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Getting Out? -- Watch Out for Employment Scams

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Updated July 11, 2004
Posting his resumé online seemed like a savvy move for one Airman here who plans to separate in August, move to Dallas and start college.

However, instead of leads to gainful employment, the experience took Senior Airman Christopher Kissell dangerously close to the unwanted role of scam victim. Now he wants his experience to be a warning to other servicemembers re-entering the civilian work force.

“It’s a terrifying situation,” said Airman Kissell, a medical administrator with the 72nd Medical Group. “How many like me are out there? A percentage of people, I’m sure, will fall for it.”

Airman Kissell said it all began when he posted his resumé online. The resumé included the fact that he speaks Chinese.

“I got a reply from this company saying they were looking for someone to help out with international relations,” he said.

That initial e-mail referred glowingly to the resumé. Airman Kissell was informed Chempacon GMBH, the purported company in Lautenbach, Germany, did not require him to have a college degree, just a willingness to work. The position required someone who was bilingual and experienced at working with peers in other countries.

Airman Kissell received a condensed application to fill out and fax to the company, which included a request for faxed copies of his driver’s license and social security cards. He complied, but first he blacked out the numbers.

“All this time, I was going through an ‘interview’ process and would get e-mails from company contacts,” he said. “They said they’d love to hire me, but wanted me to give them my social security number for tax reasons.”

By then, Airman Kissell said warning bells were echoing in his head. He went to an online search engine, typed in Chempacon GMBH and said he was shocked at what came up.

“Every result I found warned, ‘Beware. This is a scam. Job seek fraud,’” he said.

Determined to learn more, the Airman kept his discovery to himself and e-mailed the company, asking for a job description.

He said what came back shocked him again -- this time the company considered him gullible.

“They were going to send me foreign checks to deposit in my personal checking account,” Airman Kissell said, adding he would then send the company a wire transfer for the amount of the check, less $600.

“I said, ‘No,’” he continued. “It was my only redeeming remark.”

He had already learned from his research that the checks for tens of thousands of dollars were no good and people who deposited one into their bank account and then withdrew the funds to complete the wire transfer were held responsible for the bank’s loss when the check bounced.

Airman Kissell alerted the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and filed a fraudulent business complaint with the FBI. He also complained to employment search Web sites.

He said he believes he came away from the encounter a wiser man. As a precaution, he canceled all his credit cards and reopened accounts with new numbers.

His job search continues, but he has taken it from online to in person. On weekends, he drives to Dallas to hunt for jobs the old fashioned way.

“You have to research anytime you’re looking for a job,” he said. “Nothing beats a sit-down face-to-face with a potential employer.”

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