According to The Wall Street Journal, criminals are preying on U.S. job seekers with so-called mule operations. The article explains:
Cybercriminals post an ad on a job board. Successful job applicants are "hired" or asked to complete a trial project. Scam operators wire stolen money to the applicant's credit card and applicants are asked to purchase such goods as expensive electronics. The applicant ships the goods, often to Eastern Europe, where scam operators sell them. Applicants end up with neither a job nor a paycheck.
It's hard for federal authorities to go after specific mule Web site operations because the same criminal group can push 50-plus such sites a year. Instead, they collect intelligence to locate what group is behind a collection of sites and go after the group.
The leading Web site that monitors mule scams, bobbear.co.uk, reports that such schemes grew from 34 in December 2007 to 591 in December 2009.