Finding a job is tough, but finding out the great job you have been offered is a scam is even worse. One thing many job scams have in common is that you are asked to send an advance fee to secure the position or pay for related materials.
For example, in June the Ottawa Sun reported that an Ottawa man, Richard Wheeler, was taken for $500 in the “mystery shopper” scam. He’d done similar jobs before, for legitimate companies, and hadn’t run into any issues. Fortunately – and thanks to a call from his bank – he clued into the scam before he wired money as requested.
In September, the mystery shopper scam resurfaced on the west coast in Fort St. John, B.C., where the RCMP warned people that the idea of being paid to shop may be too good to be true. Victims are lured through newspaper ads and emails, creating the impression of a job opportunity where people can be mystery shoppers for reputable companies.
The way the scam works is:
- You receive a letter with a job offer – along with a check – to serve as a paid mystery shopper.
- You are told to cash the check, keeping a portion of the funds as compensation and using another portion to buy goods at a business specified in the letter – to “mystery shop” the retailer as a way to evaluate its customer service skills.
- You are instructed to use a money transfer company to wire the remaining portion of the money to a name provided.
- You later find out that the check was counterfeit, and the portion of the money transferred to the named individual cannot be retrieved – so you are defrauded of those funds.
Now the Financial Services Commission of Ontario is warning consumers about another job scam involving offers to work as a pick-up and delivery agent for “Standard Sunlife Insurance” and “Dominion Life Insurance” – two non-existent companies that are not licensed by FSCO.
Along with an offer of employment, individuals are asked to deposit a cheque into their bank account.
This scam appears to be linked to several other non-existent companies that FSCO and the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario recently published warnings about including United Insurance Brokers, Discount Insurance Brokers, Citizen Group, Trust Insurance Company, Progress Insurance and United Brokers Insurance.
Although these fraudsters are using different company names, they appear to be using the same phone numbers:
Anyone who has received job offers from Standard Sunlife Insurance or Dominion Life Insurance is encouraged to forward the correspondence to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Even if you haven’t lost any money, your information could provide investigators with information that will help identify other scams and protect potential victims of job fraud.
Sheryl Smolkin is a Toronto lawyer and writer. Contact her through her website and follow her on Twitter @SherylSm