Monize completed a request on the LinkedIn site and two hours later she called a man who identified himself as director of human resources at Sobeys headquarters.
“He still had a few questions, like, if I was employed, my history on my resume,” said Monize. “He said, ‘We are still talking to a few more candidates, we will get back to you.’ “
After another conversation with another interviewer later that day, Monize was offered the job. Early Monday morning, he resigned from his telecommunications job he had held for three years.
But within 24 hours, he discovered that the new job offer was part of a scam.
On Tuesday, Monize was asked to send almost $ 4,000 to another company to pay for home office equipment. He agreed to transfer the funds electronically because he had received a check with the Sobeys logo to cover the costs.
WATCH | Tony Monize explains how he ended up applying and getting a job that didn’t exist:
Then his bank called.
“They said, just to let you know, we looked at the email addresses where you send money. They are blacklisted. It’s fraud. “”
What about the check he received? It was counterfeit.
COVID an opportunity for scammers
Employment scams are on the rise in Canada. As of May 31, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center has received almost 2,000 reports of workplace scams. This is more than in all of 2019, when there were 1,757 reports.
The center says the 2019 cases represented $ 3.2 million in reported losses. There has not yet been a loss count in 2020.
“This is definitely something we have been following since the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jeff Thomson, senior RCMP intelligence officer at the Anti-Fraud Center. “Many people are out of work, they will be looking for work and it is ready for fraud right now. ”
More than three million Canadians lost their jobs in March and April of this year, as businesses closed or shut down due to the pandemic. Statistics Canada has described it as the fastest declining job in Canadian history.
Thomson said the scammers saw this as an opportunity to change tactics and fool those who wanted to work. They use sophisticated techniques to create fake websites and use counterfeit financial instruments, such as fake checks.
He stated that another tactic is “theft of the appellant’s identity”, in which the appellant “will use an area code that is in the same jurisdiction as the victim, because people are more likely to answer the phone if a call comes from their own jurisdiction. “
Scammers in Canada
Monize said the calls he received from people pretending to be directors of Sobeys came from the area code 902, which is the same code as the company’s headquarters in Stellarton, Nova Scotia.
Monize also noted that “the man I spoke to had a South African accent.”
Insp. Peter Callaghan, commanding officer of the Toronto police financial crime unit, said that not all of the fraudsters were overseas.
“I would like to reassure people and tell them that the scammers are in a distant place,” said Callaghan, “but the reality is that they are here too.” They are all over Canada. ”
The financial crimes unit is working with other agencies here and in the United States to shut down operator teams, but Callaghan said they usually “reappear” with a new system in another location.
Sobeys is hardly the only company to be used as bait. “I would say if you can think of a big company, its name has been used at one time or another,” said Callaghan.
In an email statement to CBC News, Sobeys admitted to being aware of “fake Sobeys career websites”.
“We are working hard to put an end to this fraudulent online activity,” the statement said, noting: “All of our current career opportunities are found on https://jobs.sobeyscareers.com/. ”
Monize believes the company should make more efforts to inform Canadians of the scam. He also blames LinkedIn.
“LinkedIn has not checked the background of the company I have applied for,” he said.
The online network says it has monitoring tools to help prevent fraudulent job openings and that it “constantly assesses” its policies.
“Recognize, reject, report”
Thomson at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center said it was important to try to authenticate job offers. “You may want to contact the companies directly, find the employer you are looking to hire, and do your due diligence to make sure everything is fine. ”
He also encourages Canadians to report any fraud to the center. “We always say, ‘Recognize, reject, report’. ”
Tony Monize reported his case, saying it was yet another challenge in a difficult year for him. He lost his wife to cancer in January.
“This last situation affects me a little more because of what I have experienced,” he said.
He is thankful that he did not lose money in the scam, but he had to change his bank account and driver’s license after sending this information to the fraudsters.
“I did not send my social insurance number,” said Monize. “I’m smarter than that. ”
In the meantime, he has been in contact with his former employer regarding the return from his former job. Most of the company’s employees are still on layoff, but Monize can’t wait to get back to work as soon as possible.
“I spoke to HR to say that I wanted to reconsider my resignation,” he said. “And they said,” Hang on, let’s find something. So it was positive. It just shows: don’t burn your bridges. ”