s how this particular con works. You see an ad in the online classifieds, sometimes even online, or you get a text for a Mystery Shopper. The job description sound easy and lucrative.

The "employer" then sends you a letter with shopping tasks to be completed at a specific store. They enclose a cheque with the letter, to assist you (the "employee") in purchasing goods there.

You’re instructed to deposit the cheque and keep a portion as your payment. With the remaining funds you’re to send a wire at a money service business like to test the company's procedure and customer service skills. Sounding fishy yet?

Eventually the cheque is returned as counterfeit. But you’re stuck paying back the funds that you’d wired. That amount often ranges from $900 to $1,500. Ouch.


Car Wrapping Scam

Would you like $300 to $500 per week for wrapping your vehicle with a "company" logo? What could be simpler!

The rip-off happens as follows. You respond and they send you an email link. There are instructions and a contract there. The name of a well-known company may even be provided, to make it sound genuine.

A cheque arrives by mail. You’re told to deposit it and withdraw a portion of the funds, for deposit into a bank account they stipulate. That portion is supposedly to pay a graphics company or other fees. Guess what: that cheque is fake. Unfortunately you’re responsible for any funds withdrawn.


Reshipping scams

Scammers post work-at-home jobs advertising for "merchandising manager" or "package processing assistant." Duties include receiving packages and mailing them to a foreign address on behalf of a client. Postage-paid mailing labels are provided via email.

Accept the offer and you'll receive packages containing one of two things: packets of phony cheques, or merchandise bought with stolen credit cards.

Be thankful that the parcels don’t contain drugs or firearms. That aside you’ll still be conducting illegal transactions.


Related Work Scams

Seen an ad in the classifieds lately for "financial agent" or "client manager"? What about one for “debt collection”. Chances are if it’s a work-from-home position, and doesn’t provide a regular salary, a rip-off could be involved. You’d get compensated with worthless cheques or fake wire transfers.

Another trick is to have you pay upfront for some sort of work item. That could include expensive tools for getting the job done, or for a supply of goods that you’re expected to resell. The tools scam is most likely illegal. The goods purchase may be a form of multi-level marketing (which may not be unlawful, but in any case is speculative self-employment, not a job).


Protect Yourself

Easy money is hard to come by. So be alert for signs the offering is fraudulent. If you can, pay an unannounced visit to the company’s office. Is it an actual operation? Or ask your contacts if they’ve ever heard of the employer.

Check as well with the The Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus for registered complaints. Plus type the company name with the word “scam” beside it into a search engine. See if people have posted grievances. Also click over to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

The Latin phrase caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies here. If a work or home business opportunity sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.