DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - If you're searching for a job, beware. You could be the latest target of cyber thieves.
"I thought I'd finally found a job," said Elizabeth Bee who said she moved to Dallas in search of a job, but instead found a scam.
"I'm really frustrated. I've been looking... for six months," Bee said.
Bee posted her resume on LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter and Indeed.
"I got a text from someone claiming they had positions like clerical and administrative and asked me which I'd be more interested in," she said.
The text appeared to be from a recruiter working for a man named Andrew Cleland at Enigma Technologies. The recruiter told Bee she was scheduling a job interview for her with Cleland on the chat room Google Hangout.
"It seemed like it might be normal nowadays the way things are changing," said Bee talking about the online interview.
On Google Hangout, a person she believed to be Cleland congratulated her and told her she was hired! He then told her she would soon receive a check from Enigma Technologies which she needed to deposit to purchase some work-related software.
At this point, Bee became slightly suspicious deciding to do some homework on her new employers. She was relieved to find the company's website. The recruiter had described it accurately to her according the details on the site.
She was even more relieved to find Andrew Cleland whose name was listed on the site. He is a board member.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK *THOROUGHLY*
But diving deeper, Bee spotted a warning on Andrew Cleland's Linkedin profile. At that point, her new job prospect was anything but perfect.
The real Andrew Cleland had posted a warning saying scammers had been using his name to falsely recruit and steal personal data.
"I felt really scared. I thought maybe I should have never got into this," Bee said.
The I-Team contacted Andrew Cleland who sent CBS 11 the following statement:
Job candidates should double-check that communications from a recruiter or hiring manager are coming from a valid company email address. And, use social media to research potential employers in the same way companies are performing diligence on your background.
In recent weeks, there have been reports of similar job scams in Florida, New York and Wisconsin.
The BBB reports the median loss is more than $1,200 per victim. The reports states they lose money after providing personal information, giving money to buy equipment, or getting over paid with a fake check and then asked to wire back the difference.
The I-Team also investigated the resume review trick after receiving emails sent to us by viewers. In them, recruiters tell job seekers they need to pay a small fee to improve their resumes. The recruiting businesses appear to be in New York, but the I-Team could not get anyone on the phone at any of the locations.
EVEN ENTANGLING NON-JOB SEEKERS
One of the companies, FS Recruiting Inc, had a website but it recently shut down.
The I-Team tried tracking down one of the executives listed on the original site.
Under the smiling photo of a business man, Vernon Smith was listed as the founder and CEO. The I-Team could not find Vernon Smith so CBS 11 traced the picture instead all the way to another country.
The I-Team learned that the man in the picture is not Vernon Smith but rather Alan Austin, a reporter in France.
Austin confirmed that the picture of Vernon Smith is really him.
"I had no idea it came as quite a shock to discover this site," said Austin.
To his surprise, Austin, an investigative journalist, also tracked down his photo on another recruiting site, ExecProRecruit. He is listed as the founder here also, but, on this site, he is Jeremy Hollister.
"My main reaction was just concerned for the victims who are going to be sucked in by this.They are highly professional sites... They will find many people prepared to pay the fees they are asking... (They) are just going to lose the money and the prospect of a job," said Austin.
Austin has no idea why these alleged recruiting companies are using his image. He can only assume his easily attainable image matched what they believe they needed to be credible.
"It didn't take me long to realize that all they've done is lifted a photo which is publicly available on more than one media site which I contribute to in Australia.
As a journalist, it's not difficult for someone to lift a photo."
HOW ELABORATE IS THE SCHEME?
The I-Team even found some of the companies listing their fake managers' bios on very real business profile sites. "Jeff Walker" is allegedly the Senior Executive Recruiter at FS Recruiting Inc.
The I-Team has repeatedly tried to find a spokesperson for the company to explain.
HOW DO THE RECRUITERS FIND JOB SEEKERS?
Many victims have reported listing their resumes or employment profiles on common hiring platforms used by job searchers and employers. The I-Team reached out to several for comments.
Indeed's mission is to help people get jobs, and the quality of the advertisements posted by third parties on our site is central to our mission. Indeed has a team dedicated to the Search Quality effort, and employs a variety of techniques to review job advertisements to determine their suitability. Indeed reserves the right to remove any job postings that do not meet our standards and we encourage job seekers to report any suspect job advertisements to us, or if they feel it necessary, to make a report to the police. Jobseekers should never agree to send payment to a potential employer, and charging fees is a violation of Indeed's rules for companies posting on our site. We encourage job seekers to review ourGuidelines for Safe Job Search.
As an employment marketplace that connects job seekers and employers, we are acutely aware that there are bad actors out there who, whether on job boards or on other platforms for internet commerce and communication, seek to use the cloak of anonymity provided by technology to take advantage of others. And while we are pleased that our growth has enabled a dramatic increase in both the number of people we can help and the quality of our service, we are also aware that we have become more visible not only to legitimate participants but also to bad actors.
That is why we have implemented --and continue to refine and improve-- our systems to address this important issue:
On the front end, we use proprietary detection software and have stringent client onboarding processes to vet potential posters and deny access for those who fail to pass our screens.
On the back end, we re-run our detection software on job listings as they're posted and have customer service representatives available seven days a week to investigate and weed out suspicious posts.
Still, no system is perfect, no matter how sophisticated or well-intentioned. That is why we take steps to educate job seekers about how to spot suspicious activity and encourage reporting of all such activity to us so we can investigate and take prompt remedial action. Any such reports should be sent to our dedicated email address: email@example.com.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from potential scams:
Report suspicious emails.
Be wary of anyone requesting you transfer funds to a different account or writing a check on your account and sending it to them.
Check with your bank to make sure any check is legitimate before you attempt to cash it.
If you discover that a check is fraudulent, file a report with your local police department.
We don't provide numbers of postings publicly, but we do report on number of fake profiles we take down, which can be the source fake content. Automated technology is an important part to keeping job seekers protected when searching for opportunities on LinkedIn. And we do comply with any law enforcement requests.
RED FLAG WARNINGS
A recruiter should never ask you for personal information.
A new employer should not ask you to immediately buy, or send you a check to for, equipment software, or supplies.
Don't pay to apply. You should not have to pay any upfront fees.
Be leery of a phone call or online chat quickly turning into a job offer.
A recruiter should never ask you to sign a non-disclosure agreement or contract.
The Federal Trade Commission also provides warnings on its website.
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