Beware of bogus classified ads
Scam ads in newspapers and online classifieds
by Editorial by Dawn Ballou, Editor, Pinedale Online!
March 23, 2008
On a regular basis we get e-mails coming in to us requesting we place a classified ad for various great job employment offers. Some of these ads are highly questionable, so we don’t accept them. We have seen some suspicious ones appear in the classified ads of our local newspapers. Because some of these ads have been linked to scams, we want to make people aware to be on the watch for them.
Typically these ads have several things in common: Only a vague description of what is being offered; a deal offers a large amount of money for very little work; only an e-mail address as a contact of the person placing the ad.
For those who are tempted to inquire about these offers, there is usually a catch to the employment deal: the job seeker must pay a certain sum of money in advance for travel to some other location, or other out-of-pocket expenses, or provide confidential information such as a Social Security number or bank account numbers as part of the application.
Job applicants may be asked to send half the cost of their airfare to the prospective employer in advance, with the explanation that the money is required to cover travel expenses or to ensure they are serious applicants, with the assurance the money will be reimbursed. The scam is unveiled after the money is sent, and the applicant finds the interview has been cancelled, the money never refunded, and their contact person is long gone.
Here are some of the ad requests that have come in to us recently:
- Sole Representative/Cashier, Sales Rep, Bookkeeper, work at home, 2-3 hours per day, “amazing income while you keep your Old Job”…
- Art Gallery part-time work at home Account Manager/Bookkeeper/Sales Representative, $4,000 per month…
- Work with a local expert to create state-of-the-art technical business solutions, cost effectively. “E-commerce, distributed web and client/server applications in diversified domains. No project is too small or too large”…
- Here was one looking for an inside American contact to broker supposed real estate deals: “I am interested in purchasing properties as a means of investment abroad. I do
not know too well about how to purchase property in your country. I will need your help to do this. I need you to help me look for properties like; Homes, lands and other business ventures for sale. I am proposing to invest the sum of $48,000,000 USD for this. I do not know if you will be of help to me. Let me give you brief information about my personality; I once worked with the Government here as a Local Government Chairman here in my country Nigeria…”
-Here is an ad placement request for a 'Payment Officer': "Dear Publisher: I will like to place an Advert in your paper for Four Weeks and will like to know the advert quote for the Four Weeks. Be advised that payment will be Via Credit Card and AD text is written below. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: We Have a job offer available for you in response to your initial requesting the job search directory for USA, CANADA, UK AND EUROPE. We are based in Asia. We have been receiving orders from North America which we have not been able to process completely since we do not have a payment receiving personnel in this area. So we have decided to recruit Payment Officer online Hence we will need a representative to process out payment in this area and get 10% on each payment being processed and you will make at least close to $2,000 weekly. Contact us now for more informations. (email@example.com ). I want you to get back to me with the advert quotes for the FOUR Weeks as soon as possible so that I can forward my credit card details for the AD Payment."
Another scheme involves advertisements for “Mystery Shoppers in your area”. After responding, the job seeker receives a cashier’s check in the mail and is asked to cash it and send the money to another address, which may be out of the country. The cashier’s check turns out to be bogus and the victim is out their money.
Below are some tips to help spot bogus job offers and keep yourself from becoming a victim of these scams:
1. When scanning online or newspaper classified ads, be wary of job offers that offer huge earnings potential for very little work effort or skill level. If the offer appears so enticing to be almost too good to be true, that is a sign of an offer that is potentially not legitimate.
2. Be wary of job offers that come unsolicited in your e-mail.
3. Be extremely wary of any job offer that requires you put out money in advance to the prospective employer as fees to pay for your expenses to travel to the job location or for you to show sincerity fee of your interest in the job.
4. Be wary of cashing a cashier’s check as part of the deal and being asked to send the cash back to the employer. The bank may cash the check initially, then days later come back to you and inform you the cashier’s check was bogus, and require you to pay them back for the money they paid you for the bad check.
5. Be wary of ads offering jobs in out-of-area locations that give minimal descriptions of the company offering the job or location for the job. A clue to raise a red flag is a contact person using a gmail or yahoo type e-mail address rather than an e-mail with the domain of the company supposedly offering the job, firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Be wary of job offers that require you to give out sensitive personal information such as your Social Security number or bank account numbers as part of the employment sign-up.
7. Do some quick online background checking of any job offer that raises your suspicions. Often times a simple search engine search on the e-mail address, phone number, company name, the contact or their e-mail address will quickly hit on other people’s experiences if that contact information is bogus. At a minimum, find out from an independent source to see if the company is legitimate (does it even exist?) before giving out sensitive personal information to them over the phone or online, or before you make arrangements to give them money as part of the pre-employment deal. When checking out the company, don’t use the phone number in the ad as the contact. Find the number independently via the town’s Chamber of Commerce listing or their local phone number listing, rather than through a toll-free number. The state Better Business Bureau and Attorney General’s office often have information available about companies with records of complaint about their activities.
8. Trust your suspicion instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, be wary. Check it out thoroughly before giving the prospective employer your credit card number or trading money with any arrangement involving wire transfers of sums of money or cashing cashier’s checks for them and sending money back to them.
9. A variation on this bogus classified ad scam is in the form of pets for sale, especially puppies. Again, the deal will quickly evolve into trying to get a credit card number, personal information, or exchange involving a cashier’s or certified check, with very little interest or questions asking about the actual animal.
If any of our readers have fallen victim to any of these kinds of scams locally, we appreciate hearing about them so we can make others aware of it. To send a Letter to the Editor to Pinedale Online, or make a comment on this article, e-mail: email@example.com We may excerpt from any messages we receive and post relevant portions of comments online.