Flattery will get you everywhere
Having given up my previous 'career' as a fraudster I've resigned myself to working for not very much money doing a job that I find incredibly boring. I sit in the rest area at work listening to my co-workers wrestle with the dilemmas that their jobs present, knowing that in reality their views will never make one bit of difference. When I compare my current working day to that of my previous job - one gave me with a buzz where the other one just gives me zzzzzzzzz's. Still, it was my own decision to change my wicked ways so I cannot complain.
Not complaining doesn't stop me looking though. Having now entered to world of legitimate employment, I clearly need to a little virtual networking to connect with others with a view to getting a better job. Creating a CV and online profile is something of a challenge; I can hardly describe the majority of my time between leaving university and my Damascene Conversion as 'Subject Matter Expert in various types of fraud. Specialising in conning vulnerable and/or naive victims into parting with their children's inheritance' Instead, I have sanitised this period of my life into something equally vague but much more anodyne. My CV describes a list of private consultancy roles in the area of 'management consultancy' Lets face it, CVs are usually a mixtures of facts, half-truths and exaggerations at the best of times so I don't feel any different to anyone else in that regard. I even pulled out an old burner phone, stuck in a pay-as-you-go SIM card and added the number to my profile.
Having only ever used social media as a tool to assist in defrauding victims via an assumed identity , I have never actively used it to advertise 'myself'. I was therefore genuinely surprised by the number of people on a very large professional networking site who sent me requests to connect with them for no obvious reason at all. Going against everything I believe in, I found myself accepting those requests, and in the main, that was the last I heard from those individuals.
I also received a number of follow-up internal messages from those who wanted me to join particular interest groups of like minded individuals who presumably believe that there is strength in numbers. There appears to be no end to the types of groups I could join, and (surprise surprise) it was those connected to combatting fraud that I was attracted to. I joined 3 separate groups. Whilst I have agreed to anonymously sharing information via this blog I'm certainly not going to openly reveal my expertise to the masses and expose myself to the anger of those who would happily lynch me!
I had the option of making it clear on my profile that I was actively seeking a new role. Whilst I was aware that my current employers would see this, I simply did't care. The biggest problem with letting the world know that you are looking for a new job is the endless emails you get from recruitment agencies promising you the earth and delivering nothing. I accept them as one of life's necessary evils and as everyone needs to earn a living - who I am I to complain?
One such approach still makes me crack a smile. I received an email that was clearly sent to everyone in one of the fraud-related groups. The wording went something like this;
'Dear XXXXX, please forgive this direct approach; A client of ours is currently looking for someone to fill a senior position that has just become vacant. The role involves regular foreign travel and attendance at a number of corporate events to promote their business. Such a senior position attracts a proportionately attractive salary and benefits package. Having reviewed your profile, it seems clear that your experience and skill-set is an ideal fit and we would like to put you forward as our preferred candidate'
Given my own history, I can smell a scam a long way off - and this one stunk. The email was clearly constructed to flatter me and cause me to drop my defences. Just as everyone needs to feel loved (see my posting on Romance scams), everyone also loves to feel important - and this is what was happening here. By trying to persuade me that the job was mine for the taking due to my 'experience and skill-set' they were trying to make me believe that I was much better than all of the competition - and a great deal better than I knew I really am!
It is very easy to see how many of those receiving the email would be flattered by these words and be drawn into a dialogue with the recruitment agency. It was at this point the devil inside me decided to play along; I responded to the email and agreed that I was keen to find a new role and would very interested in learning more. Within a few minutes they pinged me back; They confirmed that (1) the role was still available (2) the benefits package now included gold-level private healthcare, and (3) I was still their preferred candidate.
The email then went on to say that the client had pre-approved my selection and all that was necessary was a brief video-interview with the recruiter and the client to agree the details. This would cost me £200 + VAT and I needed to pay this up front in order to expedite matters. At this point, all of my suspicions were confirmed; recruiters are paid a very healthy commission by their clients so charging me £200 + VAT for a perfunctory interview for a job that doesn't really exist, is complete bollocks. Needless to say I didn't reply.
I had put the recruitment scam to the back of my mind when my burner phone rang. The ringtone was still set to the phones featured in the American drama series '24' featuring Kiefer Sutherland as the hero - it had been a while since I had heard that sound. 'No Caller ID' was shown but I decided to answer it in any case. It was the recruitment agency!
A very polite chap explained that one of his colleagues had emailed me earlier regarding a senior role becoming vacant, however, he had been sick for a couple of weeks so he was following things up. He said that the role was mine but the client just wanted 'to look me in the eyes' (via a video call) before making a formal offer of employment. He apologised profusely at having to charge £200+ VAT as an admin fee for arranging this, but apparently his client had agreed that I could claim this back as a business expense as soon as I had accepted the job. He added that if I had a card available he could take payment now.
All I could think of saying was 'Brilliant. If I was as gullible and easily flattered as some of your victims clearly are, I would deserve to be taught a lesson in the harsh reality of life. However, I'm not - so please leave me alone and move on to some other mug'
I swear I could hear him laughing as I hung up.