Ag Communication Web Services

Tech info, tips & tricks

Job Scams - What to Look for in Online Postings

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 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 but you are directed to

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.

Sonja Fuchs
Web Technology Specialist


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Not For You?

So you think social networking isn’t for you? Sorry. Wrong answer.

What’s critical with social networking, your online presence, and pretty much everything else, is what your customers/clients/constituents want. It’s not about you. This is lesson number one to be successful. Not just successful online. Successful. Period.

I once had the experience of doing business with a company that is quite understandably not glued to their computers all day. That’s not their business. But for their customers that are, having a link on the website (or Facebook or Twitter account) that is left unattended was counter productive. I attempted to contact them in these proffered methods, but got no response. I don’t mean immediate response, I knew they weren’t sitting by their computer. I mean sometime this week. Eventually, I had to resort to calling them, but only after I was somewhat frustrated and certainly less enthusiastic. There are many times where people wouldn’t give you that much leeway. If there was no response by close of business, they would move on to another source.

I know it seems like one more thing to do, to keep up with the online world. But so is answering the phone or responding to mail and email. It’s become part of the job. It’s what people expect. And it’s up to them, not you, to decide which way they like best. And if you think your customers aren’t into that kind of thing - maybe that’s why they’re not your customers.

-- Julie Kuehl

Common Sense

Some of the recent security breaches have us tech folks telling everyone to practice common sense with their email, Facebook, and web surfing. But as the old saying goes, common sense isn’t common.

My opinion is that common sense is born of common experiences. I remember one time being involved with a refugee family from Vietnam that just got their first American apartment. Of course, they wanted to make us some food. So they immediately got the cutting board, knives, and pots out. And put them on the floor. Well, obviously, common sense says that work is done, and done more safely and easily, on the kitchen counters. But they had never seen a kitchen counter before so their common sense said do it on the floor. What was common sense was obvious to both of us, but quite different based on our past experiences.

Same is true with technology and “common sense” online behaviors. If you’ve been around websites and email enough it becomes common sense to not click on certain links, to spot a fishy-looking email, to know that professional sites/organizations don’t ask for your password (or even know themselves what it is), or to get a “gut feeling” that something isn’t right. But if you haven’t had enough of the right experiences these things WON’T be common sense to you.

So what IS common sense in the online world?

  • There are different risk levels online, just as there are elsewhere. Some things are are disappointing to lose, some things are inconvenient to lose, other things are devastating to lose.
  • Those things that are devastating to lose (usually involving access to your money, social security number, or other sensitive information) you should be the most careful with.
  • Those things that are disappointing or inconvenient to lose you can get by being a little less vigilant about.
  • NEVER share your password with anyone. If you contact a company and they know it and can tell you, it’s not an especially secure place to do business. They shouldn't have access to it.
  • For those places where the risk is at the “devastation” level, you really do want to use secure passwords. Consider using a secure password generator such as: There are others if you want to try a Google search for “password generator.” I once heard it recommended that you keep these secure passwords on a small piece of paper in your wallet because we’re all familiar with the habit of keeping the small pieces of paper in our wallets secure. It would be devastating to lose your wallet anyway, password list or no. And the action required for a lost wallet is nearly the same as for a stolen password.
  • You should never use the same password twice.
  • Okay, okay. In reality, choose your passwords based on the risk level. If you need a password just to logon to a website, it might be okay to have an easy one to remember that perhaps you’ve used before under similar circumstance. If the bad guys get this password, they too can login to this website and appear to be you. So what happens if they do? If the answer is “not much” you’re might be okay.
  • A quick tip about links in emails and on websites. If you move the cursor over the link and leave it there for a second or two, the full website address will pop up. Take a look at it. Do you recognize the website? Is it what you expected? Then it’s probably okay to click on it. If not, DON’T!!!! You can always type in the website address of where you want to go and do a search or click on links once you get there.

This list is by no means complete, but is just an introduction to some of the “common sense” that online folks refer to. Some common sense just has to be learned from experience, but hopefully this will help make sure that experience isn’t an unpleasant one.

-- Julie Kuehl


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Author: Julie

Copyright 2009, North Dakota State University