- Internet & the Web
Internet Predators Feast on the Desperation of Job Seekers
Roberts Filter Group Scam/Personal Assistant
I originally wrote the text of the Personal Assistant/Roberts Filter Group section of this hub for my personal blog. But then I received the Office Depot e-mail further explained below.
Dear Fellow Job Seekers: Don’t get suckered into giving out personal information like I did. I’ve been job hunting since May 2010 and I had never encountered any problems with job listings via Craigslist in the past so when I responded to an ad I naively thought I was applying for a real personal assistant position.
My first e-mail from the alleged CEO of Roberts Filter Group, Lee Roberts firstname.lastname@example.org , [A man named Lee Roberts is the CEO of Roberts Filter Group, but obviously, Mr. Roberts & his legitimate company had nothing to do with any of this] looked like this:
Hope you’re having a pleasant day today
You contacted me applying for the position which I advertised on Craigslist. Do take time to go through this introductory mail and feel free to pass any questions on.
My profile briefly:
I am lee roberts, a father of 2 wonderful kids and the CEO of The Roberts Filter Group. The Roberts Filter Group is a world class water treatment equipment supplier. We have been a pioneer in the industry since our creation in 1889. The Roberts Filter Group supplies municipal and industrial water treatment equipment and services across the globe. Learn more about us at www.robertsfiltergroup.com.
I have an opening for a Special Assistant who will support me in day to day activities, special projects and scheduling. The ideal candidate will be highly motivated, with a successful track record of developing and maintaining administrative systems in a team environment. I travel every now and then within and outside the USA working on various independent Offices, this is why I need someone who can help keep up to date with all of my activities especially when I’m away and amidst my busy schedule.
I have had a previous Assistant who has been very commendable in her activities and who has been part of my life for the past 6 months, she has since moved on with her personal life and it has affected me in a way. I found her previously on the craigslist website and I sincerely hope I will be able to find someone again who will be as efficient as she has been.
Please note that you are being hired only on a personal level. All correspondences would be made and promptly reported to me personally. The position is part time and home-based meaning you can work most times from your home as long as you have a regular internet access. You are also hired on a trial basis for now until we are able to see how well we fit in, this however does not affect your weekly wage.
Most of your activities will be carried out locally and most official packages will be delivered via posts. You will be actively involved in my personal, business and financial life. In summary, your activities as my assistant amongst other things will include;
* Acting as an alternative telephone correspondence;
* Running personal errands, supervisions and monitoring;
* Organizing and maintaining diaries, memos and making appointments;
* Dealing with incoming email, faxes and post;
* Carrying out background research and presenting findings;
* A personal reminder for Schedules, programs, flights and keeping me up to date with them as they come up;
* Arranging travel and accommodation
* Taking on some of the my responsibilities and working more closely with management and other staff related to me;
* Making regular contacts and drop-offs on my behalf.
* Handling and monitoring financial activities.
* Processing and taking charge of weekly payments and purchases.
* You will also be a part of my household and a helping hand to issues as they arise.
* General clerical activities.
Basic wage is $450 Weekly.
Any extra personal expenses (transport, gas, etc) incurred by you while on an errand or otherwise will also be reimbursed by me at the end of each working week.
This position is very flexible and it is difficult judging the exact number of hours you will be doing, just bear it in mind that there will be busier weeks than others with a steady pay.
Working with me is basically about instructions and following them, my only fear is that I may come at you impromptu sometimes, so I need someone who can be able to meet up with my irregular timings. There is also a very sensitive issue on trust, dedication and accountability which I believe will resolve itself as time goes on.
This is only an introductory e-mail, as time goes on we should be able to arrange a proper meeting to get things started officially. I’m currently in England now for a project, however, I do have a number of things you could help me with immediately, prior to my arrival.
Due to the excessive number of responses to my Ad, do provide the following details about yourself for my personal record update and to filter applicants;
Full Contact Address
Phone Number (H)
Phone Number (M)
I hope you can be available for me immediately before I arrive, it certainly can act as a stable foundation to our impending working relationship.
Hope to hear from you again.
So when I received that, it seemed sketchy but I still replied with the requested info
Full Contact Address
Phone Number (H)
Phone Number (M)
After sending my contact info again, [stupid move, I know] I received this e-mail which came from a different e-mail address and was addressed to a completely different person (not me!):
Good day PA ,
These is to acknowledged that your information has been received , You have been accepted and employed as my Personal assistance .
As you know this is a part-time home base job for now till i get back to the state , If you have any other job at the moment, you can still keep to your job .
You will start work this
week ,I will keep you informed as soon as i make the list of what you
have to do for me this week and email them to you , but the first on
the list is the orphanage funding that i usually do every month ,i do
this every month to 3 orphanage home , you will be helping me out in
purchasing some items which will be donated to the orphanage home .
I will email you the list of the items to purchased at the store and all the necessary information on how to get it mailed out to the orphanage .
Ensure you check your emails daily so you can keep in contact with me because i will be communicating with you mostly through this email , it Nice having you on board as my PA while am away, I will be getting back to the state in couples of weeks , i hope to meet you face to face soon .
I can be reached at my cell number listed below only on any urgency matter .
Thanks and do have a great day.
This is when I knew for sure that I had been totally duped!
1. The e-mail was poorly written, clearly by a person who is not well versed in the English language.
2. The e-mail was signed “Mr. Robert”. I would hope that a CEO of a company would be able to spell his own last name.
3. The whole orphanage thing really screams “crock of sh*t”!!!
4. The 206 area code # is a generic voicemail which could be set up from anywhere in the world.
So, I wrote back:
Dear Mr. Roberts,
Please remove me from your list as I am no longer interested in this position. Also, below, it looks like I accidentally received an e-mail directed to a Ms. B********y. Thanks.
After I clicked the send button on the e-mail above, I had hoped that would be the last I heard from the creepy scammer(s) abusing the business name and the name of the CEO of Roberts Filter Group. But alas, I was to receive additional correspondence from the internet predator(s):
How are you doing , hope you had a good night, I am pleased to inform you that the funds for the orphanage and your weekly payment has been sent and you will be getting it today unfailingly via USPS courier service here is the tracking number________ . The payment was sent to your home address, so ensure you stay at home today so you can sign for the delivery of the package and proceed with your first assignment.
However, I have been contacted the orphanage home two days ago by the administrator of the organization , she told me about one of the kid under there care that as a heart disease , she made me to understand that the kid need to undergo a surgical heart transplant which as to be carried out next week in malaysia, i promise the organization administrator that i will do anything i can to help out by providing some fund to them along with the normal monthly contribution i use to do .
Have been given the list of the items they needed, The items are much and it will cost a lot of money to get them shipped, so i reached an accord with the administrator that they need to get all those items them self since they knew am not in the country for now , She agreed that they will be getting the items themselves.
Have made it know to them that i have a new personal assistance that is working with me in the state .
As for now , i don’t need to send you the list any more , since they will be getting all the items them self , i think that should be a relief for you , what you have to do now is to process the check payment that was mailed out to you , you have to do that as soon as you receive the check in your mail today, you can have the check cashed at your bank .
You will have to deduct your weekly payment of $450.00 from the total amount you have on the check payment , the remaining fund is for the orphanage home which is the balance .
After you have the check cashed remember you have to deduct your weekly payment of $450 , the rest of the fund is to be transferred to the administrator of the orphanage home with the information below , Note : you will have to deduct the transfer charges from the fund you are transferring through Western Union , do not pay for the transfer charges with your money .
Below is the Orphanage administrator Western Union information to transfer the funds to…
NAME : KRISTI LEE
ADDRESS: USJ 20/1 B,HOUSE 12
ZIP CODE : 46150
Kindly get back to me with the Western Union MTCN #,Total Amount sent,the Sender’s Name and Address use for the fund transfer , all this information will have to be emailed to me , i will need to pass down those information to the administrator of the orphanage home .
I will be waiting to read back from you asap and i also have some other assignment for you to carry out for me next week.
I want you to be rest assured that I’ll never stress you at all in any assignment given to you and i promise to pay your fee weekly as we both agreed.
Take good care of yourself and have a blessed day.
Waiting to read from you soon .
Sure enough, I received a fake check via USPS Express Mail with no letter enclosed, a return address of a P.O. Box in Connecticut, supposedly mailed by a “Brian Gallagher” with a postmark that showed it had been mailed from California. At this point, I started freaking out because even though I knew the check was fake, I was worried that the creepy scammer(s) might send some angry hit-men to my home after they realized that, although I may have had a momentary lapse in good judgment & clearly had temporarily misplaced my common sense when replying to the add and the subsequent e-mails, I was finally on to their evil scheme re: feasting on the desperation of job seekers and wasn’t going to wire money to their fake orphanage in Malaysia. So I called the local police. The police told me “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is” [DUH!] and instructed me to ignore any further correspondence and dispose of the check.
My last e-mail to the creepy scammer(s) was this:
Subject: PLEASE STOP CONTACTING ME
Dear Mr. Robert/Roberts,
I received the check today and do not plan on doing anything with it except throwing it in the trash. Why are you scamming innocent people out of their money? At any rate, find someone else to wire $ to your fake orphanage.
Again, I thought that was the end of that. But today, I received this mildly threatening e-mail:
What are you really up to, I am sure you have the fund with you and you have been silent. What is the problem? i hope you realize what this will cause you, nobody steal from me to before warn, I implore you to get me posted today and halt any legal step which i am about to take against you. Remember i have all your info within.
mr lee robert
Since I spoke with the local police, I knew that there was nothing that could be done about the creepy scammer(s) having access to my personal information. Still I did some digging around via Google to see what I could do and I found this article in the Wayne Independent, a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area newspaper.
I filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission which won’t do much but I felt it was necessary to let them know that yet another person had been a victim of this particular job scam. I wish they could stop the people who are doing this, and all other creepy scammers but considering how vast the internet ocean is, it’s not surprising that you may accidentally snag some poisonous blowfish in search of your next job.
Office Depot Scam
So, a few months after the Roberts Filter Group/Personal Assistant incident happened (described above), I received this e-mail in early August 2010:
This is a tentative offer of employment for the available opening with Office Depot, Inc.
As you know, this position pays a generous hourly wage, with benefits, and also provides potential to earn additional bonuses and incentives throughout the year. You are also provided with a full lunch every day, which is made by a local catering company. We are hiring rapidly at this time, and are fully prepared to make you an employment offer, provided that you comply with the rest of the recruitment terms.
This is a full-time position. You will be providing administrative support including, but not limited to, answering phones, completing reports, tracking shipments, and some minor inventory management. Some experience working as an administrative assistant is preferred, but not required. Full paid training will be provided.
To accept these terms and move on to the final stage of the recruitment process, you must provide us with a current copy of your credit report to go in your employment file. Office Depot, Inc. has a zero-tolerance policy in regards to theft of company property. Your credit scores or payment history are not important to us; rather it is a means of verifying your identity, and will also serve as your acceptance of the position. Once you fill out the report, an email is automatically generated that notifies us of your acceptance of the position, that in turn will email you new hire paperwork and give you times for your orientation. Be sure to bring 2 forms of identification with you to the orientation.
Your free report can be obtained here: www.officedepot-usa.com/employee119
This tentative offer will expire in 72 hours from the time sent. If you choose not to accept it, or have any questions, please email me directly.
We appreciate your interest in joining the team at Office Depot, Inc. and hope you decide to come aboard!
Rosemary H. Wilson
HR Executive, Office Depot, Inc.
This message contains information from Office Depot, Inc. that may be confidential and privileged. If you are not an intended recipient, please refrain from any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of this information and note that such actions are prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify the sender immediately.
Right away, I was very skeptical, because despite having applied to hundreds of jobs over the past few months, I didn't remember applying to Office Depot. So I checked out Google and sure enough I found this thread on a site called flakelist.org which is a blog that keeps track of scammers, spammers and flakes. I felt strange, because at least the Personal Assistant scam was something that I accidentally applied for so at least I know my naivete was partially to blame, but this Office Depot thing was a different kind of spam/scam since I didn't actually apply for a job in this instance so I felt like receiving this fake job offer was even more of an invasion of privacy since I did not seek it out, it found me.
Job Seekers: Beware of scams disguised as jobs e-mailed to you and/or Craigslist ads you apply for. Please don’t be foolish like I was: even though something may seem great or marginally believable, be wary, there is no such thing as a free lunch so to speak: your sumptuous looking sushi lunch may consist of deadly fugu and/or a variety of rotting seafood.