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.)

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.

That assumes you’re the only one they’re scamming. Smells like a dead trout to me.

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?

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 ½ 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.

If it smells like a scam, treat it as one.
This one stinks.

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?

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.

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 :wink:

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.

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.

Exactly. It’s the contracting company that’s asking how I want to be paid. I apologize if I was confusing in some way.

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?