Every time I write about job scams, there are always a bunch of people who get on their high horses: “What morons,” they say. “How could a smart person fall for such a scam?”
This pompous attitude is why we have such a hard time eradicating scams in this country. Everyone is just too smart to be duped. If no one can be duped, then there’s no problem, right?
Well, lots of smart people are flimflammed everyday, and often it’s because they’re desperate — desperate to find work, to keep a roof over their heads, to get food on the table for their kids. Don’t think you’re any better than they are, because you’re not.
In hindsight, it was a recipe for job scam disaster.
“I just never thought that I could become a victim of a scam like this,” she said. “I knew not to answer e-mails where a person was asking for help in their country. I knew not to fall for those, but to have scammers now inhabiting job boards and taking advantage of people looking for legitimate jobs is heart breaking. I consider myself to be an intelligent person, but I was scammed. That means anyone can be scammed.”
Geisler fell prey to one of the most popular scams out there, the Western Union cashier’s check dupe:
Here’s her account:
“I was scammed out $1,900 over a year ago due to a job scam from Craig’s List. The job was for an Advertising Agent. I was sent a Cashiers Check for $1,900 and I was to send the money western union to an Advertising client for placing an ad, and I was to keep a certain percentage of the money for my wage. I sent the money western union,
and then the next day, the cashiers check in my bank came back as a forgery. I was liable for the whole $1,900. I have all of the paperwork from e-mails, Western Union, and the bank as evidence of
This happens so often that you shouldn’t expect much compassion from your bank or law enforcement; and that’s just what Geisler got, little sympathy.
“There was nothing that anyone could have done. The police couldn’t do anything because the person who scammed me lived out of the country. The bank had very little sympathy for me. I am no longer with that bank.”
She’s sharing her story here because she wants everyone to know it can happen to anyone, and she hopes telling her tale of job woe will help others see these scams for what they are.
“I was in shock after I learned how I was taken, and I felt stupid and ashamed that I could have fallen for something like this. I was upset because I allowed myself to become desperate while searching for a job that I didn’t do the proper research beforehand.”
And be especially vigilant when it comes to work-at-home scams. Those are the most pervasive, experts say. Here’s a column I wrote for MSNBC.com on the topic. And here’s some great advice from the Better Business Bureau on employment scams in general. Also, next week my MSNBC.com will address job scams related to the BP oil spill. You can check that out on Monday here.
So, we all need to take a deep breath, and we need to tell our family members and friends to take a deep breath if we smell something fishy. Ask yourself: “Is what I am about to do out of desperation a sensible act, or could I be heading head first into the scam abyss?”
Ask yourself this question. That’s all, just ask.
OK, full disclosure here. A few years before my father was diagnosed with lung cancer he was taken in an elaborate financial scam. He died still lamenting his poor judgment, and I’ve often wondered how a smart man like my dad would allow himself to believe in the unbelievable. But he did.
Sometimes people do things in a moment of desperation that can’t quite be explained. And the economy seems to be making us more gullible.
Fraud complaints to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center were up in the double digits last year and one of the popular categories for scammers was job site scams.
If it’s a sin to be duped by a huckster, and you think you’re better than that, then I’ll have to go all “John 8:7″ crazy on you:
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.”