Conventional work wisdom says that the best way to find work is to network. Searching ads, sending out applications and resumes, and walking into businesses to talk to the manager may yield desired results for some people, but the best way to find the work you’re looking for is to reach out to people you know who are in a position to hire you, and people who might be connected to those people. This makes the cloning work scam particularly lucrative for scammers,
The con begins with a classic case of facebook account cloning, sometimes called spoofing. We have all gotten the non-work version of this scam. Somebody on our friends list appears to send us a message, but when we open it, all they have to say to us is “Is this you?” or “Look at this video I found of you!” with a link we can click on. These messages are not from the person they appear to be from. The scammer has stolen their profile photo, their name, and any other details they can copy, and created a second account that they control. Clicking on the link opens your computer up to the scammer’s malware, allowing them access to your financial accounts and other personal information.
To run the work scam, the scammer does the same thing with a local facebook account, only instead of sending messages to the person’s friends, they post a job ad in local groups. A recent ad circulating around the Utica area offers the opportunity to work from home doing data entry for $25 per hour. Group members are asked to private message the account for more details.
Once you send a message inquiring about the job, you receive the following reply:
“This is an online and work from home job the working hours are flexible and you can chose to work from anywhere of your choice,the pay is $25 per hour training is $15 per hour and you will be getting payed weekly via direct deposit or credit card top up and the maximum amount you can work a week is 40 hours. I believe working from home will not be a problem for you ?”
Notice that although the account appears to be someone in your community working in a data entry job, the grammar, spelling, and word choice are incorrect and awkward. It is also noteworthy that the company can only pay you in ways that require you to give them your banking and/or credit card information.
Once you assure them that working from home will not be a problem for you, they say, “Okay good. Job Description & Responsibilities. Data entry is all about speed, accuracy, and attention to detail. You enters information into computer databases for effective record keeping. Daily responsibilities include: Organizing files and collecting data to be entered into the computer and appropriate software entering. I'm sure you can handle all this as a Data. Entry clerk ?”
Again, they are recruiting for a job that requires accuracy and attention to detail, yet their dialogue is barely readable, and contains mistakes and strange phrasing, even in that short message.
Further messages include pressure to download their preferred private messenger app from the Google store, so that you can communicate with the hiring manager.
At this point, it may still be tempting to convince yourself that this is genuine. After all, you do give your direct deposit information to any job that offers direct deposit once you’re hired. And many Americans who speak English as their native language do have poor written communication skills these days. Seeing posts that say “Your doing great!” instead of the correct “You’re doing great!” or “What are there hours?” instead of “What are their hours?” is far from uncommon. And we use “positive” and “negative” to refer to anything that pleases or displeases us on any level.
But even a person who forgets basic grammar and uses the same two words for everything can understand and answer a direct question in their native language, especially when the question is one they would likely hear and be expected to answer on a regular basis. There is no reason why a fully functioning, native English speaking adult whose job involves recruiting others to work for their company would not be able to understand and answer the question, “What is a typical work day like for you?” The person you are talking to when responding to these ads cannot do that.
“They like to see an had working and fast people,” was the first answer I received to that question. I asked it again, using slightly different phrasing. The answer was, “I work 30hrs week.” When I tried a third time, they said, “You can work as hours you want to in a day Once you start the interview you will understand everything”
“But what is a day of work like for you as an employee?” I asked.
“I work from Monday til Friday,” the scammer said.
“Can you describe a typical workday?” I then asked.
“I don’t no the kind of job that is available right now When you start your interview you will be good,” said the scammer.
Before blocking them, I tossed out a couple of silly questions and statements, just to see if they could even follow a conversation. The scammer I talked to can pick up on a few words. They asked if I was only focused on the money when I asked if I could earn millions of dollars, responding, “Are you looking after the money or.” I assured them that no, I also wanted a job that would allow me enough time to teach my dog to drive. They said, “Your dog to drive Wow I don’t know dog also drive car.”
This is clearly not really someone working for a company that demands anything fast and accurate, unless you count quickly collecting the credit card and bank account information of their scam victims.
In order to learn the details of the scam, I interacted with this account even more than I should have. The best response is to simply report any of these “looking for people to do data entry at home” job ads to the group administrator right away. And if you happen to know the person whose name, photo, and other details are being used, let them know what’s going on.
When looking at job ads on social media, respond only to those posted by an established local business or a well-known professional. Make sure the content makes sense, such as a hairdresser posting that they have space for another stylist, or a hotel seeking a desk clerk. If they offer an application on Indeed dot com or through their website, or provide email or phone contact information, use it rather than sending everything in social media messaging.
If you must communicate with a prospective employer or client through social media, spend enough time chatting with them to determine that you are communicating with the person presented. Never give out your banking information or any other sensitive information until you have been given and completed a W-4 form, or signed an independent contractor agreement, with an established company. Taking extra steps may seem like a hassle, especially when you need work right away, but it would take a lot more time and energy to deal with identity theft or a drained bank account.
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com