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Former Egyptian president needs help, but not yours

Poor Hosni Mubarak.

Although the former Egyptian president has been granted a new trial on embezzlement charges involving $17.9 million, the government has seized all his assets and won’t let him leave the country.

How do I know this? “Mubarak” sent me – and several co-workers – an email seeking our help in managing his $25 million in “reserved funds.” And, if I rush to his assistance, he’s willing to share some of his largesse with me.

Suggestion: if you have the pleasure of hearing from Mr. Mubarak, do what I did. Have a good laugh and then hit delete.

There are plenty of Craigslist scams afoot in which you agree to provide a service or sell an item, but the “paycheck” you receive in exchange is fake.

A Santa Fe organization is seeing this scam from a different angle. The Santa Fe Recovery Center, which provides drug and alcohol treatment, received a “debilitating” number of phone calls last month from people all over the country who had gotten bogus checks from the center, program assistant Branden Reeves said.

Someone had used the center’s checking account number, routing number and address to print up fake checks. Hundreds of calls came from people who had answered a Craigslist ad and gotten paid with one of those bogus recovery center checks, some for thousands of dollars. The recovery center immediately closed the account, prompting questions from people as they tried to figure out why they were having trouble cashing or depositing the checks, Reeves said.

The callers, he said, had answered a variety of fake Craigslist “help wanted” ads, ranging from cleaning an apartment building to wrapping your car for the purpose of advertising a company. Often in these scams, the supposed employer will send you a fake check, ask you to deposit it to cover your services and send part of the payment back to them or a third party who is part of the scam.

This is a good reminder that while Craigslist can offer a valued service, its online nature makes it prime territory for imposters.

The No. 1 suggestion from Craigslist is that you deal with others locally and face to face in a safe way. Get suspicious of any job that seeks personal information or money.

Some other tips, from the Better Business Bureau:

  • Use extra caution when looking at ads for jobs with generic titles, such as “admin assistant” or “customer service representative.” These often don’t require special training or licensing, so they appeal to a wide range of applicants.
  • Watch out for these phrases often found in scam ads:”Teleworking OK,” “Immediate Start” and “No Experience Needed.” Watch for ads that urge you to apply immediately.
  • If a job looks suspicious, search for it on Google. If the result comes up in many other cities with the exact same job post, it is likely a scam.
  • Check out the business’ website to make sure the opening is posted there. If you are still skeptical, call the business to check on the position. Don’t rely on websites or phone numbers provided in the advertisement; find the “employer” on your own to make sure it’s the real deal.

To report scams of this type, Craigslist suggests filing a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at or the Federal Trade Commision at or 877-382-4357.

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-800-678-1508.