Job scam quick guide: it's a scam if...

  • they want you to collect and forward money in any way (a "money mule" job). You'll wind up engaged in money laundering, personally defrauded via expertly forged cheques, money orders, etc, or defrauding someone else who pays for goods that never arrive.
  • they want you to receive packages and reship them somewhere else. The goods will have been obtained fraudulently, and they're just using you to make the shipping address appear local. You will be aiding fraud.
  • they want up-front payment (either to them or someone else) of any sort for anything before you can get the job. This is advance fee fraud: there is no job -- it's just a big con to extract money from you.
  • they want you to buy any kind of "membership" or "kit" in order to start. Forget it -- it's not a real job at all: they're trying to sell you something, and they're probably making a bunch of other false claims about it if they're pitching it as a "job".
  • it's a job offer, and it's spam. There are LOTS of these scams about, as you can see.

Monday, March 03, 2008

consumer-opinion.org (paid survey scam)

Since 14th February, 2008, I've been receiving an irritating barrage of spam (up to six per day) inviting me to get paid for participating in online surveys. Here's my earliest sample.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: [redacted (random name and address)]
Date: 14 Feb 2008 XX:XX
Subject: additional job earnings available
To: Ideceive <ideceive@gmail.com>

Hi,

Are you interested in getting paid by major online retailers for completing
simple online surveys, participating in focus groups and to watch movie
trailers?
All you need is a little time and willingness to voice your honest opinion.
Our organization offers competitive remuneration for participating in simple
on-line surveys and forum discussion groups. What we offer is work from the
comfort of your own computer, determine your working time, express your
opinion freely about different kinds of products and services, and be paid
well.

If you'd like to become one of our highly valued survey takers, please
e-mail me back at maximilianwaytt@gmail.com and we will send you additional information.

Best regards,
Katie Anderson
HR

The contact address has varied continuously, but it has always been a gmail address. I suspect that they forward their various Gmail accounts to some other address which acts as an autoresponder, although they may possibly be using the built-in Gmail autoresponder. If you write away to one of the contact addresses (and the Gmail team hasn't whacked it yet), you get a response back like the following.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: CONSUMER-OPINION.ORG <april@consumer-opinion.org>
Date: 3 Mar 2008 XX:XX
Subject: RE:RE: part-time job available
To: ideceive@gmail.com

Hi,
Thank you very much for your interest in the online survey jobs we offer.
For more information please go to our website:
http://www.Consumer-Opinion.org.
If you have any additional questions please fill in the form on our website or email info@Consumer-Opinion.org.
I look forward to doing business with you.
Best regards,
April Hofmann
http://www.Consumer-Opinion.org

Note that the domain "comsumer-opinion.org" was registered shortly after the spam run commenced (within 24 hours).

Domain ID:D151346870-LROR
Domain Name:CONSUMER-OPINION.ORG
Created On:14-Feb-2008 16:24:35 UTC
Last Updated On:15-Feb-2008 08:48:05 UTC
Expiration Date:14-Feb-2009 16:24:35 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:eNom, Inc. (R39-LROR)
Registrant ID:c8c3142d2e6cbb3e
Registrant Name:PATRICK LAWRENCE
Registrant Email:consopi@gmail.com
Name Server:NS19.SUPERHOSTING.BG
Name Server:NS20.SUPERHOSTING.BG

Paid survey scams are old news. The website itself does not offer you a job: it invites you to pay money in order to find out where these paid surveys are. There's no guarantee whatsoever that you will be able to make any money at all out of this, although they make big claims about the average payment that their members receive. The so-called "surveys" usually involve signing up for a trial of some kind of product, and may expose you to further expense. Your payment goes through ClickBank, so this is not an attempt to phish for credit card details -- it's just an attempt to get a thirty dollar payment out of any sucker willing to take the bait.

I don't usually report on this kind of scam, but these guys have been absolutely clamoring for my attention with their spam, so here you go. In my opinion, "comsumer-opinion.org" is just another scam which advertises by spamming and wilfully misrepresents ("lies about") the nature of its product. If you give these guys money, you are funding people who generate spam, and it's likely that you'll get nothing of value in return. Also, due to substantial unique overlap in content, I believe that "consumer-opinion.org" is a repackaged version of the older "planet-surveys.com". Compare the consumer opinion FAQ with the planet surveys FAQ, and look for overlapping questions and answers.

   Domain Name: PLANET-SURVEYS.COM
   Registrar: ENOM, INC.
   Whois Server: whois.enom.com
   Referral URL: http://www.enom.com
   Name Server: DNS1.NAME-SERVICES.COM
   Name Server: DNS2.NAME-SERVICES.COM
   Name Server: DNS3.NAME-SERVICES.COM
   Name Server: DNS4.NAME-SERVICES.COM
   Name Server: DNS5.NAME-SERVICES.COM
   Updated Date: 04-oct-2007
   Creation Date: 04-oct-2007
   Expiration Date: 04-oct-2008

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just got this one! I replied affirmatively to it without thinking, since it was in the inbox of my college email account.

It was only after noticing it not only failed to list its company but came also from a gmail account that I panicked and started worrying about hackers, which is when I searched around and found your blog. It's great, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

i also got this same thing (planet-survey.com) sent to my college account and searched the internet before doing anything.

Lacey said...

I too received this via my TAMU college e-mail.... I assume the accounts were hacked or something like that...

Thanks for the info!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, I was a minute away from signing up. I knew there was something wrong with it, too much money for no work at all. In my case it was www. planet-surveys. com, and I recieved the message from them on my university email, which made it seem very appealing. I sent back and forth e-mails trying to figure out the fraud, checked the web-site and all statements, wordings and banks/securities they use... how can they still operate?

Thank you again for your blog.

Thilan. said...

Hi, I am writing from Colombo Sri lanka. I received this email and was about tosign in when Ithought just to check if there was any info about it. Cameacross your site andThank you...!!!

Thilan.
Colombo, Sri lanka.

Anonymous said...

Great site - seemed too good to be true.

Like others commenting here I too was near to sign-up but thought to look for additional info online about the company. Sometimes the Net is a blessing.

nar6 said...

hi my english is not good but I want to thank you .
I knew that something is wrong about it
go on and thanks again

Anonymous said...

Thanks mate, I just save up 30$!...

Anonymous said...

pennstate almost sucker here

thanks !

Robert said...

Got the same email and saw the so called member fee of $ 29.95 on their web page "www.Consumer-Opinion.org". The email I received was fowarded several times through ghost boxes, one of which was through a server in Taiwan. These people are unbelievable ! I wrote them back and ask them to "say Hi" to their criminal master mind, namely Patrick Lawrence.
Thanks to this watch blogger I saved the loss of money.
Robert

Sydney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I got one of these too and thought it had something to do with my college research/survey class so I responded. STUPID!!! So, how will I ever get off of their annoying lists? Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Got one of these at OSU. Thanks for the heads-up, though I doubt I'd have paid anything up-front.

D Money said...

I got one of the "money mule" moneygrams. Cash $2000 keep $200 and wester union it to a provided address. Seems to be a scam. What would happen if i cashed it and kept it?

Spotter said...

I don't know. What usually happens when you cash a forged cheque or money order in your part of the world? Some sort of police come looking for you, I would suppose.

Anonymous said...

I was also near to signing up before i thought about checking it up !!

Thanks for telling every single one of us about this scam it is reallyhelpful and websites such as this one should be revealed as scams !! :)

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify:
There is legit survey site having the url consumer-opinion.com (not .org!)

Do not mix them - the .com site does not spam, pays out and is fully serious.

Spotter said...

While I have no reason to accuse consumer-opinion.com of being a scam (as opposed to comsumer-opinion.org), readers of this blog should assume that the endorsement above is posted by someone with a vested interest, rather than a neutral third party.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the informative insight...."if it looks too good to be true....",...we all know the answer to that time old question. Keep up the good work732

Anonymous said...

I received a Check via US mail for$2,988.00 from Florida Weekly opinion institute, with consumer opinion institute logo in upper r corner of letter. The Check is drawn under stonegate bank Fort Lauderdale, Fl.The supporting letter instructing me to call an 1597920 6466#for a Kim Miller, Timothy Freeman which are account managers to activate the check for three Secret shopper assignments,starting wit taking this Check to a moneygram location and wireing $2310.00 to a Ryllis Tomas inPortland Ore. Can u plz expose this or confirm, Because it seems kinda odd being I didn't contact them!!!

Spotter said...

Any time you see the "cash a check and send some of the proceeds elsewhere via wire transfer" pattern, you can be sure that the check is a forgery. The check will bounce, eventually. At worst, you'll be out of pocket. At best, you'll be a party to fraud.

Tell them where to stick their check.