Be skeptical of any job offers that ask for money up front
The rate of unemployment is expected to rise in the Middle East from 10.2% in 2011 to 10.5% by 2013 and, while job seekers are scouring the internet and classifieds on the hunt for jobs, scammers are doing the same thing, except they’re on the hunt for unsuspecting victims.
Global payment service provider, Western Union warns that consumer frauds targeting job seekers flourish, particularly online, during tough economic times. They generally start with a too-good-to-be-true offer—work from home and earn thousands of dollars a month, no experience needed—and end with consumers out of a ‘job’ and out of money.
“Earnest people looking to make an honest living are often preyed upon by sophisticated scammers luring them in with ‘easy money’ offers,” said Shelley Bernhardt, director of Consumer Protection at Western Union. “But there are warning signs that can help people steer clear of employment scams, like claims of guaranteed employment and having to pay up-front fees.”
Knowledge is key to avoiding becoming a victim and, while there are lots of variations, job scams generally follow one of two patterns:
1. Scammers pose as ‘recruiters’ pitching offers of guaranteed employment or as ‘employers’ extending job offers on the condition that victims pay up-front for things like credit checks or application or recruitment fees. Victims pay, but job offers never materialise.
2. Scammers pose as ‘company’ representatives and seek sensitive personal and/or financial information from victims under the guise of doing credit or background checks. They target victims later on for identity theft.
Top tips to bear in mind
- If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. With job scams, fraudsters lure people in with ‘easy money’ offers like high wages for little or no experience and promises of guaranteed employment.
- Be skeptical of any job offer where you have to pay money up front.
- If you’re communicating with anyone by email, check for common red flags like poor grammar, misspellings, character/spacing mistakes, and excessive capitalisation. Look for use of generic email addresses rather than specific business email addresses.
- Be cautious when dealing with people who say they currently live overseas or are out of the country on business. Scammers tell victims this to explain why they can’t meet in person. Be cautious also if they prefer to communicate via e-mail only.
- Don’t send money to anyone you don’t know and trust, especially people you’ve never met in-person.
Western Union provides a trusted and reliable way for people to send money to family members and friends. However, it is important to remember that a money transfer can be paid out to the receiver within a short time—even minutes—and after the money is paid, consumers cannot obtain a refund from Western Union, even if the transfer was the result of fraud.
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