On July 21 2005, I received an email from a company asking me to accept a simple, but very profitable job offer. Being new to posting my resume online, I was thrilled that not only had I gotten an offer, it was a job I could do from home – no interaction with potentially rude customers, no rigid schedules, and it wasn’t complicated, all of which were important to me. So I replied to the email, signed an employment agreement, and I was on top of the world. The perfect job had fallen right into my lap. Right?
The employer is a Russian software company called GLOD-Soft looking to expand their market in the UK, US and Canada. Their research had indicated that their products had good sales potential in North America, in addition to their branches in the Ukraine, Belarus and eventually, in Germany. Their expansion was proving difficult because certain convenient payment options aren’t currently available in Russia (or so they claim). So they were hiring agents in Canada and the US to process funds primarily via Interac Email Transfers and wire the money to their head office in Russia via Western Union. The compensation for this work was a percentage of each payment processed. An added bonus was that all bank charges, transfer charges, and wire charges were to be covered by the company.
To give an example of the money making potential this job falsely presented, the first Interac Email Transfer I was to process was in the amount of $967 CAD. My compensation would have been $145 CAD. The payee stopped this transfer because more products/services were to be added to the overall bill, meaning more money for me in the long run. The following day the second Interac Email Transfer was sent to me to process in the amount of $950 CAD. My share would have been $142.50 CAD. That’s $247.50 CAD for 2 days work (total work time, about 30 minutes). Not a bad deal, if you ask me.
So, you ask, what’s the problem?
The problem is that when I went top process my second transfer via my bank’s website, I couldn’t log in at all. I called the bank’s customer service hotline to resolve the problem. Much to my horror, the bank’s security department had frozen my bank account! This all happened ion a Friday evening, and here I was, stuck with no access to my account, and a three-day weekend was just around the corner. I was not impressed. (Polite version, I assure you).
So, with three days of financial paralysis, I decided to do what I should have done before I even signed the employment contract – independently research the company. My research led me to www.phonebusters.com which is a national anti-fraud call center jointly operated by the Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. An article posted on this site described on of the newest scams, the Employment Recruitment Scam. This scam involves companies or individuals who are usually based in Canada and the US posing as foreign software development companies looking to expand their markets. They search North American resume posting and job sites looking for unsuspecting citizens to permit them to filter supposed company money through their bank accounts. To appear convincing and legitimate, these companies present fully functioning websites, some boasting reliability seals and endorsements. They present contracts, and oddly enough, the majority of the correspondence – even the contract itself – contains spelling, grammar errors, and at times, the wording was so odd that it didn’t make any sense. At first, this didn’t cause me any worry because I thought these people were Russian, and I could understand that the English language could have presented a challenge.
The fraud aspect comes from the fact that most of these phony companies are putting on a front to cover-up the real issue – the money is stolen. And it’s their employees’ jobs to actually transfer the money out of the country. This, of course, is illegal, and to participate in such operations can lead to criminal prosecution, whether the agent knows the mess they are in or not.
Luckily enough, the bank froze my account to prevent any of the Interac Email Transfers from being deposited into my account. Had the transfer been completed and I got caught with that money, I fear to think of the legal tangle I could have ended up in. I had to close my bank account and open a new one and be issued a new Cash-Stop card, which was the extent to my misery, thank heavens. I was glad to be done with it.
If you receive an email (unsolicited or in response to your resume posting) containing details similar to the ones I have mentioned, do NOT accept the job. Simply report it to local authorities. And be sure to thoroughly research any home-based job or business opportunity before getting involved. Better to go in after taking precautionary steps than to jump head first into unknown water.
Trust me, it was a lesson well learned.