Friday, July 20, 2012

Getting Kicked While I'm Down

In my last post I mentioned the fact that I'm collecting quite a stash of rejection letters.  They mostly show up in email these days, which is fine.  Money's tight everywhere, so if a business doesn't shell out to mail an actual physical form letter, I understand.  (One rejection I recently did receive in the mail was so blatantly a form letter that the person who's name was at the bottom couldn't be bothered to actually sign it.)

You can imagine how psyched I was this afternoon, then, when one email showed up saying I was an ideal candidate for the position offered!  A bit of a rush overtook me as a re-read the email, and was quickly replaced by a sinking feeling that something was amiss here.  Backstory time:

As noted, I am applying anywhere and everywhere I can.  More than one person has told me to keep an eye on the want ads on Craigslist.  In fact, one or two people I know have found jobs through Craigslist, and even if I would only find temporary work or a part-time position, it would certainly help.  I'm not picky these days.  On Craigslist, I found the following listing:

(click to enlarge)

Now, I'm always a bit wary of blind ads like this - they so often turn out to be Multi-Level Marketing schemes or door-to-door vacuum sales or some other highly suspect situation that involves a layout of cash rather than a income-producing career opportunity.  But this one didn't sound like those types of ads.  You can usually spot them by their wordings: "Make thousands in your spare time!" "Work from home!" "Build your own business! Be your own boss!"  As you can see, this ad was much more understated, so I took a chance and replied, submitting my resume and asking for more information about the position.

Here's the email I received today from these folks.  See if you can spot the things that sent the red flags up in my eyes right away:

(click to enlarge)

As I say, after the initial rush of hopefulness that this might be an opportunity, my naturally skeptical inner voice spoke up rather quickly.  "Um, Bryan, why would a business be sending you email from a HotMail account?  Why would a hiring manager need a resume that was viewable online?  And even if she did, I emailed my resume to these folks - is that not viewable online? And what in the blue hell are those lines of symbols at the beginning and end of the email?!?"

So, I Googled 1st Premier Staffing, and all quickly became clear:  seems 1st Premier Staffing has a bit of a reputation.  It also seems that they have a whole team of "Hiring Staffing Assistants," as this thread from details other folks receiving the same email, word for word, from Libby, Dulce, Shannon, and Mark, among others.

But the pièce de résistance was the site they have set up if you follow the link in their email.  It takes to a site that appears to be the website for a company called JVW Property Management.  I love how it claims to be a "secure page," yet the address does not begin with https, nor are there any other indicators of security.  But someone at least spent a little bit of time trying to make this look like a real site.  The navigation links on the side do work, and appear to take you where they say they will.  The "News" link, for example, certainly takes you to a page with news stories on it.  Funny that none of them mention JVW Property Management, but those are definitely new stories! Spend a moment looking around the site, and you'll discover more than few laughs. What you won't discover, though, are the names of anyone who works there, a physical address, a geographic location, a phone number...even the "Contact Us" page only contains an anonymous form with no email address.  Makes sense, though, when you discover that Googling "JVW Property Management" returns no results - not even their own supposed website!

I can at least laugh about it (and no, I did not go deep enough to see what info they might have asked for, although reading some of the scam complaints indicate that they are probably phishing for Social Security Numbers), but to be honest, it's mostly infuriating.  Scammers will take advantage of people wherever and whenever they can, but in this economy where so many are busting their humps to try to find work, it seems doubly cruel to put that carrot on a stick out there only to have it lead to such a sham.  At least, from the side of the fence I'm presently sitting on, it feels like being kicked when you're already down.

To those of you in similar job-hunting circumstances as I, a reminder:  don't limit your job-search options, but be aware to whom you are giving your information.  If you get that feeling in your gut that something is a little off, remember Google is your friend.

Meanwhile, I keep searching...