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Work offer not what it seems
This is the time of year many of us are looking to make some extra cash. But not all job offers are what they seem. Chris Olsen has the warnings signs.
For a moment Cliff Goodfellow thought it was his lucky day. He got a job offer in the mail to work as a mystery shopper. The offer included a big pay cheque with his name on it. The cheque looked real.
"It was a couple of grand and I got pretty excited about it. But I believed it was it was too good to be true so I decided to contacted CTV to see if you could look into it," he said.
The cheque looked very real. It was apparently issued by Citizens Bank, an arm of Vancity, which told CTV News it was a phony.
The letter from something called Simple Hire, looked legitimate too. Right down to the ‘Employment Rules' that came with it. CTV's investigation determined it too is a fake.
There is a real company called Simply Hired -- Simple Hire is a phony. And so was the phone number which went unanswered when we called.
Phony job offers are just one of what are called mass marketing frauds. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, from April to June of 2010 British Columbians reported losing more money to mass marketing fraud than the rest of the country combined.
That was $6 million in just three months.
In B.C., phony jobs or other "business opportunities" always rank in the Better Business Bureau's Top 10 Scams -- often near the top of the list.
The details of the scam change but the bottom line is the same. You are sent a cheque which you deposit. You are then asked to wire money back to the person or business that sent it. When the cheque later bounces it's you --not your bank -- who is responsible for the money you wired. That money is gone.
"We have reports from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Group that in 2009, 1,364 people got caught into this," the BBB's Lynda Pasacreta said.
And in the New Year -- with holiday bills piling up -- people are more vulnerable.
"You don't want to lose any bit of money so this is time to slow down," Pasacreta said.
In Cliff Goodfellow's case, he was supposed to test a wire service. Typically, he'd be asked to send $2,100 of the $2,400 cheque keeping $300 for himself. But when the cheque bounced he would have been out $2100 of his own money. Fortunately, he took the phony cheque to us -- not the bank.
Mystery shopping job do exist. A little research on the internet turned up the Mystery Shopping Providers Association -- a legitimate international group.
It warns about the scam letter and cheques that Cliff Goodfellow received, saying it will never send you cheques and never promise you mystery shopping assignments. It lists just seven organizations in Canada that are its legitimate members.
Cliff's is glad he called CTV and not the company.
Fraudsters will use mail, the phone, email, internet ads and even pay for ads in big city newspapers: any means necessary to get your money.
It's estimated by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre that fraud losses are as high as $10 billion per year in Canada. That's just an estimate because so few people report it.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen