Online job searches are convenient, reach a wide audience quickly, and are often free. However, sometimes they are used to cloak the activities of scammers.
The BC RCMP Federal Commercial Crime Section (CCS) is warning people about a growing problem with online jobs linked to the production and distribution of fraudulent cheques targeting victims across Canada and the United States.
Investigators from the CCS, working closely with the Richmond RCMP, identified a Lower Mainland man who was unwittingly responsible for distributing fraudulent cheques. In this instance, the Mounties determined that the man had posted a job-wanted advertisement on Craigslist and he was immediately contacted by a person offering a job as a payment processor. Through a series of e-mails, the inadvertent suspect was convinced that the job was legitimate. Over the course of a number of weeks, the unaware suspect created hundreds of cheques using readily-available software. These cheques were then sent to victims who had been set up by the criminals via regular mail or courier services. The victims were expecting the cheques because they believed the money was legitimate payment. Sadly, the cheques were worthless and left the depositors responsible for full repayment along with any associated bank fees and penalties.
“This incident is not unique,” Cpl. Dave Cicierski of the “E” Division Commercial Crime Mass Marketing Task Force said in a statement. “It plagues on-line bulletin boards such as Craigslist.
“Criminals will go to creative lengths to appear legitimate; they will supply a telephone number and e-mail that may appear genuine. These numbers are all too frequently associated to cell phones with a fictitious name or where ownership can’t be determined at all. Remember, criminals prefer using e-mail addresses from free services such as Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail. Do your due diligence. Legitimate companies can always be easily contacted and should be checked with agencies like the Better Business Bureau.”
The RCMP encourages you to be cautious especially when posting or responding to on-line ads. Report matters of concern to your local authorities. Additionally, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre maintains an informative website at www.antifraudcentre.ca and encourages the public to report scams and frauds through the site or directly at 1-888-495-8501.