I was contacted by a recruiter for a Virtual Assistant (VA) job I had begun to apply for 6 months prior. When their application process required me to have enter land line (dummy numbers were rejected), I exited their site and did not complete the form (I have no use for a land line. Haven't for more than 10 years), thinking that if they require me to have a land line, I don't want the job.
They contacted me by email 6 months later. I was offered a contract for employment (attached to the email), and told to register on their site. Land line required (I purchased a Majic Jack just for this job - thinking it would be useful for my fax machine even if I didn't get the job). Microsoft Word was also required for daily reports, and they wanted me to download (time) tracking software that only works on Windows operating systems. I own a Mac for a reason. I would never buy a Windows computer - especially just to do a "trial" with a mystery company who doesn't even have an office in the Western U.S., and has ambiguous loopholes in their contract that allow them not to pay you.
Their website looks official. There was a timeline there (kind of like a twitter feed) with lots of other VA's that seemed to have worked for them for several years. However, the timeline (tracking who was doing jobs, and how many) never changed the whole two weeks I logged on. It was bogus. They require two log-ins per day. They say that's the only way they know I'm working. Really? A "busy" manager, who handles 30-50 employees per day has time to check web stats and see if I logged in?
I was given an assignment. Part of their scheme is that confidentiality is paramount (of course, it's VIP clients - celebrities and such). Nice cover! The short story is they wanted me to contact a painter in Russia to have a painting re-commissioned because the original had been destroyed. I contacted the Artist and he returned my email immediately (within the hour) demanding the price be paid in cash. Also, he wanted me to contact him before the money was sent because he "might need to have someone else pick up the money from the Western Union office" because he had two studios and he might be out of town. I should have known that he could pick up the money at any Western Union office in Any town that has one. (of course, because Russian Banks have issues with American Checks and bank cards, so it had to be cash - seems valid enough)
I was given two weeks to complete the assignment, which involved making sure the painting was delivered to its recipient (it was supposedly a corporate gift). No-one can complete a masterful work in less than two weeks.
Their deal is if they can't reach you after three attempts, you are fired. They tried once. I was working a part time shift (a real job that really pays), and was unavailable by phone for about three hours. They may have tried my new home phone number, but there was no way for me to tell, since they didn't leave a voicemail. They must think I am stupid to drop all obligations on a moments notice (or an email notice) to complete their project on a "trial" that began the day they sent the email. Only a fool would do that.
Now, here's the clever part. They claim to give me a credit card to handle purchases for clients, but not until I complete the 14-day trial. So, after receiving the request from Russia for a Western Union Payment of about $8,000 (US Dollars), I was contacted by "Alex Boyd", my "manager". Here would be the rub. I'm sure he wanted to deposit money into my checking account and have me withdraw it, go to Western Union and send it to Russia. Then they would conveniently stop payment on the funds in my account, but I was unavailable (for only 3 hours - although they claim to allow you 1-2 days to complete the task.
So, they could easily make a deposit in my account (I hadn't given them any account info, but If I were the clever scammer, I'd demand the info over the phone to an eager new employee, then I would withdraw the funds before it cleared my account. The Russian Artist (Alexander Tarasov - a really bad painter, according to his bogus website. Trust me, I am mere months from completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting) in cahoots would pocket the American money, share it with "Alex Boyd" and I'd be out several thousand dollars.
They offered to pay $1,000 for the two week trial, but built in loopholes in the contract where I would not get paid. (such as an open case - like a painter who didn't deliver in the 2-week time frame). Their salary was high ($24,000 for 2-3 hours work per day - which is consistent with a full-time salary as a personal assistant which is why I thought they were legit), but not consistent with other online assistant jobs which pay aprx. $10/hour or so.
This is probably the cleverest scam I've ever seen. I'm usually dubious of such things, but many things seemed legit, like no scam complaints for them. My guess is they are too new. They haven't got any complaints yet --- until now.
I reported to them every day for two weeks with no response of any kind beyond the first day. Their claim is the HR manager is very busy and if you need to contact him too often, you are "not independent enough to do the job." Yet another clever way to explain their bogus dealings, and why they won't talk to you.
They recruited me on August 16. I was given an assignment two days later. I was called once, but no message was left on my phone, except "Call Alex Boyd Immediately" by a male with an Indian accent. Three different people were listed on the initial emails to recruit me, and now, a woman answers the voicemail for Alex Boyd (when I can actually get through, which is about 20% of the time). I returned his call twenty times that afternoon and got a busy signal every time. I finally left him a message that I'd returned his call the next morning. I never heard anything from them again. Gosh. I must have foiled their plan.
I have left repeated voicemails and emails asking them to verify that they are not a scam. I have received no contact from them whatsoever.
Don't use them for help. Don't reply to their solicitation for a job. I never completed their registration on their website (which is required), yet they found my email and solicited me anyway... 6 months later. That is typical scammer behavior. What is also tribute to their stupidity (although this is a very clever scam) is that anyone who is any good at being an assistant (experienced) would investigate them and require validation of their claims.
The work I did was not hard. I simply wrote an email. What happened afterward is dubious. Their lack of response, and unwillingness to clear their name by simply sending me an email as to why I failed the trial, is clear enough evidence that they are very smart (but not smart enough - they picked the wrong type of people to solicit for their scam. VA's are smart, and wary, and are good investigators. I didn't lose anything outside of the investment into a land-line, which will be useful in the job search I will be conducting upon completion of my BFA degree.
That said. They dropped me with no explanation, or further contact. Smells like a rip-off to me in every way! Beware. If not a rip-off a really poorly managed company who solicits "good communicators" but employs managers who are horrible communicators and mis-represent their company in ways that are harmful.
The only way I would rescind this scam-alert, is if they actually called me. Fired "Alex Boyd", paid me, and allowed the full term for the funds to be verified before asking me to do any further work. Otherwise... Violette Virtual Assistant is a total scam. Watch for them, and new embodiments of their website (I saw one in Atlanta with a different name, but the exact same website last week. It is gone now. - typical scammer behavior).