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Craigslist - A Haven for Scoundrels, Cons and Scams
We have all heard the tragic story of the young woman who had her life taken by a thrill killer after being lured to a home by an ad on Craigslist for a babysitter. This high profile story was reported on all the major networks but fortunately is a rare occurance. The two scenarios that I will show you here are, unfortunately, far more common.
Katlyn, a single mother of two who is working as a server in a restaurant is looking for something to supplement her income. She has spent countless hours sorting through all the work at home scams on the internet. She has been frustrated by multi-level marketing and those online surveys that are designed to make you quit before you reach your payment threshold and those offer sites where you go "green" before you can qualify.. One day she is perousing the local ads on Craigslist when she reads an ad for a customer service rep, part time, that pays 10.00 per hour. It also has the telecommute OK box. She answers the ad online by the code.
A few hours later the phone rings and a woman says she is calling from Emblem Insurance and asks Katlyn if she applied for the job on Craigslist. After she gets confimation she asks her to hold on for Al Jenkins, the sales manager. He picks up, then explains the job to her and tells her all about the company and what she would be doing and asks her to fill out an application that will be emailed to her and to also send a copy of her resume. She complies the next day. She is hoping that she will get this as it was just what she was looking for. She even says a prayer with her kids about it at dinner that night.
The next day Mr Jenkins calls and tells her that she can start right away. He explains to her that they will need some info, like a W4, filled out and Joanie, the woman she spoke to earlier, will send her the forms. When the forms do not come right away she gets a little suspicious and Googles Emblem Insurance. They have offices all over the country so she guesses they are OK. She decides to call Joanie and ask where the forms are. Joanie answers the phone with "Good Morning Emblem, how may I help you?" Katlyn explains that she did not get the forms. Joanie apolgizes and says she was very busy and can't wait for Katlyn to get started to ease her workload. She says that she will send the forms and she will need a copy of her drivers license as proof of citizenship as required by law. Katlyn is really elated about her new part time job. The next day she fills out the W4 and sends a copy of her license. She can't wait to get started. The following day she hears nothing back. She says to herself, "OK they are really busy." The next day is Friday, she calls again and nothing. She vows to call first thing Monday morning. She calls Monday and gets a voice message from Joanie that says the usual thank you for calling. No one calls back. She calls again. Same scenario. A fourth time is the last. She gets very despondent and gives up never knowing why they decided not to hire her.
A month has now gone by and she is working a new job in a real estate office when she checks her voice mails at home. The message from a man says "Please call Mr Franklin at *** **** about an important matter." She calls at lunch and he informs her that she took out a loan on the internet and did not pay it back and he wants to collect 500.00 plus fees of 250,00. She denies ever taking out a loan. But the man verifies her address and phone number. A week later she gets a similar call from another and then another. She starts getting credit card bills in the mail. The identity theft nightmare is just beginning.
Meanwhile Mr. Jenkins and Joanie whose real names are Bobby B. Slick and his girlfriend Wanda Newring are out spending under Katlyns name in a different city where they have already set up a call forwarding under Katlyns name and rented an office under her name and have placed several more ads under her name. She was not the only one "hired" by Emblem Insurance and will only be the last if the two cons can come up with another company name to borrow to steal another persons idenity and put their life into a financial turmoil that will last for years!
Another scheme that I have personally experienced through someone close to me that is not as sinister, but still theft, is the work for free scheme. A person has a company that sells, for example. flyer ads like the ones that come in those little mailed booklets. Before hitting a particular territory he hires a person through Craigslist and promises 20.00 for every lead they can provide where a sale is made for a local business. They furnish the leads and he stalls them saying he could not get to the appointment or he was out of town. Meanwhile he has five or six others doing the same thing. He has sold the whole booklet but never pays a dime in commissions and moves on to the next area. Because the money they may have been owed is unknown and untraceable without a great deal of legwork they forget about it and move on vowing to never answer an ad like that again. When the ad man returns to the area again he knows they won't apply a second time also and places another ad to steal time from more desparate individuals.
These are only two of the countless schemes that loom on free ad sites especially during trying times. I used Cragslist as an example purely for the fact that they are the biggest. They do all they can to screen ads for fraud but, at the rate that ads are placed, they already snare people before they can be removed. The crooks keep coming up with new schemes everyday to get around the screening. Never send a copy of your drivers license unless you black out the number. If the company objects to this, move on. Unless of course you are applying for a driving job which is not likely to be done on the web. Unfortunately when applying for a job there is know way of avoiding giving your social security number. They do have a right to run a background and unfortunately a credit check. That is a story for another time.
This article is fiction based on similar situations that have happened. The names of the persons or insurance company are fictitious and any resemblance to any person living or dead or any real company is purely cooincidental. Craigslist makes every possible attempt to screen their ads against fraud but preventing it completely is close to impossible.