Don’t trust the cloud. Target hacked. Feedly held for ransom. Seems like there’s been a lot of mistrust with the web lately, and rightly so. It’s always been there, always will be. Online job scams are prevalent too.
A recently retired family friend saw a too-good-to-be-true job on Fargo's Craigslist. Wow! $18/hr to help out the police! Good pay! Interesting work! What a great way to supplement income!
She replied to the ad to ask a few questions and got an email response that urged her to do a formal online application ASAP. She contacted me to see if she thought if I thought it was legit, knowing I know a lot about CRAAP – the model used to see if online information is true.
Right away I could tell this was a scam. Here are the Red Flags I found.
Red Flag 1: Act Now!
In the email, there’s an urgency to complete the application “ASAP” or “by tomorrow” or she could lose the opportunity to apply. Urgency nearly trumped her rationality.
Red Flag 2: Goofy Web Address
The email says the company name is FJW Properties. In the email the website is fjwmnt.org. When is the last time you abbreviated management with “mnt”? Many times scammers use bad grammar or spelling (in this case, bad abbreviation?) because English is not their native language.
Also, the website is a .org not a .com website. Dot orgs are for organizations like non-profits and .coms are for companies. Sure, there are non-profit property management companies but when I think of property management companies, I think of for-profit.
Another good thing to check is if you re-directed to another site after clicking on the link they send you. Example: click on fjwmnt.org but you are directed to russianbrides.com.
Red Flag 3: Goofy Website
The site referenced in the screenshot above has been taken down since I clicked on it a week ago. Perhaps someone reported it to Craigslist, who then removed the listing.
Before it was removed, I was able to get to their website and noticed a few fishy things. For one, the copyright at the bottom of the page was 2011. That told me the content was old. Or they don’t even care enough about keeping their site fresh (and accurate) so would they feel the same about potential employees?
There was no contact information in their site. No names, no numbers, no address. Why/what were they hiding? Vagueness was shown again back in the email she received that was signed “Breanna from HR”. No last name, phone number or email address. If you can’t get ahold of a live person or you can’t find an address to send a letter to their headquarters, stay away.
Red Flag 4: Bad or Missing info. on Search
What is the web saying about this company? Put it into search and see what happens. When you Google FJW Properties, you get a listing for a similar Craig’s List Scam in Maryland. It was an ad asking for furniture movers and in the Google search there was a screenshot of an email you would receive upon filling out an application. The wording in the email mirrored the one my friend received, nearly word-for word. I had to dig to Page two of the results but it was worth the effort to find that gem.
Red Flag 5:
Maybe one of the biggest red flags is trusting your gut feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, move on. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
After seeing all the flags, my friend deleted the email and moved on.
Be smart. Be safe.
Web Technology Specialist