May 19, 2009
College and high school graduations have produced thousands of new people in the labor force, seeking that first job. With a recession and rising unemployment, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett is advising new graduates, along with other consumers seeking work, to be wary of Internet job scams.

"It is important for all consumers to be watchful for online job scams, especially young people looking for part-time or summer work," Corbett said. "Falling for these schemes will not only leave you unemployed, but victims can also lose thousands of dollars and find themselves targeted by identity thieves."

Corbett says con artists typically use Internet postings or websites like Craigslist to publish ads that offer high pay for part-time employment, including work as personal assistants, 'mystery shoppers' and check processors.

The exact wording of these scams can vary greatly, but all of the offers have common themes:

• They offer "easy money" for little work.

• Consumers work from home, rather than an office.

• It is difficult to meet your "employer" in-person, often because they travel frequently or are based overseas.

• And consumers need to respond very quickly.

Corbett said the most important element in all of these scams is that consumers will eventually be asked to wire-transfer money to another person:

• Personal assistants may be asked to pay bills for the 'employer'.

• Check processors may think they are handling payments for an overseas business.

• 'Mystery Shoppers' may believe they are evaluating stores that deal with wire transfers.

"In reality, victims are depositing counterfeit checks or money orders into their bank accounts and then wire-transferring that money to scam artists overseas," Corbett said. "Eventually, these bogus checks will be returned and banks will require consumers to repay any funds they withdrew."

Corbett said that consumers should always be wary of online job offers that seem "too good to be true," especially any situation where you are being asked to wire-transfer money to someone you do not know.