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Old 04-14-2017, 12:34 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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I suspect someone is trying to scam me, but it's weird.

I apologize for the long post, but that's what it take to describe the situation.

Back at the beginning of March I was contacted by a contracting agency about possible full time web development work. It's actually a contract to hire position, meaning that you start as an employee of the contracting firm and eventually, if the employer likes you, you become a full time employee.

I had two phone interviews with the employer in early March. The recruiter told me that they liked me but had to wait to see if they'd have the budget to hire me.

A couple of weeks ago the recruiter contacted me to see if I would be interested in a face to face interview. I agreed. Afterwards the recruiter again contacted me this time with a coding exercise that they wanted me to do. I finished and emailed the exercise and was told that they wanted me to come in for another face to face, and to discuss the exercise with one of their coders.

This seemed to go well, then yesterday I received an email saying that they were interested in moving forward and could I start Wednesday of next week. I agreed to this.

Based on this I tentatively scheduled an appointment with a lawyer for the day before; Tuesday. I had been planning this appointment for a week or so and realized that I'd better get it done before my weekdays were taken up by full time employment. It's important that I take care of it for reasons not relevant to this post.

Then the recruiter contacted me and asked if I could start Tuesday instead, as the employer wanted me to overlap with the last 4 days of a contractor who was leaving so that he could show me what he was doing. I told him that this could be difficult because I had already arranged my schedule based on the date I was first given, but that I could change my plans if absolutely necessary. He replied that it would be fine if I started Wednesday.

Then this evening he contacted me again and asked if there was any way at all that I could start Tuesday and that he'd increase my hourly rate by $3 if I could do so. I agreed, both because of the money and because it was obvious that it was important to the employer and I don't want to start off on the wrong foot. (I'll figure out the lawyer thing later).

Then at 9:45 this evening (he's a couple of hours behind me) I received this from the recruiter: (I've changed the names, except mine. The spelling and grammar are verbatim.)
Quote:
Hi David,

Can you do one more thing before you start working. Jim was originally going to get your computer equipment. He will be out of pocket and will not be able to get to the apple store. He asked if you could go buy the following equipment put it on your credit card and bring it in with you on Tuesday. I promise I will get you reimburse the first day you start. Have Jim sign the expense report the first day your start send it to me and I will drop a check in the mail for you. Thank you.

Also, here is a list of items that Dave can obtain prior to first day.

MacBook Pro (average config no need to max out)

27 4k monitor

Separate mouse/keyboard

Docking station make sure can handle 4k monitor

Extra power supply for home.
Okay, I've held positions in the past where I've bought and then expensed business necessities on a regular basis, so this isn't totally off the wall as a business practice, but a last minute request, complete with dubious excuses, that a new employee show up on the first day with over a thousand dollars of equipment purchased at his own expense set off some alarm bells. (I'm envisioning myself showing up Tuesday with the equipment, and then showing up Wednesday to find a locked and empty office and never being reimbursed for the equipment, as well as being out of a job.)

Add to that the willingness to increase my salary by over $6,000 a year if I would show up a day early, and that the office I visited had a number of seemingly unused computers sitting around and it starts to smell pretty bad.

I responded and said that I simply wasn't able to make such a purchase at this time (not exactly true) and that he could order and pay for the equipment online to be overnighted or picked up at a local Apple store. So far he hasn't responded.

Admittedly it seems like an odd scam. They string you along for over a month, then rent some attractive office space in an office complex, install a number of working computers, have you meet several people in that office, then have you do a coding test and then discuss it with an obviously technically competent person, all to scam a MacBook and some peripherals.

There are oddities that point to "scam", and things that would seem to make it a pointless scam that costs more to pull off than what they'd gain, especially when that gain would be divided among several people.

My plan at this point is to proceed as if it's a real job offer, in case it is, but to NOT purchase their equipment for them since there are alternative ways for them to do that themselves.

Am I being paranoid? Am I risking a real job because of that paranoia? I was once a victim of identity theft. It makes you vigilant.
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Old 04-14-2017, 12:39 AM
TonySinclair TonySinclair is offline
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There are oddities that point to "scam", and things that would seem to make it a pointless scam that costs more to pull off than what they'd gain, especially when that gain would be divided among several people.
That assumes you're the only one they're scamming. Smells like a dead trout to me.
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Old 04-14-2017, 12:50 AM
Nawth Chucka Nawth Chucka is offline
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This reeks of sketchiness, an 11th hour request when they know they have greater leverage than you b/c you want the job.
Have you Googled the company, the recruiter, the person you interviewed with, their phone #s, etc? Scamming one person wouldn't be worth it, but maybe this is a thing they've done other places and to other people.
As if job hunting isn't frustrating enough, eh?
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Old 04-14-2017, 12:57 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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That assumes you're the only one they're scamming. Smells like a dead trout to me.
That crossed my mind but how would it work? It seems like they'd have to rent new office space for each victim, and also that they'd have to keep moving from town to town.

They were in the offices I visited for at least a couple of weeks and it'll be closer to st least 3 weeks if they wait there for me to deliver the computer (which isn't going to happen unless I have the FBI in tow).
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Old 04-14-2017, 01:00 AM
steatopygia steatopygia is offline
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I wouldn't buy anything if I was you.
Even if it isn't a scam...asking someone who isn't even an employee yet, to buy $1000 worth of equipment smells like a poorly run company. One that will have lots of excuses when paychecks are due.

Hopefully just an odd request.
Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
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Old 04-14-2017, 01:09 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Originally Posted by steatopygia View Post
I wouldn't buy anything if I was you.
Even if it isn't a scam...asking someone who isn't even an employee yet, to buy $1000 worth of equipment smells like a poorly run company. One that will have lots of excuses when paychecks are due.

Hopefully just an odd request.
Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
The good thing is that I'd be working for the contracting company, who presumably would pay me and then fight with their delinquent customer for their payment. That assumes that it's a real job.

And I have no intention of buying anything.
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Old 04-14-2017, 01:19 AM
steatopygia steatopygia is offline
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I don't see this particular method being reported on a Google job scam search.

Though one of the things mentioned is that if something seems hinky, be cautious.

Is it possible that the actual company is legit but the contractor is bogus?

That would truly suck.

Hope it is legit and all this worry is a sign of the times.
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Old 04-14-2017, 03:46 AM
Filbert Filbert is online now
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Originally Posted by davidm View Post
That crossed my mind but how would it work? It seems like they'd have to rent new office space for each victim, and also that they'd have to keep moving from town to town.

They were in the offices I visited for at least a couple of weeks and it'll be closer to st least 3 weeks if they wait there for me to deliver the computer (which isn't going to happen unless I have the FBI in tow).
Not for each victim, for each set of victims. Over a period of 3 weeks, if there are enough people in the area looking for work, it'd probably be possible to 'hire' quite a number of people, presumably via different agencies. Unless you know otherwise, some or all of the guys you met may also be being strung along in some way.

I mean, I dunno, but when the best available option is that they're simply a bunch of disorganised flakes...
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Old 04-14-2017, 04:12 AM
Alley Dweller Alley Dweller is offline
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Not for each victim, for each set of victims. Over a period of 3 weeks, if there are enough people in the area looking for work, it'd probably be possible to 'hire' quite a number of people, presumably via different agencies. Unless you know otherwise, some or all of the guys you met may also be being strung along in some way.

I mean, I dunno, but when the best available option is that they're simply a bunch of disorganised flakes...
Maybe the reason they are so anxious to have him come in on Tuesday is because they already have a different victim booked for Wednesday.

Or they could be a bunch of disorganized flakes.
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Old 04-14-2017, 07:24 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Elaborate ruse, but total scam. Asking you to buy something for them before employment is absolutely unacceptable. Don't they have any credit?

Even at the best case, it's mismanagement. You do not want to be involved with them.
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Old 04-14-2017, 07:46 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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If another reason for hiring you is because you have a full head of naturally red hair and your first task will be to code the Encylopedia Britannica, then watch out.
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Old 04-14-2017, 07:46 AM
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Maybe the reason they are so anxious to have him come in on Tuesday is because they already have a different victim booked for Wednesday.

Or they could be a bunch of disorganized flakes.
I'm thinking the opposite if it's a scam. They're going thru a lot of effort, cost, & risk to get a new computer. Have everyone come in on Tues - Oh the guy who was training you is out sick today so you can go home (so that they can do this to a number of other people w/o a bunch of noobs sitting around.) Get dozen new computers & then close shop. By Wed, they're long gone so contacting the PD doesn't do much.

OTOH, it wouldn't be the first place that asks me to bring my own equipment; I didn't walk away from that place either - I ran.

The $3/hr raise to start one day early is raising more alarm bells than anything else. Giving a $100 or $200 bonus I could see but $3/hour more? No way in Hell! Something is definitely fishy.
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Old 04-14-2017, 08:01 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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If it smells like a scam, treat it as one.
This one stinks.
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"I know, deep in my heart, that I really really really don't want to get munched by that thing."
~~~Either Chapter Sixteen of the Yellow Codex of the Smoke Knights, OR Moloch von Zinzer doing improv. It depends.
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Old 04-14-2017, 08:18 AM
manson1972 manson1972 is offline
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I don't understand the "scam" part of this scenario. Are they going to rob you of your equipment when you go there? If you show up and it doesn't work out, wouldn't you just take your stuff with you?
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Old 04-14-2017, 08:35 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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During our emails back and forth I had asked him about W2 vs 1099. This morning he answered that query by asking which I preferred. He made no mention of the purchase of equipment.

So now I'm a bit stuck. If I answer that, he's going to want my SS # but I'm hesitant to give it to a potential scammer. (Maybe ID theft is their fallback for those who are unable or unwilling to make the purchase.) If he's for real then refusing to give it would be hard to explain.

Maybe I'll ignore that email and see what happens next.
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Old 04-14-2017, 08:46 AM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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The $3/hr raise to start one day early is raising more alarm bells than anything else. Giving a $100 or $200 bonus I could see but $3/hour more? No way in Hell! Something is definitely fishy.
Yeah me too. I was convinced it was a scam way before you got to the computers!

Glad to see my Spidey Sense is in line with Spiderman's
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Old 04-14-2017, 08:49 AM
Alley Dweller Alley Dweller is offline
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During our emails back and forth I had asked him about W2 vs 1099. This morning he answered that query by asking which I preferred. He made no mention of the purchase of equipment.

So now I'm a bit stuck. If I answer that, he's going to want my SS # but I'm hesitant to give it to a potential scammer. (Maybe ID theft is their fallback for those who are unable or unwilling to make the purchase.) If he's for real then refusing to give it would be hard to explain.

Maybe I'll ignore that email and see what happens next.
Sorry, I am not following here.

You said you'd be working for the contracting company who would be paying you. The client is paying the contracting company, not you. Issuing a W-2 or a 1099 would be between you and the contracting company.
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Old 04-14-2017, 08:51 AM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
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I don't understand the "scam" part of this scenario. Are they going to rob you of your equipment when you go there? If you show up and it doesn't work out, wouldn't you just take your stuff with you?
Because it's nominally the company's stuff. They're asking him to buy it on his dime and they'll mail him a check for reimbursement (why not just cut it then and there?)

So you show up, set up your new computer desk, go home for the day leaving the computer there and that's the last you see of it.
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Old 04-14-2017, 08:58 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Sorry, I am not following here.

You said you'd be working for the contracting company who would be paying you. The client is paying the contracting company, not you. Issuing a W-2 or a 1099 would be between you and the contracting company.
Exactly. It's the contracting company that's asking how I want to be paid. I apologize if I was confusing in some way.
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Old 04-14-2017, 08:59 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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If I were you, I'd show up the first day without having bought anything. For one thing, I've found that the first day is so busy with HR paperwork and other stuff that you never actually get to doing any work. Second, have you Googled the company?
  #21  
Old 04-14-2017, 09:03 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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During our emails back and forth I had asked him about W2 vs 1099. This morning he answered that query by asking which I preferred. He made no mention of the purchase of equipment.

So now I'm a bit stuck. If I answer that, he's going to want my SS # but I'm hesitant to give it to a potential scammer. (Maybe ID theft is their fallback for those who are unable or unwilling to make the purchase.) If he's for real then refusing to give it would be hard to explain.

Maybe I'll ignore that email and see what happens next.
I just responded to the recruiter/contractor as follows:
Quote:
I'd prefer W2. Can you send me the paperwork and then I can mail it to you? I don't give out my SS over email.

What are you going to do about the computer equipment?
Well see how he responds.
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Old 04-14-2017, 09:09 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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Perhaps tell him that you're not able to pay for that computer equipment in advance. That's actually perfectly reasonable. Many people I know would not have the spare credit card limit to allow that large of a purchase.
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Old 04-14-2017, 09:14 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Perhaps tell him that you're not able to pay for that computer equipment in advance. That's actually perfectly reasonable. Many people I know would not have the spare credit card limit to allow that large of a purchase.
That's exactly what I did.
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Old 04-14-2017, 09:17 AM
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Yeah, visit them in person. I have known few scammers who were comfortable meeting the scammee in person.
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Old 04-14-2017, 09:17 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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Well, I hope you'll come back and tell us how this ends.
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Old 04-14-2017, 09:20 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Yeah, visit them in person. I have known few scammers who were comfortable meeting the scammee in person.
As mentioned I've visited the employer twice.
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Old 04-14-2017, 09:32 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Several people here have suggested that they may be scamming multiple people at once. I don't see how that could work wIth one office without the victims running into each other. It's a small office.

They're not going to have 10 or 20 people show up Tuesday morning at a small office carrying Macs.

Having them come in on different days is also a problem.

They'd have to have each person bring in the equipment on separate days, then fire them so they don't come back. If they did that to me I'd leave with the equipment I'd paid for!

Last edited by davidm; 04-14-2017 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 04-14-2017, 09:55 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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I agree...this seems too complicated to be a scam. I vote for Disorganized Office With Cash Flow Issues.

Have you followed up with the contracting agency about what this employer is asking of you?

Last edited by ivylass; 04-14-2017 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 04-14-2017, 09:59 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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I agree...this seems too complicated to be a scam. I vote for Disorganized Office With Cash Flow Issues.

Have you followed up with the contracting agency about what this employer is asking of you?
It's the contracting agency that's asking me to do this, supposedly at the request of the employer.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:02 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Can you ask the employer directly? I haven't worked as a contractor so I don't know the etiquette and protocol.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:08 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Ask him what specifically?
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:09 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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It's the contracting agency that's asking me to do this, supposedly at the request of the employer.
Have you checked them out online(disregarding their own website, of course)?
  #33  
Old 04-14-2017, 10:23 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Have you checked them out online(disregarding their own website, of course)?
Yes, of course. The contracting firm and the employer both seem to have a web presence beyond just their websites, as do both the individual working for the contracting firm and the manager of the employing company. (Facebook, LinkedIn, Zoominfo, etc.).

It does strike me as a bit odd that the domains for both companies are registered anonymously, but that seems to be becoming a common practice, probably to prevent robotic harvesting of info. Both domains are at least several years old.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:36 AM
manson1972 manson1972 is offline
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Because it's nominally the company's stuff. They're asking him to buy it on his dime and they'll mail him a check for reimbursement (why not just cut it then and there?)

So you show up, set up your new computer desk, go home for the day leaving the computer there and that's the last you see of it.
But I'm not seeing how just showing up with computer equipment makes it the company's stuff. If they want you to sign something stating that fact, just say you will sign it over after you are reimbursed.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:37 AM
Celidin Celidin is offline
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davidm, I'm also in the Philly area and my company does a lot of contracting in the Tech industry if you're up to PM'ing (or posting outright) the names of the contracting firm and/or company, happy to pass on if I've ever heard of either.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:37 AM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
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They'd have to have each person bring in the equipment on separate days, then fire them so they don't come back. If they did that to me I'd leave with the equipment I'd paid for!
Obviously they murder you in the back room, sell your organs and the Mac is just a bonus.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:40 AM
Jophiel Jophiel is online now
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But I'm not seeing how just showing up with computer equipment makes it the company's stuff. If they want you to sign something stating that fact, just say you will sign it over after you are reimbursed.
Sure, but many people would be unwilling to rock the boat with a new employer especially after they've come this far. And they'll have excuses like needing it there overnight so their IT guy can install their software, yadda yadda. You don't want to look like a problem on Day One so you acquiesce.

Edit: I've no idea if this specific example is a scam or just a poorly managed company but many scams are all about getting your foot in the door.

Last edited by Jophiel; 04-14-2017 at 10:42 AM.
  #38  
Old 04-14-2017, 10:46 AM
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Exactly. It's the contracting company that's asking how I want to be paid. I apologize if I was confusing in some way.
I didn't think IRA regs allowed you or them to just choose.
  #39  
Old 04-14-2017, 10:46 AM
Nawth Chucka Nawth Chucka is offline
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Yes, of course. The contracting firm and the employer both seem to have a web presence beyond just their websites, as do both the individual working for the contracting firm and the manager of the employing company. (Facebook, LinkedIn, Zoominfo, etc.).

It does strike me as a bit odd that the domains for both companies are registered anonymously, but that seems to be becoming a common practice, probably to prevent robotic harvesting of info. Both domains are at least several years old.
Yes, a lot of company's sites go through a domain proxy anymore. Still, they'd at least have to have a Registered Agent on file w/ your state's Secretary of State to be a licensed business there.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:47 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Yes, of course. The contracting firm and the employer both seem to have a web presence beyond just their websites, as do both the individual working for the contracting firm and the manager of the employing company. (Facebook, LinkedIn, Zoominfo, etc.).

It does strike me as a bit odd that the domains for both companies are registered anonymously, but that seems to be becoming a common practice, probably to prevent robotic harvesting of info. Both domains are at least several years old.
So I take it there are positive reviews of their services that can be checked up on from websites the companies cannot meddle with? If so, can you contact current/former employees on your own to see if they have any similar experiences?
  #41  
Old 04-14-2017, 10:48 AM
manson1972 manson1972 is offline
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Obviously they murder you in the back room, sell your organs and the Mac is just a bonus.
Yeah, this is the only way that scam would work. Make sure you have someone tracking your movements on your first day, for safety!
  #42  
Old 04-14-2017, 10:49 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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But I'm not seeing how just showing up with computer equipment makes it the company's stuff. If they want you to sign something stating that fact, just say you will sign it over after you are reimbursed.
Five fingered discount. I bring it in one day and the next day find an empty office.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:56 AM
manson1972 manson1972 is offline
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Five fingered discount. I bring it in one day and the next day find an empty office.
yeah, that's why I wouldn't leave it there.
  #44  
Old 04-14-2017, 11:03 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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davidm, I'm also in the Philly area and my company does a lot of contracting in the Tech industry if you're up to PM'ing (or posting outright) the names of the contracting firm and/or company, happy to pass on if I've ever heard of either.
PM sent. I will not post the names of the persons or companies publicly. This board ranks high in Google searches and I don't want people searching for them to find a thread questioning their legitimacy or even their financial viability.
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Old 04-14-2017, 11:05 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Five fingered discount. I bring it in one day and the next day find an empty office.
How long have they physically been at the office you were told to bring the equipment to?
  #46  
Old 04-14-2017, 11:06 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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How long have they physically been at the office you were told to bring the equipment to?
At least a couple of weeks.
  #47  
Old 04-14-2017, 11:10 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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Location: Near Philadelphia PA, USA
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I just phoned the recruiter. He says that he contacted the employer and told them to order the stuff online on their credit for me to pickup at the local Apple store. So we'll see how it goes.
  #48  
Old 04-14-2017, 11:12 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Beervania
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
At least a couple of weeks.
I take it you've been called to go there a couple of times to talk to them. Would it be too much trouble to walk on by unannounced to see if it looks on the up-and-up to you?
  #49  
Old 04-14-2017, 11:14 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Join Date: Apr 1999
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm View Post
I just phoned the recruiter. He says that he contacted the employer and told them to order the stuff online on their credit for me to pickup at the local Apple store. So we'll see how it goes.
That sounds a lot better.
  #50  
Old 04-14-2017, 11:16 AM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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"That's so obvious, he's bound to think it's a trap."
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