Friday, December 23, 2022

Meeting A Job Search Scam Scum On The Guru Job Site

Having recovered from my health issues enough the to go back to looking for my next employment, I reviewed my past search sites and the job site Guru popped up. I was curious to find out whether the site still offers viable job postings and included it on my daily rounds of browsing and bidding for jobs/projects.  Here is my experience of meeting a scam/scum artist to add to the reviews on the internet regarding similar modus operandi perhaps to help inform others and avoid the same fate. 

RED FLAG #1: CLIENT DEALING OFF-SITE VIA TELEGRAM - I sent some bids on some projects and it's interesting to find all of my inquiries getting a response to get in touch with this human resources director or account lead person off the site using the Telegram app.  These did ring alarm bells but anyone who's had some experience working remotely knows that some companies do try to evade paying employer site fees by dealing directly with the candidate so I entertained one of the first to do so.  I admit it's as much as the eagerness to work on something again after a long time off as well as to earn some compensation that egged me on. 

RED FLAG #2: ABSURDLY HIGH RATE/S OFFER - One of the first things that really rang alarm bells was that for a task that doesn't require much brain cells (mechanical work really -- translating and retyping 200 pages of image files of medical information to Word) is the suspiciously high offer, $4k plus for 3-days' work. I'm curious as well if this is really true (or too good to be true).

RED FLAG #3: NO MILESTONES ON PAYMENT - There's no milestone as to the payment scheme but the "account director" regularly messaged me to ask about how the job was progressing. I did found some background searches and found warnings on similar scams so I asked the "account director" for assurances. Once given, I went ahead, also interested to find out if the reviews were true.  I completed the job within the 3-day timeline and submitted it.

 • RED FLAG #4: HAVING TO PAY A FEE TO BILL - The "account director" referred me to the "billing department" that requested for a strange "Anti Money Laundering (AML) code. Since it is not really a prerequisite in normal freelance gigs, this code is a ruse to refer me to a "Code Master" also on Telegram.  This other scam artist will request for a fee (minimum of $100) to generate the code.  If one is not alert, he will also request for a screenshot of one's passport (a ruse to steal personal information).  I didn't agree to the minimum fee and having to submit my passport details. I did pay a fraction of the asking fee to see where this leads.

 • RED FLAG #5: BEING CHARGED AGAIN TO HAVE PAYMENT RELEASED - This particular scam artist promised to send the payment, showing a screenshot that looked obviously fake.  When I followed it up, I was sent another email form saying that under |Canadian constituency", any payment exceeding $100 needs to be screened requiring a deposit of $100 to have it released (the email form looked like it was created by a 3-year old and I later told the scammer so, to at least try harder to fake the form).  At this point, I confronted the "account director" and said that I knew I've been scammed and that he is a scammer so please just admit it.  Of course, he denied it and the manipulator that he/she is, pinned the blame on me for not wanting to accept the payment.  Incredible.

I told him that he took money meant for my medical expenses as I've just recovered from Long COVID and that karma would befall him and his family for being heartless and taking a sick man's money.  Maybe, he got scared because not 5 minutes passed after our convo then he wiped out our entire conversation.

GURU'S (NON) RESPONSE - I wrote the incident to Guru and told them that all of the replies I got from projects I made a bid on were from scammers using the same modus operandi.  You would think they would be sympathetic to my plight but instead, I got chided for dealing with a "client" off-site.  The part where I reported that I got a dozen or so similar-sounding replies from suspicious entities posing as employers got totally ignored. And I'm not buying their claims that they continuously sweep the site because I keep getting job posting alerts from Guru on my email from "employers" with the usually cut-and-pasted job descriptions.  

The ones with addresses in Nigeria (where a lot of tech scammers are reputedly traced according to the romance scam site, Scamfish) are fairly obvious.  The ones masquerading as based in the U.K. or U.S. are a bit trickier to figure out until you do more than a casual browse and find out that similar job postings and descriptions are being peddled around by different "employers."

LEARNINGS - I'm a fan of tech channels on Youtube exposing scams like Trilogy Media and Scammer Payback, so I know a thing or two about scams. I also did my homework doing background checking but was hoping this one would be different.  Nope, same heartless scam/scumbag fleecing people who are actually searching for jobs of money.  It figures that if some scammer in Lagos, Nigeria or Lima, Peru, wouldn't think twice of fleecing American retirees of their pension, you'd expect the same of these job scammers.

The most obvious red flag is that no decent company/employer should charge a fee for having payment for actual work done to be released.  Job seekers are better off trying their luck on the more reputable remote work sites where safety nets are in place even if there's a fee. I also got a reply from an "employer" using the Media Vine logo as his profile pic to work on a job that almost mirror the scam I just experienced which I declined after checking the Media Vine website that warned of similar scams.  I guess the formula/template is similar with just a few variations here and there.  So beware the scam/scumbags.


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