After a layoff dumped me into the job market for the first time in more than a decade, I had an all-too-close encounter with a new breed of digital fraudsters who prey on the unemployed. These high-tech predators use a new twist on an old scam to “hire” the victim in order to gain access to their bank account. The scheme was cleverly engineered, but a couple of small irregularities tipped me off to my would-be assailants’ plans before they could steal anything more than two days’ worth of my time. Once alerted, I was even able to use some of their own tactics to inflict a bit of pain on the folks who sought to scam me.
Embarrassing as it might be, I’m sharing my experiences in the hope that they might help you avoid falling victim to these cyber-vultures and perhaps even turn the tables on them.
Like most successful cons, this one involved gaining the willing consent of its victim through some combination of greed, fear, or desperation. Having been laid off several months earlier, I fell into the latter category and was ripe for the picking. When I lost the unfulfilling but steady editorial job I’d held down for the past few years, I was confident that my strong credentials and deep collection of contacts I’d made over the years would help me land a better gig within a month or two.