Maxim Trader Scam

Scam Job Offers

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10 Ways to Recognize a Job ScamHow to Find Real Job PossibilitiesTrending Types of Job ScamsClassic Job Scams
Resources for Job SeekersNational Sources of Information and Help with ScamsState Level Resources

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Scams targeting job-seekers are increasing. Technology has made this possible. Now it is even easier for scammers to target people who are looking for work, using newer tools such as phony websites, unsolicited emails, robocalls and cold calls using faked origin phone numbers, remote interviews using tools such as Skype, social media, instant messenger services, Internet pop-up ads, and more. Of course, these criminals use all the same traditional methods to reach their victims too: flyers, posters, letters, and advertisements.

Scammers who prey on job seekers have no mercy. They will try to steal your identity and your money, could try to involve you in a criminal enterprise, and may leave you deeply in debt – unless you know how to recognize their tricks.

1. Job offers from strangers. If someone offers you a job without getting an application from you first, meeting you, or doing an interview, it’s a scam.

2. High pay for simple work. Be wary if ads, emails, or callers promise to pay a lot of money for jobs that don’t seem to require much effort, skill, or experience. Usually such offers turn out to be a scam.

3. Requests for money. If someone wants you to pay a fee or buy something to get work, stop. This is a sure sign of a scam. Once you’ve paid, the scammer disappears and so does your money.

  • Criminals may ask you to pay money to cover application or enrollment fees, employment screening fees, purchase of materials or office supplies, shipping costs, training fees, and so on.
  • If you wire a payment to somebody, it may not be possible to get your money back. Scammers may also ask you to purchase gift cards and provide the card’s code numbers or request other forms of payment that are quick and hard to recover, such as payment apps.

4. Requests for personal identity or financial information. Be very suspicious if an unfamiliar “employer” or recruiter asks for your Social Security number, birth date, bank account number, or other private information that could be used to steal your identity.

  • An employer should never request your Social Security number prior to an interview. It is common for job scammers to try to get this critical information when pretending to hire the victim. Don’t give such details to anyone you have not investigated first or whom you have not met.
  • If you have not met the employer in person, do not agree to a background check, which could put you at risk of identity theft.

5. Fake checks. Some scammers send checks to cover the supposed cost of doing a job, with a portion to be used as payment to the worker. This is a technique often called an “overpayment” scam.

  • The fake check may look real and appears to clear at first, but soon it bounces – typically after the victim has spent a lot of money to benefit the scammer.
  • Even cashier’s checks and money orders can be faked by scammers, so beware of checks that are sent by unfamiliar people. Job scam victims can lose thousands due to fake checks.

6. High pressure to act now. Reject anybody who pushes you hard to accept an unsolicited offer of work, or who pressures you to take other actions that seem unusual, for the sake of a job. High pressure is always a sign that something is wrong.

7. Long-distance employer. Many job scams involve opportunities that seem to come from an employer located in another country or a distant state. Watch out! Scammers use this as an excuse to hide their identities. If the employer lists only a P.O. Box and does not provide a local street address, be wary: this is also a way of hiding that the scammer may be in a remote location. However, be aware that there are also cases where bold scammers open temporary offices and conduct in-person interviews – and then vanish, after taking your money or identity information.

8. Suspicious emails. All unsolicited emails bearing job offers should be viewed with suspicion. If you receive a job offer in an email that comes from a free email service, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo, it is very likely to be a scam. Most real employers will use an email address related to their company’s website address. Bear in mind that it is also easy for scammers to imitate an email address from a legitimate company.

9. Fake websites. If the company making the job offer has a website, check to see when the website was established. You can do this by entering the website address in a “WHOIS” lookup site.

  • If the website was established only recently, contains many language errors, or doesn’t work properly, it could be a scam.
  • If contact information for a physical street address for the business is missing or does not make sense, be cautious: a cellphone number and email address are not sufficient.
  • Don’t click on links that someone sends you to verify a company’s identity. Instead, search the web on your own with the company name and check location addresses online to see if they match the business.

10. Ask the BBB! It only takes minutes to check a company’s record with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) at www.bbb.org and you can even search scam reports using BBB’s Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us. Also, you can call your local BBB office if you want help figuring out whether you are looking at a scam.

1. Search through reputable channels. Look at job listings on well-known, legitimate employment websites, as well as job openings posted on websites of companies where you might like to work. Check job postings that are available through your college’s career center. Work with reputable employment agencies (check to see if they are required to be licensed in your area). Ask friends and relatives to let you know of job opportunities.

2. Stick to job opportunities that you have researched and applied for yourself. Avoid job opportunities that are offered by strangers who may contact you by email, phone, or social media. Do not respond to job offers that you did not apply for. Even when you are submitting an application, check to be sure that the job is legitimate before making contact.

3. Always check job listings to verify whether they are genuine. Be aware that even reputable websites and college career centers can have job scam listings posted, especially sites and bulletin boards such as Craigslist, where posting is easy to do and free. If you publish your resume on a job website, this can sometimes lead to unwanted contacts from potential scammers.

  • Visit the website of the potential employer’s company by searching for it online. Check all the jobs posted on that website, to see if the job you are interested in is listed there. If it is not, that is a red flag that the job you are interested in might not be a real one.
  • Do an Internet search of the company name with the word “scam” to see if any warnings from scam victims come up in search results.
  • Check to see if the company has a track record with www.bbb.org, in social media, or in websites such as Glassdoor where employees post reviews of their employers.
  • Be aware that scammers also steal the identities of real companies to commit their frauds. Sophisticated scammers can create bogus checks and websites that look real. They may also use stolen names and photos of actual employees to help them convince victims that job scams are real opportunities.

4. Know which job types are often used in scams. Certain kinds of employment are frequent targets for scammers. Be especially cautious if seeking work in these fields: there may be real jobs available in rare cases, but scam jobs are much more common.

  • Common job types targeted by scammers include caregiving, virtual administrative assistant, customer service representative, driver of an advertising-wrapped car, security guard, medical billing, processing rebates, envelope stuffing, re-packing and re-shipping merchandise, posting reviews online or conducting online searches, secret or mystery shopping, forwarding or transferring payments, or other types of work-at-home employment. Some scam job offers may appear on websites that specialize in professions such as caregiving.
  • Also, some glamorous-sounding jobs may be high-scam areas, such as modeling, acting, movie or TV-related jobs, and sports or entertainment marketing. Such scam jobs typically target people with no prior experience, which is a signal to be very wary.

5. Manage your social media accounts to protect yourself. Some scammers may try to gain greater access to your social media account to learn more about you, either to target you and your contacts with scam offers, or to use your identity for scam purposes.

  • Be cautious about accepting friend requests from people you don’t know, even if you have some friends in common. Accept invitations only from people that you have checked out or that you have met.
  • You can set your social media privacy controls to limit the ability of strangers to contact you that way. This can help protect you against job scam approaches that come through social media.
Trending Types of Job Scams
Remote Data Entry and Virtual Administrative Assistant Job Scams

Many recent job scams pose as offers of work-at-home data entry or virtual administrative assistant positions for employers located elsewhere. Scammers offering these opportunities may contact you by email or through credible job-search sites, saying you are qualified to do high-paying work with flexible hours from home. Some may even conduct a fake job interview from a remote location, over the phone, or using tools such as Skype. The scammers convince you to pay fees, buy materials, make payments on their behalf, or give personal information.

For example, with “virtual assistant” scams, the victim is often given the task of registering the employer for a real industry conference, and the scammer sends a fake check to cover the registration cost as well as wages. This check will eventually bounce: but when deposited, the funds released by the bank at first are not enough to cover the conference registration costs. The scammer then instructs the assistant to purchase gift cards, scratch off the backs to expose the validation codes, take pictures, and forward the pictures of the codes to someone that is supposedly the conference manager for registration purposes. Supposedly the gift card costs will be covered when the check is fully released by the bank. Of course, the emails with the gift card codes are actually going to the scammer; the fake check will bounce; and the victim will lose a big sum.

Once they have your money and your identity information, the scammers disappear. Victims never receive paychecks and do not even receive money to cover their expenses. Some victims of this type of scam have lost thousands of dollars that they could not afford to lose.

There are genuine work opportunities involving clerical tasks such as data entry, typing, billing, and processing: most of these take place in traditional, in-person job settings. It is unlikely that a legitimate company would outsource clerical and administrative work to unfamiliar employees in remote locations, so treat all such unsolicited opportunities as potential scams.

Virtually all re-shipping jobs are scams. This scheme is especially dangerous, because it involves unsuspecting consumers in shipping stolen or counterfeit goods – a crime - and can also result in significant money losses.

Trader

In this type of scam, the consumer is recruited by a criminal posing as a representative of a logistics, shipping, or transport company. The victim may be offered a job title such as merchandise coordinator or project manager, with an extremely generous training, salary, or commission compensation package.

After being “hired”, the scam victim is asked to receive packages at home, for inspection or re-packing and re-shipment. The scammer may provide pre-paid shipping labels, which the consumer is instructed to use when re-shipping received packages through the mail to various locations, usually overseas.

Typically, consumers who fall for this scam are not paid for their work, and sometimes have paid some of the shipping costs themselves. Eventually, the scam company stops responding to consumer’s calls or messages, phone lines are disconnected, and emails begin to bounce. By this time, the victim may have lost money and potentially be at risk for criminal prosecution.

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Office Set-Up Scams

This type of operation could leave consumers with excessive money losses, bank fees, or credit card charges, and could potentially also expose them to identify theft.

In this scenario, the scam employer claims to be a company that is headquartered overseas, which is looking to open an office or hire remotely-based staff in America. The scammer contacts the consumer by email with an offer of immediate hire. Frequently this may happen after the target has posted his or her resume on a legitimate employment website. In some cases, scammers have connected with potential victims through communication technology platforms such as Slack.

Often, the scam company may try to look legitimate by publishing a convincing website and offering paperwork such as employment contracts. Some victims may even be required to undergo online training to show that they are suitable for the scam job.

Then, the company mails a fake check to the consumer to be used for office set-up expenses. Victims are told to deposit the check into their personal bank accounts and use the funds to purchase office equipment such as computers, printers, software, etc. After the check is deposited, the consumer is urged to withdraw the money and transfer funds to another party using non-recoverable methods such as write transfers, gift cards, or mobile payment apps. While the check might seem to be valid at first, it is fake, and eventually it bounces. At this point, the consumer may face banking fees and related problems, and will also be required to repay transferred funds to the bank. This can result in very high dollar losses.

Maxim Trader Scam Complaints

Sometimes, consumers are instructed to use their own personal credit cards to purchase the office equipment, and they are promised reimbursement. Scam victims are told to buy costly items such as laptops and tablets and then ship them to another location. Once the merchandise is shipped to the scammer, the phony company disappears, the consumer does not get any reimbursement, and has lost the money spent to buy the expensive equipment. The scam company does not reply to calls or messages, phone lines are disconnected, and emails bounce back as undeliverable.

This type of scam can be especially persuasive, since the targets often meet scammers in person. It is easier than ever now for employment agency and job training scammers to rent temporary offices and give an appearance of respectability. Victims of this scam may pay large fees in advance and lose that money. In addition, they wind up wasting time on non-existent opportunities when they could be applying for legitimate jobs instead.

Fake employment agencies place job ads on free employment websites, such Craigslist. The ads say the agency has multiple positions available for jobs such as receptionists, front desk clerks, security guards, and so on. Consumers who respond to the ads are called into the agency’s “office” for an interview. Once at the agency, the consumer is pressured into paying a fee for a certification or training materials that are supposedly needed for employment.

After the consumer pays the upfront fee, and in some cases, attends the training, several problems can happen. In some cases, the consumer never receives any job prospects, or the training may prove to be of no value in securing a job. In others, the scam victim may be told that he or she has a job interview scheduled at an actual company. However, when the consumer arrives for the interview appointment, he or she is told by staff there that there are no positions available or they have never heard of the employment agency that sent the consumer. The victim is then unable to reach the employment agency to request a refund. By this time, the scam employment agency or training company has often packed up and left its office without a trace.

In some states or cities, employment agencies may be required to be licensed, and training companies may need to be registered. For example, in New York State, all employment agencies must be licensed at all their locations, and must post the licenses on their premises: depending on the agency’s location, the licensing authority would be either the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, or the New York State Department of Labor. Also, in New York State, security guard training companies must register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Always check out employment agencies with regulatory authorities in your state before doing business with them. Check with the office of your state’s Attorney General, Department of Labor, or your local Department of Consumer Affairs, to find out what licensing requirements would apply and how to check them.

Mystery Shopping or Secret Shopper Scams

Maxim Trader Scam Alert

This is another type of scam that could leave consumers with significant money losses plus bank fees, and potentially expose them to identify theft.

Consumers report that scammers contact them by letter or email, saying they have been selected to be a secret or mystery shopper in the area where they live. To complete the jobs, victims are told they will be asked to make purchases at local stores and report on the products or their buying experiences.

Mystery shopper job scam solicitations often include a fake check to be cashed or deposited into the consumer’s personal bank account. The scam target is instructed to withdraw the funds immediately to complete the first shopping assignment, with the promise of keeping a portion of the check as their payment for the job.

One of the first tasks assigned might be to evaluate the customer service of money transfer firms, by wiring most of the funds from the check to a third party. Once the money is wired by the consumer, the company stops responding to emails, and the consumer learns that the check has bounced, resulting in overdraft fees and the need to repay the wired amount of money to the bank.

In another variation, scam victims may be instructed to buy money cards (such as iTunes or Google Play) in varying amounts. After the purchase, the consumers are directed to scratch off the code on the back of each gift card, take a photo of the front and back of the card, and send the images via email to a third party. The scammer then collects the value of the gift cards using those codes, and the victim loses that money.

Classic Job Scams
Envelope Stuffing

Scammers advertise unrealistically high pay for work-at-home jobs that supposedly involve stuffing envelopes or other tasks related to assembling a big mailing. The consumer is charged a fee to get materials and instructions for the job.

Unfortunately, the victim typically receives nothing at all in return for the fee – or information about how to advertise this same “opportunity” to other people. Consumers who do then place such a misleading ad to recruit others for the “opportunity” may become involved in an unlawful scheme. Many of these schemes are eventually detected and put out of business by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

In this scam, consumers are persuaded that they can earn very high pay by opening their own home-based medical billing or claims processing business. These scam job offers claim that work is available to those who have no experience with medical billing and no contacts in the medical profession.

Then, the scammers use high-pressure sales tactics to try to get consumers to pay for expensive medical billing or claims processing software and marketing lists of doctors who supposedly want such services. The purchased software may or may not work, and the marketing lists may not include any actual potential medical customers. There are not likely to be many – or any – medical offices interested in using home-based medical billers or claims processors.

Online Survey Schemes

Consumers who fall for this scam are offered money to sign up and fill out surveys online. The scammers promote the idea that marketers are eager to hear your opinion and may claim that millions of people have already taken advantage of this opportunity. Then they charge the consumers a fee to get access to marketing surveys, on the pretense that the more you pay, the more surveys you will receive. Typically, the scammers claim that the consumer will get paid when he or she completes a certain number of surveys or after a set period of time; when that time comes, the consumer does not get paid, and the scammer has disappeared.

Legitimate marketers do not charge a fee to have you fill out a survey. Some marketers might pay incentives for online surveys, on rare occasions, but typically the survey-taker would need to fit into a very specific demographic. This would make it unlikely that anyone could fill out enough surveys to make even a small amount of money.

In a similar scheme, the scammer promises high pay for consumers to do online searches and complete forms with the results of their research. Job seekers are asked to pay a modest fee to get started. Once the victim provides payment information, the scammer can charge the fee without providing anything to the consumer – and also can misuse that private financial information in other ways.

While there are some legitimate types of “multilevel marketing” jobs, many such opportunities turn out to be scams. Multilevel marketers sell products directly to consumers, and also make money by recruiting other people to sell. When the compensation is mostly based on making money off the sales of other people that you recruit, the job may be an illegal “pyramid” scheme. Most people who become involved in pyramid schemes lose a lot of money. Be very cautious, get information in writing, and ask many questions before engaging in a multilevel marketing enterprise.

Resources for Job Seekers

This job bank website is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. Applicants can post resumes on this site and employers can post job openings in their state listings of jobs. Information is available in both Spanish and English.

USAJobs

All genuine federal job opportunities are posted on this website.

National Sources of Information and Help with Scams
Better Business Bureau®

Visit BBB’s website to view a Business Profile, search for Accredited Businesses and Charities, file a complaint against a business, post a customer review, or find more consumer tips. Check BBB’s Scam TrackerSM tool to see if a job or company matching the description of your job offer has been reported as a scam.

You can also file a complaint with the following agencies:

US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)

P.O. Box 555 New York, NY 10116-0555
(877) 876-2455
https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov

For further reading about Re-Shipping Scams and other scams using the postal service, check out this link in English from the USPIS. https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/radDocs/consumer/ReshippingScam.html#AcceptJob

600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
(877) FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)
NYC Consumer Line: (212) 264-1207
www.ftc.gov

For further reading about job scams in both Spanish and English, check out these helpful links from the FTC:
Job Scams Overview: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0243-job-scams
Job Placement Services:www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0243-job-scams#job%20placement
Work-at-Home Jobs: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0175-work-home-businesses
Mystery Shopper Scams: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0053-mystery-shopper-scams
Multilevel Marketing: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0065-multilevel-marketing
Government Job Scams: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0083-government-job-scams
Bogus Business Opportunities: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0172-bogus-business-opportunities

State Level Resources
New York State
Better Business Bureau in New York

www.newyork.bbb.org (Southern NY)
(212) 533-6200
www.bbb.org/local-bbb/bbb-of-upstate-new-york (Northern NY)
(716) 881-5222

Contact your BBB in New York for assistance with consumer questions.

www.ag.ny.gov
(800) 771-7755
Bureau of Consumer Frauds & Protection
(212) 416-8300

Contact the Office of the Attorney General with general questions about consumer protection issues or New York State law.

New York Department of State, Division of Consumer Protection

https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/
(800) 697-1220

Contact the Department of State-Consumer Protection Division for information about consumer protection issues.

New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)

http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/index.page
311 or (212) NEW-YORK outside NY (212-639-9675)
Office of Financial Empowerment
http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/consumers/manage-money.page

The Department of Consumer Affairs and its Office of Financial Empowerment can help inform you with New York City licensing information about businesses, consumer protection information, and connections to free financial counseling in Spanish or English, and other types of free or low-cost help with money issues.

http://newjersey.bbb.org/
(609) 588-0808

Contact your BBB in New Jersey for help with consumer questions.

NJ Attorney General’s Office-Division of Consumer Affairs

http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/ocp/
http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/News/Pages/consumerbriefs.aspx
(800) 242-5846 in New Jersey only, or (973) 504-6200

Contact New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs for help with consumer issues, information about state laws, and referrals to resources. Information about many consumer topics, in both Spanish and English, is available on the Consumer Briefs web page.

http://connecticut.bbb.org/
(860) 740-4500

Get in touch with BBB in Connecticut for consumer help in your state.

Connecticut Attorney General

http://www.ct.gov/ag
(860) 808-5318

Contact the Connecticut Attorney General’s office for information about consumer protection issues and state laws.

© 2018 by the Education and Research Foundation of the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York, Inc. All rights reserved. Permission is given for this material to be duplicated and distributed, in unaltered form, at no charge, for public benefit purposes.
The contact information for resource groups in this publication is provided as a public service but does not indicate endorsement by the Better Business Bureau, nor does it indicate that any particular company or organization has met the BBB Standards or become BBB Accredited. For more information about BBB Accredited Businesses and Charities, please visit www.bbb.org and www.give.org.
As a matter of policy, the Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York and the BBB Foundation of Metropolitan New York (BBB and BBB Foundation) do not endorse any product, service or business. The information provided in this article is believed to be reliable, but BBB and BBB Foundation do not guarantee its accuracy or completeness. No information provided herein or in conjunction herewith constitutes nor shall be construed as legal advice; it is not intended nor may it be relied upon as legal advice in any form. Should you require legal advice or representation, please seek the services of a qualified attorney.