Economic downturn in Alberta prompts increase in online job scams

CALGARY – As more people look for work in Alberta, they turn to online job resources like and Kijiji, but scammers advertising phony jobs are also trolling the Internet for desperate victims.

Amy Haydu is on disability income and has been looking for part-time work online.

She posted an ad for babysitting, and was contacted by an organization that called itself Coast Consulting to be a customer care analyst.

“It was pretty professional,” said Haydu. “I was to go to banks, restaurants and stores and basically see how clean the place is and if they’re following protocol.”

She exchanged emails with the company and they sent a cheque for $2,800 to cover her salary and expenses. The company also sent instructions to wire money to another company for a computer.

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“I was to send $1,500 to get my new MacBook 3 with all the right programming on it so I could better do my work.”

She deposited the cheque in the bank, but because of her fixed income could only withdraw $600. The rest of the money was put on a five-day hold.

After the five days, she was told it was counterfeit, and now has to pay back the $600.

Online job scams are rampant, according to Leah Brownridge with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Southern Alberta.

“If you’re being approached by an employer that’s not in your area or your city, that is a red flag. You have to ask yourself, ‘why would they be approaching me if I don’t even live there?’ And if you can’t contact that individual by phone or go see them in person, that’s a red flag too,” said Brownridge.

The other warning sign is that victims are often sent a cheque and asked to wire money.

Brownridge said if you’re not sure, get all their contact information and investigate the “company” on your own time.

“Check with BBB. Do your own Internet search, make sure the address checks out, call the number, see who you’re talking to. Even do a basic image search if they have a picture on their website; make sure it’s legit.”

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Haydu said she feels lucky the bank has given her six months to pay them back, and wants to warn others before they lose even more than she did.

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