[UPDATED with Scam Jobs below on July 10, 2018] On February 14, 2018 TDS was contacted by a woman from Colorado we’ll call “Wanda.” Wanda used Indeed.com to post her job resume and was contacted on February 13 by a woman who called herself Mrs. Faith Benjamin, a hiring manager for the company AHRENS GROUP PTY LTD. Faith had contacted Wanda about a job in data entry. According to Bloomberg.com, Ahrens Group PTY LTD provides construction, engineering, and mining services in Australia. Faith invited Wanda into Google Hangouts for an interview and conversation about this job. Over the course of her conversation, Wanda became very suspicious that “Faith” was a scammer and the job wasn’t real. She contacted us the next day. We’ll let her tell you her story and then afterwards explain how Wanda and TDS tricked the scammer! As you read Wanda’s exchange with Faith, how many suspicious “red flags” can you spot? Also, just like a “poker tell” can you spot the “tell” that reveals what part of the world Faith is really from? At the bottom of this long conversation we’ll reveal the “tell” and all the red flags.
However, one point is critically important for our readers to understand. Other victims targeted by advance-check scams disguised as job offers have also reported having interviews via Google Hangouts. LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES WILL NOT USE GOOGLE HANGOUTS AS ITS TOOL TO INTERVIEW A JOB CANDIDATE! It is a guarantee of a scam if the “hiring manager” tells you to use Google Hangouts! If you doubt us, insist to your “hiring manager” that you want to use Skype or Facetime (or even a phone call!) and you’ll be given an excuse why it isn’t possible, or be told that you are not the right person for the job! That’s a job you don’t want!
NOTE 1: At the bottom of this article you will find a list of names, emails, phone numbers and companies being reported by victims to The Daily Scam in the course of this scam. Also, legitimate hiring managers will NOT use Gmail addresses or email addresses from “@consultant.com.”
NOTE 2: In the Spring of 2018 the scammers running this scam are changing their tactics! They are purchasing domain names that are SIMILAR TO the real businesses they claim to represent to make it appear that they are legitimate when they contact victims. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Look up the domain names you find in the email addresses after the “@” symbol using a WHOIS tool! It is was recently registered, it’s a fake!
NOTE 3: In July, 2018 we heard from a victim who told us that her interview was first through SKYPE! It is no surprise thought when the victim told us “It was just chatting because she said she was busy with others as well.” Legitimate hiring managers will NOT conduct an interview using only text chat in Skype! The interview would be a video chat! Following the SKYPE interview, the victim was offered the job and asked to speak with the “Orientation Officer” via Google Hangouts. The Orientation Officer (Bruce Brian Johnson) asked the victim to send him the victim’s bank account information so he could “pay her” for the orientation. The bank form she was asked to fill out asked for her Online account password, her security question and answer to that question! That’s when the victim knew it was a scam
I’m sad to report that I just fell victim to this scam today. Fortunately, I only provided my name and address – no bank account information and no social security information. But, I want to send this because it is SO VERY SIMILAR to one I just read on your site. Here’s the body of the entire conversation but I am redacting my information for security. Me, I’ll call myself “Wanda” The “Hiring Manager” is calling herself Faith Benjamin, email: agpdf.msbenjaminfaith “@” gmail.com.
Wanda: Hello. I received an email message to contact you for the position of Data Entry.
Faith: Good Afternoon, You are welcome to AHRENS GROUP PTY LTD. I believe you are fully prepared and available for the job briefing/interview?
Faith: Before we proceed with the job briefing and interview, I would like to apologize for our unseemly approach if this interview conducting method is unprofessional to you or if you are new to all this. I believe the world constantly changes, and you know it is important to stay on the top of any advancement that we come across. That’s why the board decided to use this method of conducting interviews. I believe you clearly understand why we used this method of conducting interviews. Are we good to go?
Wanda: Yes, good to go.
Faith: I’m Mrs. Faith Benjamin, one of the Hiring Managers of AHRENS GROUP PTY LTD. I will be the one to brief you on the positions and the company. Kindly Indicate your full names and location (City, State)
Faith: About Us:
AHRENS GROUP PTY LTD is a full-service construction, engineering and mining services company, delivering a complete range of project services and cost-effective solutions. We achieve this through our complete range of in-house capabilities, our numerous strategic locations and our collaborative, personable approach to business.
Our broad capabilities and experience mean we are a one-stop shop that can deliver your complete project – from design, steel fabrication and procurement through to construction and project delivery – or any individual element you required. We work with all our clients to deliver customized value-for-money solutions to their specific project needs.
We recognize the need for effective workplace policies and procedures that comply with best practice principles and all relevant legislation, codes of conduct and other regulations. Our commitment to these helps us deliver high-quality results in all areas of our business.
[NOTE: Wanda informed us that this description of Ahrens Group was copied directly from the AHRENS GROUP website “About Us” page.
Faith: This is strictly an online job and from home, which means you will be working from home. Hours are flexible and you can also choose to work from anywhere of your choice, the pay is $27.00 per hour during full working hours and the training is $22.00 per hour and will be getting your payment weekly via check or direct deposit, if you are employed you are going to be working full time or part-time. Benefits: Health, Dental, Life and AD&D Insurance, Employee Wellness and 401k plans. Paid Time Off and Holidays with Generous Company Discounts. Understood
Wanda: Yes. I have a question.
Faith: Go ahead…?
Wanda: The pay I would receive during training is $22/hr?
Wanda: How long is training, typically?
Faith: If hired, 3 days…
Wanda: Got it
Faith: Our Corporate Head-Office is located Wilhelm Road, Kingsford SA 5118 PO Box 2, Sheaoak Log SA 5371. We are currently working in some locations (OFFICE SETTING) in Colorado Springs CO, Houston TX, Atlanta GA. That’s why you are been employed online. Once the office is up and running on the 5th of March, you will start by working from home till the branch is available or setup, immediately the branch is opened you will be assigned to work over there that’s if hired. Understood
Faith: The idea of online work from home was initiated due to this reason so we can reach all our customers all over the world, the company made this job available based on the fact that we are currently re-strategizing and upgrading our database and are presently developing locations in the United States. The location in your area is currently still under construction and undisclosed for security reasons, you will be surely be notified of the location once its ready to be opened Okay?
Faith: Position Hiring: Data Entry
RESPONSIBILITIES/DUTIES: Updating client information in computer system Running and processing multiple documents utilizing Microsoft Word, Excel, and Access Inputting purchase orders Other various administrative tasks, Inputs information from a variety of sources into a computer database. May take customer orders and enter them into a pre-established tracking system Assignments will be sent to you via e-mail or IM and you will report directly to your immediate supervisor
KEY REQUIREMENT: Applicants for this role will need to be familiar with relevant software packages and have a good typing speed. They will need to have strong analytical skills and excellent organizational skills. They will also need to be able to operate other forms of equipment such as printers and a tape machine. They should also to be able to work to deadlines and use their own initiative
I assume you can handle all of these duties effectively if you get hired?
Wanda: No problem.
[NOTE: Wanda began to feel suspicious about this job, especially after hearing that she would have to be able to operate a “tape machine.” She’s a smart woman with good search skills. She copied some phrases from this job description and searched for them in Google. It didn’t take her long to discover this exact job description posted word-for-word on Internships.com:
Faith: This section of the interview is called question and answer section. I would be asking you some question’s concerning your background and qualification and you are required to use your own words structure in answering all questions, also you’re to end every answer with (DONE) Letting me know I can proceed with my next question. Understood?
(1) What type of jobs have you had?
(2) How did you get your previous jobs?
(3) What were your main responsibilities? Achievements?
(4) Why did you leave your last job? Are you currently employed?
(5) How would you rate your typing speed? Are you a team player?
(6) Tell us three of your major attributes;
(7) Are you willing to work flexible or long hours?
(8) Do you have a laser jet printer, copier, and scanner?
(9) How would you be an asset to our organization?
(10)Tell Us why you feel you are the right person for this Job?
Wanda: [RESPONSES REDACTED FOR PRIVACY] (DONE)
Faith: (SECOND SECTION)
PAYROLL & WORKING SCHEDULE:
1. How many hours are you willing to Work per day? (4hr Minimum per day or 40hrs Maximum per week) What time range?
2. When would you be available to start if HIRED?
3. Payroll Interval (Weekly or Bi-weekly)
4. Payroll Method (Direct deposit/Check)
5. What is the name of the Bank which you currently operate with so as to see if it tallies financially with the company’s official salary payment account?
Wanda: 1. I am in the [REDACTED] so my working/waking hours would be between 6am and 10pm. I am willing to work full time – 40 hours.
2. I am available immediately.
4. Direct deposit.
5. [REDACTED FOR PRIVACY]
Faith: No. 5 question was asked because I wanted to know if you have a checking account because to receive future payments from the company an employee needs to have a checking account. Do you have a checking account at the moment?
Faith: You’ve been impressive so far. For me, you’ll be a perfect fit I just hope the company gives you a chance to show what you are made of.
Wanda: Thank you.
Faith: I need you to hold on online because I need to forward our conversation to the Head Dept to enable them take decision on your performance. I need you to hold back online for 20-45mins.
Wanda: That’s not a problem.
Faith: I’m back now, the result for the interview just conducted is on my screen. Are you ready to know your stand?
Wanda: Of course!
Faith: After careful consideration, I have good news for you. The good news is you’ve just been confirmed qualified for the position of a CALL CENTER REPRESENTATIVE. You are welcome to AHRENS GROUP PTY LTD. You are now given a chance to show your commitment, assertiveness, and diligence and be a productive employee. Welcome to the online team
[NOTE: Wanda informed us that this essentially confirmed for her that it was a scam. Can you see why? She was interviewing for a job in Data Entry!]
Wanda: I’m hired?!
Faith: Correct. The hard-copy of employee manual guide and W4 will be sent to your email and you will be required to sign and fill-out required data then email back to us for documentation OK?
Faith: We encourage the development of knowledge, interpersonal skills, and business competencies. Your salary will be $27.00/Hr. How would you like to be Paid? Weekly Or Bi-Weekly?
Faith: Our employee training programs provide in-house/external instructor-led and online training opportunities. During your training and orientation, one of the organization’s supervisors will reach you via e-mail or phone. Also, they will put you through our company’s guidelines under US Human Resources Laws and Regulations OK
Faith: You will be receiving your duties online every day and I will always be online to assist you with any difficulties. Your Primary duties include: Preparation of Balance sheets (Mini), account balancing, invoicing recording, proper data analysis of sales records and recording pay slips into accounting database
Secondary duties: Now, your secondary daily duties would be to report to your Supervisor, who would be attached to you online, He/She would assign logs of duty daily and you would be required to work according to instructions, using the Microsoft Office tools and the Accounting software. Now the function of the Accounting software is to arrange, formalize and manage the data you have processed, sent to your supervisor via E-mail
I believe you would be able to handle job duties effectively if you are being trained towards it?
Faith: Our benefit programs are designed for the unique needs of each employee. You would be eligible for Benefits after 2 months of working with the company. Benefits offered are Health, Dental and Vision Plans, Short- and Long-Term Disability, Life Insurance, Critical Illness and Accident Policies, 401k Retirement Plan (with Employer Contributions), Health Club Membership (up to $50 per Month), Tuition Assistance (for employees still in college), Employee Assistance, Program Personal and Vacation Time Holiday Pay.
Wanda: That’s amazing.
Wanda: Does the company have a website? Is it http://www.ahrens.com.au?
**Faith never answered my question about the website.**
[TDS NOTE: Many other people who report job scams to us have reported that the person they communicate with will simply ignore questions that might compromise the scam.]
Faith: NOTE: You will need some Accounting software and a Time Tracker to commence your training and orientation and most importantly, you need the software to get started with work as soon as possible.
The work of the time tracker is to evaluate your working hours from the company’s server for your payment purpose since this will be online and work from home job until the branch is commissioned okay?
Wanda: Is the software provided?
Faith: You will be undergoing a 3-day(s) of training and orientation which will commence as soon as you have all the working materials and you rest assured that you will be paid for it. Okay?
Faith: Here are the names of the software programs you will need to start working with: Peachtree Complete Accounting Software, CYMA IV for Windows Accounting Software, MYOB Business Essentials Accounting Software, QuickBooks Pro Accounting Software and a Time Tracker.
Faith: Are you familiar with the above software programs?
Wanda: No but software is second nature to me. It’s not a problem.
Faith: The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via CHECK, make sure you use the funds as instructed for the software/working equipment, Understood?
Faith: The check will be mailed and delivered to your home via FedEx or USPS courier service and once you receive the check you are needed to have it deposited to your bank account via the ATM or Bank Teller for immediate clearance. The funds will be credited and available in your account for cash out within 24 hours or less. You are to deduct the $150.00 as your sign on bonus and the rest of the funds in your account will be for the purchase of your working software.
[Wanda notes:*****BIG RED FLAG****]
Once funds are available for use, I will refer you to one of the company’s certified vendors you are to purchase them from at a discount rate due to the company’s long-lasting relationship and agreement with them. The vendor’s responsibility would be the installations of the software into a (Brand new 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro 2016 with Touch Bar and Touch ID) with the required updates and patches before shipping them to you okay?
Faith: I believe that with the expertise of the company’s supervisors, your training and orientation will go on smoothly without any issues or hindrances if you are willing to learn.
Wanda: I am!
Faith: In the meantime, I need you to provide me with the following requested info for verification purpose
[PERSONAL INFORMATION REDACTED]
Faith: All we inquire from you is good work and trust, you will enjoy every moment working with the company, I have been working for the company for years now and it has been a great opportunity for me and my family.
Wanda: I will do my best.
Faith: This job offers flexible hours but you are to report online by 9: AM daily for duties, task, and assignment but you can as well work 30-40 hours weekly you can also work 6 hours per day understood?
Faith: Alright, that will be all for now, you are to report to me tomorrow morning by 9:am your time for update on the check and how to get started with work, you are to report to me via Google Hangouts, that is you are to log on to your Google Hangouts and message me for update on how to get started. Understood?
Wanda: Yes ma’am!
Wanda: Umm, 9 am my time, correct?
Faith: Make sure you are here tomorrow morning 9:am for Check Update. Enjoy the rest of your day and stay blessed!
Wanda: 9am for my time zone, correct?
Wanda: I will see you here tomorrow morning.
[At this point, Wanda is so suspicious, she Googles employment scams, finds our website, and contacts The Daily Scam.]
February 14, 2018:
Faith: Good morning
Wanda: Good morning You were early!
Faith: Yes, sorry about that. How are you doing today? Happy Val!
Wanda: I’m doing well. I forgot it was Valentine’s day.
Faith: Oh, okay How was your evening?
Wanda: It was good. I was looking for the packet from HR and I didn’t get it. And, do you send official offer letters?
Faith: Yes, you will get that before the end of today as yesterday was a busy day for us. Ready for today’s update?
Faith: I would like you to verify the details you provided me the last time, the check will be issued to the details we have in Our database, so i want you to tell me if it correct.
[DETAILS REDACTED] Correct?
Faith: The check to use in purchasing your working materials would be mailed out to you today and i believe you will receive it by tomorrow morning Via FedEx or USPS and I will be here to provide you with the tracking number so you can keep track and know when it will get to you. Understood?
Faith: You are to deposit the check in your bank account when you receive it, Once deposited, funds would be made available for withdrawal The next day (within 24 hours or less)
Wanda: That’s really fast for my bank.
Faith: When funds are made available, you will be entitled to an upfront payment of $150 (Signupbonus), you are to withdrawal the rest of the funds and send to the vendor that you are to purchase the materials from, and working materials will be sent to you the next morning Via FedEx or USPS okay.
Faith: Yes, Credit union has 2 days policies. I understand that.
Wanda: Okay, just wanted you to know.
Faith: I understand that fact.
Wanda: Do you have a mailing address for Ahrens?
Faith: I believe you understood all I have stated today?
Wanda: I’m sure since I’m officially an employee, you can tell me what part of town the office is being built in. I need to plan for the commute.
Wanda: Oh, for sure.
Faith: Yes, I perfectly understand where you’re driving at. As soon as you have your working materials in your possession you will be given access into the company’s employee online database to enable you commence training with. Also, your online immediate supervisor will keep you posted upon completion of the office location.
Wanda: No not, not training. I need to make arrangements for a car so I can get to work after the office opens. I was thinking about that last night and since I don’t own a car, I’ll need to make arrangements.
Wanda: I thought you said you were my supervisor and I was to report to you? I’m confused.
Faith: Yes, all should be after the purchasing of your working materials which should be by this week.
Wanda: Just curious: why doesn’t Ahrens populate the laptop and then send that to me? It’s really hard for me to get around town without a car.
Faith: No, I am hiring Manager, your only to report to me until you have your working materials purchased…… from there you will be contacted by your immediate supervisor via phone or email. He/she will guide you through your training and orientation programme.
Wanda: Oh, ok. So now I just wait for my check? And then get the software and after that training will start?
Wanda: I like this Hangouts. I never used it before yesterday. Pretty cool environment for connecting, learning. Is this where training will be conducted?
Wanda: Did we get disconnected? Hello?
Wanda: Ms. Faith?
Faith: Sorry.. I’m experiencing a bit of slow network. Yes, you wait for the check and purchase your working materials.
Wanda: Oh, you are still there!
Wanda: So, there’s no training here today?
Faith: Not today, training won’t hold until you have your working materials in your possession.
Wanda: Alrighty then! I have to catch a cab to the store. I’ll look for my check and come back here when it gets here. Once again, thank you for your time. Bye for now!
Faith: It won’t get to you until tomorrow. Your welcome.
Faith: That’s all for today, get back to me Tomorrow morning 8:am for the tracking # to your package. Enjoy your day ahead of you and stay blessed!
Wanda: I sure will. Have a good afternoon!
Faith: Thank you.
Later that morning…
Wanda: Ms. Faith? I’m going to need an official offer letter, as is customary, before I can move forward. Please provide as soon as possible. Thank you.
Faith: Sure, you don’t have to worry about. You will get the offer letter in your email today.
Wanda: It needs to be on official company letterhead so I can cancel my unemployment.
Faith: You’ll get the offer letter in your email.
Wanda: Perfect! Thank you!
Faith: Your welcome.
February 15, 2018:
Faith: Good morning.
Wanda: Good morning
Faith: How are you doing today?
Wanda: I’m doing well. I received my offer letter and forwarded it to my unemployment contact for review.
Faith: Oh okay, Ready for today’s update?
Faith: This is the tracking number to your package: 771482143112 you are required to track it on www.FedEx.com to know the delivery status. Once that has been done, get back to me.
NOTE: The FedEx was sent from Chicago, IL but you’ll see that the envelope lists the sender’s address in California.
Wanda: That’s it?
Faith: Please track package and let me know the status of the package OK.
Wanda: Says it was delivered but I haven’t received anything.
Faith: Check your front door!
Wanda: They didn’t even ring the doorbell!
Faith: Other employees did received theirs, Kindly check your front door to confirm the delivery from FedEx… They don’t have to ring the door bell.
[TDS NOTE: We believe “Faith” is actually revealing that a similar fake check has also been sent to other potential victims at the same time. See red flag #8 below.]
Wanda: It’s here
Faith: I need you to open your package now and verify the amount on the check now and let me know the actual amount sent to you now.
Wanda: It’s for $4,890.00. That’s expensive software.
Faith: Amount is Correct…The software are very expensive which is why we decided to send you a check to cover all the cost of your working equipment. Understood?
Faith: What do you mean No!?
Wanda: I mean, I don’t have anywhere near that kind of money in my account. I’m going to call my bank real quick.
Faith: Are you purchasing with your own Money?
Wanda: No but I can’t cover that amount with the balance in my account My bank policy is such that if I don’t have the balance, they will hold the check for a period of 7 working days for it to clear.
Faith: Okay, It seems your not really interested in this Job, I’ll reach out to accounting dept and cancel the check. Do have a great and don’t bother signing the offer letter.
Wanda: What? It’s not my policy
Wanda: Hello? Are you serious?
Faith: Yes, I am. You seem not to be serious about this.
Wanda: I am interested!
Faith: You think this is some Joke Ma’m?
Wanda: No, I don’t. I am only citing my bank policy. I have no way to change how they do business. If I knew it was so large, I could have told you that yesterday. Maybe it could be divided in smaller pieces so my bank won’t put a hold on it.
Wanda: How about we do a voice call? I can call you at the number on the website. Ms. Faith Benjamin, correct? I should be able to get through, I think. Not sure I can place an international call on my phone. What time is it in your location?
Faith: My location is New York, NY.
Wanda: New York?
Wanda: Ok, even better, then. Let’s chat voice. What’s your number?
Faith: I don’t use my phone during working hours, sorry.
Wanda: You don’t have a corporate phone? Office phone? VOIP?
Faith: We do, only for work use.
Wanda: This is work-related, no?
Faith: I am already talking to you here right?
Wanda: Yes, but I have questions and it’s too much to type…
Wanda: I’ll hail a cab and head over to the bank. I’ll let you know when I get back. Maybe we can talk about the offer letter then?
Faith: What about it?
Wanda: Oh, you said not to bother signing it. I thought if I went to the bank and got back to you, we could talk about that.
Wanda: Noted? Okay, I’ll be back in about 45 minutes.
Wanda says: So… 45 minutes goes by as I sit at my computer doing research around the web, watching a program on Investigation Discovery, and doing laundry.
Wanda: Whew! I made it. Sorry for delay, my Uber driver was late getting here.
Faith: Oh, okay
Wanda: Good news! I had to do some pleading but the bank said they can release the funds on Tuesday.
Faith: That’s a 2 days hold.
Wanda: The 20th. It’s a five day hold. Versus the 7 day they would normally do. Good, right?
Wanda: A little delay but I can order the software as soon as Tuesday morning and then maybe get started shortly after that? How long does it take for them to ship the MacBook?
Wanda: Oh, that’s fast. Cool.
Faith: Normally for Credit unions, Funds are either suppose to be available within a 24hours period or 48hours. I am only trying to make sure you are on same track alongside other employees.
Wanda: Because it’s issued from out of state and such a large amount, they normally hold for 7 days. I got that bumped up to just 5 days because I’ve been there so many years.
Faith: Okay and again, my reason for being concerned is this I am only trying to make sure you are on same track alongside other employees.
Wanda: I don’t know what to say…
Wanda: What happens now?
Wanda: Faith? What happens now?
Wanda: Hello? Are you still there? Network problems?
Faith: I guess we have no choice order than to do it your Bank’s way….
Faith: Ok. Then should I meet back up with you?
Wanda: Yes. That has my information on it so I won’t be submitting that over the web. Do you have a mailing address? I can send FedEx.
Faith: Like I stated earlier, Note for personal security purpose, you can erase your account information if there are any written on the receipt okay
Wanda: Okay. I will do that. Where should I send it?
Wanda: Are you okay? I mean, your network status? Seems real slow.
Faith: Yes, I am okay. I’m very busy that’s why.
Wanda: Should I meet back up with you when the funds clear? I need to know who to contact to purchase software. I want to get started as soon as possible.
Faith: Of course. I’ll be providing you with that information once it’s time.
Faith: Also, You should send updates to the email received on the letter alongside the check.
Wanda: What letter?
Faith: Didn’t you receive a letter along with the check?
Wanda: There was one sheet of paper, the check at the top with blank underneath. I removed the check and took that to the bank. Was there supposed to be something on the blank area?
Faith: Oh okay. There was an instruction that came alongside the check. Notify me once the deposit has been completed.
HERE ARE THE INSTRUCTIONS SENT INSIDE THE ENVELOPE AND ENVELOPE:
Wanda: Well, since you’re in the U.S., Happy President’s Day Weekend! See you Tuesday! Bye for now!
Faith: The receipt? It’s required for record purpose.
Wanda: Oh, I’ll send that Fedex if you give me an address.
Faith: I don’t understand? You can’t have it sent via email?
Wanda: I’m not putting my information on the web. Too many boogers on the web. You know? You can’t be safe enough. Since I deposited the check, I’ll sign the offer letter and send that back to Ahrens Group.
Faith: The receipt or the offer letter?
Wanda: I can’t thank you enough! Well, I’ll send you the receipt. Address? I can have it there tomorrow morning, via Fedex.
Faith: It seems your not understanding me….. If you have the receipt sent to my email address, It will be recorded ASAP. If not, fair enough.
Wanda: No, I understand and I’m not willing to send that kind of information over the web. I’ve been in this business too long to compromise that information.
Faith: Have a great day ahead of you.
Wanda: See you Tuesday!
Wanda: So you don’t want me to send it fedex?
Faith: If you feel you don’t trust me, I understand. Tuesday!
Wanda: Alright then!
The Daily Scam provided Wanda with a special link to send to Faith to show her that Wanda had deposited the check. But Wanda hadn’t deposited the check! She knew this was a scam and had already contacted the bank whose name was on the check she had received. The bank informed Wanda that other fraudulent checks had been submitted against this account just recently and they were aware of the problem! TDS has previously learned that scammers will typically run a batch of scams at the same time using nearly identical fraudulent checks against the same account all at once. Typically, six to fifteen. That means six to fifteen people being victimized, in addition to the business whose name appears on the check.
Wanda sent her special link to Faith, saying it was proof that she had deposited the check. When “Faith” clicked it, TDS was informed exactly where in the world “Faith” was located. It was Lagos, Nigeria! “Faith” was very likely a professional 419-scammer! We have since tricked other “Google Hangout” interviewers to click a link and confirm that they are also located in Lagos, Nigeria.
- Hiring manager asks to interview the candidate through Google Hangouts.
- Candidate is hired without a face-to-face, video chat or even a phone call and in just a matter of hours.
- Faith informs Wanda that Ahrens Group is opening a new office in her area on March 5 but says “The location in your area is currently still under construction and undisclosed for security reasons.” That’s total BS.
- A “Key Requirement” for the job is to “be able to operate other forms of equipment such as printers and a tape machine.” Seriously??
- It is extremely unusual and highly suspicious that an employer would ask an employee to use their personal checking account for business transactions.
- Wanda is hired after only answering a bunch of questions on Google Hangouts. And hired for CALL CENTER REPRESENTATIVE, not data entry as she was first informed.
- Faith ignores some of Wanda’s questions.
- Faith tells Wanda a check will be mailed to her to deposit and the funds will be available within 24 hours or less. TDS has spoken to banks about this. They tell us that some fraudulent checks are so well crafted that the bank doesn’t discover the fraud for 7 business days. This is because criminals are sometimes able to create a fake check using a real business bank account holder, with a real routing and account number. It is therefore the business that sometimes calls the bank to say they never issued the check. Guess who is responsible for the lost funds? The victim!
- When Wanda and Faith say goodbye to each other, Faith says “Stay blessed!” This is Faith’s “poker tell” revealing her background. Though we generalize, Africans frequently say things like “Dearest One,” “Remain Blessed” and “Stay Blessed.” These expressions are part of their religious colloquialisms. We wrote about this “tell” in our August 16, 2017 newsletter.
- Look how quickly Faith says she will cancel the check for nearly $5000 and informs Wanda “don’t bother signing the offer letter” when Wanda pushes back against depositing such a large check!
- Faith pushes back when Wanda insists on calling her to chat over the phone. The exchange is ridiculous as Faith says “I don’t use my phone during working hours, sorry” as she refers to her work phone!
- Ahrens Group is in Australia, yet the check came from a Georgia Bank with RE: Barbara Peavy from a California address, a letter was enclosed with the check from Mr. Michael Lee with an email address of Michael.Lee “@” accountant.com or creditmanager “@” usa.com and also the offer letter. No physical or email address pointed back to Ahrens Group.
- Besides Wanda, several people have contacted us about these scams. All received an “employment agreement” letter or contract as a simple Word document. A real business contract would not be presented as a Word document. These documents contained grammatical errors as well.
UPDATE February 22, 2018:
On Feb. 21st we heard from a woman who was also contacted about a job interview in Google Hangouts for a job at AHRENS Group. The person contacting her was “Allen Jones” who found this woman’s contact information on MySmartRecruiter.com. She was asked to visit Google Hangouts for an interview with a woman named Mrs. Vivian Butland. She tells us that she was quickly and easily hired, then immediately sent a check with the bank name Max Credit Union. Now, she says, she’s being pressured to deposit the check and use it to pay for something for the “company.” Here are her contact emails:
The very next day, February 22, we heard from another woman about this same job application! She was contacted through Freelancer.com and asked to go into “Google Hangout” to do an interview with the head hiring manager at Ahrens group, a Mr. Jefferey Wilson. It didn’t take long before she was told that she got the job and that she would receive a check from them for “equipment fees.” Here is a sample “Ahrens-group-employment-contract” sent by a scammer from “Ahrens Group” and another one used for Teva Pharmaceuticals: TEVA-Pharm-Employment-Agreement
UPDATE February 25, 2018: This scam is clearly very active! Since posting this article 2 weeks ago, we’ve heard from 8 people about this scam. Several of them have been interviewed for a job at Ahrens Group but others, as you’ll see here, are interviewed for other jobs. This particular interview on Google Hangouts was for a job at Teva Pharmaceuticals. A woman, we’ll call Maggie, was contacted via her account on Fiverr.com by someone identified as Russell129:
Maggie was asked to contact Mrs. Ellen Smith, HR officer for Teva Pharmaceuticals. But “Ellen Smith” was using a Gmail address! That is a dead giveaway that this is a scam! If you want to follow the conversation between Maggie and 3 “employees of Teva Pharmaceutical” open these screenshots. As you can guess, it didn’t take long before Maggie was offered the position of “Virtual Administrative Assistant” by a “Donald James.” Maggie ends up putting Mr. Donald James in his place at the very end and we applaud her voice and strength to do so!
Finally, a user of Peopleperhour.com posted this scam interview that she had on Google Hangouts. It’s just like all the others, just different names and names of companies.
We will continue to add names, contact information and companies represented to this list as we hear from victims about this scam:
- Job interview with A.I.G. Group (First identified to TDS on 11/16/17)
- Ronald A. Rittenmeyer; 973-910-8376
- Ford Woods (Fordwoods32 “@” gmail.com)
- Job interviews with Ahrens Group PTY Ltd:
- Faith Benjamin, Hiring Manager (agpdf.msbenjaminfaith “@” gmail.com)
- Michael Lee (Michael.lee “@” accountant.com / creditmanager “@” usa.com)
- Allen Jones
- Vivian Butland (mrsvivianbutland “@” gmail.com)
- Jeffrey Wilson, Hiring Manager
–one reader sent us a link to “Mr. Jeffrey Wilson’s” Google+ page. Notice how LITTLE content is there and he has no connections to anyone. The photo is probably stolen and the textbook he posted was not written or published by him “Jeffrey Wilson” and has nothing to do with Ahrens Group:
- Abbie Mills (415-691-7146)
- Ruth White (Her account in Freelancer.com was mstwhite7; Email: mstwhite7 “@” gmail.com; phone: 669-237-2914)
- Mrs.Evelyn D. Young; 650-517-3203
- Andy Wallace, Hiring Manager from Ahrens group; mangerwallace “@” yahoo.com (Notice that he misspelled “manager” in his email address!); used Yahoo Messenger to contact person
- Job interview with Teva Pharmaceuticals Products Ltd.
- Russell129 on fiverr.com
- Ellen Smith (rec.express “@” consultant.com)
- Donald James (650-487-1437, donaldjames014711 “@” gmail.com)
- Job interviews to work with an art gallery selling art work from California:
- David Wilk (goldenartworkshome “@” gmail.com)
- Unidentified person using email uniqueartplaza “@” gmail.com
- Job interview to work at Marvel Animation, Inc as an animator
- Jake Layfield (marvelanimationjobz2018 “@” gmail.com) –used Indeed.com
- Marta Downs (marvelworkstudio2018 “@” gmail. com)
- Jake Layfield, HR Personnel (marvelanimationjobz2018 “@” gmail .com)
- Job interview to work for PA Consulting Group, “a global management consulting company offering services to the Healthcare, Higher Education, Life Sciences, and Commercial industries”
- Mr Austin Su via text message from phone number 415-506-8793
- Mrs Colleen Bosworth, Personnel Manager (info.pa “@” consultant.com)
- Job interview with Align Technology in California
- Justin Singh, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist (justin “@” aligntechcareers.com), NOTE: Justin’s email came from the domain aligntechcareers.com. This domain was created 8 days ago on February 23, 2018. It has no association with the real business, Align Technology, he claims to represent.
- Job interview as a “Order Entry Rep.” The Positions Available are: “Data Entry , Accounting Clerk ,Office Assist, Registration Rep Candidate, Secretaria , Manager , Front , Supervisor , Desk,Customer Service , Administrative Assist , Bell Person, File Clerk, Security ,Payroll Clerk , Typist Clerk and IT jobs.” (The company was not listed.)
- Mr Daniel Lucas, Personnel hiring manager (daniellucas100001 “@” gmail.com)
- Mr Anthony Lucas (anthonylucas1009 “@” gmail.com)
- Job interview as a “Virtual Administrative Assistant” for Recruit Express
- Anderson Jack, Orientation Officer (865-500-4728; rec.express.anderson “@” gmail.com )
- Dawson Lame
- Audrey Smith (Jaud_rey is Skype Username)
- Job interview with The Goldman Sachs Group Inc, as a Office Assistant/ Customer Service – Full Time/ Part Time (April 16, 2018)
- Text came from 415-649-1082
- They said they viewed your resume published on www.azjobconnection.gov
- Ms. “KAREN P. SEYMOUR” (karenp.seymour03 “@” gmail.com), Hiring Manager –IMPORTANT NOTE: There is a real Karen P. Seymour who works for the REAL Goldman Sachs but this one with a Gmail address is an imposter! (Read this pdf file of a Goldman-Sachs-Job-Interview between “Karen” and one of our TDS readers!)
- Given a verification code for the interview of “0909”
- Email contact came from Joy Cianci <joycianci03 “@” gmail.com>
- Job interview as Data Entry Clerk, Administrative Assistant, and Customer Service Rep with The Energizer Company (April 16, 2018)
- Delma Javinal, “Hiring Manager” for Energizer Holdings, Inc.
- Priscilla M Lupo, Interviewer (prismarlup064 “@” gmail.com)
- Job interview as Executive Assistant with SGS Group (SGS is a multinational company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland which provides inspection, verification, testing and certification services. ) (April 24, 2018)
- Dr. Thorston Jahnke “Hiring Manager” –There is a REAL person by this name at the REAL SGS Group but this imposter gives out an email address at Gmail, not SGS.com: hr.torstenjahnke “@” gmail.com
- The imposter sent a fake cashier’s check for $4,900.00. The bank informed the victim that the check was not valid. Check out the offer letter sent to the victim from the scammer:
- We had the victim send a fake deposit slip to the scammer and he fell for the fake. By clicking the link, the scammer showed us that his location was Shinjuku, Japan OR that he was coming through a computer in this location but was located elsewhere.
- Job interview as a Graphic Designer for Alpha Graphics Design, located in Boston, Massachusetts.
- Ann Yoset, senior manager in HR using the email: recruitment.alphagraphicsinc “@” gmail.com.
- Someone also claimed to be the very real Regina Crowell who works at the real business but it was not the real Ms. Crowell. The scammer was VERY clever because he purchased a domain that appears legitimate but it is not! On May 7 he purchased AlphaGraphicsDesign[.]com and used it send an offer letter to this candidate. The REAL Alpha Graphics company uses AlphaGraphics.com.
- Here are a few screenshots taken of a portion of the conversation in Google Hangout including the offer for the job:
And here is a copy of the offer letter sent to the candidate.
- Job interview as an Executive Administrative Assistant, Customer Service Representative, Bookkeeper, Virtual Data entry clerk, Dispatcher, Recruiter, Human resources manager, Human resources assistant, or Team Manager with Capital Group Companies Inc. You are given a “verification code” such as CGC6025.
- Mr. Barret ( louisbarret4 “@” gmail.com )
- Sarah Nadji (info “@” capitalgrouphr.us ) –NOTICE: The REAL Capital Group Company uses the website CapitalGroup.com. These clever scammers registered the domain CapitalGroupHR[.]us on May 26, just 10 days before we heard about this scam!
Here is a screenshot of the text that reveals the scam. Mr. Barret says he will send a check to the “new hire” which will be used to provide initial salary AND be used to by the hired person to pay for things for the company. The check will bounce! After the hired person uses their own real personal money to send to the scammer!
- Job interview as a Graphic Designer for Synacor, Inc. to “work from home.” A check is sent for the purchase of an Apple computer, office furniture, printer, and office supplies.
- Lisa Donohue, Senior Recruiter (The criminals have used 2 email addresses for “Lisa”… Lisadonohue.synacorgraphics “@” gmail.com AND lisadonohue.synacor “@” gmail.com. Notice that both are with Gmail, not synacor.com) NOTE: The real Lisa Donohue was appointed to the Synacor Board of Directors in May, 2017 and these scammers stole the use of her name and made her a “Senior Recruiter”
- Candidate was hired at the end of the Google Hangout interview and sent a check for $6898.37 to purchase “equipment” via moneygram.
- Original email came from someone in HR at the domain synacorcareers[.]com registered on June 4, 2018. This domain was just 2 days before the candidate was contacted. It is not the real domain for Synacor, Inc.
- Synacor-Offer-Letter sent by the scammers came from the fake email address hr “@” synacorcareers.com
- Steve Davi, Graphics Design Team Leader (stevedavi042 “@” gmail.com) NOTE: There is a real Mr. Davi who works at Synacor. His photo and name were stolen from his Linkedin account by the scammers and used to create a fake Google Hangouts profile.
- Frank Levi, Human Resources (sent the candidate this SYNACOR-EMPLOYMENT-OFFER)
- Job interview as a Data Entry/Administrative Assistant Position with Verizon Communications Inc.
- Initial contact from mrobinson “@” sbhconstruction.com
- Ms. Sherry Hunter, Hiring manager (hiringdesk30 “@” gmail.com)
- Job interview for a job at Weber Shandwick as a Graphic Designer
- Contact email came from webershandwickjobs “@” gmail.
- Alex Potnick from HR. Alex’s email address is hr “@” webershandwick-career.com. The domain webershandwick-career[.]com was registered on June 20, 2018, just 3 days before Mr. Potnick used it to hire the man who contacted us.
- Interviewed by Ms. Jill Murphy (jillmurphy.
webershandwick “@” gmail.com)
- Like other fake jobs, the person hired was told that “the following equipment will be delivered to your doorstep to set up your home office next week” and included:
*Apple Mac Book Pro Laptop
*Set of furniture *Copiers
*Card Filing Systems
*Graphics generator and software
*Inks and Ribbons
*Surge Protectors and Automated Time Tracker
- Contact email came from webershandwickjobs “@” gmail.
- Job interview with YHI International Limited for a job in Data Entry, Customer Service Representative, and Administrative Assistant
- Tom Payne (hiring1954 “@” zoho.com) from YHI International Limited
- Andrew Gomez, the hiring manager using the email 19870hr “@” gmail.com
- Job interview with ManTech International Corporation. NOTE: After “hiring” the candidate, the scammer sent a “check” via email, asked the candidate to print it and then use e-deposit to deposit it into her bank account immediately! Don’t EVER do this!
- Another job interview for Ahrens Construction in Australia again for a “virtual assistant”
- Sonia_recruit01 contacted the victim on Fiverr
- Interview with Sandra Nelson, HR Officer, on Skype Chat (not video): live:jbruce4111
- ORIENTATION OFFICER Bruce Brian Johnson; +17753720153 brucejohnson2314 “@” gmail.com