Canadians are falling for this job scam. Don’t.

Here’s a hypothetical situation: You’re hired for a position at a company with no interview or meeting with them. They offer you a high paying job with a short probation period. They then ask you deposit a large amount of money into your bank account, withdraw the funds and deposit them into a Bitcoin machine. Do you:

  1. A) Do it
  2. B) Don’t do it

I would think the correct action would be obvious – don’t do it – but people are still falling for these scams.

I saw a post on social media today by someone who had been half-sucked into one of these. The person said they had been “hired” by a New York-based company for a “customer service” position. They were told the job had a trial period of 14 days during which they were expected to “complete certain assignments.” They were told that if they complete these assignments they would then become a “trusted” employee of the company. At this point, alarms should have been going off, but the person continued.

According to the story, a “client” made a payment and the supervisor asked the “recent hire” to process the transaction by depositing an online transfer into their own bank account then withdrawing a “large” amount of cash and going to a bitcoin ATM to deposit the money.

The person deposited the money into their account, then started to wonder if something was fishy. The social media post garnered hundreds of comments telling them to contact their bank and the police immediately. I think they did, but not before pushing back a little bit and trying to convince themselves and everyone else that the job might be legit.

It’s not. People. Share this information. Tell your friends. Please stop this.

These sorts of scams have been circulating for several years in one form or another. The “employer” hires you sight unseen for a great sounding job (in this case the person would get to “work from home”!) then asks you to deposit and withdraw money. There is no money.  Or it comes from a stolen source, and/or its being laundered.

The Globe and Mail ran a similar story recently about an Edmonton man who was taken for nearly $250,000. He now owes it to his bank.

The victim is given a counterfeit cheque or e-transfer, and after you withdraw the funds the cheque or transfer bounces (we’re not sure how one sends a fake e-transfer but they do).

Regardless, you will wind up having to pay out of your own pocket. The bank will freeze your account, and you might be accused of fraud. The fact that you didn’t know what you were doing won’t save you. You still took the action and you will owe the money. Even if it is a quarter of a million dollars.

This scam is listed in the Little Black Book of Scams published by the Government of Canada, which explains that:

“Work-from-home scams are often promoted through spam emails or advertisements online or in newspaper ads. Most of these advertisements are not real job offers. Many of them are fronts for illegal money-laundering activity or pyramid schemes.

“You might get an email offering a job where you use your bank account to receive and pass on payments for a foreign company. Or you might be offered a job as a “secret shopper” hired to test the services of a cheque-cashing or a money transfer company. Some “job offers” promise that you will receive a percentage commission for each payment you pass on. Sometimes, scammers are just after your bank account details so they can access your account. They might also send you a counterfeit cheque along with instructions for you to cash the cheque and transfer a portion of the sum over a money transfer service”

And the Antifraud Centre explains:

“Consumers answer the ad or email offer to become a “financial agent” or “client manager” and subsequently correspond via email with the fraudsters. Victims are hired as payment processors for the suspect company and their job is to receive payments from the company’s clients. Commonly, victims report receiving e-transfers or wire transfers into their bank account. After receiving the payments, the victims are directed to send money through Western Union, MoneyGram or Bitcoin to a company representative usually in Eastern Europe (e.g. Russia or Ukraine).”

I’ve found that many are quick to dismiss those who fall for these scams as stupid. They’re not. They might be naïve, but they need jobs. They try to convince themselves it’s legit because it’s so attractive. But it’s not legit. There is literally no reason an employer should ever ask you to process a company transaction through your personal bank account. Ever.

Please don’t fall for this. And remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.

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