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January 28, 2010 / Toby Dayton

Beware of Money Mule Job Listings On Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed, And Simplyhired

Yesterday, G.L. and I were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in a Careerealism webinar for job seekers organized by career advice expert J.T. O’Donnell. During the discussion about how to effectively use online resources in a job search, we mentioned the risks associated with traditional pay-to-post job sites such as Monster and Careerbuilder as well as job aggregators such as Indeed and Simplyhired that republish job listings from Monster, Careerbuilder, and thousands of other pay-to-post job boards.

The risks we mentioned result from the prevalence of fraudulent listings that include scam jobs, phishing posts, identity theft, and work-at-home scams. Additionally, criminals  mine resumes on job sites to recruit new victims. In the current high-unemployment environment, this kind of activity is worse than ever. Because LinkUp’s job search engine eliminates these risks due to the fact that we do not collect resumes, only index jobs from company websites, and do not allow anyone to post jobs directly onto LinkUp, this is a major point of differentiation between LinkUp and other job listing sites on the web.

Lest anyone accuse us of hyperbole, I thought I’d write a post about ‘Money Mules.’

Money mules are people that unwittingly use their bank accounts to help criminals launder money. Money mules are recruited through work-at home job postings on Monster and Careerbuilder with titles such as ‘Financial Manager’ and a job description that involves ‘moving money for an international company.’ These new recruits then provide their bank account information to their ‘employer’ and are told to withdraw cash that has been deposited into their account at a specific time and wire it abroad via Western Union or Moneygram.

Brian Krebs, a reporter at The Washington Post from 1994 to 2009 has written extensively on this issue and has exposed hundreds of these scams. I would strongly recommend that anyone looking for a job online as well as those offering advice for job seekers take some time to read his outstanding work highlighting this fraudulent activity. A few of his blog posts can be found here and here and here. I’ve also included portions of those posts below that relate to the scam listings on Monster and Careerbuilder:

“…Money mules are recruited through work-at-home job offers that arrive via e-mail, usually claiming that the prospective employer found the recipient’s resume’ on careerbuilder.com, monster.com, or some other job search site. Recruits are told they will be helping to move money for international companies, and are asked to provide their bank account and routing numbers so that they can receive incoming transfers.”

“…The Sanford mule — who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals by the hacked company and perhaps by the hackers themselves — said the Scope Group approached her via e-mail, saying it had found her resume on Careerbuilder.com, and would she be interested in a work-at-home job acting as a “financial manager”? Having worked as a payroll manager in a previous job, the mule said she thought it was a perfect fit. Besides, she said, she’d been out of work since March.”

“…This type of crime is impossible without the cooperation of so-called “money mules,” willing or unwitting individuals typically hired via Internet job search Web sites to act as “local agents” or “financial agents” responsible for moving money on behalf of a generic-sounding international corporation, legal experts say. The mules are then instructed to withdraw the cash and wire it via Western Union or Moneygram to fraud gangs overseas, typically in Eastern Europe. It is not uncommon for a single cyber robbery to depend on the help of dozens of money mules…”

Fraudulent job listings on traditional pay-to-post job sites are a serious risk, and the industry has to be more vocal about educating the public about using sites such as Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed, and Simplyhired.