When someone threatens a member of this community, I get upset. For the past 10 days I’ve been doing research on SevenFigureCareers to find out who’s behind it. I found myself going down an Internet wormhole. Now I’m back out.
SevenFigureCareers claims to be a “Recruiter Network” with “over 2,400 Associates” and “Over 1,600 Private Equity Contacts.” For a fee, it will give you “Access to Confidential Jobs” and “Hidden Opportunities.” (See SevenFigureCareers: Had an encounter?)
After John Rice [not his real name] had a bad experience, he found the Ask The Headhunter community was already talking about SevenFigureCareers. So he posted in the comments section, and requested more information from others.
Within a matter of minutes, he sent me an e-mail:
“Hey, Nick — Please take down the post I made today re: Arthur French.”
As long as someone isn’t playing games, I respect a reader’s wishes. We all sometimes blurt out something in a discussion forum that we wish we could take back. So I removed John’s comment, but I asked why he wanted it taken down. “Call me,” he wrote back.
Rice was irritated and worried.
“As soon as I posted my comment, I got an e-mail instantly from an attorney in Texas. Cease and desist, it said. Then somebody else from SevenFigures contacted me and said, if you take it down we won’t sue you. That’s when I contacted you.”
I asked John if he’d called the lawyer. Of course, he said. He left a voicemail because no one answered — but the lawyer never called him back.
Much of a headhunter’s time is spent doing research, specifically, checking people out. It’s hard to hide from me if you’re trying to do business with me. Or if you’re causing trouble.
When I research people, I go to independent sources where I know I’m getting information they cannot manipulate. The State Bar of Texas was my first stop. And there was the lawyer in the directory — same name, different phone number. His record was reported as clean.
I wanted to make the call myself, but I know better than to interfere in a legal matter — so I asked John to call the lawyer at the number I’d found listed for him on the State Bar website. John’s my kind of guy — he didn’t hesitate and was excited about getting to the bottom of this.
We both expected we’d find a kind of Better Call Saul attorney — a slime who would write a nastygram like that for a fee. What troubled me was how sloppy the e-mail was. I’m not a lawyer, but my lawyer has taught me enough about contracts and legal documents that I couldn’t imagine a real lawyer writing crap like that.
John called back shortly.
“Nick, I can’t believe it. He says he didn’t write the e-mail. Had nothing to do with it. But he’s pissed off.”
Frankly, I couldn’t believe it, either. Who would be stupid enough to impersonate a lawyer so brazenly?
With John’s permission, I called the lawyer myself. He said the threatening e-mail “was definitely not from me.” However, he had done some work for “a SevenFigures entity” about a year ago but had not had any relationship with them “for quite some time.”
He didn’t recognize any of the names connected to the firm that Rice and I shared with him — including Arthur French –, but he would not go into the details of work he had done for his client. This is exactly what a lawyer should say.
Since he had spoken to Rice, he said he had been “trying to figure out who was behind that e-mail” but has not been able to. He closed by saying he was going to contact his old client, and the Texas Bar Association, because he was “extremely concerned about the use of my name.”
Was he telling the truth? He was being as cagey as a good attorney should be, and I have no concrete evidence that he was involved, so I am not publishing his name unless I learn otherwise.
Meanwhile, I shared the e-mail with a New York consumer class action attorney. His comment:
“Engaging in the unauthorized practice of law is a crime in Texas (and every other state). See this link: http://www.txuplc.org/. Please keep me updated.”
What matters most is that the e-mail threat came from a sevenfigurecareers.com address, and someone at the firm was impersonating an attorney. That’s a crime. Fraud. [UPDATE: Shortly after this article was published, the SevenFigureCareers website was shuttered.]
The phone number
A search for the telephone number of the lawyer in the e-mail turned up a surprise: a press release (dated September 1, 2016) on Online PR Media about “7F-SevenFigCareers” including a media contact named Philip A. Alia. (I’m disclosing the PR agent’s name because, unlike the lawyer, he has made his connection to SevenFigures public, online.) Beneath his name is a contact number: the same number under the lawyer’s name in the threatening e-mail.
What putz would put out a fake threat from a lawyer and list a phone number that traces back to his own company’s press release? (See Stupid Recruiter Story #1.)
I tracked down Alia like I did the lawyer — through other independent sources. He’s a public relations consultant, and said he had done just one press release for “CR Nicholas” at SevenFigureCareers in December 2015. He admitted he didn’t even write it. He just placed it in the media. Alia also knew Arthur French, who is quoted in the press release. But Alia said he had done no other work for them. When I pointed out the September 1, 2016 press release, he seemed genuinely surprised. He had nothing to do with it — so I suggested he might want to bill them for it. There is no indication Alia has any other connection to SevenFigureCareers.
Alia’s experience seems to mirror the lawyer’s. One assignment for each, then SevenFigures appropriated their names and used them fraudulently. In the case of the lawyer, someone at SevenFigureCareers impersonated a Texas attorney to threaten and intimidate John Rice.
I won’t stand by when scammers threaten members of this community.
Earlier today the SevenFigureCareers.com website was altered. The 7F logo is gone as is much of the promotional verbiage. Most of the site is now locked down behind passwords. If you type the URL into your browser, the site comes up. But if you click a link to get there, the site yields a blank page with “Nope” in a box at the top. (But if you then put your cursor at the end of the URL in your browser and hit Enter again, the site comes up.) It seems they are trying to avoid inbound links from other sites — like from this article.
It turns out 7F has an interesting history. It’s an old Texas cattle brand, originated by the grandfather of a rancher whose business has long been registered as 7F, Inc. with the Texas Secretary of State. We had a long talk. He and his brand have got nothing to do with SevenFigureCareers — but he sure wants to know who’s using his grandfather’s brand as their logo.
How does a phony recruiting firm operate? See 7F: Anatomy of A Recruiting Scam.
Nick, YOU ARE AWESOME! Great work calling a spade a spade and getting to the bottom of these fraudulent activities. I hope you keep us updated on these jokers.
Yeah … I’m writing your name in come November!
Is it me, or do the letter and PR release read only slightly better than a Nigerian prince email scam? They smell to high heaven.
Note that it’s quite easy to spoof emails, so an email purporting to come from sevenfigurecareers.com may or may not come from there, although in this case it’s hard to see who else might have wanted to send the email in question. Exercise the same caution with IT records as you do with hearsay in the real world.
Way to go, Nick! You should have your own reality TV show :-)
Reality TV?! Don’t insult Nick :)
Marilyn: Hey… don’t knock it… I could run for president! :-)
I stand corrected . . . I actually forgot where HE came from :(
Ok: no reality tv.
Never pay for access, you ARE the talent and the secret sauce they need. Who do they think they are, TheLadders? Fool us once…
This is a great public service. Who knew HR investigative reporting could be so juicy??
Thanks, Ian — but please, don’t refer to me or anything I do as “HR.” I’ve never worked in HR, never would. The reason people succumb to such scams is because the HR profession has turned recruiting and hiring into such a roulette game that desperate people and wishful thinkers will do almost anything to avoid the broken HR system. HR has created this problem, and scammers exploit it.
Thank you Nick for your vigilance on behalf of all readers of your excellent blog – can’t wait until you get to the bottom of this! Unbelievable!
Holy cow…! Nick, this has my attention and I hope you keep us posted on its progression. I’d love to LEARN how this impacts all the different legal facets. Though I’m not an attorney, I am a legal nerd and enjoy learning as much as possible about law.
Nice work on tracking down the details around this site and the fraud they are committing. While looking at sevenfigurecareers.com, I stumbled upon http://www.7figrecruiting.com — have you seen this site yet? It has the stolen ‘7F’ logo. (Be sure to view http://www.7figrecruiting.com/who-is-sevenfigcareers)
The domain was registered on March 18, 2015, but the details of the person/org who registered it are private. According to archive.org, the site went online a week after the domain was registered.
Thanks, nuvs, but the domain registrations are all hidden — the owner pays to keep their ID private. All that’s listed is the company that’s paid to mask the owner.
I found them listed at 2244 Faraday Ave Carlsbad, CA 92008 in Prime Executive Offices – virtual offices,mailboxes and meeting spaces. Really not the office space you would think of for an organization dealing with high level searches – seven figures to be exact! SCAMS, SCAMS, SCAMS!
ER: They’re also listed at 600 Broadway in San Diego. But there’s no record of them with the building management. It’s all “virtual.”
But scammers make mistakes. And these guys have made many.
Great work Nick. Now when you google 7F, you come up. This whole thing is like the scammers I know victimize some elderly: first, victims get a recording supposedly from the IRS, saying an action has been filed against them. A few minutes later there’s a follow up recording purportedly from law enforcement.
Anyone threatened this way for reporting a scam or anyone scammed, should contact the Federal Trade Commission. File a complaint with the FTC here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0243-job-scams#report
See their work on recruitment scams here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0243-job-scams
I still cannot believe the number of people, obscure and prominent (insert you know who here) that believe they can try to fool us, or lie to us or convince us that dark is light and light is dark, in the modern age of the 21st century.
After reading the backing story on this, I couldn’t stop laughing at the complete stupidity of the dickhead at SevenFigureCareers. On top of that, the name is so appealing, it’s like a dumpster outside a fish shop in Texas that hasn’t been emptied in weeks.
Nick, you just can’t make this shit up, who would believe you.
That’s great detective work, Nick. But with all due respect to our fellow community member, couldn’t they have sniffed out right from the beginning that SevenFigure Careers was phony to begin with? There enough signs that it wasn’t legitimate.
Bulldog: There’s a whole psychology behind falling for scams. It’s astonishing how even the most sophisticated people suspend disbelief in certain situations or during periods of stress. I used to wonder the same thing, but after interviewing many victims, I understand better how they succumb.
But I agree with you. The signs are all there. It’s just that the mind sometimes leads us toward what we want to believe.
There is ample behavioral research showing that stress hampers cognitive ability and sound decision making. My worst decisions were usually the result of fear or worry. I try to avoid or delay important decisions in such a mode.
Nick – Have you checked SevenFigureCareers on the whois database. Will give you the name and contact info for the registered owner of the website.
Looks like others were ahead of me on the whois connection. Their comments appeared in my news feed after mine posted. Sorry to be late to the game, but glad to see everyone helping each other.
Richard: Readers have sent me loads of useful information through e-mail. The Internet giveth to scammers, and the Internet taketh away. Keep it coming, folks!
Please don’t ever pay for these types of services. Reputable career coaching and advising is a better use of your money.
And remember to do due diligence. Check references, at least 3. Never pay up front. Pay as you go to stop losses.
@Richard You are wrong on this. Some registrars in the .com domain offer private registration, i.e., the address of record is that of the registrar. I should know: that is what I am doing myself.
@Olivier – Right you are. When I do a website ownership check on a company I want to do business with or track info on, if the domain is a private registration, I generally consider that a red flag or at least an indication to be cautious. Although I’m sure there are privacy and security reasons that companies use to justify anonymous registrations, a legitimate business should have no problem with its web site registration being a clear linkage to the company, itself.
For individuals like me, concealing what is usually the home address is only prudent, I think, but I concur that in the case of companies it is a probable red flag.
Richard: You and Olivier make good points. A site’s ownership may be hidden for good reasons, but it’s also reason to do further due diligence. For example, does the website list anyone’s name? If yes, do they have profiles on LinkedIn? Are there credible Google results about them? My rule is, dig at least 3 levels deep through links. Does the information add up?
Far more important than domain ownership to me is the name of the person running the business — who they are, who knows them, what their rep is.
1. The wording / grammar found at this site – http://www.slideshare.net/SevenFigureCareers/find-arthur-french-executive-recruiter-at-sevenfigurecareers – leads me to believe it was written by a non-native English speaker, so perhaps this is a foreign / off-shore operation.
2. Regarding Bulldog’s comment. The reason the “Nigerian prince” and related scams continue is apparently because, although the scams are obvious to “most of us,” there are a sufficient number of people who are gullible enough to believe the pitch and make those people worth pursuing. The idea is that people who “smell a rat” will self-select themselves out by not replying, while the gullible will continue on and respond back, and then will be the most easy to convince to sign-up or whatever. That is why there is (often) no attempt to hide the scam. And yes, when we are desperate enough, and are in dire enough circumstances, even “most of us” will be tempted to and often do fall for the pitch.
Chris: Last week’s news about the IRS scam bust in India revealed those guys were taking in $130,000 per day, convincing people to go to their local Target story to buy thousands of $$ worth of gift cards, and to mail them to the scammers — or risk having federal marshals show up to arrest them.
How many suckers does it take to generate $130K per day when you have a boiler room of 70 telemarketers working around the clock? Everyone else hangs up on them. It still works.
If you want a good laugh, go listen to people mess with these guys.
Nick well done you hound dog! Open, tranpsarent and honest!
If it is too good to be true it probably is. Good work Nick.
Looks like the contract had one of those non-disparagement clauses that are so common now.