A classified employment ad which appeared in the Northwest Observerís Jan.†31 - Feb. 7 issue was apparently submitted by a scammer. Thanks to the readers who brought this to our attention, and our sincere apologies for any inconvenience.
Despite our efforts to confirm the legitimacy of all ads and information we receive for publication in the Northwest Observer, sometimes a scammer (or ill-intentioned reader) gets the best of us.
When we began publishing what was 22 years ago a community newsletter, internet fraud and online scammers had not yet gotten a stranglehold on the internet. Unfortunately, such is not the case today and we are constantly reminded to be on our guard lest we become the scammers' next victim.
Recently the Northwest Observer received a classified employment ad for an office assistant. The ad, which by all counts appeared to be legitimate, was submitted by email and indicated it was for a company based in Oak Ridge. We thought we did our due diligence by going online and confirming there was such a company, directly communicating with the person who submitted the ad, and confirming that the address given to us matched that of a legitimate company. We also confirmed we could reach the person submitting the ad both by the cell phone number and email address given.
After a few rounds of communication, we reviewed the content of the ad one last time, accepted the payment, and approved it for print.
A few days after the ad appeared in last week's paper (our Jan. 31 - Feb. 6 issue), however, our phones started to ring and multiple people told us they had applied for the position advertised and received an email asking for more information. The email gave them a "gut feeling" that something wasn't right - namely because it was extremely lengthy, poorly written, and asked for information that was already in the resumes they had submitted. The "employer" indicated he was a State Farm agent (which was different from the company name we were given). Some of the readers who called us about the ad told us they reached out to State Farm and confirmed there was no one by that name who worked for the company.
While we want to believe the best in people, for our own protection we have to recognize there are those who think nothing of preying on unsuspecting and trusting individuals.
We'll continue to use caution and take the time to monitor the advertisements and information we receive for publication in the hopes that scammers won't get by us. However, despite our best efforts, occasionally one will slip through, and for that we apologize.
We urge you to always "go with your gut," pay attention to red flags, and do your due diligence before sharing information with a prospective employer, a stranger who knocks on your door and offers a home service "at a great price," someone asking for donations, or anyone else who asks for your personal information or payment up front.