Part 2 of 3 – Economic downturn is a boon for online employment scams

Special report

Identity theft & Complaints

A major concern among consumer rights professionals and law enforcement officials is the increased volume of fraud related to unethical companies who promises job leads and full employment in return for hundreds or even thousands of dollars in upfront payment. In 2007 alone, prior to the start of the economic downtown, there were 5,925 complaints about recruitment agencies made to the United States Consumer Protection Agency for issues such as payments for job leads or counselling. It is safe to assume that with the continued depressed economic climate we would see an increase in the number of these fraudulent activities, and in turn, complaints.

One of the most recent frauds involves emails purporting to be genuine job opportunities sent to job seekers with a request for personal information to move their applicant forward. Many of these emails have attachments that carry viruses that are used to steal passwords for bank accounts, credit cards and social-networking sites or personal data for identity theft.. Most of these firms prey on new graduates, recent immigrants and job seekers who are desperate to find work. According to the United States Federal Trade Commission data, identity theft ranks as the #1 complaint over 7 straight years in its annual “Consumer Fraud and Identity Theft Complaint Data” report.

According to a PhoneBusters report, there were 7,778 identity theft complaints made in Canada in 2006, making this a growing area of crime in the country. Ontario had the largest number of complaints with 3,353 followed by Quebec. Identify theft is a huge concern for job seekers as thieves can access their bank accounts and within this financial crisis have a ruinous effect on people’s lives. Common identity theft crimes include,  fraudulent withdrawls from bank accounts, opening up new credit facilities (loans, lines of credit, mortgages) in the job seeker’s name or maxing out their credit cards. The increases in identity fraud complaints have lead to major police cases. One such case is a 2006 bust made by the Ontario Provincial Police, which exposed an identify fraud ring that targeted victims by starting with the solicitation of resumes to gain initial information. Identity fraud is not just a big city problem. A 2010 Symantec research revealed that Burlington Ontario, a relatively small but growing municipality is the top city for identity fraud in Canada.

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