Patricia Stahlhut has held a lot of different jobs over the years.
She worked the front desk for two different dentists, she said, was an intake specialist with the old Workforce Development, and was a screener for people seeking HUD-subsidized housing. She also describes herself as sort of a grammar freak.
She doesn’t say she’s unemployed, but she’s in the job market, looking for something like an administrative assistant position. And any time you’re looking for a job, Stahlhut said, you use any resource available – newspaper ads, Internet job sites, including Craigslist.
Stahlhut is careful when she applies for jobs, though. When she submits a résumé, she never gives her address or phone number, just an email address that can be deactivated if necessary. The reason is that many jobs advertised on the Internet are fake, she said, and that makes her angry.
For example, she recently applied for a job advertised on Craigslist regarding a part-time position with a State Farm Insurance office in Fort Wayne.
In no time she got a response. But the job, it turned out, was with a Georgia marble company that was opening an office in Fort Wayne. It paid $550 a week for 12 to 20 hours of work each week and entailed running business and personal errands for the boss, answering the phone, sending and answering mail and emails, making business decisions and essentially running the business while the owner was out of town.
The email said the owner was out of the country at the moment, but she could start immediately and they’d take care of the details when he returned.
Stahlhut remembers the adage her mother used to say: I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. She knows that people aren’t offered jobs within minutes of submitting résumés online, and she knows that office jobs don’t pay $45 an hour.
So she researched the Georgia marble company, found out it really existed, and called them. No, they weren’t opening an office in Fort Wayne, they said.
This was all a scam, and it was the fourth time it had happened to her.
Stahlhut said about one in four of the job postings she’s applied for in places like Craigslist are bogus. Of course, that means three out of four are legit, and she’s landed some good job interviews, she said.
But the bogus ads irritate her.
What she can’t figure out is how the scam works.
I looked at the email she had been sent and suggested that if she took the job, she’d quickly start getting lots of checks – paychecks, checks to cover expenses, and would be asked to deposit the checks in her account and wire money to suppliers who would be setting up the new office.
Of course the checks would all be bogus and anyone who fell for it would end up thousands of dollars overdrawn at their account and possibly face criminal fraud charges.
That troubles Stahlhut. People who have been out of work for a long time, who have nothing, can get desperate, she said.
They’re liable to fall for one of these scams, hoping against hope that a job they suspect is fishy will turn out to be real.
Spotting a phony job offering doesn’t sound that difficult, but it helps to remind people who are desperate to be cautious.