Some people think I am naïve. I admit that I am, to an extent. However, I have always been fairly discriminate when it comes to internet scams or fraudulent emails. Like many, I’ve received emails asking for financial assistance for a sick child or emails claiming I’ve inherited a large sum of money from a foreign prince and all they need is my bank information to wire the money. Delete. Delete. I shy away from clicking on links within emails forwarded by family and friends and never open an email from someone I don’t recognize. Delete and delete. I thought I just might get through this life without falling victim to any internet hoaxes so I could smile proudly when I die knowing I wasn’t as naïve as everyone thought. An internal ‘I told you so’ to take to the grave.                                       

But then… the phone rang. It was none other than my lovely mother. Her voice was reeling with enthusiasm, “I just sent you an email a friend sent to me. You need to read it. It sounds promising – like a good way to make some great money. I want to check it out, but you need to check it out too.” She clamored on about an article regarding a local (Texas) woman’s home-based business success story featured on the news. I proceeded to ask the question that would be crossing anyone’s mind right about now, “What kind of business does she have from home?” She claimed she didn’t know because she hadn’t read the email yet. I fumbled to my inbox and opened an email that contained a single link with the word News7 within it. Upon clicking, a web page opened that looked like MSNBC’s website complete with logo, tabs and ads. I read aloud over the phone the story of a single mom in Texas (the same city as my mother) making decent money posting links for companies allowing her to work flexibly from home to raise her daughter. An additional link was waiting at the end of the article for those interested in more information about her employer.

Naturally, this sounded fantastic so I clicked and it took me to another website that provided more information about the actual job and company. Explaining how companies couldn’t afford the overhead of hiring entire staffs to simply post links across the internet of their products and services, it was more cost-effective to outsource this task to people who could work from home. Through computer networking, companies can communicate when links need to be posted and where. The pay is per link posted, so you can post as many links a day as you want, leaving your salary to be determined by YOU and the amount of time you have. A rush of excitement started pumping through my veins seeing how much money you could make by only working two hours a day. The ‘Search for Available Jobs in Your Area’ button seemed to be pulsing off the page. I clicked, and it prompted for a zip code. I entered my zip code and waited while it searched. The ten searching seconds felt as though it was the 90s and I was trying to connect to the internet with a dial up connection. This led me to believe that the Chicago area, with so many people, must not have any jobs available and that I’ve missed this golden opportunity.

Finally, flashing in red at the top of the screen, it said that there was one job left in my area. One. The thoughts fluttered in that I need to move quickly before someone else nabs it. What must I do to secure it? Prompting me for my email address and phone number, I quickly entered the information. After all, they will need it to contact me for an interview or something, right? Almost immediately, I received an email instructing me with the next steps to seize this opportunity. Finally the answer – for a onetime fee of $95, I could receive the necessary software to get me started.

HANG ON. Hold the phone – oh, I already was….What?!?! I need to give money to get ‘hired’? My mother was ready to whip out her card to purchase, but something didn’t feel right to me anymore. There was no way I was about to give my sensitive credit card information to a company I had never heard of before. I stepped away from the computer for a moment and realized everything sounded too good to be true up until the $95 request. I couldn’t shake the news article about the Texas single mom that started the entire clicking chase. Why was the article on the national MSNBC website when more appropriate placement would be the local channel 7 news website? I went back to the MSNBC webpage and attempted to click on the tabs only to find that none of them worked. SHOCK and AWE…I’ve been duped! It was a fake website, which means it is a fake article and a fake company! Oh bother! Now they have my email address and my phone number. I quickly closed every open window, deleted the email they had sent me and ran my virus software. Amazed to find all systems unharmed, I reminded my mother how careful we need to be online. I awoke the next morning to find hundreds of returned emails in my Inbox. My contact list was sent an email from me with a single link, but this time the link contained News9 and the story was about a single mom from Chicago.

Needless to say, I changed the password to my email account and luckily, I have not had any other issues. I did receive a call two days later from this fake company offering to lower the onetime software fee from $95 to $35. I don’t think I need to tell you what my response was… let’s just say they won’t be calling back. 

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living