By John Paul Valdez

I have had at least ten calls about local scams in as many days.

First, there is the whole gamut of lending scams. I had a client who really needed a short term business loan and had been denied a more traditional loan. Looking on the internet he found a “lender” who, for a small sum, would “guarantee” a loan to him. Further, the loan would have its first few payments suspended for another “fee”. Finally the loan would be insured for a final “fee”. This person sent this fraudulent company over $1,000.00 in fees before his $15,000.00 loan was funded. The lesson here is simple. When you are on the internet and you send or mail money carelessly, please kiss that money goodbye before you send it. Work with well-known entities and local firms over anything outside of that. In a loan, you should RECEIVE money before you send money out.

Second, let’s talk about for-profit schools. All of a sudden, with no jobs available, everyone is going back to school. Please watch, however, for the “ for-profit school” that is essentially selling you bad loans on a degree or certificate that has little chance of bringing you employment. NEVER, look at THEIR list of employers. Check your local market for this specific job opening right now, and see how many people typically apply and how many are hired here and now and at what salary. The numbers these schools publish are filled with your dreams of getting a better job, but little in the way of unbiased facts. Once again, this is money going out before money comes into your pocket, so make sure it’s a sure bet before making an investment over a useless purchase. Know the difference.


Third, I have already seen three fake “job” offer postings on CareerBuilder type job sites. These are generally the pyramid schemes of yesteryear born under a new name. You sell to someone who sells, and you gain (ostensibly) a portion on down the pyramid. The problem is that you are soaked in expenses and inventory or other purchases for the base of the pyramid and never make anything further before you’re broke. Again, money goes out before money comes in. That’s a golden rule to AVOID. The other version of this is that you will be hired once you complete a course that the hiring company offers….. for a “fee.” Finally, any number of sales jobs will “hire” you for nothing, and have you work for free forever, on the hopes that you will make them money, and then they will pay you. If the product isn’t a household name already, this is not likely to benefit you as advertised. Watch for the loose use of the term “hire.” That should indicate money to you before you spend money to have the job in the first place.

In short, anything that sounds too good to be true is. It’s your nickel.