A Yellowknife woman urged others to be aware after avoiding a scam whereby fraudsters posed as representatives of a multinational corporation offering a job.
The woman, who asked not to be named, contacted Cabin Radio last week after phoning RCMP to report the incident, which happened in early October.
She had responded to a job ad posted in a Yellowknife jobseekers' Facebook group – but what happened next seemed so unusual that she called the company's headquarters to voice her suspicions. They told her the job offer was fake.
The company in question, Viessmann, manufactures heating, industrial, and refrigeration systems.
After reading the job ad posted to Facebook and applying, the woman received an email which stated: "[The] Viessmann recruiting team has reviewed and approved your resume."
The email, from a GMail account under the name Craig Cress, stated the job came with a starting salary of $20.75 per hour.
While emails from freely available services like GMail or Hotmail – rather than company-specific domains – may immediately appear suspect, they are not by themselves a conclusive giveaway. Several managers of large Yellowknife businesses communicate using similar accounts.
However, the next step was unusual.
The resident was asked, in the same email, to download the Telegram messaging app in order to conduct a job interview.
Telegram is a heavily encrypted app designed for speed and security. The email made no attempt to explain why such an app might be needed for a job interview, other than saying it would "enable communication to be more effective."
The woman downloaded the app. Within Telegram, she then received a message from a man identifying himself as Andrew Belair.
The person purporting to be a Mr Belair provided a summary of Viessmann's operations, copied and pasted from the company's website, before stating: "With our worldwide presence, we are expanding our business/customer reach by setting up a branch in Yellowknife, NT, Canada which will be commissioned on the 4th of November and that's why we are employing online."
'Be extremely wary'
The resident appeared to pass the interview. An hour later, she received an email – from an Outlook account this time, bearing the name Ciaran McGahan – enclosing a photograph of a cheque for $950. The money, the email stated, was "important ... for your working equipment."
At that point, the woman became suspicious enough to contact Viessmann's headquarters directly.
Cabin Radio did the same. Viessmann human resources manager Goldie Jagas, replying by email from a Viessmann domain, said: "Please be advised that Viessmann is not planning to set up a branch in Yellowknife. This advertising is fraudulent and someone is using our company name.
"Names mentioned in your email do not belong to our employees."
A second Viessmann representative, speaking by phone on Monday without identifying themselves, said the company had been made aware of several similar incidents in recent weeks.
Contacted by Cabin Radio, the RCMP financial crime unit for the Northwest Territories confirmed officers "would consider this a scam."
Had the woman deposited the cheque, RCMP spokesperson Julie Plourde said by email, she "would have been asked to deposit the cheque, then have it ''recalled.' The money would have been transferred back to the 'company' before the cheque's fraudulent nature could be discovered."
Plourde said people "should be extremely wary whenever they receive an unsolicited message or contacts offering a 'too good to be true' opportunity."
RCMP warned residents not to cash unsolicited cheques and take the time, like the woman in this case, to confirm an employer is "legit" before taking any action regarding a job opportunity.
"A legitimate prospective employer will never ask a person to accept money into their personal bank account," Plourde wrote, "and they would also not send the person money and request part of it back."