One local resident and the Red Deer RCMP are urging the public to be cautious of job offer scams.
With a recent surge in layoffs and the local economy struggling, job scams continue to grow more prevalent.
Donna Johansson has been on the job hunt for a number of months. With a background as a receptionist, Johansson said she has never had any trouble finding employment in the past. After handing out more than 250 resumes and being interviewed more than 20 times, Johansson has also fallen victim to two job scams. Although the jobs looked legit, after further investigation, Johansson discovered they were scams before it was too late.
“One was on Kijiji and one was on Indeed.com,” she said. “The first one I got was from the Moton Group. The wording on the actual email was off. It didn’t sound very professional and it was broken English.”
Johansson was then sent a description of the supposed ‘receptionist’ job which included duties like production processing and shipping and maintaining statistics, among others. “They also indicated the probation period was for only seven business days. It looked bogus to me.”
Looking into it further, Johansson looked up the addresses that were on top of the offer letter.
“It said they had an office in Australia and one in Saskatoon. I Googled the Australia one first and it was a residential house. I looked up the address in Saskatoon and it was actually the atrium at the University of Saskatoon. I phoned security there and double checked and they had never heard of the Moton Group,” she said. “I called the RCMP and they said to get a hold of the Anti-Fraud Centre.”
Just last week, Johansson got an email from a company called CommunityLend Finance. After receiving an offer letter, the first thing Johansson was asked for was personal documents. “The letter said to verify your identity, send us a scan of your ID, passport or DL (driver’s license),” she said, adding they gave an option to scan personal documents over a web cam.
Meanwhile, Johansson said she cautions other job seekers to be aware of these types of scams. “It’s the old rule – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” she said. “Once I started looking online you can tell – they use certain wording and there will be four or five of the same jobs posted.”
Red Deer RCMP Cpl. Karyn Kay said job scams aren’t necessarily increasing, but in the world of the Internet, they are surfacing more frequently. “We are seeing more than we ever did before. With the use of social media and the Internet, it’s easier for bad guys to target vulnerable victims,” she said. “And right now people are vulnerable because they aren’t working. Criminals aren’t targeting those people.”
Kay said people should be aware when applying to jobs online. “One thing is to never give into pressure and be very thorough when you read any documentations. Before you sign anything, make sure you understand it and ask questions,” she said. “It’s also important to verify the interviewer and the company – do your Better Business Bureau searches. As well, interviews should be in appropriate places – one victim met their interviewer in a car. Where the interview is should be a flag for you whether or not it is legitimate.
“Never, ever use your bank account. If they are a legitimate company they have their own bank accounts, they don’t need your bank account to put money in or out. Also, don’t give any information unless you are signing a contract – they will never ask you for a passport.”
In addition, Kay said if someone thinks they have been scammed it is important to first notify the RCMP and also alert the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre web site also contains information on how victims can avoid getting unintentionally involved in criminal money laundering; the web site includes reports of criminals targeting job seekers in order to recruit them as money laundering mules.
Check out www.antifraudcentre.ca or www.fightspam.gc.ca for more. firstname.lastname@example.org