By Billy Huntsman
The Round Up/Oncore Magazine recently uncovered a fake job posting on NMSU’s Aggie Career Manager attempting to scam students.
The position was ‘store keeper assistant’ with Conestoga Cold Storage, “a temperature controlled warehousing and transportation company based in Canada and United State, and is considered one of the pioneers of the modern commercialized temperature-controlled warehouse for the storage of perishable goods,” the job listing said.
The job’s listed contact, Dwane Arnott, explained in a series of emails that Conestoga was looking to expand into the United States from Canada.
The job paid $300 a week to an individual working two to five hours a day ‘in a small stockroom. Maintains receipts, records, and withdrawals. Checks materials and supplies and reports when stock is low. Receives and unpacks materials and supplies. Reports damages and discrepancies for accounting, reimbursement and record-keeping purposes.”
The store keeper’s weekly payment would have arrived with a certified cashier’s check along with the money needed in order to pay the supplier for stock. The store keeper, ‘Arnott’s’ emails (and later texts) said, would have deposited this cashier’s check into his or her bank account and paid the supplier once the funds were released.
The business’ listed address was 1420 W. Amador Ave.
“I am glad to let you know that by the end of today,agreement would have been finalized with the Realtor leasing the space so we want our supplier to start bringing goods so we can commence stocking,” ‘Arnott’ wrote in an email to TRU/OM on April 23.
Yet driving by the property on April 27, the location is still available for lease by Steinborn Commercial Real Estate.
“It’s still showing as available (on the computer),” said an associate of the real estate company. “It says, ‘For sale or lease.’”
TRU/OM contacted the New Mexico Taxation & Revenue Department to see if at least the business had a tax identification number.
“(Conestoga Cold Storage) is not coming up in the system,” an employee of the department told TRU/OM. “More than likely they probably are not registered with New Mexico.”
The Office of the Secretary of State confirmed to TRU/OM that the ‘business’ was not registered in the state.
“1420 W. Amador I have a Milagro Construction & Repair, an Autoglass Solutions & More, and those are the only two registered businesses I have at that location,” said an employee with the City of Las Cruces’ Building and Development Services.
Conestoga Cold Storage is, however, a real company, with five offices in Canada, and Dwane Arnott is an employee in their Kitchener, Ontario, office. Though TRU/OM and ‘Arnott’ had been exchanging emails and texts for several days, when TRU/OM called him on April 27, he did not recognize our name.
“I just talked to another gentleman in your neck of the woods this morning, as well,” the real Arnott told TRU/OM.
Arnott said he believed the other individual he talked to was from Fullerton College in California.
“(The scam has) been going on for a couple weeks actually,” Arnott said. “A person from our HR Department came across it first and then I see some postings mostly at colleges.”
TRU/OM found similar postings at Greenville College in Illinois, James Madison University in Virginia (where the contact was listed as a ‘Marc Smernoff’,) the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Austin Community College, Durham Technical Community College in North Carolina, Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington (though this posting seems to have been taken down), and the St. Louis College of Pharmacy in Missouri (where again ‘Smernoff’ has been listed).
If you put “Works in a small stockroom. Maintains receipts, records, and withdrawals. Checks materials and supplies and reports when stock is low. Receives and unpacks materials and supplies. Reports damages and discrepancies for accounting, reimbursement and record-keeping purposes” in Google, several results for Nigerian jobs come up as well.
TRU/OM attempted to contact the Arnott impostor. His office number has a Tennessee area code, which a woman picked up denying any knowledge of who Arnott is.
The cell phone number ‘Arnott’ provided has a Georgia area code.
“Hello, I know you are not Dwane Arnott and this is a scam,” we wrote.
“will you shut up your mouth idiot,” ‘Arnott’ replied.
TRU/OM contacted NMSU’s Career Services to alert them to remove the listing, and they additionally have sent out notice of the scam to any student who may have applied for the position. This information will be given to Campus Police, who will then distribute it to other colleges, said Roseanne Bensley, associate director of Career Services.
Anyone concerned about the legitimacy of a job posted on Aggie Career Manager should contact Career Services immediately at (575) 646-1631.