A friend asked me to check into an ad that she saw posted on Craigslist, under the "Volunteers" section.
ATTENTION!ATTTENTION!!ATTENTIO!!! (O'ahu, HI)
We're currently seeking for someone that can post ads on craigslist for 2-3 hours daily and earn 300$ weekly. For more info you can buzz Fred on (802) 851-0347.
NOTE: You must be 18 years or more and no pranks please.First, I found it rather odd that the ad would be posted under "Volunteers", instead of under "Jobs". I also noticed how they posted the ad five times in one day on June 6th, which pushes a few buttons on my Scam Sensor, right away. Plus, reading the ad indicates that they might not be a native speaker of the English language.
Okay, the phone number uses a Vermont area code, which is already a bad sign. Accepting any kind of job offer from someone out-of-State is usually inadvisable, unless you can verify their identity.
Attempting to call reveals it to be a Google Voice number, which provides a great deal of protection if you want to conceal your identity. The person behind it did respond to text messages, though. The phone number doesn't show-up in an Internet search, of course. So, there's no way to verify their identity.
From what I was told, the "job" consists of working between two and three hours a day. In that time, you'll be given about twenty ads to post for vacation rentals in South Carolina and in Hawaii. After a week's work, you'll get paid three hundred dollars, via Paypal, bank transfer, cash bank deposit or check. If you work seven days a week, three hours at a time and make 300 dollars, that comes to a little over 14 dollars an hour. If you're only working five days, that's twenty dollars an hour.
That ain't bad.
Before you begin posting ads, you're expected to set-up a new GMail account specifically for this job with an accompanying Craigslist account, the passwords for both accounts are to be shared with "Fred". His reasons for wanting the log-in details? He claims that he needs your passwords in order to verify the accounts. This is, of course, bullshit. You can verify any email account's existence by simply giving the other person your email address and telling them to send you a message. My friend did that and received an email from an account registered to James Owen, not Fred Jose. Supposedly, this is yet another person that had contacted Fred about the job and provided the log-in details for his GMail account. Another possible victim may be someone named Favian Hernandez. So, Fred won't send you anything using his own email address, preferring to use other people's.
He also claims that he needs to monitor the ads and follow-up with the responses. I've always understood that working in the vacation rental business involves working long hours and struggling for every dollar you can get your hands on due to the intense competition in that line of work. If I was working in the vacation rental business and had other people posting ads on my behalf, I'd have them forward the responses to me, so I could respond to them with my own account, answering any questions they had and close the sale. I certainly wouldn't trust some lackey with what is likely to be my main source of income.
Note: when people work for real vacation rental companies, they get a company email account, they don't use GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. That's one way to tell the real people from the frauds. You should also read this.
The person sending the texts to my friend identified himself as "Fred Jose", originally from Vermont, but has lived in Hawaii for five months. A search on Intellius reveals no person by that name in their records as having resided in Vermont.
He also claims to work for Holiday Lettings, which is a company based in the United Kingdom. Again, there is no listing I can find of anyone named "Fred Jose" working as an agent for that company.
In addition to setting-up a GMail and Craigslist account, then giving "Fred" the log-in details, he also wants you to provide him with your full name and address, along with your preferences for how you want to get paid.
You may be wondering why he would go through all this trouble? Why not simply set-up fake GMail and Craigslist accounts on his own under fictitious names?
Well, one reason is that one person can only post so many ads in a day or even a week. If you have two people posting 20 ads a day, seven days a week, that's 280 ads a week, adding 140 more ads per person that you recruit. However, the main answer is that it provides an extra layer of protection for himself. After all, when people learn that they've been scammed, they'll file a complaint with Craigslist, GMail and law enforcement to discover the identity and location of the scammer. All Fred has to do is add your address to the GMail account and the cops will come for you, not him. It's also quite possible, even likely, that Federal law enforcement could get involved with an investigation like this. After all, you're potentially defrauding people in other states and anything that crosses state lines automatically becomes a Federal matter. So, you could find yourself on the hook to reimburse people the money they lost, along with maybe doing time in a Federal prison.
As for Fred, he'll be safe and sound somewhere, spending your money on hookers & blow.
Yes, I have no doubt that "Fred Jose" is running a vacation rental scam, apparently targeting people in South Carolina, Hawaii and possibly other places. Why else to hide behind multiple email accounts and a Google Voice number? Fred offers no proof of his identity or employment, you're supposed to take his word for everything.
So, if you've answered the ad posted by "Fred", ask him to send you a picture of his business card, along with his company email address. If he won't, it's likely that he's running a scam and you can move on from there.
UPDATE: I have been informed that Fred was asked to provide a picture of his business card and refused to do this. He stated that he only provides his business card when people are actually renting the property. Instead, he sent a picture of his supposed Colorado ID, which has the name "Daniel Madrid Jose", instead of "Fred Jose". He claimed that "Fred" is a nickname given to him by his friends.