I'm sure many remember the Nigerian scammers who first appeared in the United States in full force in 2000, trying to convince people that millions of dollars were waiting for them if they would just pay a small fee. Most times, amounting to over $400.00, to either get the funds released, attorney fees, travel expenses for the holders of the funds and the list goes on. Over the years since then, this scam has grown to monstrous proportions, involving multiple northern African countries with literally thousands of individuals involved in it. Presently, we have what amounts to a northern African internet crime syndicate using computer technology to steal billions of dollars from unsuspecting citizens around the world. Even though this is a global problem, the USA is the main focal point of their criminal endeavors.

Today, we find most of their criminal activities are concentrated on Craig's List, mainly in the Gigs section and particularly in the labor section of gigs.

Most of the ads are easy to spot, while others are harder to identify. Many deal with warehouse positions offering ridiculously high hourly rates and daily rates. Moving jobs such as helping to load and unload trucks or U-Hauls, lawn care, construction, roofing, small plumbing jobs, personal drivers, cement work, flooring repair or replacement, window washing, etc. 

Other bogus ads which are harder to spot are house hunter ads where they claim to be a legitimate real estate company who needs someone to spot property for them to buy. Others are for car repairs, retail merchandisers, and the big weekly check for advertising drinks on your car by letting them place an ad on your auto.

While too numerous to mention, there are many more such as claiming to be a business in need of professional help where all you have to do is send your resume and wait for them to call.

While I have been scanning mostly Texas CL, I have viewed all other areas in the US, as well, and find all states and cities are involved.

What we must realize is the time involved with composing and placing these ads, as well as the massive extent of territories covered, indicates that thousands of people are involved on a 24/7 basis. This also tells us that they are getting results from their efforts, since it wouldn't be happening on such a large scale for as long a time as it has if it wasn't successful.

The following ads are just a few examples of this criminal activity.

MONSTER ENERGY DRINK

compensation: $400 compensation

Earn 400 weekly simply Driving Your car, truck , bus , motorcycle (using your normal routine) . All you have to do is contact the promotion MG 513) 685-6906 for more details.Thanks.....

What you will get from this ad if you pursue it is a phony check for over $1500.00 with instructions to take the $300.00 out of it for yourself and send the rest to the person who is supposed to install the car wrap. Of course the checks are worthless so you will be essentially stealing the money from your bank to give to them, as well as possible fraud charges being filed against you by your bank.

Rake leaves and yard cleanup (Austin)

compensation: I will pay $42.00 an hour

Looking for someone to rake and leaf blow my very small yard. There will be some minor cleanup. Stack deck furniture ands sweep driveway ETC. I will pay $42.00 an hour with a min of 4 hours...... 

This is an attempt to gather as much information on the job seeker as possible for the purpose of selling e-mail addresses, having your phone number for more scams and or gaining more personal information.  

need jack of all trades maintenance man

compensation: percentage of job (work orders)

We are looking to hire a jack of all trades maintenance man. Must be able to handel a large work load. Must be willing to follow order and have poilet manners. Must haveexperience in all trades. Must have transportation and tools a must. Must be willing to represent our company. We are looking for an employee. You can make really good money. Need somome dependable and that can make appointments on time. Pay is 70% of profit per job. Pay ranges from 18-50 per hr depending on job. Prefer somone who is a Christian and somone we can trust. Remember you will be repenting our company if not willing to do so then please don't apply. Please email contact info full name, experience and phone number. We will call you for an interview if you meet the requirements. Thanks……

Of course, they will require the prospective job seeker to send them a resume, thereby giving them the ultimate treasure trove of personal information needed to scam with, sell, or use in their criminal activity. The best way to identify scam ads is to pay attention to details and little errors these people make.  Most of the ads from these people have a sort of a signature about them that gives them away.

What to look for: Hourly and daily wages way too high that we all know no one would pay. Spelling and grammar mistakes as seen from the examples above. Not using a capital letters when referring to themselves such as, i need, rather than, I need. Always stating "needing a couple of guys" rather than need two people, for some day labor or moving job. The use of the word "urgent" when referring to needing help for some domestic or industrial problem. Over emphasizing the need for seeing your plumbing, electrical, or contractor license for menial one time simple labor jobs. The phrases "don't waste my time, needing to hire, I need a good, we need to hire, hi guys, my name is, or I need to hire." Needing your Social Security number and driver's license for simple home repairs or yard work. Being aware that quite a few ads are in Spanish, as well. Most posts claiming to need actors for movie rolls. All warehouse jobs needing yard work, cleaning, painting, plumbing, or trash removal.  Ads claiming to be private individuals needing mechanical or body work. Ads supposedly from private individuals needing dirt removal or needing to hire a person with a backhoe. The use of the word nanny. Needing someone with a box truck. The list goes on, as well as the swindle, which I'm sure involves millions of people—mostly Americans who have had their personal information compromised. 

What can be done to end this scam is to first see if any of your personal information has been used. This can be done by checking your credit report for unauthorized credit made in your name, as well as by checking your e-mails to see if you are being contacted by one or more African scammers. They are easily identified, as most of their e-mails involve you having large sums of money waiting for you, either in Africa or in some European country. They may also claim that you have won some lottery, usually involving the United Nations or some international lotto. Over the past several months, they have been sending out e-mails claiming to be from either a law firm or a courthouse with an appearance date for you to show up in court. Of course, you have to open an attached document to find out, which infects your computer with spyware that allows them to see what sites you visit, thus giving them important information such as your passwords. They also fish for personal information by sending out bogus claims to be from banks, Pay Pal, or other financial institutions needing updates on your account. Most of the time, the financial institution they claim to be isn't used at all by the person notified. 

We all need to take some time to visit the gigs/labor section of CL and flag every suspicious ad we see, as well as report it to CL administration. This can also be reported to the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, and DHS.

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