Off the Beaten Path
Join me on an adventure. Where will we go today?
In these desperate times when people want to work from home because of Covid, scammers increasingly use various schemes to separate people from their money. I taught high school forensics and used scenarios as a teaching tool. The following are fictional scenarios that demonstrate a couple of scamming techniques.
Karley’s unemployment stopped last month, and her severance package depleted. Behind in bills, she was about to lose her house. She applied for every job on the internet and help-wanted signs all over town. No offers. One day, an official-looking envelope with Fortune 500 company name in the upper corner visited her mailbox.
Congratulations and welcome to our team.
You require high-speed internet and new computer equipment to run the software. Here is the contact information for our vendor and a $1000 check to cover the cost and installation of the equipment. You must buy from our vendor because the software will come preloaded on the laptop.
Karley had cut the phones, the cable, and corners everywhere she could, but thank goodness she kept the internet! She had a job and $1,000!
When she deposited the money, the bank said they would hold ⅔ of the amount until the check cleared the bank since the company was out of town. Undaunted, Karley took her debit card and ordered the computer. Fortunately, it was only $700, so she had $300 to buy gas and groceries and pay her power and water bills. She would survive and thrive!
She received an email that the computer delivery is Monday.
Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. No equipment, and the number for the company was disconnected. Personnel in human resources at the Fortune 500 company had never heard of her.
According to the bank, the account belonged to another person in the same town. Someone printed out checks using a pirated account. Karley filed a police report, but with no leads, she had to take an advance on her credit card to keep the bank from canceling her payments to the utilities. Fortunately, the bank retrieved her $700 payment for the nonexistent laptop and waived her fees.
Michael poured over the Monster Job Search website. He filled out all the requisite forms for companies looking to hire someone with his credentials. John, a headhunter with the ABC recruiting company, contacted Michael with good news! He had a dozen or more companies that had openings. There was only a $29 signing fee for Michael to get listed with the ABC recruiting company. John sent the money from an international financial company to the ABC recruiting headquarters in Central America. Michael eagerly waited on his email with more details about his new job. Unfortunately, that email never came. John blocked his calls, and the international finance company would not return his $29. Sadly, a wiser Michael sent out a fresh batch of resumes.
Julie applied for a job with a local insurance company. Someone in the company sent her information to his cousin, James. James used a fake name, called Julie, and identified himself as human resources with the local company. Because she would be handling sensitive client information, James needed to see a copy of her credit history. She needed to pay for a credit report with her credit card. James used her card for a shopping spree at the local mall. Julie called the company when the unauthorized charges showed up, but there was no person there by the name Julie gave them. Fortunately, the credit card company froze the account and went after the person who stole her credit card.
Trust your instincts. The adage is true. If something is too good to be believed, then do not believe it without researching it thoroughly. A legitimate company will not ask you for your financial information up front. If someone calls you persistently or demands an immediate response, that is most likely someone attempting to scam you somehow. A legitimate company will provide software and equipment for you.