Case №1: DS-MAX
One notable job scam case took place in 2008, involving a company called DS-MAX, later known as Innovage. This entity was widely recognized as a successful marketing organization with offices worldwide. However, its alluring façade hid a darker reality.
DS-MAX operated by posting exciting job adverts that offered high salaries, rapid advancement opportunities, and no experience necessary – appealing elements for fresh graduates or job seekers looking for a quick employment opportunity. The job was marketed as a "manager in training" program.
Once the applicants were hired, they discovered that their actual job was door-to-door sales, often involving long hours and only commission-based pay. The high salary initially promised was hardly ever achieved, with most employees earning less than minimum wage.
Employees were encouraged to dedicate their life to the company and recruit their friends, which for many resulted in personal relationships being strained or even destroyed. Moreover, it was discovered that the rapid advancement opportunity usually meant setting up a new office elsewhere and adopting the same exploitative practices.
The DS-MAX case gained notoriety because of the scale of its operations and the number of people affected. Despite numerous complaints, court cases, and exposes, the company continued to rebrand itself and operate under different names like Innovage, Cydcor, PerDM, Credico, and others, making it hard to track and regulate.
It was a classic example of a multi-level marketing (MLM) operation bordering on a pyramid scheme, which are legal but often criticized for their predatory practices. The company exploited the ambition and need for employment of job seekers, leaving many employees overworked, underpaid, and feeling deceived. It serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of thoroughly researching employment opportunities before accepting an offer.
Case №2: Mystery Shopper
One infamous case of a job scam involves the "Mystery Shopper" or "Secret Shopper" scam, which became particularly prevalent with the rise of internet job boards. A notorious instance occurred with a company that falsely claimed to be associated with the reputable Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA).
In the scam, the fraudsters posted job advertisements for mystery shoppers. Once "hired," the job seekers were sent a check with instructions to deposit it into their personal bank account. They were then instructed to use a portion of that money to buy items in specific stores, keep some money as their "payment," and wire the remainder to a third party, supposedly to evaluate a money transfer service.
The catch was that the initial check sent by the scammer was fake. Victims often discovered this too late, after they had already purchased items and wired money. Since the checks were fraudulent, victims were held accountable by their banks for the full amount.
The "Mystery Shopper" scam resulted in substantial financial losses for many unsuspecting job seekers. It highlights the importance of caution when a job requires you to cash checks or handle money transfers. Legitimate mystery shopping opportunities usually don't involve direct transfers of large sums of money and certainly won't ask you to forward funds from your own bank account.