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I applied recently for a Remote Sales Manager position, everything was going cool in the email and they said I got the job. So I’m reading the contract and something seems odd:

"During the period of probation the Candidate will be executing corporate projects assigned by the Senior Sales Manager. Such projects will include: processing corporate payments, making researches, purchasing and selling required antique and vintage jewelry pieces. In terms of finances, the Company will provide affiliate account to the Candidate, and the Candidate must add affiliate account to his or her personal bank account in order to obtain corporate funds (no need to use personal finances or provide any personal data). Corporate funds will be transferred from the affiliate account to the Candidate’s personal bank account. Such measures will be taken to prevent any theft or fraud on the Candidate’s side. By signing this contact, the Candidate agrees to use his or her personal bank account (or open a new separate bank account) for the project execution to process corporate payments during the period of probation. The Company, on the other hand, confirms that the affiliate account is valid, active, and there is a significant amount of funds on the account for the Candidate to use. Affiliate account data will be submitted via a separate paper during the project execution process”.

Please let me know what to do moving forward.

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  • 71
    Yes, it's a scam.
    – Ben Voigt
    Jan 16 at 16:27
  • 17
    This smells of money laundering which in most jurisdictions is a crime.
    – ghellquist
    Jan 17 at 11:48
  • 7
    There is no "Sales Company" and there is no job unless you consider being a victim qualifies as employment.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jan 17 at 16:12
  • 10
    Reading that makes my heart sink, sorry about your new 'job'. 😩 Jan 17 at 18:35
  • 3
    Well, first of all, I highly doubt that any legitimate contract would use phrases like"making researches" or "on the other hand." Secondly, why would a Sales Manager be "purchasing and selling required antique and vintage jewelry pieces?" Finally, it's a serious red flag that they only ever refer to it as "the project execution." Jan 17 at 20:29

6 Answers 6

100

Yes, it's a scam. Google the exact words used in that message and you find the Reddit post [IL] Potential Scam. Advice needed which highlights all the reasons why it's a scam, including:

🚩Email interview. Why would a legitimate company hire a salesperson they’ve never seen or spoken to?

🚩Why would a salesperson “process corporate payments?”

🚩This is to prevent “any theft or fraud on the candidates side”. No legitimate company would transfer money intended for corporate use into the bank account of a new employee, one they hired over e-mail and never met. What if you took all the money and closed the account?

Well done for spotting and asking the question. In terms of what to do moving forward – cut off all contact with them, block and delete. If you've provided them any personal information at all, keep an extra eye out for identity theft attempts (consider putting a watch on your credit report); and if you've provided any financial information (bank account details etc) then you should contact your bank and let them know.

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  • 53
    Well done for providing a concise answer while also being kind to the OP.
    – Pete B.
    Jan 16 at 19:03
  • 1
    It's likely they'll try to recontact the mark. This time offering services to help them recover any money they've already handed out.
    – Valorum
    Jan 19 at 17:40
  • I'd quibble that legitimate companies do sometimes hire people they've never met. My last job, I was interviewed by phone and video. I was never in the same room with anyone else from the company until almost a year after I was hired. I worked at that job for 15 years and in that time they paid me well over a million dollars so I'm quite sure the job was legitimate. That said, I would certainly be very suspicious of an email interview.
    – Jay
    Jan 22 at 1:16
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"Candidate agrees to use his or her personal bank account (or open a new separate bank account) for the project execution to process corporate payments"

No legitimate company will ever need to, or want to, run company payments through your account. It sounds bogus because it is bogus.

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  • 2
    Yes, that would die a natural death when you go into the bank and say "I'd like to open a bank account for this company and the bank starts wanting corporate paperwork, business license, EIN, motion of the board of directors, and the SSN of a responsible party to take personal liability since the company has no D&B credit rating, and you rightly say "that's not me! You can't have my SSN!" Jan 19 at 0:14
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The many red flags have been pointed out in the other answers, the mechanism by which the scam works is likely via finding a way of reversing the deposit of the "Corporate funds" from your account (or making it seem like they exist without ever depositing them).

For example:

  • They mail you a check for $1000
  • They tell you to buy a specific item for $1000
  • You buy the item
  • The check for the "Corporate funds" bounces
  • Now you're out $1000 of your own money
  • The item was worth $5 and the seller was their scam partner
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  • 3
    It could also be a money mule scam. Jan 19 at 2:41
  • @EJoshuaS-StandwithUkraine Yes, several possible scams here. Maybe, as Aubreal says, its the classic fake deposit scam. Maybe they just want to use the OP to launder money stolen elsewhere. Maybe it's some other scam that I'm not clever enough or devious enough to think of. But the set up is very suspicious, regardless of the details.
    – Jay
    Jan 22 at 1:20
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Yes, that's a scam. No company in their right mind would allow, far less encourage or require, you to use your personal bank account at any stage of corporate transactions. Doing so is just begging for embezzlement to happen.

If you need to make a purchase for the company, legitimate companies will either give you a corporate credit card, have you use a purchase order, or have you submit a receipt and reimburse you.

A lot of this doesn't even make sense. For example:

...processing corporate payments

Other people have pointed this out, but this doesn't seem to be related to a sales job.

...purchasing and selling required antique and vintage jewelry pieces.

Also seems odd for a sales job. What's their (alleged) business model?

Such measures will be taken to prevent any theft or fraud on the Candidate’s side.

Which measures? I don't see any measures that they specify. The way legitimate companies prevent theft or fraud is by doing exactly what I said: only use corporate bank accounts for corporate transactions.

I'm guessing that this is a money mule scam (i.e. they're manipulating you into helping them launder stolen, fraudulent, or otherwise "dirty" money). Either that, or they'll have you pay them in an irreversible way and pay you in a reversible way, as suggested in this answer.

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In any decent jurisdiction, using a personal account for dealing with company money is an accounting dumpster fire.

Money transferred from whatever company account to whatever personal account is considered an income (taxable!) for the person involved.

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  • 3
    While it's true that any legit company isn't just going to slosh corporate funds around your personal bank account, the second paragraph isn't exactly true. Business expense reimbursements are very common and are not considered taxable income. eg for a business trip, you book a flight and pay for taxis etc with your personal card, submit the receipts, and the company later sends those funds back to you.
    – josh3736
    Jan 18 at 2:59
  • @josh3736 card payments are somewhat different and in a lot of cases equated to cash and one still needs some paperwork to prove business expenses. But there is almost no excuse for a company-related bank transfer from your personal bank account.
    – fraxinus
    Jan 18 at 6:41
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    Not really. At least in the US, for reimbursable expenses, the method of payment does not matter; whether you, the employee, use a card or cash is immaterial. For tax purposes, all that matters is that (1) the expense paid by the employee is a genuine business expense, (2) the employee can prove the amounts they paid and what they were for in a timely manner (ie submitting receipts), and (3) that the employer has done their paperwork to set up a reimbursement plan.
    – josh3736
    Jan 18 at 7:27
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    With all 3 of those requirements met, business expenses can be paid by an employee using the employee's funds, and the company can reimburse the employee the amounts paid, and the transfer of funds from the company to your personal bank account does not count as income and is not taxed. See this explainer which includes links to the relevant IRS regulations.
    – josh3736
    Jan 18 at 7:28
  • 2
    …all of that said, these kinds of reimbursements are meant for things like business travel and small discretionary spending. You should not be purchasing inventory with personal funds, and whatever was going on in the original question is clearly a scam.
    – josh3736
    Jan 18 at 7:36
-1

This is a scam because of how the contract is written. So pass on that.


However some answers are incorrect in stating that you never use your own account when doing business for a company.

It happens (or is common, it depends on the country) that you open an account in your name that is used for expenses when traveling. You then present to your company an expense claim and they reimburse you.

Such accounts are "sponsored" by the company (you do not have any signup costs, if any) and the reimbursement time is shorter than the time you have before the money is drawn from your account (this sounds like a typical credit card, but it does not have to be a credit card - you would often have a delayed debit one)

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  • Several answers mention being reimbursed for travel expenses. That brings up an interesting point. If an employer asked me to pay for my own travel, submit receipts, and they would reimburse, I'd think nothing of it. I've done this many times. If an employer asked me to buy inventory using my personal funds and they'd reimburse me, I'd be very suspicious. I'm hard pressed to say just what the difference is, but etc. Hmm, if the company told me to buy some equipment, like a computer or tools, and they'd reimburse me, I'd probably think that strange but not unreasonable.
    – Jay
    Jan 22 at 1:26
  • @Jay this is sometimes how BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is done: you get to buy the hardware you want and you take the appropriate warranties/whatever to support yourself. It is true, though, that you usually get the money upfront (but I saw a case where you are reimbursed after the fact)
    – WoJ
    Jan 22 at 7:46

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