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False Job Ads
From The World Journal
January 6, 2003

Job-hunting has always been a difficult task for new immigrants in New York City. It has become even more so after the September 11 attacks. Experts say that job seekers have to be extra careful about classified advertisements in the newspapers. If they are not, they might end up wasting their time and money.

Many newly arrived Chinese immigrants rely heavily on classified ads when it comes to job-hunting. However, some ill-intentioned people put false ads in the newspapers to attract job seekers in order to market products or scam people. Many of them use e-commerce, direct marketing, false ads for modeling jobs, or school recruitment ads to scam applicants.

Miss Fung from China is a victim of false job advertisement who answered an ad from a modeling agency on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. She said she is in her 30s, and it is hard to compete with younger people for regular jobs. So she decided to try her luck and answered an ad that said, "Asian male and female models wanted. All ages. $2,000 a day."

First, Fung was asked to pay $300 because the agents said they needed to take a set of pictures of her. A few days later, she got another call from the modeling agency saying that the pictures were ready but the agency needed enlarged prints to show to other companies. She was asked to pay another $200. At that point, she got suspicious and said she had to think about it. That was when the owner of the modeling agency started to yell at her. She decided to quit immediately.

Meanwhile, Fung said, there are many more victims, including Miss Hua, who lost even more money. Hua paid more than $700 and never got called back. She went to the company to get her money back but was insulted by the people at the agency.

Frank Huang, who answered a job ad from a company on the Bowery in Chinatown, was asked to pay $75 upfront but was kicked out when he tried to ask for more details.

Chung Yung-chi, a lawyer, said it is difficult to identify whether those acts by the modeling agency and other companies could be considered scams. He recommended that all job seekers research more on the background, registrations and owners of the companies that they are applying to. Such information can be found on New York State’s Department of State website at www.dos.state.ny.

Second, he recommended that no payment should be made in advance and that all payment, if any, should be made with checks instead of cash. Third, job seekers should avoid providing signatures and should not provide too much personal information, particularly their social security numbers. Chung also said that a job seeker should be alert when going to job interviews.

In the event of a scam, job seekers can file lawsuits in Small Claims Court to get their money back. However, this process is often time-consuming and not effective. Job seekers can also report those companies to the Better Business Bureau, and those complaints will have an effect on the companies’ credibility.

Meanwhile, some victims are reporting scams to the police, but officials at the 5th Precinct in Chinatown said that such scams are considered civil disputes and are not handled by the police unless victims were threatened, which would make it a criminal case.

Chung also suggested that, to effectively stop those scams, all victims unite and file a joint complaint to bring this problem to the attention of the authorities.

Translated From Chinese by Larry Tung


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