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Fraudulent employment offers are a relatively new phenomena, and sometimes difficult to detect by a potential job seeker. They may be listed under titles such as billing specialist, financial assistant, shipping manager, or under a wide variety of similar, often financial-sounding titles. Such offers may also be found under legitimate career websites such as monster.com or careerbuilder.com, which is why consumers need to be additionally alert while evaluating job offers.
Although there are several types of fraudulent employment offers, the basic premise usually involves accepting money or collecting payments on behalf of the hiring company or charity from customers who almost always happen to be from foreign countries. Some of the tasks that are asked of the potential employee include depositing payments from clients or donors into a personal bank account, followed by sending the payments to a regional company branch, another company or charity account, or to an alternate account in a foreign country. Potential employees are generally asked to check their emails frequently, act quickly when money transfers are required, check diligently for accuracy of spelling and often change money recipients at the last minute, and basically accept and coordinate payments between the company and the company's alleged client or donor. Such offers may also specify the need for their recruits or employees to be American citizens in order to process payments or transfer funds, allegedly due to the fact that since the clients are foreign, they are not able to process the bank transactions on their own.
As compensation for cooperation in the transfer of money, which is essentially a form of money laundering or acting as a money mule, the potential employee is told that he will keep a percentage of each transaction - usually between eight and fifteen percent. What the victim doesn't realize, however, is that the money that is to be deposited into their account is usually stolen or comes in a form of a counterfeit or rubber check. If the transaction does involve real funds, the employee will not be able to hold on to them. If the funds are not legitimate or the checks turn out to be rubber ones, the transactions that the unsuspecting employee proceeds with either not come through at all, the employee's account will be overdrawn and left with insufficient funds, or worse - the employee could be held liable for the transaction and may be criminally charged with theft.
Examples of this type of fraudulent activity may look like the following:
* A consumer accepts a check from the company and is told to deposit the check into a private account and wait until the check clears. This may happen if the financial institution doesn't initially realize the check is counterfeit. After the check clears, the consumer is asked to withdraw the money, keep a percentage of the check, and wire the withdrawn amount via Western Union or Moneygram to a different account, which is usually abroad. It later turns out that the check and/or funds were illegitimate, and the consumer ends up with a negative account balance.* The company stresses that the reason why payments can't be accepted by the company itself include having to pay extra international fees and/or taxes, having to wait long periods of time in order for payments to be processed, etc.* If the consumer requests a physical interview with the company, the company may state that that is not possible because there are no company representatives in the United States.* The company urges to act quickly and respond to correspondence immediately, all while stressing that what is being done is not illegal.
It should always be remembered that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.