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A Job Offer Too Good To Be True
The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
A JOB OFFER TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
WIDESPREAD COUNTERFEIT CHECK SCAM SEEKS
"CHARITABLE DONATIONS COORDINATORS"
Searching for a job is a difficult and time-consuming task. A very popular way for Michigan consumers to search for jobs is through the use of job search Web sites, such as CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, and HotJobs.com, among others. Consumers post their resumes on these sites hoping that employers will offer them the job of their dreams. Unfortunately, there are scammers capitalizing on the popularity of these job search sites to find their next victim. A recent, elaborate counterfeit check scam seeking "charitable donations coordinators" that leaves victims with empty bank accounts is described in this Consumer Alert.
HOW THE SCAM WORKS
A consumer posts a resume on a job search Web site and soon receives an e-mail that is carefully crafted to look like a genuine job offer - but in reality, it is a trap designed to snare victims for an international counterfeit check ring.
The e-mail bears the logo of the job search Web site and claims to originate from a global charity that has helped provide housing for thousands of people worldwide. The message provides a link to a Web site full of pictures, testimonials, and stories of good works and states the "charity" is looking for "local charitable donations coordinators" to process charitable contributions from donors in their area. The job applicants are promised a return of 5% to 7% of all donation checks they receive to "process" on behalf of the charity. The e-mail even includes tax and salary information.
But why would an international charity give away money to local coordinators instead of accepting the checks directly?
This "job" sounds too good to be true.
This new - and very sophisticated - counterfeit check scam has lured many innocent, well-meaning consumers to disburse money out of their personal bank accounts not to charity but to criminals. Victims who respond to the e-mail are instructed that they should deposit donation checks they will receive from the "charity" and forward the proceeds from their personal bank account to the organization via Western Union after deducting their "commission." When the victim receives the check, the charity warns that "time is of the essence" and urges the victim not to delay in forwarding the money in order to allow innocent and needy people immediate access to the charity's valuable assistance.
But there's a catch - the scammers are banking on the delay between the time the victim deposits the bogus check and the notification to the victim's bank that the check is bad. In the meantime, the victim, believing the check to be valid, forwards the donation to the charity from his or her own account. After a few days or even weeks, the victim learns that the check was counterfeit. The victim is charged overdraft fees for excess withdrawals and may wind up several thousands of dollars in debt for performing "charitable" services. Some victims may even be charged criminally if law enforcement officials believe they were involved in the counterfeit check scam.
Although the fictitious charity names used by these scammers changes regularly, a few of the most recent names are listed below. Beware - there are a great many counterfeit check scams operating at any given moment, so this list is just the tip of the iceberg.
Many of the scam Web sites use information, and even names of individuals, found on Web sites for legitimate charities, such as Habitat for Humanity, among others.
A SIMILAR SCAM
A similar fraud has been circulating by e-mail in recent months. The contact telephone numbers given in these e-mail messages are fraudulent - they do not match the numbers listed on the charities' Web sites. This scam uses the names of British charitable organizations, including:
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Counterfeit check scams and bogus job offers are nothing new. What is new is the sophistication of these scammers.
But you can take steps to protect yourself. Here are some tips:
The BBB's Wise Giving Alliance has also prepared an alert on donation-processing scams, which can be accessed by visiting the Alliance's home page at www.give.org. The BBB's alert at give.org/news/projobscam.asp advises consumers:
MORE INFORMATION FOR CONSUMERS
Consumer Alerts on a variety of topics:
Visit the Attorney General's Web site or call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, toll-free. The contact information is provided below.
Counterfeit check scams:
CONTACT THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND THE US POSTAL INSPECTOR SERVICE FOR HELP
If you receive a job solicitation via e-mail that is similar to the one described above, please report the e-mail to the Michigan Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division and the United States Postal Inspector Service. Be sure to provide the names of any Web sites included in the offer. You may reach these offices at:
Michigan Department of Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
Toll free: 877-765-8388
United States Postal Inspector Service
Criminal Investigations Service Center
Attn: Mail Fraud
222 S. Riverside Plaza, Ste. 1250
Chicago, IL 60606-6100
313-226-8184 (Detroit Office)
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