By Christopher A. Bish
Folks, as you know, the myriad financial scams plaguing our communities are a direct result of high unemployment rates in these mediocre economic times. One variation that has raised its ugly head in our community recently is a relatively new version of the proverbial employment or job scam.
Typically, fraudsters conjure up what seems to be a plausible employment opportunity and entice the innocent, unsuspecting unemployed hopeful, by offering a “too good to be true” high paying job from home through classified ads in local newspapers or spam/junk e-mails. While most schemes are designed to elicit the victim’s personal financial information so the schemer can merely pilfer the new employee’s bank account, this one, however, is intended to use the applicant’s legitimate bank account as a means to cash seemingly authentic but fictitiously created checks.
Once the eager applicant furnishes their resume to substantiate, they possess the requisite qualifications for the advertised position, a series of follow-up e-mails result in the long sought after employment offer. A short time later, a supervisor notifies the “new employee” via e-mail that they are out of the country and need a check or two cashed. A day or so later, an overnight express delivery envelope arrives at the “new hires” address containing any number of checks with instructions to cash them and then to wire the currency to the supervisor via Western Union immediately.
Most, if not all, financial institutions refrain from cashing any financial instrument from outside the account holder’s state of residency, consequently, they’ll deposit the check(s) into the account holders account pending clearance which takes anywhere from three to seven business days. This in effect is the institutions’ way of “floating” their valued customer a loan until the checks clear while holding the account holder accountable for any potentially fraudulent transactions. Of course, the “new hire” diligently follows the supervisor’s instructions and wires the cash accordingly. They then notify the supervisor of the wire transfer and the supervisor retrieves the currency somewhere in the world.
Unfortunately, in the recent case, the check did not clear as it was deemed to be counterfeit, therefore, the bank held the account holder liable for the roughly $1,400 overdraft. Consequently, the “new hire” just became victimized and now has to compensate the bank for the amount deposited/withdrawn. Naturally, when the “new hire” contacted the supervisor regarding the bank’s overdraft notification, there was no response from the supervisor.
Although law enforcement agencies exhaust every available resource to apprehend scam artists, these cases are frustratingly difficult to investigate. Rarely do those who prey upon the innocent employing these deceptive techniques leave a trail sufficient enough to support a vigorous prosecution. Consequently, an overwhelming majority of deceivers perpetuate their scams with virtual impunity.
Folks, there are scores of scams out there! Be especially leery of anything that appears “too good to be true”—more than likely, it is not.