Joanna Coffey never felt completely quite right about the job offer, but she resigned from her former job to take it. She’s now out of work and wants others to learn from her experience.

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Joanna Coffey never felt completely quite right about the job offer, but she resigned from her former job to take it.

She’s now out of work and wants others to learn from her experience.

Coffey had posted her résumé on three major job boards. She doesn’t know where the supposed job recruiter saw it, but she was happy when she heard in late June that a shipping company wanted to hire her for its soon-to-open operations in Kansas City, Mo.

Looking back, there were red flags.

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But as job hunters know, it’s nice when a job offer appears in hand. So Coffey overlooked a discrepancy between the company’s website address and the spelling of its name in the email she received.

“I tried to stay openminded even when I could hardly understand the person on the phone,” Coffey says. “She had a strong Asian accent, which is neither here nor there, but the company supposedly was moving into the Kansas City area from Europe.”

Likewise, she didn’t question the “Jane Doe” sort of names used by the company’s representatives. And she thought it was unprofessional, but she didn’t get too worried when the representatives answered the phone with “Hello” — no name or corporate identity given.

Personal data divulged

Still, the recruiter gave Coffey the address of the Kansas City warehouse that was soon to be in operation. She drove to check it out and saw a reputable-looking building with a “for lease” sign on it.

Yes, she’s kicking herself now. She completed the application process. The recruiter now has her Social Security number and other personal information about her. And she doesn’t have the job she pursued, nor does she have the one she quit.

The “hirer” asked her to start work in three days. Coffey asked for two weeks to give notice to her then-current employer. (Unfortunately, her former employer has a policy of not allowing people to rescind their quit notices.)

Perhaps because Coffey didn’t immediately get sucked into the reshipping scheme — an illegal practice involving an unsuspecting victim receiving stolen goods to repackage and ship overseas — proposed for the new job, the offer vanished into thin air. Despite repeated attempts, she’s been unable to get any response from the recruiters since early July.

Preventative measures
Coffey has, of course, reported the emails, the website, the phone numbers and the names to the Federal Trade Commission, to the attorney general, to the credit reporting agencies. And now she waits to see whether her identity is stolen or anything else bad happens.

The lessons to other job hunters start with always being hyper vigilant if a recruiter calls you with a vague or unusual offer. The kind of reshipping job proposed to Coffey is a known scam.

Research the recruiters’ website, addresses and phone numbers. If a work site address is given, check it out; many scams are tied to vacant buildings.

Look for their names online. Do they show up online in consumer complaint forums? Visit the FTC’s 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud page to learn more about (or report) suspected scams.

Don’t go for a job that asks you for money or to do work “to see if they can trust you.” And don’t quit your current job yet.