The scammers first recognize a real company and obtain positive corporate information, possibly through mail theft. They then adopt the company's identity and build counterfeit websites for the business, complete with help-wanted notices and online job applications.
Next, they send fake help-wanted e-mails to job seekers whose names they obtain from online employment sites. The unsuspecting job hunters are directed to the fake business websites — such as those discovered by Design 2 Keys — where they are asked to enter personal data into online job applications. This gives the thieves their first opportunity to profit financially from their victims through identity theft.
The applicants are then offered jobs that involve processing checks sent to them, often from abroad, by unexplained "customers" of their new employer. The new "employees" are instructed to deposit the checks in their personal bank accounts, keep a 5 percent commission, write a check on their account for the remainder, and send it on to a bogus address for the company.