Atalide Messina has been unemployed for 11 months, ever since her employer of 26 years closed down.
She said she is struggling to find work and decided to join websites like Jobboom.com and the Emploi Québec page.
"Nothing's come up," she said. "I'm starting to go from management [jobs] down to dishwashing. I'd love to have a dishwashing job right now."
To her surprise, Messina received an email congratulating her on her new position as a mystery shopper for Regency Solution, a fake company.
She was sent a $1,500 cheque and told to cash it at Western Union or Moneygram services. She was then asked to send $1,300 to Spain.
This is a common scam — by the time the money is off to Spain, the cheque bounces and the funds are gone.
The Canadian anti-fraud centre said it receives thousands of calls from people who say they have received similar scam letters after using online job sites.
In fact, the centre said it has received more than 5,000 complaints since the scam began in 2006.
"They don't realize that it's going to ruin their bank account, that it's going to freeze their assets while the bank investigates," said Daniel Williams, head of the Anti-Fraud Centre.
It is nearly impossible to find the source of these scams since most job seekers use several different websites to explore employment opportunities.
"It's unreal. They go from trying to scam the elderly, to trying to scam the young ones, to trying to scam the ones desperately looking for work," said Messina.
For its part, Emploi Québec requires prospective employers to register with a company number in order to get access to people's resumés.
Last August, a Montreal man lost $2,000 in a similar scam while looking for a roommate on the popular website Kijiji.
At the time, Williams said it can take banks up to seven weeks to realize a cheque is fake.
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