Vent: Employment Ad Scams

By , June 19, 2009

Since I decided last week to quit working on my ‘datafeed project’ and instead focus on paying the bills, I’ve been browsing some employment sites, and I’ve posted my resume on I’ve done all of this before (and I’ve found some great jobs and consulting gigs through Craigslist, which I’ve also used to find a car, a treadmill, a computer — and my wife).

I’m seeing many more “employment ads” that seem to be fake, from companies that aren’t hiring but are merely seeking to promote their web businesses, or fishing for free advice.

Today, I found an ad which appears to be from a local company that sells legal software, which sounded like a pretty good fit for me, since I’ve recently worked full-time with a B-to-B software company, and I’m an attorney who previously wrote a syndicated newspaper column reviewing computer software for lawyers, before my more recent 12 years of experience doing internet marketing.  But I stopped at this sentence:  > “Please take a close look at merchant’ and list the three most important short term and long term actions we should take to improve and maximize our organic traffic. Explain why you picked these three.” <

Suspicious, I searched to see if the ad has appeared elsewhere, and (surprise!) much of the same ad copy has appeared in other Craiglist ads, including one for a “Social Media Marketing Manager” that didn’t mention the legal software company.  With some quick research, I discovered that the ad was placed by an offshore software development company based in India. They are simply trying to gather free advice and strategy, and identify “best practices.”

Using fake employment ads in order to get free advice isn’t new — I’ve ended many phone calls and walked out of two job interviews in the past few years after realizing that the “employer” had no money to hire anyone. But in the past, most of the “scam” ads have appeared in the unpaid “gigs” section on Craigslist. For years, I’ve seen “gig” ads, seeking an “SEO Consultant,” which list a web site URL and ask for very specific feedback.  (I’ve been annoyed enough at some of these ads that I’ve considered writing up a very detailed response giving a very credible spin to some really awful advice, just to waste their time.)

At the same time, other scam artists are working overtime: in the past week, I’ve received at least a dozen emails and five telephone calls from people promoting network-marketing schemes — plus a couple of dozen emails promising unspecified opportunities of easy wealth.  Again, this was unusual because they apparently paid for ads listing fake jobs, only to gather contact info to use in recruiting for MLM (multi-level marketing) scams.

Link: Advice for Employers Placing Job Ads

Added August 1, 2009: Here’s another one, where I responded to a paid advertisement in the “jobs” section of Craigslist, and their reply asked:

1. From a quick review of our website, what would you recommend to focus on for starting generating revenues in the next 2 months.
2. What would you believe will be the long term best revenue streaming channel for such a blogosphere and green knowledge-hub.
3. What do you think will be the best way to double the amount of readers and bloggers in 1 month.

After they revealed their web site URL (dreck, and still in “beta” after two years) , it was very clear that their they don’t have any funds to hire anyone.

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