Old, New, Borrowed and Blue Online Scams

Here are a few of the perils of Internet job searching: e-mail harvesters, affiliate hunters, identity thieves, money launderers, crooks looking for mules, and traffickers in stolen goods.

And these are just some of the scams I’ve come across this year.

There are thousands of these job scams online; that’s the bad new. The good news is that there are thousands of legitimate jobs online too. The art is in distinguishing between the two – and yes, it is an art – and yes, it is possible. But it takes some work.

I own an online job service, so I see online jobs everyday of the year, and I see a definite trend. The scammers are getting better at scamming.

First I’ll explain the “trickeries” of e-mail harvesters. They sit at their expensive computers and make up non-existent jobs. They are highly creative and write job descriptions that could fool a mother with sixth sense. Then they post the job online in all the popular places. I get these everyday. I don’t pass them on to my clients because I test the post first. Here is one of my methods: I apply for the job. I use a different e-mail address for each job that I apply for – which means that I have a lot of e-mail addresses. Then I wait for a response. 80% of the time this is what happens. I get an e-mail that is somewhat related to the job that I applied for, but it is not what was posted. For example, if I applied for a call center job, it’s about a call center. It says something like: “Call center position, $14 an hour, guaranteed hire.” Problem is, the job doesn’t exist. Neither does the call center. The company offering the non-existent job exists, and the fee it charges exists – but the job doesn’t. You can pay the fee to join the company, “apply” for the “guaranteed job” and wait. But you’ll be waiting in vain. You can e-mail the company, but you won’t hear back from them – no matter how many e-mails you send. But you will get other e-mails because your e-mail address has been sold.

The good news about the above is that, if you have applied for several of these “jobs,” you’ll start to notice some similarities between the postings. It’s almost like a signature. I am now so familiar with these types of posts, that I don’t even apply for them anymore. I simply discard them off the bat because I “recognize the signature.” Besides, I know who hires call center workers, data entry operators, and just about anything else you can think of – and that’s not how they advertise.

Affiliate hunters operate similarly. They post a job, but when you apply, you find out that it’s not really a job, it’s an affiliate program – usually with a fee. The really clever ones disguise the fact that they’re affiliate hunters. They have Web sites set up where you “test” for the “job,” but all they really want is expose you to their banners, their opps, and their Google ads – hoping you’ll click on one of their ads or join one of their affiliate programs. I’ve fallen for one of these – but never again.

Another variant of this is the data entry/typing jobs that you see everywhere. In case you don’t know yet, there are only a few real data entry/typing jobs online. There are hundreds of legitimate transcriptionist jobs online, but that’s a different matter. At any rate, these ads that you’re seeing everywhere aren’t them. What they are is an affiliate program. Basically it involves signing up for a Clickbank account, a Google Adwords account, and then promoting the Clickbank affiliate programs of your choice. The “data” you “enter” is an ad – which you pay for. The money you earn is any sales you make. They claim this is not a sales job – but they lie. They claim that this is a data entry or typing job – but they’re lying about that too. Clickbank has just disabled all of these sites from their marketplace, so kudos to Clickbank. The truth is that as a business opportunity, it’s a good one, but it’s not data entry and it’s not typing.

The identity thieves have many methods. The one I’m seeing the most right now is very clever. Their job posts seem very believable. They have a fairly good Web site at first glance – but only at first glance. There is always something wrong with these Web sites. Most of them have only one working page – the page trying to capture your personal information and your SSN. If you try going to different pages of their Web site, you’ll find out they’re not there. They don’t even have an index page. This is a big red flag! If you come across a site like this, get out of it – and certainly don’t give them any personal information. It’s a nasty trend. These job posts are everywhere, and they keep changing the jobs and their web sites to stay two steps ahead of everybody. I get these jobs frequently, but I don’t pass them on to my clients. Don’t you be fooled by them either.

You can lump the money launderers, identity thieves, and crooks looking for mules together. I have written an article about some of these scams. You can see it at: http://searchwarp.com/swa40028.htm This job is still being offered all over the Web, under different names, so look out for it.

But there is another similar job scam to watch for, and this insidious little scam threatens your bank account, your personal information, and your safety for years to come. Like all of these scams, it starts with a job offer, but it could end in criminal charges and the loss of hundreds of thousands of your hard earned dollars. This is a courier position. It promises good pay and benefits – 401(k), health and dental, paid vacation and mileage reimbursement. When you apply for this job, you are directed to a Web site to fill out an application. At this point, you will be asked for your driver’s license information, (for the purposes of a “background check.”) And you’ll be asked for your bank account information as well – (under the guise that paychecks are direct deposited). Problem is that this information is used to forge checks – which are then deposited into your bank account. After this happens, you’ll be notified that a deposit has been mistakenly made into your account and a request will be made that you immediately wire those funds back to the company. You’ll be told to keep a portion of the money – due to the inconvenience they’ve caused you. When you wire the money as directed, usually to Mexico, you can expect a notice from your bank, telling you that the original deposit has been voided because it was made with a forged check. The money that you wired to Mexico is gone forever. Unfortunately, that’s only the beginning of this scam, because these crooks will now be using your information for years to come in a myriad of ways – from bogus checks to bogus credit cards.

But as I said, there are thousands of legitimate jobs online as well. There are jobs for Internet researchers, data entry operators, transcriptionists, customer service representatives, loan originators, sales, graphic artists, writers, proofreaders, bookkeepers, accountants, and on and on. If you want a legitimate job working at home, it’s out there – but exercise due diligence, or go with someone who has.

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