Last night I was watching “The Net,” a movie with Sandra Bullock. An extremely exciting thriller that synopsis is probably a very close description of a life that some of us live nowadays. What is happening when personal information is changed? Could it be that we don’t exist anymore? Instead of us, there is some other person.
After few minutes, I’ve realized that my recent experience with online criminals has consequences on desperate job seekers’ lives. Actually, it is a story that I’ve heard from a friend of mine. His online research for a job leads him to unbelievable series of events, like in the movie.
Two years ago, he decided to look for a new job, and one of the first points of his search was Monster. He posted his resume on the website and applied for several positions. Each day, he was checking his inbox and was waiting for some new opportunity. Nothing was there, only newsletters and few not serious offers. Trying with several other job board could help. He continued with posting his resume and looking for new ads.
His job wasn’t bad at all, but he was just one step to get fired. Because of this ongoing economic crisis, his company was having a lot of difficulties. Some of his colleagues have already lost their jobs. At the moment, he wasn’t desperate, but the gut told him that something big was coming up. The rest of the story is like a screenplay.
The same day he got information from his boss that his desk has to be clear from the next month. Nothing could change his bad mood except one thing. In the inbox, he found one message, and it looked like a dream come true. Initial job offer from some company to work for their sales team in the U.S. It’s online sales. Not an affiliate program, but it is work from home. He started to check the details. Web site and management team. All valid information. Salary and other terms were negotiable. Nothing suspicious. Communication with their HR specialist was smooth, and after he signed a job offer, Mrs. Mark (HR representative) asked for some extra personal details. A red lamp was lightning in his head, but she was persuasive and really confident.
He has signed the contract and tried to send it from the business email account. Suddenly, some uneasy run through his spine. He pressed the button and sent a copy of his ID, details with his social number, etc. Still, he didn’t think about being scammed.
Two weeks after sending the papers, there was no call from Mrs. Mark. One day, instead of his new employer, he received a call from his banker. She explained to him that his credit card is canceled today. First thought was about his present employer. Maybe, his boss called the bank.
“Thank you for calling. How much is my debt now?”
“Mr. Collins, your limit is fully charged.”
“You’ve spent over $10,000.”
No reply. Mouth ajar, he was staring at the phone. Suddenly he realized. Mrs. Mark is a scam. She rubbed him. Instead of a desperate job seeker, he became a hopeless victim of ID theft.
Without finishing the conversation, he ran home and tried to read all messages. It was so clear from her e-mail address, which was actually fake. He overlooked yahoo.com. The link for their website has the correct name but with an upper case like this WWW.COM.COM. It was actually a hyperlink leading to other sites very similar to the original. In their introduction letter was mentioned that his resume was found on Monster. He didn’t have any notification from Monster about the company name. Usually, on Monster, there were notifications about companies which have viewed resume or have considered it. The most frightening fact was their offer.
After he found out, every action, every movement had only one goal. To stop them. They have used his vulnerability and have extracted all necessary details for using his credit card online. They discovered his security question. Now is the time, for one thing, he should have done before this whole mass. He read advice on what to do in the case of becoming the victim of identity theft. You can read here about this subject.
Carefully taking every step according to this guide, he finally reported this incident to Federal Trade Commission. There was some file it could be downloaded and filled. It is called FTC ID Theft Affidavit. There is also the possibility to contact the FTC hotline. He called them and told this incredible story. There is the catch.
He is not the hero of some thriller movie like Sandra Bullock. There are plenty of flies who have already been caught in the spider net. A lot of desperate job seekers, instead of a dream job, got a nightmare.
After preparing the documentation, he called the police. Officer didn’t listen to his complaint at all. Bad sign. He transferred the line to another officer. Suddenly, a female voice from the other side said:
“Sir, how can I help you?”
“I have a problem with identity theft.”
“Really. How so? You were looking for a job or buying on eBay?”
Well, they have already categorized him. She politely explained to him that job seekers among the top 10 targeted groups for those cyber-criminals. He continued to talk, and finally, the police clerk collected all details about this incident. Hang up the phone and continue to read instructions from FTC. You can read it here. One of the next things was to order his credit report and check if there were more surprises. All three credit report companies were introduced to this issue immediately. There were no other attempts of fraud. The problem with his credit report was difficult.
This story’s epilogue was somehow more interesting than everything because, after two years, the police finally has found thieves somewhere in Florida. They were changing the names of companies, names of recruitment people, but they didn’t change the approach too much. Police were checking similar reports and put pieces together. Just overall look and criminals were finally caught.
My friend has a new job and still very careful about all online issues. We all have to be careful. When you are doing some business online, open your eyes and check every detail.