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Scammer faces prison over fake Microsoft job ads

Dream jobs at Microsoft are too good to be true

A New York man who posted fake job adverts for the likes of Microsoft, PayPal and Yahoo faces up to four years in prison.

The poorly written ads sounded too good to be true. "Microsoft Corporation is now seeking for [sic] bright jobseekers who think big and dream big to fill out many open positions." Applicants could work flexible hours from home and earn between $15 and $27.50 per hour working on administrative, customer service and sales jobs.

Victims who responded were asked to send personal information such as their date of birth and Social Security number. The scammer would then use the information for ID theft or sell it to other criminals, said Aaron Kornblum, a senior attorney with Microsoft's Internet Safety Enforcement division. The man even asked for detailed banking information, an unheard-of request in legitimate job applications.

Frantzy Morisset pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft, computer trespassing and fraud, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office said on Tuesday. He faces between 16 months and four years in prison, she said. He had also been charged in a cheque-forging scam.

The fake ads were listed on job sites including CareerBuilder.com, Counsel.net and Monster. The scam was active between January 2006 and July 2007, according to court filings.

Microsoft helped the Manhattan DA's office with the case as part of an effort to more aggressively investigate misuse of its brands, Kornblum said.

Microsoft's brand has also been misused by typo-squatters and in an ongoing lottery scam, in which victims are told they have won a cash prize for using Microsoft's products. In the lottery scam, victims are told they must pay tax charges or handling fees before they can claim their prize. The prize money never comes, but the thieves abscond with their phony fees, Kornblum said.

This is the first conviction Microsoft has seen in a fake job scam, Kornblum said.

Morisset's sentencing is set for May 21 in New York State Supreme Court.

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