Is This a Scam?

I still haven’t decided.  But my gut tells me “Yes”.

Looking for a job in this economy, you try to follow up every lead that looks legitimate, and you check a lot of places.  Craigslist has become one of the venues for classified ads, and a lot of companies are placing jobs on the site.  Craigslist is hyper-local, mostly text, and free.  There are many legitimate ads on Craigs, but a lot of scams as well.

I’ve seen hundreds of classified ads that direct the job seeker to a website where, for a nominal fee usually above $50 to somewhere north of $300, you can have “guaranteed income of as much as $1600 per week working at home on your computer”.  They usually go on to say that no actual computer skills are required, but whatever.  I looked at a couple before realizing that the only people who are likely to make guaranteed money from those sites are the people who set them up, and they appear pretty regularly with shifting names and spokespeople, all who have been wildly successful using the “system du jour”.  If it sounds too good to be true …

There are tons of “acting jobs” where you can “make $200-$400 per day as an extra.  Be prompt and enthusiastic and stand around in the backgrounds of shots”.  Again, the casting web site requires and investment.  Maybe legitimate, maybe not.  I’m not willing to part with $100 to find out.

But I haven’t quite figured this out.

The ad appeared for a “Part Time Communications Associate” for a Jacksonville Non-Profit:

Communications Associates conduct research, write copy, and produce articles for news , blog, website and Magazine copy. You will cover many topics, including: news; politics; culture; local and national events and human interest stories. Typical work activities Interviewing those affected by or involved in making political decisions;Building contacts to maintain a flow of news, such as police and emergency services, City Council, community organizations, etc; Seeking out and investigating stories via media contacts, press releases, other media, etc; Attending press conferences and asking questions; Attending a variety of events, such as council meetings; Producing concise and accurate copy according to deadlines; Writing and researching articles; and Creating and uploading news content for websites. Qualifications Interested applicants must:Have a background in communications or journalism;Have an advanced knowledge of spoken and written English; and Have knowledge of communications methods specific to the media (radio, TV and the Web), as well as interview techniques. Hiring Organization: confidential

The confidential was them, not me.  It really sounds like a legitimate job, and one that certainly I can do.  The pay wasn’t great, but I’m working on a couple of things, and it would have kept me in the loop with people and issues in which I’m interested.

With a Craigslist ad, you respond to a blind box.  Ok … I did.

I got back an e-mail that said, in part:

Because of all of the viruses we have been getting from opening fake resume attachments here on craigslist, if you have included a resume, we will NOT be able to directly open it from this email. It is very important you follow the instructions below so that we can actually view your resume and consider you for the position.

The directions were to click on a website to upload your resume and take a “personality test”.  Ok, I’m getting used to this kind of thing as well, so I clicked on the link.  On that page, I was notified that I had to install something called the iWon Toolbar on my computer to allow me to upload my resume and take the “personality test”.  The “iWon” toolbar had something to do with online gaming.

Uh-uh.  Not happening.  More adware and malware is installed on computers through these insidious little toolbars than anything else.

So, even though the e-mail said not to reply, I wrote back to “Thomas Morano, H.R. Department” to say I wasn’t going to install an online gaming toolbar on my browser to apply for a job.  I got back exactly the same e-mail.

So, I’m thinking this is a complete scam to get people to install the iWon toolbar on their computers.  I doubt there’s a legitimate job at all.  But if someone from the Jacksonville non-profit wants to explain, my e-mail is all over this blog.

Whether or not this is a legitimate ad, and it may be, I’ve seen plenty that are obvious scams.  It’s really pretty despicable that people will try to use this economy to convince people to send them money they don’t have, or to install malicious software on their computers.  I didn’t say I was surprised, because I’m not.  The human capacity to take advantage of people who are down and out, or scared witless about losing their homes, or just desperate to feed their families is well documented and often heartbreaking.  I’ve worked in the non-profit sector for years, both at C-SPAN and in Public Broadcasting.  I’ve met many of the people who work in the non-profit sector here in Northeast Florida.  I don’t know one that would run such an ad with a link that requires a silly toolbar to be installed to be considered for the position.

In these times, with so many of us out of work and so much of the job search process being conducted online, we job seekers have to be increasingly diligent to protect ourselves from scams and scam artists.  As I’ve said, I’ve applied for at least one legitimate job that appeared on Craigs List, but the contact information that was given on the ad included the company name and actual contact information.  It was a company I knew, so I had no problem responding to that ad.  I think my new rule is not to respond to anything on Craigslist with a blind box and or a “confidential” company.

I may miss a great job … but I’m betting not so much.

Sig

–scene–

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4 Comments

Filed under Job Search, Life, Scams, Thoughts

4 responses to “Is This a Scam?

  1. That sounds so odd. They worked really hard at making it sound like a pretty good and legit job if it is a scam. I hope their email was hit by a virus that “took over” and sent you the auto responder. A personality test? Check to see if the job is also posted on idealist.org or mediabistro.com. With that job description it should be.

  2. Austin Cassidy

    Agreed – sounds very fishy.

  3. Debby

    There are a lot of scam jobs on Craigslist. My DH has totally given up even looking at jobs there unless the responses go to something other than a blind box because of the resume writing and overseas bank scams. It really upsets us how these people prey on individuals who are scared and desperate in this economy.

  4. fullybakedbear

    Got the email this morning.

    Here is the look up data on the site
    DomainsByProxy.com
    15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
    United States

    Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
    Domain Name: TIPOTTA.COM
    Created on: 31-Mar-09
    Expires on: 31-Mar-10
    Last Updated on: 01-Apr-09

    I will be contacting both companies later today. Everyone else should as well.

    My tips are to do a whois google search on every domain from a response to your job submissions.

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