Monthly Archives: May 2012

Scamming the Unemployed – Really?

It’s not bad enough that millions of qualified men and women in this country can’t get a job.

It’s not bad enough that, in Pennsylvania, you have to hire a lawyer to arm wrestle with the minions at the unemployment office to get back some of that money that we have paid into the fund over all the years we have worked — 50 in my case.

Now, unemployed people who are seriously looking for jobs are being scammed, big time.

My first encounter with a scammer came when I answered a Craigslist ad for an Administrative Assistant at a busy doctor’s office.  Imagine my surprise when I received an email from someone named David Marks that said, “Your resume was received and it has been reviewed, I did appreciate it. So I will give this a GO.”

But…he needed a bit more information like my first, middle and last names, my street address including city, state and zip, my cell and home phone numbers, my current occupation and my email address.

Hmmmm….if he had really reviewed my resume, wouldn’t he already know all of this information?  First hint that something was just not right.

Then Mr. Marks described how this would work:

  1. He wasn’t in town often so we would only communicate via email.
  2. He didn’t really have an office so I would be  working from home.
  3. He would pay me $785 a week for a part time job.
  4. Work would include doing personal chores, scheduling flights and making, “…regular contacts and drop offs on my behalf.”

Sounds just a bit off – $785 a week for a part time job working for a man I will never meet and making contacts and dropping off…what…on his behalf.  Second hint that this was not a kosher offer.

The final hint that Mr. Marks was a rat-scammer was this incredibly transparent paragraph:

“What i would want you to do for me this week is to run some errands out to some of the orphanage home, I do that every month. A payment in form of a Cashier Check/Money Order will be sent over to you from one of my clients and i have some lists to email you once you received the funds,You will make some arrangements by buying some stuff for the kids in the Orphanage at any nearest store around you so you can mail them out.”

Really?  I don’t know you, have never met you, work out of my home because you don’t have an office and I’m supposed to …run money for you?  Of course, throwing in the orphanage was a nice touch but hello…Mr. Marks…I may want a job but I am not really desperate or stupid.

Today, a more sophisticated scammer than Mr. Marks (hard to imagine, isn’t it?) sent me an email from an Human Resources department for a company that does exist – LDR Distributions – saying they had , “…reviewed your resume and you’re a great match for this position.”  I was to go online and make a formal application.

Great, exciting but…one immediate problem.  When I tried to apply using the link in the email, I kept getting a pop up asking me to fill in an “anti-spam” survey and offering me a chance at gift cards ranging from $100 from the Cheesecake Factory to $1000 from Kohls.  The hair on the back of my neck started rising.

The other problem with this fairly professional attempt to skim my personal information is the type of business LDR is.  This company is a warehouse and distribution company.  I am a 64 year old woman recovering from shoulder surgery.  Would I really apply for a job with them?  Not!  And, because I keep a copy of every ad I answer along with my submission, I was able to prove to myself that I had not fallen, hit my head and applied for the privilege of packing, toting and shipping large packages.

Tips for would be job seekers:

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it is!  Like getting a part time gig that lets me work from home and get paid $785 a week.
  2. DO NOT include any contact information at all when responding to a blind ad on Craigslist or any other job board unless you know for sure they are a legitimate business engaged in matching employees and employers like Monster or Career Builder.
  3. GOOGLE names, businesses, even job titles and include the word “scam” in the search.  You will quickly discover you are not alone.  There are a lot of people being scammed by some truly low people out there trying to make money off our misfortune.

And keep the faith.  Somewhere out there, there is a job for each and every one of us that truly wants to work.

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Filed under Budgeting, Education, Life & Death, Saving Money, Work

What’s So Special About A Horse?

I went for a ride on my horse, today.   It was my first ride since shoulder surgery on February 7th.

In the scheme of all the things that have happened in my life in the last few years, few months and few weeks, taking a spin on your horse doesn’t seem to be all that important especially when you consider that:

  1. I’ve been unemployed since January of 2010.
  2. My husband is waging an ongoing battle with infections arising from his cancer surgery that have landed him in the hospital 37 times in 10 years.
  3. I lost my younger brother and my best friend to a brain tumor in May of 2010 and still, I miss him.
  4. In February of this year, my husband had malignant melanoma misdiagnosed by a dermatologist (who will remain nameless) as “…an age spot.”  Three surgeries down and three to go – that’s the status of this battle.
  5. Last week, he has learned he is being laid off, too.

The weight of all of these blows has seemed almost insurmountable.  I try hard not to feel stressed, anxious and sometimes angry but I failed my Mahatma Ghandi test a long time ago.  So life, our lives, have been hard to handle.

But today, I took a ride on my horse, Buzz.  Grooming him, talking to him as I tacked him up, slipping into the saddle and taking the first walk around the riding ring filled me with so much joy and love that I sit here, 6 hours later and I’m still filled with both.

Buzz and I don’t do anything special in the ring, no cantering, no jumps.  But we do so enjoy the early morning sun, the soft breeze across the fields of the farms that surround our barn and those moments when the rest of the world narrows to just the two of us and the feeling of knowing each other, understanding each other, enjoying each other.

Buzz is 20 years old.  He was an $850 rescue who I brought home 7 years ago, sad, lonely, neglected.  Some people might look at him and say, “What’s so special?”   But people who know horses, my farrier, the equine dentist, the nutritionist I work with at Stoltzfus, other riders in the barn know.  To a person they have said, “What a kind eye he has.”

And a kind and gentle heart that reminds me of just how wonderful this world is no matter what else is happening, no matter what is breaking, moving, changing, leaving.  As long is Buzz is along for the ride, I know I will be able to face anything.

Thank you, Buzz.

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Filed under Life & Death, Love and Marriage

America: The Land of Lay Offs

So, I’m guessing that just about everyone, everywhere knows at least one person who has been laid off in the last 24 months.

I know quite a few victims of  lay offs — my daughter, her best friend, our friend and neighbor Jim and now, my husband.  I was even laid off – a mutually reached decision as I was months away from turning 62 and turning on the Social Security faucet.  I thought I would have a little time to find another job.  Two and a half years later, I’m still looking.

A Brief Digression on Social Security
This is for  for those of you who think Social Security should…go away.  It’s also  for those of you who are considering the option of slipping peacefully out of the office and into retirement, early.

I have been working since I was 14 and paying into the Social Security fund for 50, that’s right, 50 years.  I paid for the privilege of collecting this small monthly payment so please don’t tell me I’m on the dole or taking a hand out.  If I am doing either, it is from me…to me.

Despite a long and financially draining relationship with FICA, what I get ain’t much.  This faucet only drips less than $20,000 a year — before taxes.  And when I get on Medicare next year, it will drip about $3000 a year less.

I don’t know many people who can actually pay their bills, eat and cover the costs of doctors and medicine on less than $12,000 a year but I worked for and earned the privilege of receiving this money, no matter how small the amount is.

Now, back to gainful unemployment which many of us are currently experiencing.

Of the 5 people mentioned above, not one of us was an underachiever.  Not one of us called in sick just because we could or took long breaks, missed deadlines or just held down the chair and picked up the pay check.

All of us brought the usual stuff to work – the skills,  talents,  and education needed to do each of our jobs, well.  But we also brought dedication, loyalty, passion and a true desire to do a good job not just one day, but every day.  Essentially, we worked for ourselves, for our satisfaction and for the joy of a job, well done.

So, why did we get the ax?  Who knows?

There are dozens of different reasons people lose their jobs. Companies have  “downturns” so downsizing has to happen.  Divisions are moving in a “different direction” and you won’t fit.  Your job is being eliminated so your services are no longer required.

Sometimes the reasons are a bit more personal.  Your personality clashes with your boss’s personality.  Perhaps your politics just don’t fit in with the politics of the organization.  Or, my favorite, the boss’s niece, nephew, grandmother, needs a job so they’re getting yours.

There are, of course real reasons to let someone go.  Employees that are consistently late or frequently absent can hurt the bottom line.  Employees who are belligerent or threatening can upset co-workers and worry managers.  And employees who just sit around all day, missing deadlines, smoking every 30 minutes and going to lunch for 2 hours every day affect productivity and morale.

But what happens when none of these reasons apply, when a good employee is cut from the herd and shown the door?  The reality is dramatic and painful. And no matter what anybody says, being terminated, fired, laid off, downsized is personal.  

Being unable to get another job is demoralizing.  I’m a Master’s prepared, professional with project management, training, leadership and human resource skills in my portfolio.  The only work I can get pays $83 a day — no benefits.  I even got turned down for employment at Lowe’s!

So, here’s my question.  When did America, the land of opportunity, become America, the land of lay offs?  Anyone have any answers to ease the pain of unemployment?

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Filed under Budgeting, Life & Death, Saving Money, Work