This week, I got scammed. It was an employment scam that, like many, I should have seen right through from the beginning but, like many, it just seemed so great that I looked passed the flashing neon red flags.
Basically, someone from a real and publicly traded company contacted me on one of the sites on which I’m trying to find a job. They wanted me to create a gmail account and do my interview on google hangouts with someone (a real living person with an excellent reputation on LinkedIn) who was a hiring manager for this real company. Eh, if they’re in Denmark and trying to hire for a new office, maybe this makes sense.
So they loved me and wanted me to start my training right away. My new manager emailed me (from an @gmail account) all of my hiring paperwork, including a contract with a whole section of ethics guidelines and of course my I-9 and W-4. I did this, of course, because their offer was so much better than anything I was getting anywhere else.
My only instructions were to get online and IM this person at 8am to await instructions. The first day, my only task was to write an essay about customer service. They were thrilled by my report and thought I’d do very well at the new office. I loved that. My task the next day was to take the cashier’s check they fedex’d and deposit in an ATM, and then send them a pic of the receipt. Okay, weird, but whatever. I guess they need me to get a computer and a scanner, and $8000 seems like a lot, but maybe it was expensive software. The next day (Wednesday), they wanted me to withdraw $5000 of that money in CASH (it was bolded) from an ATM only and then to await further instructions. When I told them I couldn’t do that, they told me to wire $2400 via MoneyGram at Walmart to some random lady in Granbury, Texas.
When one walks into a MoneyGram stand inside of a Walmart, there are signs everywhere about potential scams. They include catfishing, lottery wins, online sales, and these freakin’ employment scams. So I called the phone number on the MoneyGram flyer, while this CEO lady was IM’ing me. The guy told me definitely not to do the wire. That is when the dots all connected.
I asked her to send me an email from a non-gmail account. I told her I couldn’t do the transfer and we need to figure something else out. That’s when she sent me a couple of Bible verses and told me about how the deposit was a test of my accounting skills.
Then I told my boyfriend, googled what to do in case of fraud, called the local police department, filed my social security number on a fraud alert with the credit companies, called the real company’s HR department to report the fraud to them, had my bank cancel the check and ask them to dig in, and reported the fraud to an online system with the FBI. Then, I bawled my eyes out in the car for being so immensely fucking stupid for letting this all get this far.
Here’s the thing- I felt weird about it from the beginning. I didn’t like that they couldn’t give me the address of the new office. I didn’t like that the second half of everything was “and then wait for further instruction.” I didn’t like that nothing was from this giant company’s email server. I didn’t like them sending me money to buy my own hardware. But the money and the hours and the flexibility were so so so good, that I got in my own way. I told another real, local company that I didn’t want to waste their time but that I really loved what they were doing. I canceled a few other interviews for this week.
I can’t help but feel like I got duped for not listening to myself. I also can’t help but feel like I’ve done this before.
About six years ago, I fell for a guy despite the flashing neon red flags. I stayed with him despite the awful things he said to me, despite the time he yelled at me for passing out in the shower after donating blood, despite getting things thrown at me and threats made to my whole family. I married him, even having a thought in the courthouse about how the only way I was going to get out of this was through the morgue. I felt this pit in my stomach, and had accepted my sentence because I didn’t get out soon enough to get out alive (or without wishing I was dead).
The end of the strange glory that comes from being the wife of a deployed soldier and the gross dignity that comes with wearing that ring and calling someone my husband, all that seemed to justify the boulder in my gut. I got through getting choked, getting threatened and abused, getting totally isolated from anyone but him, by imagining that homecoming in the airport and by imagining a life like the one I saw on “Army Wives.” I knew it was going to be hard, and every scar was like a ribbon on my badge of honor.
I have all the love in the world for the few people that helped me see that I was more than he said I was, and that stood with me as I broke the news to my parents and then crawled through the muddy bureaucracy of divorcing someone who is deployed and who doesn’t want to get divorced. I’m amazed at the people who watched this all happen and picked me and my broken pieces up when it was all done.
It’s insane, really, what we put ourselves through when we want something so badly that we put the blinders on and our head down and we don’t look up until we’re midway through that car accident and are watching ourselves in slow motion. It feels like a movie where they show you the disaster end at the beginning and then slow-mo into where it all started, and then you spend the whole two hours yelling at the heroine for being such a proper idiot.
I decided after the whole mess and trauma with that guy that I could consider myself over the humiliation of something when I could make a joke about it. I have many jokes about being divorced at 25. Soon, I’ll have jokes about that time some idiot tried to take me for far more than I’m worth. But today? Today is not quite that day.