Quite often, fraud victims don’t want to go public with what happened to them. In my limited experience — this can be especially true, when dealing with victims — who hold prestigious credentials.

Fortunately, not all of them remain silent, and by speaking out, they protect others from becoming victims of the same thing that happened to them.

Here is a story by Arin Greenwood, an attorney — who was the victim of what seems to be one of the more sophisticated job scams — I’ve read about:

This is the story in which you learn how a graduate of Columbia Law School—that’s me—and almost 80 other people, who really should have known better, got suckered into giving away all our personal details as well as up to two months of our lives for “jobs” that never actually existed. And then you learn why it all happened the way it did.

How I Got Involved With The Scam

An intriguing Craigslist job ad turned up on June 21 of this year at a time when I was feeling particularly bleak. I had spent the better part of that morning losing at online Scrabble and wondering if I had enough money to get a small falafel for lunch.

Apparently — Arin wasn’t the only highly educated person taken in on this pretty elaborate job scam, which originated, where a lot of job scams do — on Craigslist:

This lack of information was disquieting, but the Global Speculator team was reassuring: lawyers, researchers, writers, computer programmers, designers, administrators, executive assistants, and the one mathematician named Kermit, some of whom had been working since early June, when I first saw the Craigslist ad. And I trusted the wisdom of the group: There were almost 80 people working on this project. That is a lot of people, too many for everyone to be as silly and desperate as me. Surely someone in the group had a good reason to be there, and I thought I’d ride along on their coattails. Plus, one of my new co-workers was, it turned out, someone I’d worked with on Saipan, and I marveled at this reassuring coincidence; I knew this guy was smart, and if he was willing to believe that this was a legitimate enterprise then perhaps it really was. Unfortunately, I think he might have applied some of that reasoning to me.

In the end, no one is really certain what the intent was in committing this scam. If anyone wants to speculate, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

One of the speculations made from several of the people (who were scammed) was that this was part of an elaborate fraudulent investment scheme.

Arin Greenwood’s story (courtesy of the Washington City Paper), here.

Michael Webster — a noted attorney in Toronto, I’ve written about in the past — writes about the importance of performing due diligence when making an investment. In this case, the people scammed certainly invested a lot of their expert time.

He has a very interesting and educational website that covers “due diligence,” which I highly recommend reading.

Investment scams can be highly complex and the scammers can often appear to be pretty influential. Right now — there is a lot of furor, over a person by the name of Norman Hsu, who allegedly ran some pretty high dollar investment scams — and had a lot of high-level political connections.

Michael wrote an interesting article about the Norman Hsu phenomenon, here.

On a closing note, Arin should be commended for writing about what happened to her. Too many victims of fraud would prefer not to say anything about it — and when they don’t — they make it easier for the fraudsters behind the schemes to continue victimizing people.

Awareness and communication are the probably the most effective tool against fraud.

Job scams are becoming more and more common, another good resource to learn more about this problem is at the World Privacy Forum’s job scam page.

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