Con Artists Target Unemployed

010402, story graphic unemployment jobless numbers, JM

Ian Leicht was desperate. "I feel like I was completely kicked while I was down," he tells CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason.

Out of work for 6 months, the Californian responded to an email from "Careers 2000," a counseling firm that claimed to have inside connections in his field of technology management. There was a catch.

"They wanted a $3,600 fee," says Leicht.

Ian paid $1,800 up front. But then the job listings arrived.

"Associate director, real estate facilities. Director, hospital physician consulting. The vast majority of them had very little to do with my background at all … I have no doubt whatsoever that I was ripped off," he says.

He's not alone. The council of better business bureaus says complaints are soaring. With unemployment lines growing longer, there are more opportunities for con artists.

Greg Ashe of the federal trade commission says newspapers are full of deceptive ads that appear to promise post office jobs.

One reads: "Help Wanted section. Postal Jobs. Attention Honolulu."

It almost looks like a federal government announcement.

"That's one of the things these companies do. They have the eagle, " explains Ashe.

And for $46.95 they offer sample tests and local job listings.

"But instead they'll get a statement that says the government hires clerks, the government hires postal carriers. So they're really getting nothing for their money," he says.

And $46.95 may not sound like much. But before the FTC shut down this company, it scammed approximately $28 million, according to Ashe.

There is a lesson to be learned here if you're looking for a job.

"Legitimate employment agencies usually don't charge a fee until you've actually landed a job. And most often they charge the employer, not the employee," Susan Grant of the National Consumers League tells Mason.

After Ian Leicht sued Careers 2000, he got his money back. But he's started a Web site called, "to set up a beacon for other people who've been ripped off."

And his audience is growing. Because as job seekers have multiplied, so have the scam artists offering empty promises.