UX Librarian: July 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

CARE For Africa - A Fraudulent Nonprofit

As I search for jobs online, another fraudulent company has presented itself to me, and this is a fake charity. I answered an ad on Craigslist for a telephone fundraiser and received an immediate job offer from CARE for Africa. They also included their script, the quality of which was a dead giveaway on their scam-iness and lack of professionalism. The offer of a job without a contract was also a giveaway. CARE For Africa has a slick looking site, but if you dig deeper you will find the flaws that give them away. This is what a fake nonprofit looks like.

CARE For Africa - Scam

I have to give Care For Africa some major scam points. First, CARE sounds familiar, doesn't it? There is a real organization called C.A.R.E. (also headquartered in Virginia) that does great work all over the world. CARE For Africa is not related to C.A.R.E. in any way. The Africa part-- who doesn't worry for Africa? The photos on the website are of beautiful black children that tug at the heart strings. They get sympathy points for pulling 'Africa' and 'CARE' into their moniker. But alas, this is a scam company that does not legitimately exist.

How to Report a Fake Nonprofit

The sad part is that it's really hard to report a fraudulent nonprofit. I spent hours on the phone with the Virginia Attorney General's office. They were not interested. Again, how do you question and handcuff a fraudulent online entity? When you try to report or destroy a fake online company or nonprofit, it is so easy for the scammers to tweak a page or two, change their name, and to morph into a new fraudulent company. Today's CARE For Africa could turn into Project Smile Africa or Africa United Way.

Tell-Tale Signs of Internet Fraud

Why is CARE For Africa fraudulent?

* First, if you examine their website there are no personal names attached to this website. No proud resumes, no professional administrators. Just a slick site that pulls our sympathy strings using pictures of African children. The lack of specifics anywhere on the site is a huge red flag.

* CARE for Africa lists two addresses on their site, both of which are to townhouses in Virginia. (You can check it out on Google Maps.) If CARE For Africa was a real nonprofit I would expect to see an office in a corporate park or in a commercial area. Nope, just residential townhouses.

* Additionally, the social media icons for FaceBook and Twitter take you nowhere-- these are dead links. CARE For Africa doesn't have a social media presence because they are a fraudulent nonprofit.

* Because CARE For Africa says they are a nonprofit, I can look up CARE for Africa on GuideStar.org and see that they are not registered as a nonprofit entity. This clinches my conclusion that they are totally fraudulent. Real nonprofit organizations have 990 tax forms available for public view on Guide Star.

Small Time Fraud - Free Pass

As a last resort of trying to get CARE for Africa offline, I contacted the real C.A.R.E. to let them know that a fake nonprofit was using their name. You would think that they would care about policing their brand but I received no response. Again, an online organization is difficult to take down, especially since I didn't lose a dime to them. I have done as much as I can to report CARE For Africa as a fake and fraudulent nonprofit but have had zero impact. This blog post is my last resort. Don't give money or work for a fake organization. Take time to research who you decide which nonprofit organizations are real and which, like CARE For Africa, are totally fake.

Update: August 29, 2015: I was contacted by an independent law firm that represents CARE, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP. They are looking into the use of the CARE name by this fake nonprofit. Perhaps there is movement to eliminate this site? We shall see....

Little Scams Online - How To Determine Internet Fraud

I have been looking for jobs online. I have done this for years and have found some great jobs that have paid the bills However, I have also found some fraudulent sites on the Internet. (Not so shocking, right?) I have tried to go out of my way to report these scams to the proper authorities but you can't police the Internet. It is Too Big and too amorphous to put handcuffs on it. That's why you have to vigilant in whom you choose to work with.

First, you should never have to pay any money up front to be hired for a job. A red flag should go off if anyone, especially an alleged potential employer, asks you for money. Which brings us to Hire Talent. They have been online for a long time and they are not going away. But they are a completely fraudulent company. How can you identify a fraudulent company online? Let's go through the steps.

Hire Talent is Fraudulent

First, Hire Talent contacted me out of the blue. I have uploaded my resume around and they found my email online. A persona named Jim Taubert wanted to hire me but I would need to send Hire Talent $65 up front for my training. That is a huge red flag that took me to their fake website. Let's look at it...

If you Google Hire Talent, there are a bunch of other sites that sound like or look like Hire Talent-- they are smart to hide among reputable companies with similar names. The logo of Hire Talent is old looking and pixilated, this screams of amateurism. Any successful company has a professional logo created by a designer. They say they have been in "Human Capital Consulting Since 2008." Sorry, according to Alexa, this website has only existed for a few months. If you search on Domain.com on who owns the domain, this information is private, another red flag. The generic stock photos of people on their website, another red flag. Look at the very brief biographies of the employees...Jim Taubert, Brandon Daniels, Jonathan Welle, and Susan Applen. These people do not exist and their vague bios show hastily drawn sketches. "Mr. Welle brings over 20 years of client relations and support experience to Hire Talent." Mr. Welle is so successful that he has no LinkedIn page? These are all clues that Hire Talent is totally fake and a fraudulent website.

I tried many ways to report Hire Talent to no avail. Their website says they are located in Minnesota, but who knows where they are really located. This fake and fraudulent company showed their cards when they sent me several PayPal requests for the $65 training fee. The email came from melissa.sarna@gmail.com. When I Google Melissa Sarna, I can see another red flag of fraud. Whomever Melissa Sarna is, her name has been attached to frauds for a very long time. Google her name with the word 'scam' and you will see what I mean. I have contacted PayPal regarding this and they have done nothing. I have also reported Hire Talent to the Internet Crime Complaint Center to no avail. I could contact the Attorney General of Minnesota, but all Hire Talent has to do is change their skyline photo and their address. These guys at Hire Talent are so small that they fly under the radar of most law enforcement. While they are stealing money from people, at less than $100 per theft most law enforcement does not have the time or resources to really investigate. Hire Talent is just a pack of petty thieves.

Job Seekers Beware

Sadly, the Internet is still very much like the high seas-- too big to police and full of pirates. That is why you have to be careful and extra vigilant at all times when doing business online. There are lots of sharks in the water, don't forget your shark repellent. Bring your critical thinking skills to any online venture. When you are hired online, make sure there is a contract that both parties sign. Make sure you dig around in to who runs the company. If you can't find information, be wary. There are lots of job scammers out there, like Hire Talent, phony and fraudulent websites who would love to take your money and run.