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Last Updated: Monday, 15 March, 2004, 08:53 GMT
Fake job ads mask credit card scam
By Mark Ward
BBC News Online technology correspondent

Criminals are actively using job websites to recruit people to act as forwarders for stolen goods, BBC News Online has learnt.

Screengrab of real Roof website, Roof
One Russian charity has been abused by criminals
The job ads hide their real origins by claiming to be posted by charities looking for people to forward donations made by hi-tech firms.

Those taking the job are promised a fee for every package forwarded.

The most sophisticated scammers are using the names of real charities and copying their websites to convince applicants that the organisation needs help.

One charity, the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund (Roof), has seen adverts on UK jobsites using its name. It has also had websites created by the scammers shut down three times.

Hi-tech donations

"The websites looked very legitimate," said Georgia Williams, who runs the UK Roof office with her husband, "They copied huge swathes of info from our site and re-organised it.

"They did a pretty professional job considering they were ripping everything off," she told BBC News Online.

One section the criminals added to the site were testimonials from hi-tech firms about the hardware they had "donated" to Roof.

Andrew Williams said this copy was stolen from other websites but was used by the thieves to make their job adverts for "remote assistants" more plausible.

The websites used to support the job adverts used variations on the "Roof" name. One substituted zeros for the Os in "Roof" .

Mr Williams said Roof had heard about the con from people concerned that it was illegitimate.

He said he knew people in the UK, US and Germany had responded to the job ads.

Delivery point

Student Sebastien Thibault, who lives in Edinburgh, responded to an advert for a "correspondence manager" on the Monster.co.uk website in February.

Screengrab of fake job advert, BBC
The fake website was seeking "remote assistants"
Text on the ad read: "As we receive donations from all over the world we need assistants who could receive charity, sort, store, and make it ready for dispatching to the orphanages, following the instructions of our managers."

Soon after his job application was accepted parcels started turning up at his home that he was asked to forward to an address in Russia.

In the first couple of days he received a Sony DSC-F828 Cyber-shot camera, a Sony Vaio laptop, an MP3 player, a Bluetooth headset and USB storage keys.

Suspicious about this largesse he contacted the police and Roof.

A spokeswoman for the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit said it knew about this type of con and was investigating some cases.

The fake Roof advert has now been removed from the Monster.co.uk website, which said it did not know that it had been put up by scammers.

Hernan Daguerre, European director of communications for Monster, said Monster was not aware that any of the job adverts on its site were being placed by conmen.

He said that the sheer number of job adverts posted on Monster made it difficult to police all of them.

"But," he added, "if we have any information that any information in the adverts is fraudulent or deceptive or false we would take it down."

Mr Daguerre said all applicants should be vigilant when replying to adverts and avoid giving out too much personal information.

Dodgy transactions

Adverts for so-called "correspondence managers" for companies known to be involved in this type of scam can easily be found on many net job sites.

The "re-shipping" or "correspondence manager" con has been seen in the US and is included in the FBI's ongoing Operation Cybersweep investigation that targets hi-tech crimes.

St Basil's cathedral, BBC
The goods were being shipped to Russia
In some cases the bank accounts of those who fall for the job ads are used to funnel cash from auction sales of stolen goods to the criminals.

Frank Wilkins, vice-president of Risk Management for Visa Europe, said efforts to stamp out credit card fraud were making criminals look for new ways to commit crimes.

He said many US and UK e-commerce sites were wary of shipping goods to addresses in Eastern Europe and other countries because of past experiences with fraudsters.

Mr Wilkins said this explained why credit card thieves were looking for people to forward stolen goods on to them.

Initiatives such as Address Verification, Verified by Visa and the Credit Verification Value (CVV2) were all helping to reduce card fraud.

Some merchants, he said, were using transaction screening to help spot dodgy transactions.

He said: "They can ask: 'Has that card been used at that merchant for previously fraudulent transactions?'"

He added: "E-commerce is a growing area of our business and it is unfortunate that as the business grows fraud grows too."


SEE ALSO:
Hi-tech criminals commit old crimes
25 Feb 04  |  Technology
Police warn over cashpoint theft
05 Feb 04  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Police warn of credit card fraud
10 Feb 04  |  Northern Ireland
E-mail scam victim counts his losses
02 Mar 04  |  Technology


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