Employment scam or legit invite?
November 14, 2013 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I've been job searching for the past couple of months. Some online listings compel you to apply for them through a recruiter site. I try to avoid doing this, because I've been spammed as a result by sites like Careerbuilder.com who apparently don't vet their partners very well.

So I've tried to avoid signing up for any more recruiter sites, and I apply directly to the companies as often as possible.

But I was bitten in the butt recently when I responded to a job posting (on what I thought was a legit employment site) for a Wyndham Vacation Guide position. I've since discovered they've been in the news a lot because of their time-share scam, but I didn't realize it when I applied.

So I got a weird letter from someone who says she's a recruiter for Wyndham Vacation Ownership in Springfield, Missouri. Here it is:

Thank you for submitting your application for our Vacation Guide Position. Congratulations, you have been selected to start our interview process! The first step is to complete an interview through Hire Vue, a third party that we use to help get you started on your Wyndham journey! In order to complete this interview, you will need access to a webcam or a smart phone/tablet that has a front facing video camera. Please get this completed within the next 24-48 hours, we are working on our upcoming class and want to ensure you are considered for it! Once you have completed the link, please send me an email with the best time of the day and date that it would be good to follow up with you, if you are put through.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call or email me. I look forward to speaking with you soon!

(Jane Doe), Recruiter, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

I was struck by the tone of the note, which was selly rather than professional, with all the exclamation points.

Was also turned off by the "begin your Wyndham journey" language. Why would I want to begin a journey with them? I'm not even sure what the position entails, and I have no idea at this stage whether I would want to pursue this.

The request to give them webcam access to my computer just friggin' floored me. I've heard some interviewers are doing this, but I think it's a terrible idea. I'm not auditioning for a Disney film, why the hell do they need to film me? If it's just a series of questions that I have to respond to, that feels like an interrogation. An interview should be two-way. I need to ask them questions in order to figure out if it's something I would ever be interested in.

Plus, and I'm not a computer geek, but it seems like my giving them webcam access could enable them to install malware on my computer. A legitimate business wouldn't ask you to risk compromising your software, right?

The last straw here is the mention of a class that I'm being given an opportunity to be considered for. OMFG. Legit companies don't do this.

So I responded to this woman and told her that her message had sent up a number of red flags for me, and that basically it was thanks but no thanks. I still have some questions though, and wondered if anyone on the green could help.

A google search pulls up tons of stories of people being pressured by Wyndham sales folk into buying bogus timeshares (or crimeshares). Apparently targets are approached in malls or hotel lobbies and informed that they can get cheap-ish lodgings in vacation locales and/or a free Amex card, but they have to sit through a 2-3 hour hardsell presentation. If they do buy into the scam, their timeshare points turn out to be invalid when they try to redeem them. Meanwhile their credit cards get charged monthly for ongoing participation fees. Lots of documentation on that scam, but so far I can't find anything about the existence of a Wyndham employment recruiter scam via email.

I'm also finding stories of people who were offered jobs with the company via email (I wasn't), and were instructed to reply with personal and financial details in order to complete the hiring process. That wasn't quite what happened to me - and as far as I can tell, that particular scam was happening primarily in the UK.

My suspicion is that the class being so graciously offered to me is the infamous 2-3 hour hardsell timeshare presentation. But I'm not going to pursue this, so I don't know for sure.

I would just be interested to know if any other job hunters have encountered anything like this?
posted by cartoonella to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Total scam. Delete and move on.
posted by Etrigan at 7:19 AM on November 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Plus, and I'm not a computer geek, but it seems like my giving them webcam access could enable them to install malware on my computer. A legitimate business wouldn't ask you to risk compromising your software, right?

Webcam access doesn't (necessarily) entail installing any malware. When I was on my most recent job search, I had several skype and google hangout interviews. Personally, I liked it better than a straight phone interview because seeing a face makes the conversation more "real" if that makes sense.

That being said, I imagine your instincts were correct and that was a scammy sales position.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:31 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of times scammy companies will have big cattle call interview days, where they get a room full of bright young hopefuls all dressed up nice and put them in a room together and talk at them for hours and make them do teambuilding exercises (so they can take a bunch of promo photos and be all "LOOK AT OUR TEAM HAVIN FUN, Y'ALL!" up on their twitters). And at the end of the day the exciting! job! in their marketing! department! is actually either cold call telemarketing or door to door sales.

So this seems somewhere in between. Regardless, total scam, waste of time. If there's actually a job at the end of it (rather than you just being sold a timeshare), it's almost certainly going to be a job where you have to call people to harass them into coming to meetings to get talked at about timeshares.

Just ignore it.
posted by phunniemee at 7:35 AM on November 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just to be clear -- they weren't asking for webcam access. They want you to have access to a webcam for the interview process. That's quite normal.

Do I think that this was likely to lead to a legitimate job? Nope. I've encountered this similar template many times before. At some point, you can just "tell' when it's not a real job.
posted by sm1tten at 8:00 AM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Welcome to the wonderful world of recruiting for Time-Share Sales People. If you were truly interested in a job selling Time-Shares, this is the process for getting this job.

Since you aren't, your response was appropriate.

Move on.

It's not a scam, at least, not the way you think it is.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:53 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh and FWIW many many jobs are not posted. They end up in the hands of recruiters, so not having your resume online may be costing you some opportunities. Yes you will get called on plenty of less than ideal positions, but there are just too many jobs placed through agencies for you not to be on their lists.
posted by Gungho at 9:33 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for these reponses, guys!
posted by cartoonella at 10:13 AM on November 14, 2013

I like LinkedIn for finding jobs.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:26 AM on November 14, 2013

Recruiters can be selly, but what sets of bells for me is the time-hustle. Unless you left something out, they need you to set up your webcam in the next 24-48 hours, after which you tell them dates and times you're available? Why not just state the webcam requirement and have you tell them your availability. Also, and I'm just assuming what a Vacation Guide is, it seems like a very involved process for the position. Hey, but a lot of companies use 3rd party HR type companies, so who knows. I think it's apparent that you'd be involved in the sell side of the timeshare stuff, though.
posted by rhizome at 10:49 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you read the email wrong. It says YOU need access to a webcam, not that they need access to your webcam. Probably they want to do a Skype interview or similar. Having done both phone and Skype interviews for jobs, I can confirm that Skype is way better as the interview-ee...you can actually see the people interviewing you, read their body language, etc. Plus, if multiple people are in the interview, it is way less confusing. Overall, at least to me, it feels more natural and I've gotten a better sense of the position.

However, it sounds like this is a sketchy company that you would not want to work for. So I would not do the interview for that reason.
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:28 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hi there, I'm from Branson, MO, which is a timeshare capital and the reason Wyndham corporate is in Springfield, 30 minutes away.

Here's the rundown. Huge timeshare company, so that part is legit. Now the question of the value of timeshare? Not great. Lots of people buy it and feel they were over promised (or flat out lied to, which does happen). Other people use it for years and love it. I couldn't recommend that anyone buy timeshare - there are numerous other companies here based on getting rid of your timeshare after you bought it, often at little or no money. The yearly fees that are part of timeshare is what traps most people.

For this job, you would likely be calling people to offer a free or discounted trip that includes a timeshare presentation. Needless to say, this is not a glamorous or rewarding job. I'd skip it unless you're out of options, but hope that clears things up.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:02 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

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