Most widespread Internet scams are based offshore, out of reach of U.S. authorities but Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe says a jobs scam may be operating in his state, targeting consumers nationwide.
The offers are designed to trick individuals who are looking for work into wiring money out of the country.
Investigators from Beebes office are working to track down the people behind the bogus business to determine if they are, in fact, running the scam from Arkansas. The end result for victims will be the same regardless of the location: they will lose money and/or personal information to the scam artists if they accept the phony offers for employment.
The scam involves a fake company called L Finders, which claims to be a concierge-and courier service. Job postings for the company have appeared online and in at least one newspaper in Texas.
A woman in Houston who contacted L Finders received an e-mail and a phone call encouraging her to apply for an office-assistant job by filling out an application online and faxing it to a phone number in Little Rock. She was asked to include her Social Security Number, copies of two forms of identification, bank-account details and a cancelled check.
"Any employment offered online without a formal interview, no matter where it originates, should be treated with skepticism," Beebe said. "Terms that seem too good to be true will prove to be just that and may cost you in stolen personal information or money lost."
Scams appearing to be operated by the same con artists have also appeared in Colorado.
According to the Better Business Bureau, job seekers who applied for the jobs received counterfeit cashiers checks and were asked to deposit them, and then wire money from their accounts to an address in Mexico. At least one of the Colorado scams used the name of a legitimate company as a front.
Multiple scams, including the one claiming to operate from Little Rock, have used an identical e-mail address for job seekers to use: firstname.lastname@example.org. Any job offer utilizing that e-mail address should be reported to the Attorney Generals Office or the Better Business Bureau.
Many Internet job scams eventually involve requests to wire money overseas. Beebe says any such request should be an immediate red flag indicating a scam.