More people than ever are looking for jobs, creating a target rich environment for criminals who have dusted off the "job placement scam."

In Ohio, where unemployment remains stubbornly high, Attorney General Richard Cordray says his office has received a number of reports of the scam.

The scammers set up phony companies that promise "guaranteed" placement in high-paying jobs. All the job seeker has to do is pay a hefty, upfront fee.

"They place ads in newspapers or on the Internet, even on legitimate Web sites," Cordray said. "They promise exclusive information, good money and professional experience, but the jobs are either non-existent or very low-paying."

The scammers often charge high fees for job information, training sessions or promotional materials, all of which turn out to be useless, Cordray says. Instead of helping consumers make money, the scam artists actually take money from them. Some job seekers end up losing hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

People searching for jobs should follow these tips:

• Don't pay for help finding work. Some business opportunities involve upfront costs, but for most jobs, you should be making money, not spending it.

• Be suspicious of companies that make you pay for "exclusive information," mandatory training sessions, starter kits or other materials, especially

• if they ask you to wire transfer money to a foreign country.

• Check a company's reputation with the Better Business Bureau and search complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

• Don't trust unrealistic salaries or vague job descriptions. Demand a detailed description of the work involved before you commit to a job.

• Beware of lengthy contracts. Don't sign a contract without reading the fine print. Scam artists may try to slip in certain clauses, hoping you wont read them. Written contracts generally are binding, so take the contract to an attorney or trusted friend to review, and dont sign until you fully understand the agreement.

• Take your time. Dont give in to high-pressure tactics. If a company doesn't give you enough time to review a contract or make a decision, don't do business with it.

• Be wary of suspicious interviews. Interviews that take place at unusual locations (such as hotel lobbies, restaurants or other locations outside a normal place of business) are fishy. Be skeptical of group interviews and representatives that seem to be selling the company to you. If you feel pressured, walk away; you probably have good reason to be suspicious.