I get a lot of emails from people that seem to be about to get involved in potential money laundering schemes or payment processing schemes.
That got me to thinking about a pretty quick 2-step process that could help people avoid such schemes in addition to the normal advice that has already put out.
This technique applies primarily to people who regularly search places like CraigsList for work – not people who receive unsolicited emails offering them jobs – which already have big red SCAM flags written all over them.
Now, any time you're told to collect money, take a percentage and forward it on, you can be nearly certain that you're dealing with a payment processing or money laundering scheme. But for those of you who are not convinced or run into scammers who move beyond the keep and forward type deal – there's another quick thing you can do.
It has to do with the fact that money-laundering operations often copy legitimate sites and set up a fake storefront when recruiting potential "employees" (victims).
Very quickly, here's what you can do:
1) Put the website domain into a service like CopyScape to check for copies of content. Check to see if there are other sites that show up in the lists. You'll still need to visit them to see if they are a copy of the site you originally put into CopyScape.
2) Next go to your favorite Whois lookup service. What you're going to do here is put the domain for any sites that look the same into the Whois service and check the "creation date" of the domain.
3) If the creation date of the domain offering you the "employment" is newer than one of the other domains – then there's a good chance you're dealing with a money laundering scam.
It's important to mention that you should not assume you're safe just because a company offering you employment has registered a domain that's newer than another domain of a copied site.
You should still follow these basic rules when seeking employment online or anywhere else:
- Never pay to apply for a job or show that you're serious.
- Be cautious about calling unfamiliar area codes (Some international pay-per-call area codes look like legitimate US area codes and employment scammers will use that to get you to call a number that you unwittingly get charged for).
- Never allow a company to deposit a check into your account to "test or process the check".
- Do not give a company your checking account information or social security number until you're comfortable with them.
- Use extreme caution if you click on advertising at even the most legitimate sites (many of the best sites do not have much control over the ads that display on their sites).
The quick "2-step process for avoiding money laundering schemes" discussed in this article and the previous "common sense" checklist for job seekers should keep most people out of hot water.
And as previously mentioned if a company wants you to take your cut and forward on money that is almost ALWAYS either paying processing scam or a money laundering scam.