Thursday, 9 May 2013

internet job scams ruined my evening

I don't really understand how this works, maybe one of you out there could enlighten me on the strange wide world of online job searches.  This one sounded perfect. It would only be 20-30 hours maximum a week, real-time meaning-for-meaning transcription of college courses for deaf/otherwise hard of hearing people.The hours would be awesome for filling up the winter months in the slow tourist season, and I'd get to hang out learning stuff for free all day long. 

Right? Awesome. 

I usually assume transcription jobs are fake when I find them online because you always need to have taken a course ... online ... on a sketchy as hell website. And it's always like seven hundred bucks. And then the work isn't even guaranteed afterward. And all the online reviews are fake too.

But this. It was actually a job posting on a real website of a real college. They said they'd pay for candidates to take the course and at the end there's (probably?) jobs at the college. I emailed the contact people that were listed in the job posting asking what I'd have to do to get this too-good-to-be-true job and one woman responded with an email that linked me to a website. 

*cough*this one*cough*

Okay. It looks like every other scammy transcription school website I've seen. But real people in a real college sent me there. I think??? 

Anyway so I went through the motions of creating an account and verifying it with my email addresss and I read the first few pages of instructions. Which were kind of ... off.

They are supposedly looking for well-educated people (because you'd need to have at least some computer knowledge, understand some or most of the course material you are transcribing, as well as understand grammar and be able to concentrate well in distracting scenarios), yet the site was totally written for dummies. I mean, it explained that you should read all the directions (duh), what links in a sidebar do (double duh), and it said things like "The typing test is what you will be doing next. This test is really hard. You may have taken an online typing test before but this one will be even more difficult." bla bla bla that's not an actual quote but you get the picture. 

So...after reading this I was feeling pretty suspicious. But I read everything. Including the one small sentence buried in a mountain of text stating that "graduates" of this course would of course not have to pay their own tuition if they had a sponsor but they would have to buy some type of software and provide their own computers. 

Hm. What software? And more importantly, how much does it cost?

I clicked around a bit.

Yeah. Three hundred bucks. 

The one rule I know about internet scams is never give anybody any money so this is a huge flashing red light to me. SCAM SCAM SCAM

But then I was already all set-up and pumped to do a typing test, and that part is free, so I thought "what the heck" and clicked through to the test. The site crashed and said I needed to download a specific Java update to continue. When I tried to enable that specific Java dealy my computer warned me that it was known to cause problems with security and is "unstable".

Well that was the final straw. I closed the entire site, and emailed the woman who told me she'd be my sponsor and who had linked to the site. I asked, first of all, if the college would be buying the $300 software after I graduated and secondly whether or not they'd heard of other people having security issues with that version of Java. I asked politely but as I was typing it I was thinking "I'm on to you".

Anyway I don't expect to hear back. Oh, also, as I was writing that email I noticed her phone number in the letterhead is a Vancouver number. Why would a college in Victoria (not a sister of any larger university) be hiring from anywhere in Vancouver? 

Anyway the entire thing reeks of a scam or at least it feels somehow wrong, and I'm very disappointed because I went so far as to fantasize about a job in a college, doing transcription work, attending interesting classes and all that jazz. Bla bla bla whatever. 

I don't know...


Here are some outtakes of that first photo.