The Department of Labor has just reported an official jobless rate of 10.2 percent. However, according to an article in The New York Times, the broader measure of unemployment stands at an alarming 17.5 percent — the highest rate since the Great Depression!
With millions upon millions of Americans out of work, cold-hearted thugs see this economic tragedy as their golden opportunity to make a quick buck.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC) states there are fraudsters attempting various employment and work-at-home schemes.
According to the ICCC, employment and business opportunity schemes have surfaced wherein bogus foreign-based companies are recruiting citizens in the United States on several employment-search Web sites for work-at-home employment opportunities. These positions often involve reselling or reshipping merchandise to destinations outside the United States.
Prospective employees are required to provide personal information, as well as copies of their identification, such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or social security card.
Those employees that are "hired" by these companies are then told that their salary will be paid by check from a United States company reported to be a creditor of the employer. This is done under the pretense that the employer does not have any banking set up in the United States.
The amount of the check is significantly more than the employee is owed for salary and expenses, and the employee is instructed to deposit the check into their own account, and then wire the overpayment back to the employer's bank, usually located in Eastern Europe. The checks are later found to be fraudulent, often after the wire transfer has taken place.
In a similar scam, some web-based international companies are advertising for affiliate opportunities, offering individuals the chance to sell high-end electronic items, such as plasma television sets and home theater systems, at significantly reduced prices.
The affiliates are instructed to offer the merchandise on well-known Internet auction sites. The affiliates will accept the payments, and pay the company, typically by means of wire transfer. The company is then supposed to drop-ship the merchandise directly to the buyer, thus eliminating the need for the affiliate to stock or warehouse merchandise. The merchandise never ships, which often prompts the buyers to take legal action against the affiliates, who in essence are victims themselves.
What can you do to help prevent becoming a victim of an employment or work-at-home scam?
The ICCC suggests the following prevention tips:
1. Be wary of inflated claims of product effectiveness.
2. Be cautious of exaggerated claims of possible earnings or profits.
3. Beware when money is required upfront for instructions or products.
4. Be leery when the job posting claims "no experience necessary".
5. Do not give your social security number when first interacting with your prospective employer.
6. Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
7. Be wary when replying to unsolicited e-mails for work-at-home employment.
8. Research the company to ensure they are authentic.
9. Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the company.
If you think you are a victim of an employment or business opportunity rip-off, contact your local law enforcement agency and the ICCC.
For more information, go to: www.ic3.gov.
My Final Thoughts: The millions of hard-working folks either unemployed or underemployed provide a fertile landscape for heartless crooks and their ruthless employment and work-at-home scams.
Don’t make a bad situation even worse by falling for these sneaky schemes. Take the time to fully investigate all employment and work-at-home offers before you provide them with your personal information and/or hard-earned dollars.
Quick Security Tip: Once a criminal has your personal information in his hands, he may use it for stealing your identity.
Be confident and have hope. As the American economy slowly, but surely, picks up momentum, more and more legitimate jobs and genuine business opportunities will be developed.
As the saying goes, “An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.”
Copyright 2009 by Bruce Mandelblit
This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
Bruce Mandelblit (www.CrimeZilla.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is [email protected]
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