Back in the 90's, Jamiroquai had a hit album named "Travelling without Moving." The title gives an apt description of some of the fantastic things that you can now do on the Internet. For example, we can now literally travel the world without moving beyond the comfort of the armchair. Applications such as Google Earth and Google Maps (with its Street View feature) enable anybody with a decent Internet connection to literally drop in to virtually any location on this planet.
These applications are great for planning visits-you can see exactly how far your hotel is from the train station, where there is parking, or even plot your full itinerary. You can also use these applications to get a feel for an area before you go there; for example, if you were visiting an unfamiliar area it's really useful to see what the building or location you are going to actually looks like before you get there. Addresses are sometimes hard to recognize and as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
In this age of "carbon footprints," the oil crisis, corporate belt tightening, inflation, stagflation, subprime crisis, and a credit crunch, any means to save or earn extra cash must not be sniffed at. Let's say that you go job hunting and find a company offering you a great part time job where you can earn up a minimum of $2,500 a month. Wouldn't anyone be tempted by that, especially if it is posted in a respected career-search Web site?
Before you go sending off your resume (even one posted on well respected careers Web site), wouldn't you want to find out a bit more about the company that you might end up working for? Of course you would. After all, you want to make sure that the company on the receiving end of your services is going to pay up and is not a fly-by-night outfit. So, with that in mind I checked out a job posting by a company named Mortgage Union Trust, based in New York. The company offers a job titled "Monetary Operator" for "responsible individuals to cooperate with Mortgagee Union Trust Company processing department [sic]."
With a bit of digging, I found that the company also has a nice little Web site (mortgageeunion.com) that gives a company address of 51 South 12th Avenue, Mt. Vernon, NY 10550.
With the incredible powers of travel conferred upon me and my fellow netizens in support, I decided to drop in on the corporate headquarters where no doubt I would be offered at least a job interview (how could they turn me down with my super Web surfing skills?) once I had sent in my resume. So, with that, I cracked open a new browser window and called up Google Maps, entered in the address, and clicked into the Street View for the neighbourhood in question and this is what I found:
I have to admit that I'm not familiar with the New York area, but wow! This building is quite different from what I expected. The impressions given by the Web site would lead you to think that it will be all gleaming towers of glass set amongst the financial heart of the city with the office on the 50th floor and fantastic views to boot. So one of these handsome houses on a residential street in New York State is supposed to be the corporate headquarters of a respectable financial corporation? It doesn't really add up, my dream of earning easy cash at home is looking more and more distant. With a bit more research I find that this company is actually the latest in the line of many schemes dreamed up by the gang responsible for Trojan.Asprox.
Checking out the domain further, you can see that it is fast-fluxing through a whole host of IP addresses. This is definitely not your typical behaviour for legitimate Web sites. These IP addresses are no doubt zombie machines owned by the gang-today they might be hosting this scam Web site, tomorrow they may be sending out spam emails.
Well, now that my dreams of an early retirement are shattered and I'm back on Reality Street, there are some sober lessons to be learned from this. It is probably not news to you that there is a heck of a lot of scams out there and identity theft is rife. Recently I posted an article about an Olympic ticketing scam that ripped off many unsuspecting people, but this job scam might not necessarily rip you off. In fact, if you "cooperate" with the "processing department" of Mortgagee Union Trust you might even actually make a bit of cash by transferring funds from one account to another when instructed. (The job title should actually be "Money Mule," but it doesn't have the same air of self importance that "Monetary Operator" does.)
Whether you can make much, if any, money by taking part in this scheme is uncertain. What is certain is that you will inevitably be playing the pawn in a global game of scams, online crime, and money laundering. Next time an offer that's too good to refuse comes a-calling, save the precious gas and reduce your carbon footprint by using the Internet to visit the company, check out their credentials, and satisfy your curiosity that they are indeed a legitimate organization. Only when you have checked and double checked should you part with your valuable personal information.