When someone, who is not a regular advertiser and does not represent a known business in one of our local or area communities, calls the Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald to place an advertisement, one way to check the authenticity and genuineness of the caller is to ask for credit card information. Then the cost of the ad is charged upfront, before the ad runs in the paper.
Another standard safeguard is to ensure we have complete contact information, including a snail mail address and a telephone number.
In late August, a “John ***” wanted to run an ad In the Press-Herald for a customer service rep, offering a monthly salary of $3,290. Applicants were to contact him by email.
“John” was ready to provide credit card information as soon as we could come up with the price. A local street address in Unity, SK and a 306-228- phone number were given.
A few details, such as someone in the background telling the man on the phone what to say, made the Press-Herald staff suspicious. A reverse lookup of the telephone number found that it belonged to a resident we know. When we called him, he knew nothing about the ad or the John who had called our office.
More than likely, had the ad run, anyone applying for the advertised position would have been asked for their bank account information – supposedly for deposit of paycheques but really so the scammers could drain whatever funds the person already had in there. As well, ithey may have planned to use the names, addresses and SIN numbers of applicants in an identity theft scheme.
The incident was reported to the police, and we have since learned of attempts by the culprits to run the same or similar ads in other Saskatchewan newspapers.
Remember to never, ever give out bank account or other financial information to someone you do not know and have not thoroughly researched!
Note: We are not using “John’s” last name online as the name may belong to some innocent man somewhere whose identity and credit card information were stolen.