I Think I Almost Agreed to Worked For a Scam – The Post-Grad Survival Guide – Medium
Desperation, scams, and random emails.
It all started with an email.
It was random as hell and I had never heard of that person or the company they claimed to represent. They said that they had messaged me on LinkedIn (they hadn’t), and that they needed a company representative. I logged onto LinkedIn and didn’t see a message from him.
As someone whose entire job is to do research… I should have seen that as a red flag. But my broke, desperate self figured it was worth a shot. I asked for more details about the job. The person who initially emailed me explained that I was to email and collect outstanding payments from clients. For every payment collected, I would receive a 5% commission.
“Your monthly allowance would be $5,000 for 10 to 15 hours of work a week,” he wrote.
I would like to explain that I am a broke millennial, like so many other millennials. I’m one of the majority of young (ish) people who has several degrees, years of work experience, several jobs, and absolutely no financial security (or financial future even). So please, consider that while judging me.
That also explains why I immediately said yes when I saw the $5,000. I’ve never made over $5,000 a month in my life. I know few freelancers who make that much a month, so I jumped on the opportunity and immediately said that I was interested in learning more about the job.
Once they had some basic information from me I was sent a first assignment. I emailed the client about an outstanding invoice and then asked my “supervisor” about how to direct the money. I was told that the invoice was payable to me, and not the company.
That is not how accounting in a company works. Even as a freelancer, I know that any viable business has their own business account for emails, banking, storing information, and more. I emailed the “supervisor” and asked if there was a business account I could have access to.
“No, you can just use your personal bank account,” was the response.
I didn’t respond.
It felt like some Breaking Bad bullshit where someone is trying to launder money and if they did it through my account, they’d be off Scott free. I know that someone would flag any of my accounts bank accounts if they had seen thousands of dollars going in an out every single week.
I decided not to respond at all.
I took a nap, woke up wide-eyed and refreshed and started looking up the company online. I found the “supervisor” on LinkedIn. There was more than one account with that name on it. And then I searched for the company on LinkedIn, I couldn’t find anything. I plugged in the name on Google and found a few threads about similar companies who claim to be from abroad.
Like the “job” offer I received, other people had gotten emails about helping a company collect outstanding invoices and had also fallen into a scam.
I couldn’t stop laughing… I had almost worked for a scam.
Me, the person who doesn’t do anything unless I research it at least twice and get on the phone with a friend or family member to get advice. My whole life/ freelance and intern work is about research and fact-checking and making sure that everything checks out.
These “potential bosses” know that there are young people desperate enough to afford rent and groceries to consider agreeing to something that seems sketchy. It has a lot more to do with the current job market, how so many jobs avoid giving employees benefits or a living wage, than it does about our web savvy. My desperation to stay afloat often outweighs my instinct to spot red flags.
But I’m glad I caught on early enough. It would have been really shitty had I handed over a ton of banking information. I’ve heard of people giving “new bosses” their personal banking information. I’m glad I didn’t do that.
I’m hoping that I don’t almost fall for another job scam again.