‘Good kid’ from Penticton learns a $4,000 lesson after four mystery shopper cheques bounce
As students prepare their annual hunt for summer jobs, a B.C. teenager is warning other youths to do their research on the companies they approach after he fell victim to a “secret shopper” job scam.
Mitchel Gowing, 19, works at a Penticton-area pet store, but was looking to earn a bit of extra cash. Now, instead of saving up to pay for his car, Gowing owes his dad $4,000 after he had to pay back a bank for money his son took out by cashing phoney cheques.
While browsing the Wow Jobs Canada website in January, Gowing saw a posting for a mystery shopper and thought the job would be a good way to make an extra $1,000.
He applied, but didn’t hear back for nearly two months. Then he received an email from a company purporting to be a recruiting firm called Alfa Group Services Inc., stating that he had been selected to work as a customer service evaluator, a secret shopper hired to report on how employees interact with customers.
He received an assignment to check up on Walmart and Western Union staff, along with a cheque for $989. He was told to spend $100 at Walmart on whatever he wanted and write a report on the employees. He then had to send $700 through Western Union to monitor how staff send money. He could then keep the remaining $189 as his wage.
“I was told I could keep the items from Walmart. That’s how they lure you in,” he said.
After he completed the work, he received three more cheques for more Western Union assignments, each for $998. Gowing put the cheques in his Bank of Montreal account and then took out the cash, except for his wages of around $1,000, and sent it through different Western Union branches.
Gowing insists he never suspected anything bogus, particularly because he had spoken to “the manager” on the phone, who had convinced him the whole thing was legit.
But last week, Gowing discovered his account had been frozen because he had been cashing fraudulent cheques.
The Alfa Group scam is not new, and a quick search on Google and various scam alert websites reveals that several people in the U.S. have also been defrauded of thousands of dollars.
According to the letter Gowing received from Alfa Group Services, the company has an address at 2300 Young St. in Toronto. A potential job seeker Googling the address, or someone not familiar with Toronto, could be fooled if they did not double-check the spelling of the street name and company, because there is a legitimate recruiting company called Alpha North Group on Yonge Street.
The letter was signed by “manager” Sarah Englewood, and there were instructions to call an employment coordinator named Eric Ogden at a phone number provided.
Police say such scam artists are tough to catch because they move around and prey on naive and cash-strapped single parents and students.
Penticton RCMP confirmed Gowing filed a complaint about the scam last week, and it was under investigation.
Gowing regrets not Googling the company before he took the job, and cautions others not to be so trusting about Internet job postings.
“The best advice I can give to the public is to research a company before you start working for them,” he said.
Police recommend young people speak to a parent or other adult with lots of employment experience before accepting a job offer on the Internet.
Helena Jehnichen, the common-law partner of Gowing’s father who lives in Burnaby, said Gowing is a quiet young man who spends all his free time working toward his black belt in karate. She said he rarely uses the Internet and is a very trusting person. Gowing lives with his mother outside of Penticton and spends much of his time volunteering in the community, walking his neighbour’s dog, and teaching karate to children, she said.
“He’s a good kid, and he’s never had a reason to mistrust anyone.”
Jehnichen said Gowing was taking part in a program through the YMCA called Jumpstart, a 12-week course that helps youth get career-ready. One component of the program was how to do an online job search, she said, and so Gowing had told his parents his secret shopper job was part of the Jumpstart program.
Italian Day Festival Society
T | 604-251-2884 F | 604-251-2899
ITALIAN DAY ON THE DRIVE: CARNEVALE DI VENEZIA
Sunday June 9, 2013
The Italian Day Festival Society, a group of passionate and
dedicated Italian-Canadians and professionals, is excited to
organize and present Italian Day for the fourth consecutive
year. Join us on Commercial Drive to take part in this exciting
opportunity of Italian heritage and culture; and what better location
to honor this than “The Drive,” historically known as Vancouver’s
As a volunteer you are integral to the success of the Italian Day
on The Drive festival. An event of this size and scope is only
possible with the help and cooperation of volunteers! You and your
friends can sign up and pick your volunteer positions together.
Volunteering is a great opportunity for schools and community
groups to get involved. In doing so, you strengthen our festival as
well as support local businesses, arts, and culture.
Thank you for your interest. We would like to make your volunteer
experience worthwhile and as exciting as possible. In order to do
so, please contact us today to find out how you or your group can
help support this community event. For immediate help you may
also contact your school counselor for more details.
Join our crew
Join the 2013 BMO Marathon Volunteer Crew! It is an absolute hoot ~ so much fun, and such a rewarding experience to make a difference in the lives of both newbie and veteran runners. Working as a team to put on a quality event is something to be proud of. Meet people from all walks of life and make forever friends who share the same passion: helping others. We have a 41-year legacy of amazing volunteers who are ambassadors of our city and sport! And we want YOU!
Our events truly could not succeed without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers. This year, we will need more than 4,000 volunteers during race week, and we look forward to welcoming and supporting 15,000 runners, their family and friends, as well as 60,000 spectators and media from all around the world. Be a part of Vancouver running history and experience the excitement!!
You will get lunch, a certificate and a letter of recommendation for your help!
Please visit the following website to apply:
By Ryan St. Germaine
Employers want to hire top-performing employees. To help them find you, use numbers in your resume. When employers see the results you’ve delivered for others, they will be more likely to believe you can perform for them. Whether you’re using a functional, chronological or combination resume, you can stand out by using numbers.
Think about your work experience in terms of numbers. Did you:
- Generate sales?
- Save money or help cut costs?
- Manage X people?
- Lead a team of X people?
- Deal with a certain number of customers?
- Help grow a market?
- Work while your company or department grew by X% or $X?
- Work on a number of projects?
- Improve satisfaction?
- Reduce complaints?
- Handle a certain dollar figure?
- Field a number of calls every day?
Where possible, put a valuation on the time you saved an employer. For example, if you became faster at doing something or introduced a process that saved time, translate this into a dollar savings of your salaried time. If you came up with a method or process that reduced the need to do specific tasks, consider how much time you saved, then present this in terms of the value of your salaried time.
Stress your achievements, but keep your claims honest. Make sure you can back up anynumbers you cite – and make sure you understand the numbers. Few things upset a hiring manager more than a prospective hire who can’t stand behind the claims they make on their resume.
By BCJobs.ca Team
Learning how to read a job ad can make your job search much easier. First, you’ll be in a better position to target your resume and cover letter. And, second, you’ll be able to determine which jobs suit you.
Understand who writes job ads
Job ads are written by people who want you to apply for the job. They want the job and the company to appeal to you. Sometimes, companies jazz up a job ad to make a boring or undesirable company or job sound great.
Know who the job ad targets
But, when companies write job ads, they usually don’t want a huge response. It takes hours to sift through resumes. Companies write job ads to attract a small, select group of applicants. If you understand how to read the job ad, you can write your resume to meet the employer’s criteria. For example, you can tailor your resume career objective andresume career profile to the information in the job ad.
How to read a job ad
- Identify the advertiser. Is it the company doing the hiring? Or have they outsourced to a recruitment firm?
- Note the company. Who’s running the ad? Do you know the company? How big is it? Have you heard of it? What kind of reputation does it have?
- Review the job title. If it says “manager”, do the job duties really fit with that?
- Scan for job duties. Vague descriptions may mean that the company doesn’t know what you’ll be doing, that they’re just fishing to see who’s out there, or that they don’t want people inside or outside their company to be privy to their strategic plans.
- Determine what they’re looking for. What qualifications do they seek? Phrases like “you must have” or “you need” mean that there’s no point in applying otherwise. But words like “preferably”, “preferred”, “ideally” or “desired” suggest some flexibility.
- Pay attention to special instructions. Look out for instructions such as “No phone calls”, “Apply by email”, “Include a handwritten cover letter”, “Include three samples of your previous work – submit as PDFs”.
- Look for pay and benefits information. Do they note pay? Make sure you know your worth before you apply. Does the job include benefits?
Once you know how to read a job ad, you’ll be more likely to experience success with your job search and job interview. And you may be able to identify improvements you can make to your resume and cover letter.
Reasons to update your resume could fill a novel the size of War and Peace. Whether you’re actively looking for a new position or firmly planted in the greatest job of your life, you stand to gain from updating your online resume.
10 Reasons to Update Your Online Resume
- 1. Reset your career compass by going through the process of updating your resume for the job you want nex
- 2. Never miss out on dream jobs offered by companies searching job databases and the web for new hires
- 3. Easily start your job search if there’s a change in the job market
- 4. Reflect your career path or present accomplishments
- 5. You’ve moved and your resume shows an old address or contact info
- 6. Show relevant computer skills – your resume still shows you’re fluent in Office 95, but it’s now 2008.
- 7. Be ready to apply for that hot job you saw listed.
- 8. Avoid a frantic massive resume overhaul by making small changes over time
- 9. Stop a vicious cycle of sending out a poor resume and not seeing any good results
- 10. Appear at the top of resume databases on job search sites – some sites give recruiters a list of matching candidates based on the date of the last resume update.