An email in response to a writer’s bio I had posted offered me a data entry position. It is not too uncommon for some of us who work from home to be contacted by publishers. I’ve picked up a handful of work this way. Data entry though? Not my forte. My internal scam warning system went to code orange.
As I looked at the email, the starting wage was within reason ($15-$20 an hour). Usually scammers offer entry level pay worthy of Donald Trump’s apprentice, prompting me to immediately move said email to the trash. Also, grammar and wording suggested no evidence of a foreign writer, seeking to funnel my income to another spot on the globe.
The site I had my resume posted was mentioned by name in the body of the email and the responding company’s website information was included. While it seemed unlikely I had landed a job in an unrelated field, there were tidbits of credibility.
Ok, I’ll bite. Let’s see what happens.
The next step was an online interview by a “Mrs. Cindy Jones” scheduled for the next day via Yahoo Messenger. Me and Mrs. Jones got a thing goin’ on for ten a.m., sharp.
I looked up the company’s website, familiarized myself with them and waited on messenger. Mrs. Cindy, as she preferred to be called, appeared at the appointed hour, and began questioning me regarding the following:
- Age/birth date
- Internet and computer connection/hardware
My scam alert system now moved to high alert, “Condition Red,” based on items #1 & 2 “You are in the presence of a scammer.” “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger”. For starters, it’s perfectly legal to ask if an applicant is over the age of 18, but not ok to ask for birthdates or age. My gender should not be a consideration to employment and frankly, given my first name, would be fairly obvious to a U.S. citizen. Hmm…
When I asked her to describe the position, several times, her response was simply, “We’ll get to that”. And we didn’t for quite some time. I knew I was talking to a scammer, but decided to take them for a ride. Let’s see how far we can go, huh?
After being asked four times if I was familiar with Word and Excel, I began making up versions of Word.
Mrs. Cindy: So you are able to use properly and understand MS Word?
Me: Yes, and also MS CRAP 2007, and F.R.A.U.D. 2008 Word.
Mrs. Cindy: Good. Good. That is good. Do you have any references?
(Also listed on my bio, she supposedly had).
Me: Yes. You may contact Richard Branson. He’s with Virgin Mobile. Also, Mr. Al Gore, he used to be a Vice President with a company I am associated with. Would you like their email addresses?
Mrs. Cindy: Excellent. We’ll get to that.
(Good thing too, ‘cause Sir Richard Branson’s hard to reach between jetting all over the planet and Al Gore’s busy with his environmental stuff these days)
Then, as if scripted in the Scam-a-Lot Hand Book…
Mrs. Cindy: Would you like to be paid via wire transfer or by direct deposit?
(Wow! I’m getting paid and I haven’t even gotten the job yet! It must be my proficiency in MS CRAP 2007)
Me: (flipping coin) Direct Deposit.
Mrs. Cindy: May I to please have your bank routing number, name, and account number?
I was now enjoying this way too much to let it end.
Me: No, you see I am always worried about scams. I have a lot of money in my bank account. Can you please tell me more about the job first before I give you that information?
Mrs. Cindy: Of course. Of course. You will enter data from our company, do accounting and perform payroll functions. You will use the following software- Quick Books and Peachtree accounting versions. We do not expect you to buy these programs. If you give me your routing and bank account number we will immediately reimburse you.
Me: Well, it sounds like a great idea! I am excited to work for Jeff also.
Mrs. Cindy: I do not understand. Who is Jeff?
Me: I looked up your company online, and it turns out I know the owner!
(I don’t, but the website listed his name).
Me: I called Jeff this morning, you know, your boss- to let him know I was interviewing for a spot at his company. He said he didn’t know a Mrs. Cindy Jones worked for him.
Mrs. Cindy: (silence) (and more silence)
Me: He did tell me to clinch the job; I should give you a link to my best work. Would you like it?
Mrs. Cindy: Yes.
Me: Here it is, click on this link http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspxand you will see. After that, I think we can finish up with any required banking information.
Mrs. Cindy: Yes. I will be happy to see the link. Most happy.
Mrs. Cindy: I do not understand, what is this?
Me: It’s the FBI internet crimes website I just reported you to. Mrs. Cindy? Mrs. Cindy? Hello?
Note regarding scammers:
- Always look up company info online, including how email is addressed. If someone claims to be with a company, odds are their email will be from that company’s email. (Such as email@example.com).
- Never give any company your bank accounting number, ever. Reputable online work usually pays via secure PayPal transactions.
- While you can get unsolicited job offers if you have resumes posted, be wary till you check them out. (This may include calling or emailing the company).
- Finally, trust your savvy gut.
I’m still waiting to give my “Scammy” award to Mrs. Cindy. If anyone hears from her, let me know, ok?