The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Company… or was it?
(Spoiler warning… It wasn’t.)
So we talked about signs that a job is bad, even if you’re interested in commission-based salary. Another thing I’ve learned in a half-decade-plus of what the resume consultant NETELLER hired for the laid off staff called “opportunity search” is the signs that a job offer is actually some sort of scam.
- The email from the employer goes right to your spam folder. Your spam folder knows what it’s doing here.
- The offer comes from an email address no legit company rep would have. Like, say… [checks spam folder] “email@example.com” or something.
- Googling the job brings evidence they’re faking it. Example… once I looked up the company, and found that every staff photo on their company page was a stock image, and the rest of the page consisted of real estate listings for three houses (with no links) and a page about bouncy castle rentals. No real company combines bouncy castle rentals with selling fewer than five houses.
- The company details don’t check out. Example… I googled the address of a company from an email offer, and Google maps showed that no such business existed at that address.
- The email is riddled with grammatical errors.
- Googling the company name gets a suggested search term of “[company name] scam.”
- This is a big one… they want money before you start work.
Now… these aren’t necessarily conclusive. Googling “Investor’s Group” ticks point number six, and they’re sort of a legitimate company. And both they and AIL need some financial investment up front, as getting licensed and certified isn’t free, and since they have little to no investment in you as a person (hire 100, keep 2), they’re not going to pay that for you.
(AIL, at least, tries to make that up by just handing you one of your training agent’s commissions.)
So when I got an email from the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Company, saying they think I have what it takes to be their new communications officer, I was a little skeptical. Big salaried jobs that allow me to work from home aren’t overly common, after all. However, there were some reassurances… the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Company does, in fact, seem to exist. The person I was speaking to over Skype messages also seemed to exist. A googling seemed to prove that this was a real person, his photo matched his Skype profile, and he was, indeed, a vice-president with NTTC. The email address, on first look, matched what the company would have. Everything was checking out.
Well… there were a couple of things that kept me from buying that my new, better life had finally arrived. First, why was a VP handling my interview process? And second, $90,000 per year for part-time remote work seemed WAY too good to be true. But if it was real, this was life-changing. This was, again, “family vacation on me” money. If I went full time, this was “spend November through February in Brisbane, never again know winter” money. And the employment paperwork seemed legit. Everything seemed legit. Two days after getting a formal job offer, I was ready to celebrate. I was writing my resignation from my current job in my head, planning social media posts announcing my new career shift.
And then Monday morning, three days after the offer, once the paperwork was all submitted, I got an email from my “new employers.” Before I could start work, I needed to buy $12,000 worth of office equipment. By sending the money to their “preferred vendor” in bitcoin.
That’s not a real job. No real job asks for that. People who want $12,000 in bitcoin do that.
I was very, very mad about this. For most of the day.
They did not get $12,000 in bitcoin from me. Not that there wasn’t temptation… I wanted this to be real so much, I wanted this new, better life so badly, that I tried to figure out if there was any way to prove that this wasn’t the scam it very much turned out to be. And in attempting this, I found the other flaws. When the supposed VP called over Skype to convince me this was all fine and standard and I should just go ahead and send the bitcoin, I noticed he kept his webcam off. So I couldn’t see if he looked like his photo. (I’m not good enough at identifying accents over Skype to tell if his voice sounded Japanese or, say, Nigerian.) The email address was almost right, but it came from ntt.jp.com, whereas the actual domain for the NNTC is ntt.co.jp. Or just ntt.com.
It was at this point that I remembered I’d sent them my banking information, so as the anger over the deception gave way to grief for my lost new life, grief gave way, as it so often does, to one thing the world has an inexhaustible supply of… inconvenience. I had to take time out of a busy week… a week full of resuming my attempts to scrape by in life… to go to the bank and shut down my chequing account before any scammers had the chance to think “Well, plan B then.”
Good thing they only wanted bitcoin or I might have had to cancel my credit card.
So this was… disheartening. I had skills, I thought I was decent at the jobs I’d had in what I still thought of as my field, but… the longer I didn’t have a marketing/communications job, the less likely it seemed I was going to get one. All I was getting was this nonsense. And the support system that was preventing me from living in my car has a decreasing shelf life.
Something had to change.