Watch Out for Donation Processing Job Scams

5/11/2006

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In recent weeks, the BBB has received inquiries about charity employment offers that appear to be "payment-forwarding" job scams.

The con artist pretends to be a charitable organization located overseas that is seeking job applicants. He places an online ad or gathers information from resumes posted online to locate potential victims. To gain the victim's trust, he mentions that they have the right skills for the job; provides a link to an official-looking charity Web site; claims that well-known people or institutions are involved with the organization; promises to provide tax documents at year-end; and provides an official-looking "job" contract.

The job offer involves depositing "donation" checks into the "employee’s" personal bank account. The employee is then asked to forward or wire transfer most of the check amount to the overseas charitable organization, and to keep a small portion as an administrative fee. The charity says this is necessary to allow them quick access to U.S. gifts for immediate program needs.

The deposited checks turn out to be counterfeit and the "employee" loses the money forwarded from their bank account as well as any money they have withdrawn against the original check. If the con artist gains personal information (e.g., Social Security, driver's license or bank account numbers), under the ruse of an employment security check or for tax purposes, the "employee" could also become the victim of identify theft.

The BBB advises job seekers to:

  • Avoid all employment offers that require you to accept checks for deposit in your personal account and then forward payments elsewhere.
  • Never divulge personal information on the Internet. Prospective employers, whether they be charity-related or for-profit, should not request that you provide your driver’s license number, date of birth, Social Security number or any other personal identification until they have met you in person and offered you the job.
  • Not be fooled by impressive-looking Web sites that mention well-known personalities and/or official contacts.
  • Ask for a copy of IRS Form 990 if the organization claims to be a U.S.-based charity. You also can check out charities by contacting your state government's charity registration office and visiting www.give.org (for information on national charities), and www.bbb.org to check out a local charity with the Better Business Bureau.
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