PSA: Beware employment scams

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Recently a friend asked me to look into a company that they had just had an interview with. While they were told they had gotten the job, something had not quite felt right. So they hoped I would be able to delve deeper than they knew how to research the company.

The name of the company is 1 Link Automotive Company. They have ads on Craigslist, and other internet job sites. The position is for a work at home job.

It’s not the fact that the job was listed on Craigslist that caused my friend to be cautious. It was the fact that the interview was to be held via the internet. Even more unusual was the fact the interview was done via IM chat, without even the benefit of webcam.

The interview was quite professional (I have seen the logs), though it was sparse on details about 1 Link Automotive Company (1LinkAutoCom). My friend had some confidence bolstered when the interviewer – “Lisa Branham” was the name being used – promised to send a check so my friend could buy a detailed list of items: anti-virus and anti-spam software, office supplies and software, and even a Server. That last part directly caught my eye, as it is incredibly unnecessary for the position that was being discussed.

The supposed “Lisa Branham” then wrote that a check would be issued for my friend, that would be cashed and used for purchase of the supplies. Any additional funds would be held by my friend, in their own bank account, on reserve for future supply needs. In addition the position would pay $20/hour, paid weekly via check express mailed to my friend.

Again, this was a well worded and almost convincing scam. My friend had provided their name, address, and the name of a bank they had once had an account with that was no longer active. My friend was concerned that if this were a valid company they may have caused themselves to lose the job by providing inaccurate information. It was one thing that was a good decision.

1 Link Automotive Company is not a real company, and should not be confused with 1link.com (a company that does exist and does business outside of the U.S.). While “Lisa Branham” purported the legitimate 1link.com website as that of 1 link Automotive Company, it was easy to determine they are not connected.

Further, the physical address provided for 1 Link Automotive Company – 29 S Washington Street, Tiffin OH 44883 – is in fact either a law office or a computer store, neither of which have anything to do with the scam. The phone number provided was equally false.

Fake check from 1 Link Automotive CompanyMy friend did get a package – delivered from Brandon Inc. in Opelika, Alabama and containing a “check”. The check, seen in the picture below, is printed on plain paper without watermark, listing Coastline Realty, LLC (real company not connected to the scam) which is located in New Jersey.

The location for Coastline listed on the check is the property listed for sale seen in the photo below

Supposed location of Coastline Realty,

Why did the scam artists go through all the trouble of fake names, abandoned locations, and the name of a real business?

  • Identity Theft
  • Stealing from bank accounts that an innocent might provide – or a bank might provide access by accident since the scam artist has personal information.
  • Break into victims home.
  • The list goes on from there. The point is that this is a federal crime at every turn, and designed to take advantage of anyone not familiar with the internet, proper business law and requirements, and/or desperate to have a job.

    Steps have been taken in this matter to bring justice to the criminals that tried to take advantage of my friend. In addition steps have been taken to protect my friend from nefarious actions if the criminals try to use their identity. But please make sure that you let others know about this type of scam. The names will all change, as will locations and phone numbers. There are a number of criminals trying to lure people into this scam.

    The best steps are:

  • Never accept a job offer that is based solely on an IM chat. Even with a webcam the validity of the person on the other end is not guaranteed.
  • Don’t provide your personal information over the internet to strangers or businesses that are unable and/or unwilling to provide proper proof and validation.
  • Always seek to verify any organization associated with the internet – criminals duplicate webpages as well as checks.
  • If you have any doubts, contact authorities so they can investigate. Better to be too cautious than a victim.

    You can find more information at http://www.stopfraud.gov/report.html

    Alert your local authority as soon as possible. The criminals are likely targeting as many people in your area as possible before authorities start to track them down. The more authorities know and sooner, the better for your community.

    I hope this helps.

  • Happy New Year

    Welcome 2019January 1, 2019
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    3 Comments

    1. There are as many “scenarios” for this scam, as there are people in the world! I work for an express mail company, and we are very, very familiar with these scams. We have an entire address dedicated to housing these fraudulent checks…the ones that are stopped. One poor woman was very distressed because she was waiting for said “check” (fraudulent check sent with stolen express account number)so the sender of the check would have funds to -adopt her cats! We’ve heard the mystery shopping story, the “save the orphans in the Phillipines” story, the “Craigslist over-payment in error” story”, just to name a few. One common thread, is poor grammar, bad spelling, or language that is either strongly-or almost-in need of an English translator to make it sound legit. Anyway, thanks for the effort to get the word out about fraud. If only these thieves would spend their time trying to IMPROVE the world!

    2. Omg!!!! They JUST held the SAME interview with me too! Very professional. Same names too. I had a feeling it was a scam because 20/hr for a receptionist???? That’s bullshit! & the whole “I’m going to send a check to your house so you can deposit it and then withdraw it to buy your software…bullshit!

    3. I received an email in response to my resume which had been circulated as part of my job search. An individual representing the Human Resource department advised me that after reviewing my resume it appears that I would be capable to handle the position they are seeking to fill. The assumed HR individual represented a company which I later found out had nothing to do with 1 Link Automotive, not sure what he was thinking when he sent out the initial email because it was sent from his actual work address.

      I was scheduled to be on-line for an IM interview with someone using the name Lisa Branham (screen name hirindpt101@yahoo.com). After answering a slew of questions she conferred with senior managers and advised me I had been hired. I have no webcam nor teleconference capabilities and thought it odd that I would be hired so quickly, I asked about a face-to-face interview before they make the final decision but Lisa said it would not be necessary.

      Short version of a long story because I have a lot of documentation; there was a major urgency for me to deposit the check they were sending because the new hire needed to be up and running ASAP, work from home until construction on the office was complete. Fortunate for me, when I received the check and obtained additional instructions from Lisa it threw up a big flag. The check was for less than the amount of the hardware, no funds would be available for the software. I have previous purchasing experience and priced out the unit which mandated me to ask a lot of probing questions, henceforth confirming all statements made by Lisa were lies.

       The so called hiring manger is in Austin, TX
       Lisa claims she’s in Ohio
       The check (issued on watermarked check paper) dispatched from Frisco, TX, the return address doesn’t exist
       The company whose name was on the check never heard of 1 Link Automotive
       They are located in Kansas City, MO and confirmed the check was fraudulent
       When questioned about the different company names, Lisa claimed her boss owned 1 Link & the company whose name was on the check
       The office (under construction) where I was suppose to work is located downtown, but it’s a government building.
       When asked where 1 Link is located, I was given the Tiffin Glass Museum address, Lisa claimed they share the building.
       One individual (so called vendor) whom I was advised to send a money gram is located in Phenix, VA, the second person is in Dallas TX

      The intent was for me to cash the check, withdraw funds from my account and be liable for the fraudulent funds; this is a terrible way to treat people who have been out of work and are looking to support their families.

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