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Two months ago, I was contacted about a job. For a month's worth of working I'd receive a $1,000 pay check from a company called HERO, Inc., for doing assistant type tasks. At first glance, everything seemed legitimate, so I filled out the form and got my first assignment. Because of the strangeness of the assignment, I reconsidered and asked to talk to the manager directly before beginning the task.
It turns out he was not available, for 3 whole work days. After repeated emails and phone message requests to be contacted, I refused any further contact with the company. I guess it's a good thing that I never filled out my W-4 form.
I got another such email this month, only this time I was wiser. I decided to search some of the text of the email instead of the company name. I got tons of matches on scam reporting sites.
Being a writer, I know how much time it takes to create original copy. It only makes sense that the bad guys wouldn't be spending time or money on that, especially if they've crafted persuasive copy that was shown effective in the past.
Several boards, like scamwarners.com and scamdex.com, attempt to give would be victims the leg up, but in order to find these companies you have to know what name they are using this week. Instead of searching for a name do this instead:
If you do not find anything...
The face of work is changing dramatically to match employer and employee need. This is good, but it makes it nearly impossible to determine if some companies are legitimate. Do your research before developing a working relationship. Like the saying goes, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.