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Scams and Identity Theft
Select an item of interest below:
Overseas Job Scams
Package Forwarding and Reshipping Scams
Overseas Job Scams
Job seekers, interested in overseas employment that
promises high pay, good benefits, free travel and adventure, should
beware that there are unscrupulous people who have devised elaborate
and very convincing scams to defraud unwitting, and often desperate
Before allowing yourself to be swept away with promises
of an exotic job opportunity, make sure you have thoroughly investigated
the matter and know the potential risks involved in obtaining overseas
Typical Overseas Employment Scams
Unlike legitimate employment firms that have permanent
addresses, many unscrupulous operators provide only a post office (P.O.
Box) or mail drop address. Although there are legitimate firms with
P.O. boxes, job applicants should be aware that this practice, when
used by scammers, makes it easier for them to avoid closer scrutiny.
In many instances, officials investigating a suspicious
firm have encountered a "fly-by-night" operation. The scam headquarters,
with little more than a desk and a telephone, may be based in one country,
but operate in other countries, making it more difficult for investigators
to track down the operation.
Typical overseas job scams, include:
- Firms that charge advance fees usually advertise
in newspapers and magazines. Their advertisements frequently offer
construction jobs, one of the industries that is suffering from
skills shortages. People who call the number given in in the advertisement
are generally told that there are immediate openings available for
which they are perfectly suited. and are told that they must pay
a placement fee in advance before they can start.
These up-front charges can range from £30
to several thousand pounds (as in the case of jobs in Canada). Firms
that charge such advance fees are often so eager to get their hands
on your money and avoid using the postal service that they may send
a courier to pick up the deposit, or request that it be sent by
next day guaranteed or Special Delivery.
However, more often than not, these firms have
little or no contact with potential employers.
You should not allow yourself to be conned by a
firm's promise of a full refund if no job results from your application.
Most of these companies that require advance payment are not around
long enough for their customers to get any sort of refund.
Firms that charge a fee after they have
provide a job lead. A scammer may 'invent' a job lead or
use a third-party to masquerade as a potential employer, in order
to obtain a fee.
Premium rate numbers.
to a premium rate number connected with employment opportunities
may charge a high per-minute rate. In some instances, such operators
may fail to disclose the cost of a call or, if advertised in a magazine
or newspaper, may display it in fine hard to read print. As a result,
callers may not be aware of how much they are spending. Some operators
may even increase their earnings through imposing delays while the
caller is on the line. A good example is where a message tells you
that all operators are busy and asks you to wait as your enquiry
will be dealt with very soon.
In one case, a consumer
answered an advertisement instructing
job applicants to call an "0800"
freephone number for more information.
The message on that number directed
the caller to dial a premium rate
number to find out about job openings.
The premium rate number, however,
merely directed the caller to
send a stamped, addressed envelope
to receive further details of
the job being offered. The consumer
received only a one-page generic
job application, and was billed
£25 for the phone call.
When calling a premium
rate number, be sure you understand
the charges before continuing
with the call. You can check any
premium rate number through ICSTIS,
the premium rate service regulator.
Job lists. There are many firms
that make no promises to place you in a job. They merely sell a
list of job opportunities, providing little assurance about the
accuracy of the information.
The information may be sold via a newsletter that
features photocopied help-wanted ads from newspapers around the
world. Many may be several months old and have been filled. In addition,
the ads may not have been verified to ensure that the jobs actually
Avoid Employment Scams
Many jobseekers have lost money to disreputable advance-fee
recruitment firms. If you decide to use an overseas job placement firm,
the best way to avoid being scammed is to learn as much as you can about
- Ask for references. Request both names
of employers and employees the company has actually found jobs for.
Scam artists will typically defend their refusal to provide the
information, claiming it is a "trade secret." Or, they frequently
claim that if they told you where the openings are, you would circumvent
their services. These schemers may also cite privacy concerns as
the reason for refusing to provide the names of people they have
- Check out reliability. Contact the local
Office of Fair
Trading and search the internet to find out if any complaints
have been filed against the firm.
Find out how long they have been in
business. Also, ask what is the firm's present financial
situation. Compare the company, and the services offered, with other
similar firms before you pay a fee.
Get all promises in writing.
Before you pay for anything, request and obtain a written contract
that describes the services the firm intends to provide. Determine
whether the firm is simply going to forward your resume to a company
that publicly advertised a listing, or if it will actually seek
to place you with an employer. Make sure that any promise you receive
in writing is the same as what was stated in the advertisement.
Research any information the firm
provides to you before you make a commitment. Make
certain the job actually exists before you pay a firm to "hold"
a job for you, and definitely before you make plans to relocate.
Some job seekers have been asked to meet at a particular
place to fly to their new jobs, only to find no airline tickets,
no job, and also, no more company.
Check with the embassy of the country
where the job is located. Make certain that, as a citizen
of another country, you are eligible to work there.
Ask if you will be eligible for a
refund if the job(s) are unacceptable or don't work out for any
other reason. If the company has a refund policy, ask
for specific written details that spell out whether you can expect
a full refund, and if there are any time limits for receiving the
Read the fine print. A disreputable company may
include 'red tape' that protects its interests and not yours.
One common scam is to include a requirement that jobseekers
check with the firm on a regular basis. Clients who unwittingly
fail to make the required contact forfeit their rights to a refund.
They are sometimes not told this until they ask for the refund.
If You Are Scammed
If you have been victimized by an employment scam,
you can help prevent these types of incidents from recurring by reporting
it to the proper authorities. They may be able to put the operator out
of business and, in extreme cases, heavily fine them or even imprison
If you believe you have been defrauded,
you can file a complaint with the:
Tips To Remember
- Office of Fair Trading in the area where they operate;
- The Police;
- Any trade body they may belong to, although it is highly unlikely
that they will belong to a trade body if they are perpetrating fraud.
- Be highly sceptical of overseas employment opportunities that
sound like they are "too good to be true."
- Never send cash in the mail, and be extremely cautious with firms
that require a money order. This could indicate that the firm is
attempting to avoid a traceable record of its transactions.
- Do not be fooled by official-sounding names. Many scam artists
operate under names that sound like those of long-established reputable
- Avoid working with firms that require payment in advance.
- Do not give your credit card or bank account number.
- Read the contract very carefully. Have an solicitor look over
any documents you are asked to sign that look dubious.
- Beware of an agency that is unwilling to give you a written contract.
- Do not hesitate to ask questions. You have a right to know what
services to expect and the costs involved.
- Do not make a hasty decision. Instead, take time to weigh all
the pros and cons of the situation. Be wary of demands that "you
must act now."
- Keep a copy of all agreements you sign, as well as copies of checks
you forward to the company.
Extracted from a report by and Copyright of the Council
Identity theft is a crime in which an imposter obtains
key pieces of information such as Social Security and driver's license
numbers and uses it for their own personal gain. Identity theft takes
many forms. Almost in all cases, victims are left with a ruined credit
or criminal history and the complicated task of regaining their previously
good status. Identity theft is an evolving crime and criminals are finding
new and more sophisticated ways to steal and utilise information.
One particular scam involves the victim receiving
an email from a person posing as a human resource director with well-known
companies after responding to a posting on a job board. The email implies
interest in the applicant and requests a background check as part of the
employment process. The scammer claims the applicant will start work in
three weeks and requests that a background check be performed immediately.
The victim then provides the required information and as a result can
spend the next five years cleaning up his/her credit history due to the
criminal abuse that ensues, using his/her identity.
Yes the scammers are getting fairly tricky, however you
will lessen your chances to falling victim by following these tips:
- Do not under any circumstances disclose a Social Security number.
A Social Security number is not necessary for an employer to carry
out a background or credit history check. If a company insists on
the number before processing an application, you should research the
company to verify its legitimacy.
- Never give out financial information. Employers very rarely need
a prospective employee’s personal financial information. You should
be very cautious of a company requesting bank account numbers, credit
card numbers or other personal financial information.
- Check the company’s contact information and visit their website.
You should verify that a company is legitimate before continuing with
the application process. This can be done by checking the address
and telephone number the company has provided and making sure their
website is operational.
- Look for indications that the advertisement or job offer is bogus.
Many online scams contain misspelt words and bad grammar. Also, an
employer using an e-mail address that is not linked with the company’s
domain name can be an indication of potential fraud.
- Be cautious of job postings from overseas employers. A legitimate
overseas company should have the resources to conduct business without
using a privately held bank account. Overseas companies also have
proven to be very hard to investigate and prosecute.
Package Forwarding and
Reshipping scams involve the receiving and reshipping
of merchandise ordered online, to locations usually overseas. The shipper
is an unwilling participant and the merchandise has been paid for with
stolen or fraudulent credit cards.
Two methods are used frequently to entice victims to unwillingly take
part in this scam. The first is through the use of help wanted advertisements
posted on popular Internet job search sites. As part of the process, the
prospective employee is required to provide personal information, including
social security number and date of birth. Once "hired," they immediately
begin receiving packages and are responsible for repackaging and shipping
this merchandise abroad.
Payment for services usually arrive in the form of a third party cashiers
check instead of a regular cheque. Additionally, the cheque is usually
for an amount in excess of what had previously been agreed. The employee
is instructed to cash the cheque and electronically forward the excess
amount to an overseas bank account. After the transaction is complete
but before the cheque has "cleared", the bank realises that the cashier's
cheque is invalid. The employee is then responsible to reimburse the total
amount of the fraudulent cheque.
By this point, the employee realises that they have not only fallen victim
to a scam but that the operators of the scam are now in possession of
their personal information.
The second method used to facilitate reshipping scams involves the use
of the Internet. Unknown subjects participate in chat rooms pretending
to look for a friend or romance. After carefully forging a trusting relationship,
the scammer explains that his/her country will not accept direct business
shipments from (for example) the United States. The subject asks if the
victim will permit him/her to use the victim's address to receive and
reship some recent online purchases. As soon as the victim agrees, packages
begin to arrive for reshipment. Several weeks pass with the victim dutifully
sending on the merchandise. Eventually, victim merchants contact the "friend"
and explain that the recently shipped merchandise was purchased with a
fraudulent credit card.
Work at Home Scams
Work-at-home scammers advertise in classified ads, through
flyers, or over the Internet. What they all have in common is that the
company will ask for a fee before you can start working. The company may
claim the fee is for registration, a deposit on materials, or payment
for instruction books or courses on disks. Here are three very common
Medical Billing Work: These scams advertise
that there is a new and growing market for individuals to work on home
computers preparing bills for doctor's offices. The company may offer
to sell special software and training materials for anywhere from £50
to several thousand pounds. It may promise that once you have ordered
its software and learned to use it, it will then provide you with clients.
All too often, the buyers find that there are no willing clients and they
are required to try to find their own clients. Other companies do tell
buyers that they will have to find their own clients, but say that this
won't be difficult. However, the buyer usually can't find any doctor's
office that will use his or her services. The medical billing field is
dominated by a number of large and well-established firms and, as a result,
very few people who purchase a medical billing business opportunity are
able to find clients or recover their investment.
Envelope Filling or Addressing: This long-running
scam offers to pay £2 or £3 per envelope you address or stuff.
You send the company money for your start-up kit. They promise to send
you a list of companies that want you to do the work. What you actually
get is a list of companies that either do not exist or do not pay people
to stuff envelopes. Or you receive instructions on how you can place ads
like the one you answered and get unsuspecting consumers to send you money.
Home Based Typing / Data Entry: Typically, you
must send in a (non-refundable) fee for more information on this 'superb
opportunity'. You then receive a booklet, ebook, disk or CD with information
instructing you to place home typist adverts like the one you replied
to, and sell copies of the "information" to those who reply to you. This
means you would likewise become a scammer! Sometimes, these companies
will enlist you in an affiliate program which you end up marketing by
typing adverts, your success depending wholly on your own marketing knowledge
Sewing /Craft / Assembly Work: These work-at-home
scams may ask you to pay for a book or a list of companies that will pay
you to do crafts such as sewing or frame-making in your home. You may
have to send money to purchase the work materials. When you contact the
companies on the list, you find they don't pay for that kind of work.
Avoiding Work-At-Home Rip-Offs
- Be highly sceptical of any "company" that advertises a work-at-home
opportunity and requires advance payments or deposits on any instructional
booklets, brochures, kits, programs, mailing lists, directories, memberships
in cooperative associations, or for any other reason they can think
of as an excuse to ask for money in advance.
- Be particular sceptical of potential earnings that sound too good
to be true, or promises of a regular market or steady salary that
are are unsubstantiated. If an opportunity sounds too good to be true
then it usually is!
- Use some common sense (often called the most uncommon sense). In
these days of mailing automation and high-speed printing, it is unlikely
a company would pay several pounds for each envelope you fill and
mail when this could be done by a machine for a few pence and faster
- Ask questions about what you will have to do exactly in order to
earn money with the programme, who will pay you, will you be paid
by commission only, will you be asked to purchase supplies and pay
for the postage?
- Before entering into any work-at-home agreement, call the Office
of Fair Trading to see if complaints have been filed against
the company you are considering doing business with. Keep in mind,
however, that illegitimate companies often advertise heavily for a
few months, collect their fees and then close up shop and move on
before anyone has a chance to file complaints, or they often change
their names thus concealing their previous tracks.
You can find details on any limited company registered in England or
Wales through Companies
House, including a copy of their last filed accounts for a small
charge (currently £1.00).
INFORMATION ON NEW SCAMS
WILL BE PUBLISHED AS AND WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE
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