Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Questionable Job Offer

I had a friend who was job hunting and had applied to various ad postings.  He got a response from one and it seemed to be going well with a telephone interview and them saying he was hired.   Then a couple things made him suspicious that this might not be what it seemed to be.  So he contacted me stating “Hey Bill. You're kind of my resident scam expert. I'm pretty sure someone is trying to fraud me on a job offer. It has all the telltale signs of a fraud but with a couple differences that just make me interested enough to investigate.”

So I took on the challenge.  The job was with some construction company called White Developments.  They hired him to run an office that was setting up in his city.  They sent him a cheque to buy office supplies.   The weird thing he noted was that the cheque was for a very specific amount, down to the penny.   I agree that it was very odd and kind of raised a red flag.

Looking at the website of the company didn’t bring about much information about it.  It lacked a lot of information.  It included some stock photos.    I did a wider search of the company name and found another one with a similar name in another province that had already gone out of business.   This led me to wonder if this was one of these businesses that go from place to place, make some quick bucks from unsuspecting consumers and leave with the money.  Now it is possible that these are indeed two different companies with the same name as they could’ve been just registered in their own province and with a plain name like White Developments, someone else with the same name would not be unheard of.

I then did a search on the address of the home office in Toronto.  The address brought up a space where you can rent meeting rooms.  This seemed odd for an expanding multi-city construction/development company.  Couldn’t they afford their own office?   I still had no smoking gun though.

I then decided to look up the reviews.   There were two on the website.  Searching the names didn’t bring up a lot of info except of a someone who died a year earlier.  OK, so not everyone has an internet footprint, but one would think that a development company would have some notable review.  I decided to see if the people posted their review anywhere else so I searched that.   Now I entered an interesting rabbit hole...

I found pretty much the exact same wording on various websites (I stopped counting at 500) for various other businesses, but these others had different names attached to the reviews, namely Jodi Black and John Smith.  All these websites had a similar layout and feel.  They all used the default settings on a lot (including photos) and didn’t bother to change much, if anything.   They were all created using a website template provider.  The huge irony is the website template places states “set yourself apart” when in reality all your competition then looks the same.

Comparison of the reviews from construction company and martial arts school

Just one of the website template sites

Comparison of layout including same picture between church and construction company

So I advised my friend to avoid this place as they are not exactly who/what they say they are.  While some of the smaller businesses (like the martial arts one) are real businesses who were wanting a website and obviously are not that knowledgeable enough to do it well (although the martial arts one did put it some more time and thought and their own pics), this White Development company should’ve had a proper website, with real reviews and real photos.  This company still could be legit (although I have huge doubts), but there is no denying that they are not honest in their depictions.

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