Tuesday, January 12, 2010

in which swindlers attempt to bamboozle your blogger

Let's talk about swindlers.

My friend Scott read up on Victorian crimes when I first began researching heavily for my historical fiction novel three years ago.  The book he read, a section of nineteenth century writer Henry Mayhew's four-volume series of articles, London Labour and the London Poor, included a great amount of information on criminal activities ranging from pickpocketing, prostitution, receiving stolen goods, forgery and even river crimes. And swindling. Swindling is a catch-all phrase for embezzlement, sharping and scams.

These Victorian equivalent of scammers were often people who pretended to be higher up on the social scale than they were to live a lifestyle they could not possibly afford.  When these people showed up claiming to the cousin of the third earl of whatever, especially abroad, shopkeepers or the like extended them credit.  Sometimes they lived for months at a time on this credit before moving on, leaving the local shop keepers and inn keepers all the poorer.

Others worked at home.  As Scott says in the information sheet he wrote up for me three years ago:
One guy advertised in a paper that he could get people a job if they sent him their information and a 5 [shilling] stamp to send them a letter back.  He made about [£]700 from this enterprise and all at the cost of an advertisement and a quarter years' rent of an empty house.
Swindlers still exist.  They're just adapted their schemes and trickery to fit modern conveniences.  Think of data entry advertisements and that infamous Nigerian prince scam as comparable to the two examples I listed above.

So what do swindlers have to do with me?

I visited my parents this past weekend to celebrate Orthodox Christmas.  Since I have graduated I have been kicked off of my family's health insurance, loans are due in less than six months, and my parents are less than thrilled that I am currently unemployed.  They are trying to be as supportive as possible, but their patience is wearing thin, so they demanded that I get any job as soon as possible.

I was not in Pittsburgh, so I figured that Craigslist would be a good way to find said job near my apartment while I was visiting.  Now, I have never used Craigslist to apply for a job before.  Sure, I've looked at the ads, but never considered it for actually applying to jobs.  I'm a neat freak and a very organized person, so I decided I'd apply to some secretary or administrative assistant positions.  On Sunday afternoon I managed to send out about nine cover letters and résumés for the same number of administrative assistant positions.

I have received five e-mails in reply thus far.  Four of them are definitely scams.  How do I know?
  • Two were automated replies for me to fill out an additional application on their website.  And, while I was at it, why don't I just pop over to FreeCreditReport.com or some other type of credit website and fill out a credit report and forward it to them? That would prove that I could "follow directions."  Hell no, I will give no one my credit information.  I have little money to begin with, and I don't want to risk losing it all.  I'd rather not get a job than follow shady instructions at best. 
  • The other two did not address me by my name. They began with "Hey" or "Hello there!" Not even a "Hi Lauren."  Ahem.  My name is Lauren.  If you cannot repeat my name to me, you obviously did not look at my résumé information and are not interested in hiring me.
  • One of these scams asked me to go to a website called Verify Your Identity and follow the instructions.  If you even bother to check this website out you're just wasting your time.  They want you to create a Hotmail account, post a service on Craigslist, verify your ad via phone, and send them the verification code.  I was unsure of how this, exactly, was a scam, as there was no real personal information of any value being given to these people.  Then I did a little research.  Apparently Craigslist only lets you post three ads every 48 hours in every account.  A new account has to be verified by a phone before anyone can post.  This scammer/spammer wants to sell new accounts to other scammers/spammers so they can post more than three times in 48 hours, so they will ask you to complete these ridiculous steps to collect PVAs (phone verified accounts) for sale or use.
  • Almost none of these e-mails actually specified what companies they were in the e-mail. External links sent you to their fake websites advertising companies like TET Management and the like. 
  • The replies came from Yahoo or Hotmail accounts, which are free.  Any so-called professional "national companies" or "firms" (as all of them claimed to be) would have its own company e-mail.
  • If the company had a website (two of them did), then I Googled some of their information.  If the company did not show up in the results, or if the results announced them as a scam, I immediately knew that these were scammers.
No, I did not pass out my Social Security number or credit information to these scammers.  But I did contact Craigslist and try to get them taken off, and researched online extensively to see if my résumé information might possibly be used by these scammers or my identity stolen.  Fortunately, I have read that there should be no backlash since I did not actually fulfill these stupid scam things.

Then I spent the rest of my time yesterday looking for jobs on legitimate job search engines such as Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder. By the time I found time to get to blogging, I just didn't want to look at a computer screen anymore.

Damn swindlers. They never go away, do they?

1 comment:

  1. eff, that sucks. i thought craigslist was better than that at controlling spammers. good luck with the job search, by the way, you little graduate you. we had our first collision meeting of the semester tonight; it was weird without you there!