An Overland Park, Kan., woman had been job hunting for months, hearing she was overqualified for every position. Then she saw an interesting job possibility on Craigslist. • A business owner who traveled frequently needed someone to manage his operations. Perfect, she thought, and she sent her resume and cover letter.
Almost immediately, a response came back. He was interested but was out of the country. She responded with a few questions about the job.
His response didn't answer her questions but asked if she had gift ideas for his 15-year-old daughter.
She replied. But the response didn't acknowledge that effort or answer her job questions.
Then she received two $850 money orders, mailed to her home with instructions to cash them at her bank, keep $500 for her salary and send the rest on to a specified destination.
Her scam radar fully in gear then, she called the MoneyGram issuer and asked about the serial numbers on the money orders.
They were counterfeit.
"I called the police and learned that it's a very common scam," she said. "There's a new wave of unscrupulous people getting their claws into people who are looking for work.
"I felt violated. Embarrassed. Worried. The fraud artists have my name, my address."
When you find job listings online, raise your scam antenna high.
Most postings will be legitimate, but there are crooks who prey on job hunters.
On Craigslist's home page, a link has warnings for buyers, sellers and job searchers.
"Fake cashier checks and money orders are common, and banks will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered," the site says.
"Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service — anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer," the site warns.
"Never give out financial information (bank account number, Social Security number, etc.). … Do not submit to credit or background checks for a job … until you have met the interviewer … in person."
Good advice. Heed it early.
Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at the Kansas City Star.