The official unemployment national rate is just under 10 percent. However, according to some financial folks, the broader measure of unemployment and underemployment stands at about 20 percent — one of the highest rates since the Great Depression!
Even with the economy slowing improving, there are still millions upon millions of Americans out of work and underemployed. In light of these stunning unemployment figures, you can bet that ruthless thugs see this economic tragedy as their golden opportunity to make a quick buck.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC) states that there are fraudsters attempting various employment and work-at-home schemes.
According to the ICCC, employment and business opportunity schemes have surfaced using bogus foreign-based companies that recruit U.S. citizens on several employment-search websites for work-at-home employment opportunities. These positions often involve reselling or reshipping merchandise to destinations outside the United States.
Prospective employees are required to provide personal information, as well as copies of their identification, such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or social security card.
Those employees that are "hired" by these companies are then told that their salary will be paid by check from a U.S. company reported to be a creditor of the employer. This is done under the pretense that the employer does not have any banking set up in the United States.
The amount of the check is significantly more than the employee is owed for salary and expenses, and the employee is instructed to deposit the check into their own account, and then wire the overpayment back to the employer's bank, usually located in Eastern Europe. The checks are later found to be fraudulent, often after the wire transfer has taken place.
In a similar scam, some web-based international companies are advertising for affiliate opportunities, offering individuals the chance to sell high-end electronic items, such as plasma television sets and home theater systems, at significantly reduced prices.
The affiliates are instructed to offer the merchandise on well-known Internet auction sites. The affiliates will accept the payments, and pay the company, typically by means of wire transfer. The company is then supposed to drop-ship the merchandise directly to the buyer, thus eliminating the need for the affiliate to stock or warehouse merchandise.
The merchandise never ships, which often prompts the buyers to take legal action against the affiliates, who in essence are victims themselves.
What can you do to help prevent becoming a victim of an employment or work-at-home scam?
The ICCC suggests the following prevention tips:
1. Be wary of inflated claims of product effectiveness.
2. Be cautious of exaggerated claims of possible earnings or profits.
3. Beware when money is required up front for instructions or products.
4. Be leery when the job posting claims "no experience necessary".
5. Do not give your Social Security number when first interacting with your prospective employer.
6. Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
7. Be wary when replying to unsolicited e-mails for work-at-home employment.
8. Research the company to ensure they are authentic.
9. Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the company.
If you think you are a victim of an employment or business opportunity rip-off, contact your local law enforcement agency and the ICCC.
For more information, go to ic3.gov.
My Final Thoughts: The millions of hard-working Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed provide a powerful incentive for heartless crooks and their evil employment and work-at-home scams.
Don’t make a horrible situation even worse by becoming a victim of these sneaky schemes. Take the time to fully investigate all employment and work-at-home offers before you provide them with your personal information and/or hard-earned dollars.
Quick Security Tip: Once a criminal has your personal information in their hands, they may use it for stealing your identity (identity theft).
Be confident and have hope. As the American economy slowly, but surely, picks up momentum, more and more legitimate jobs and genuine business opportunities will become available.
Copyright 2010 by Bruce Mandelblit
Bruce Mandelblit (www.CrimeZilla.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.
This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
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