Job search scams swindle unemployed

February 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There is a new warning out for people looking for work to be very careful. The growing number of unemployed people is creating a fertile breeding ground for crooks and scammers. There are plenty of job scams to watch out for.

"We need shadow shoppers throughout America," said Mary Younger. "Make $980 just to go shopping? It sounded like fun."

Younger wanted to make this past Christmas special and so she tried to earn some extra money, by answering an online ad as a mystery shopper.

Michael Brenner in Long Beach told Younger to open an account at Citibank so he could deposit money into it.

"He put $980 into my account, $100 was for me, $880 was for the wiring," said Younger.

Younger was told to wire the money to another mystery shopper, in Russia, which she did. A few days later, Citibank called. It seems the deposit check from Younger's new found employer bounced, but she'd already spent the money.

"I am pretty much in a lot of trouble because the bank is telling me I'm responsible," said Younger.

Those at the online security company ProofPoint, based in Sunnyvale, have recently seen a 500-percent increase in internet job scams.

"When people are losing their jobs and they see an offer for some quick cash or an easy job that doesn't involve a lot of work, these are the kinds of offers people are really vulnerable right now," said Nithin Rao, a ProofPoint spokesperson.

Younger called the police, but no arrests have been made. Most of these types of cases are referred to a specialized hi-tech law enforcement, task force, called REACT. It's a Bay Area wide team that's now shutting down because of a lack of state funding during the budget crisis.

"Where we go for complicated cases is REACT, so we're going to come up with a different way to develop that in house. So there might be a temporary laps in what we'd like to do for the public in this area," said Mountain View Police Chief Scott Vermeer.

It's a lapse Younger, can't afford right now.


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