Job scam story prompts other potential victims to come forward
'It's unfortunate that they would target such a vulnerable state of mind of people'
It appears the fake business consulting firm TipTop Energy has cast a wide net looking for people desperate for work.
Since the story on the job scam broke on Tuesday, nine other people who were given the same job offer have contacted CBC. Many also reported the scam to police.
To date, files have been opened by RCMP in Alberta and by Calgary and Winnipeg police.
Tannis Empey, 25, in Winnipeg has been out of work for four months. She was thrilled when she received a job confirmation email from a John Adams at TipTop Energy.
These are people hunting for jobs. They don't have money to give. And I just find that very cruel- Tannis Empey
In a follow-up text, Adams told her to expect a cheque to arrive via United Parcel Service. He advised her to use the $4,000 to buy new office furniture.
Empey said Winnipeg police told her some people have already been duped.
"There's some people that jumped head into it apparently and lost money on it", Empey said. "Apparently the scam was to deposit money into your account and then you send them back $1,500. And then once the cheque bounces, you're liable for that $1,500."
A woman in Sherwood Park, Alta., received her cheque and took it into the RCMP detachment. While she was there, she said another woman arrived with an identical cheque.
In an email to CBC, the Sherwood Park woman explained, "I contacted the company that the cheque was drawn on and they were aware of the fraud and the bank they deal with are aware of it as well.
"Apparently this has been going on for several months."
The woman did not want her name used until she can offer more evidence to RCMP.
Workopolis.com pulls ad
Many of the hopeful job seekers saw the ad posted by TipTop Energy on the national site Workopolis. The ad has now been removed.
Workopolis editor-in-chief Peter Harris said they began to investigate after they received some complaints from candidates.
He's somewhat surprised the ad made it through the initial screening process.
"With every new company that advertises with us, we verify they are who they say they are," he said. "And of course we're a paid site, so they have to use either a credit card or a billing system. So that's one of the safeguards you don't get with a free site, where anyone can just post anything.
"It's actually very hard for a fraudulent job posting to get onto a paid site like Workopolis."
Harris said they would cooperate with any police investigation that is launched.
Meanwhile, he advised job-seekers to avoid providing personal banking information or a social insurance number until after you've met the employer and signed a contract.
"So always make sure that you know who you're talking to and that everything is legitimate before you give over your financial details or personal information that could be used for identity fraud."
Empey said she is grateful she read the CBC story about TipTop Energy before she got too involved or too hopeful.
Now she's angry she and others were taken in by a fraud.
"It's unfortunate that they would target such a vulnerable state of mind of people. Because these are people hunting for jobs. They don't have money to give. They're looking for a job. And I just find that very cruel.
"But what do I know? I'm not evil like they are, I guess."