Canadian women lose thousands to job scam

Job scams continue to circulate and cost Canadians thousands of dollars. Please be careful.

The CBC is reporting that a 23-year-old woman was recently defrauded out of $3,820 when she fell for a job scam.

Sent a cheque and told her to deposit it

Angelik Mangone-Trepanier believed that she was being hired as an assessment officer for a company claiming to be Micaura Consulting. She applied for the job online in early March and was offered the position almost immediately, according to the CBC. She received an “employment package” and a cheque for $3,820 through the mail. She was told to cash the cheque at her bank, which was RBC, and use some of the funds to purchase a product and evaluate the service at a Walmart, and deposit $3,400 into an account specified by the “employer” at another bank and evaluate the service at that bank. She was given $320 for her pay and expenses.

Most of you can probably guess what came next: the cheque bounced, RBC froze her account, and now Mangone-Trepanier owes them $3,820. The man pretending to be Micaura Consulting has, of course, disappeared.

“I felt, well, destroyed, honestly. I felt very sick, depressed because it seems almost so hard for someone in my generation to just catch up on debt,” Mangone-Trepanier said.

More than one victim

When Mangone-Trepanier posted about her experience online, she discovered another woman who had fallen for the same scam, Aparna Sridhar, also 23. Sripar, a student from India living in Halifax and attending Dalhousie, was scammed out of about $6,000 by someone she believes to be the same person.

Sridhar reportedly filed a complaint with Halifax police, and Mangone-Trepanier has contacted the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, but they probably won’t get their money back, says CBC, who spoke with Ottawa police.

Apparently, the Ottawa police get 2-3 scam reports per week, but it’s almost impossible to catch the bad guys, who operate anonymously online and could be anywhere in the world.

Don’t be too quick to judge

Most of us think we’d never fall for something like this, and I’ve seen many people online even go as far as to blame the victims for being gullible. But if you’re young and/or inexperienced and a little naïve, and could really use a few thousand dollars, it can be easy to fall for something like this. And nobody deserves to get duped out of thousands of dollars.

So, know the signs of a job scam, and protect yourself. I’ve listed them at the bottom of this article.

Businesses should also beware

Meanwhile, there’s a cautionary tale in here for businesses too.

There is, in fact, a company called Micaura Consulting, or there was. It was owned and operated in Calgary by Laura Vero-Augustine, who shut it down in 2018. But, she writes on Linkedin in an article addressing the current issue, she left the website and social pages to expire and languish. This provided a great opportunity for the scammers to use them as a front, because a company with an existing presence on social channels, including LinkedIn, has some credibility.

Augustine wrote:

I’ve now been in contact with the Canadian Fraud Centre, the Calgary police and CIBC Fraud Management Centre, trying to stop this from affecting anyone else. I posted on my social media and am answering every email personally, so far I’ve successfully intervened and stopped a dozen would be victims from cashing bad checks and taking money out of their accounts.

When you close up shop, close up your entire shop, or someone may take advantage of what you’ve left behind and use it for nefarious purposes.

Here are 14 signs that a job might be a scam:
  • You’re offered the job immediately, without filling out an application or going through an interview
  • They ask you for money
  • They ask for your credit card number
  • You’re asked to pay for your own background check
  • They ask you to cash a cheque
  • The job seems to be too good to be true
  • Ridiculously high pay
  • You’re asked to receive and forward money to someone – or deposit it into an account
  • The email you’re corresponding with is personal or web-based, such as Gmail, rather than a company email (though not always a sign something is not legit)
  • Vague job description
  • Unprofessional seeming written communication
  • The company website doesn’t have much content or information
  • All the employee photos on the company website are obviously stock photos

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