Job scam

It was no surprise that Cathy Wilburn thought it would be a good idea to respond to Career Hotline's classified advertisement in a Dallas newspaper. She had been out of work a year and when she called, an operator promised she'd be working within 14 days at a job paying at least $14 an hour -- probably something in a warehouse. All Cathy had to do was send an $89 placement fee. You probably know how the story will go from here...

So eager was Cathy to get work that she gave the operator information from her checking account. Then the Career Hotline people called and asked her to mail a check, saying they couldn't get into the account. So Cathy sent the check along with her resume. When she checked her account, the $89 check was cashed and another $89 was debited as well. Soon the Career Hotline people were ignoring Cathy's calls. "I began to suspect they were recognizing my phone number, so I called from five different cellphones."  

Cathy agreed to talk to reporters around the country because it angers her that so many people are taken in by scam artists. "People are desperate for work, but you have people out there taking advantage."

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission held a press conference announcing a crackdown on job scammers. To listen to the press conference, click here. To read my story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, click here. Tomorrow, I'll write some tips on how to avoid scammers. To read some of the legal documents in the Career Hotline case, click here.