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Job Posting Scams

Get to Know Scott Augenbaum

Job Posting Scams: Is that job too good to be true?

Everyday we hear about another massive data breach. Right after, vendors come forward with their solutions, about how their product or service could have stopped the incident. What we don’t hear about are the cybercrime cases that occur daily to average citizens, like you and I. 

I received an email on my website from a woman who heard me on a recent podcast. She was almost the victim of a cybercrime incident, but after she heard my talk she was able to protect herself from becoming a victim. I asked her if I could share her story, as there are quite a few learning lessons. For privacy purposes, we will call her Maria. 

Maria applied for a proofreading and editing job on Upwork.com (a legitimate job seekers website). The job was posted by what appeared to be a church in San Jose, CA. She was offered the job and was told she would be paid $350 per assignment. They sent her an official-looking employment offer letter to be signed. They also asked for a picture of a valid ID, home address, phone number and email. 

Seems legit, right? 

They told her they would send a check on Monday so she could buy a laptop and software to perform these tasks on. These conversations occurred on Google hangouts, not through Upwork.com messaging. They also wanted to know her deposit and withdrawal limits. 

This seems like a red flag inquiry, but if you didn’t know about these types of scams, you would just answer your potential new employer. 

That morning they sent a scanned picture of a check from a legitimate real estate company in Pittsburgh, PA for $4,800.00. Against her better judgement (she admitted), she deposited the check. They wanted to know if the funds were available immediately and she said yes. 

Up until this point, everything had seemed legitimate. It then got suspicious when she got an email asking her to use Zelle, a digital payment network like Venmo or PayPal, to send them two separate deposits of $500 each. Immediately she realized something was not right. She called the church directly, and asked for the person who first contacted her on Upwork.com.  She was told he was out of the country and that he was not involved in anything like proofreading or editing job postings. She then called the company that the check had come from in Pittsburgh, and asked them if they had any knowledge of the check they had allegedly written. They said no. She called her bank and told them what happened. They informed her of this ongoing scam.  

The criminal sent Maria the fake check because they guessed Maria was in good standing with her bank and it would make them seem legitimate. If she had sent the money through Zelle they would have gotten paid, whereas the fake check would bounce. 

This is how scammers make a profit. 

If she hadn’t listened to my podcast, or had known this type of scam was a possibility- she would have undoubtedly been a cybercrime victim. 

When Maria refused to send the money she started to receive phone calls and texts. They started using scare tactics, claiming “They had her in their sights,” and were going to report her to the police. 

How brazen of these crooks. 

This was when she reached out to me, understandably upset. I told her she had nothing to worry about, and to just ignore the calls and texts and they would eventually stop. Fortunately for her, they just find another person to victimize. I told her to report this information to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.com where the FBI will take this information and start to collect the dots to help track down the cybercriminal. I provided Maria with a free signed copy my book, as I have an entire chapter on cases like this one. 

I’ve seen dozen of victimizations where the scam artist was successful. It happens every single day, at the rate of an attack every 39 seconds (University of Maryland). 

We seem to think that the everyday scam is easy to spot.

They ask for weird information, or they request money using (what now seems like) a more primitive method, like via Western Union. They now attack us in ways that intertwine with our everyday use. 

So how do you decipher who is real and who is a scammer?

It’s easier to see these things coming when you are aware. Work-from-home opportunities are a favorite haven for scammers. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Be weary of any job postings that seem too good to be true. They usually are.
  • Cybercriminals can register a telephone number is your area to make it seem legitimate. They will use technology that you commonly use, such as digital baking systems to seem valid. 
  • Try to call the point of contact back at the company through an alternative method.
  • A huge red flag is if they send you money to purchase equipment required to do your job. 

Bottom line: Question any requests for money or sensitive information. 

No technology or software can save you from this type of attack. The biggest firewall is you. Use your gut instinct- it’s usually right!

Is that job too good to be true?

Everyday we hear about another massive data breach. Right after, vendors come forward with their solutions, about how their product or service could have stopped the incident. What we don’t hear about are the cybercrime cases that occur daily to average citizens, like you and I. 

I received an email on my website from a woman who heard me on a recent podcast. She was almost the victim of a cybercrime incident, but after she heard my talk she was able to protect herself from becoming a victim. I asked her if I could share her story, as there are quite a few learning lessons. For privacy purposes, we will call her Maria. 

Maria applied for a proofreading and editing job on Upwork.com (a legitimate job seekers website). The job was posted by what appeared to be a church in San Jose, CA. She was offered the job and was told she would be paid $350 per assignment. They sent her an official-looking employment offer letter to be signed. They also asked for a picture of a valid ID, home address, phone number and email. 

Seems legit, right? 

They told her they would send a check on Monday so she could buy a laptop and software to perform these tasks on. These conversations occurred on Google hangouts, not through Upwork.com messaging. They also wanted to know her deposit and withdrawal limits. 

This seems like a red flag inquiry, but if you didn’t know about these types of scams, you would just answer your potential new employer. 

That morning they sent a scanned picture of a check from a legitimate real estate company in Pittsburgh, PA for $4,800.00. Against her better judgement (she admitted), she deposited the check. They wanted to know if the funds were available immediately and she said yes. 

Up until this point, everything had seemed legitimate. It then got suspicious when she got an email asking her to use Zelle, a digital payment network like Venmo or PayPal, to send them two separate deposits of $500 each. Immediately she realized something was not right. She called the church directly, and asked for the person who first contacted her on Upwork.com.  She was told he was out of the country and that he was not involved in anything like proofreading or editing job postings. She then called the company that the check had come from in Pittsburgh, and asked them if they had any knowledge of the check they had allegedly written. They said no. She called her bank and told them what happened. They informed her of this ongoing scam.  

The criminal sent Maria the fake check because they guessed Maria was in good standing with her bank and it would make them seem legitimate. If she had sent the money through Zelle they would have gotten paid, whereas the fake check would bounce. 

This is how scammers make a profit. 

If she hadn’t listened to my podcast, or had known this type of scam was a possibility- she would have undoubtedly been a cybercrime victim. 

When Maria refused to send the money she started to receive phone calls and texts. They started using scare tactics, claiming “They had her in their sights,” and were going to report her to the police. 

How brazen of these crooks. 

This was when she reached out to me, understandably upset. I told her she had nothing to worry about, and to just ignore the calls and texts and they would eventually stop. Fortunately for her, they just find another person to victimize. I told her to report this information to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.com where the FBI will take this information and start to collect the dots to help track down the cybercriminal. I provided Maria with a free signed copy my book, as I have an entire chapter on cases like this one. 

I’ve seen dozen of victimizations where the scam artist was successful. It happens every single day, at the rate of an attack every 39 seconds (University of Maryland). 

We seem to think that the everyday scam is easy to spot.

They ask for weird information, or they request money using (what now seems like) a more primitive method, like via Western Union. They now attack us in ways that intertwine with our everyday use. 

So how do you decipher who is real and who is a scammer?

It’s easier to see these things coming when you are aware. Work-from-home opportunities are a favorite haven for scammers. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Be weary of any job postings that seem too good to be true. They usually are.
  • Cybercriminals can register a telephone number is your area to make it seem legitimate. They will use technology that you commonly use, such as digital baking systems to seem valid. 
  • Try to call the point of contact back at the company through an alternative method.
  • A huge red flag is if they send you money to purchase equipment required to do your job. 

Bottom line: Question any requests for money or sensitive information. 

No technology or software can save you from this type of attack. The biggest firewall is you. Use your gut instinct- it’s usually right!

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