Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Vanara Scam

As most of you know, I've been looking for work. I recently saw a couple positions that would fit me, and as a result, I sent my resume to the Executive Search firm called Vanara.

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, vanaras are "the race of ape-like humanoids in the Hindu epic Ramayana who were brave and inquisitive by nature." This is appropriate, as Vanara wants to make monkeys out of us.

I got a canned letter back from Vanara, extolling my virtues but adding that none of their positions would be a fit for me at that time. This is when I heard warning bells, because I knew that some of these positions would be. So, if they thought I was so marvellous, why were they telling me that I wasn't a fit?

"Given the strength of your record, it is my opinion that you can get several offers—but most likely not by using a recruiting firm," wrote one of their 'employees', improbably named Carina Zaragoza.

So although they're a recruiting firm, and make 25% of any executive's first year salary, and I am simply stellar, they are going to point me in another direction?

In con games, this is called "setting the hook."

Throughout the letter, Carina repeatedly mention two 'sources' that they highly recommend in my job search. Obviously they are somehow connected to the sources, as they loudly extol their praises.

"One source which can provide you with immediate access to virtually every open business development position in the United States is BusinessDevelopmentCrossing. BusinessDevelopmentCrossing is very effective in tracking down intelligence on business development jobs and distributing them to business development professionals. There are always thousands of business development positions on this site that are difficult to find on your own."
When you click on the links provided in the email, you can see that all sorts of information is passed on to BusinessDevelopmentCrossing so that if you are a sucker and pay the exorbitant fee, Vanara will get a cut.

Later in the email, the Vanara shill rhapsodizes:

"If you are eager to find new employment immediately, I recommend you contact Employment Authority. Many professionals use Employment Authority to get positions in the United States each year. Employment Authority can assist you in applying to not only the business development opportunities Vanara recruits for, but also other business development positions."
The fee for Employment Authority? $150, minimum.

Now here's the real kicker. Both services are merely job search engines with some additional goodies thrown on top (such as resume evaluation). You can get all of these services for free elsewhere.

Free substitutes that I highly recommend are Indeed, which is a premium search engine, and of course the standard job sites such as Career Builder and Monster.

Want to see for yourself? Go to Vanara and submit your resume here.

And if you get that letter from Vanara, you might point them here. And let them know that there's a special place in hell for people who prey upon the vulnerabilities of others.

Well, I decided to send a copy of Jacinta Bugg's resume to that helpful recruiter from Vanara.

Jacinta's "unique" resume is vastly different from mine. She would have nothing in common with the advertised jobs. Strangely, Jacinta shares the same address and phone number as the Pinellas County Sheriff's.

Interestingly enough, Carina Zaragoza told her exactly the same thing that she told me.

What a coincidence!


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Wow, that is shitty.

In the UK you get lots of sites putting up jobs, saying that they're gone but that you have good skills if you sign up for a certain work from home package etc.

Bastards stike when you're down!

Saur♥Kraut said...

Daniel, isn't it?! It's a new scam I hadn't seen before. I'm hoping this post will help the more gullible avoid this trap. It's human nature to trust a 'recruiter'/HR person. I hadn't heard of the scam you mentioned, but I'm not surprised. I'll bet THIS one is more effective, though.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I always suspected that a lot of these head hunter firms were a scam.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lazy, they may be. I've known very succesful, genuine headhunters but they may be the exception.

Paul Nichols said...

I just went to work again after a 6-month layoff. Whew! I used a local headhunter, but everything was done by telephone or e-mail from a person I had already talked with. Worked out good.

That scam you refer to is probably headquartered in Nigeria. That country is noted for such things, you know.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Paul, congrats! You give me hope! Believe it or not, this is an American scam. They're apparently based out of CA. And, it's not entirely a scam as you are paying for a service. However, you're paying for a service you can get elsewhere for free...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the 411 on these's a shame. I've been searching for about five (5) months and to run into something like this is disheartening. I've backtracked to some old contacts and am having better success in at least getting my resume considered. Still, a scam is a scam whether or not they take your money from an "alternate" service.

Anonymous said...

Please report this information to the BBB this information may save someone else from falling vitim to thier scam. You can do so online at

Anonymous said...

Carina Zaragoza (front left) was one of 10 USC undergraduates who participated in Your Boyle Heights. Behind her is Lisa Hagaki, a UCLA graduate student. The students were discussing photographs of one-time Boyle Heights residents Richard and Hermalinda Nieto.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to find your post. I've had the same experience and since then have been constantly amazed at how desirable and rare the job postings are from Vanara. In my particular field, very difficult to find right now and hard to resist. It is appalling. I'd like to stop them from taking advantage of people in such a cynical way.

robena said...

That Vanara has a slick set-up. They even have free Webinars you can go to. I did listen in on one last week. Has anyone else dialed into the Webinar?

They do have some mighty nice looking jobs posted. What a shame it is a bait scheme and they are taking advantage of people who are laid off of work and desperately looking to be re-employed.

The best thing to do is to do a search on any recruiting firm that you are looking to deal with.

Anonymous said...

Vanara is definitely a scam. I applied for a legitimate position through a prospective employer's website, but found the same posting on Vanara's website two days later. I e-mailed my resume and a cover letter and attempted to follow up with a phone call yesterday. The office handling this position is allegedly in Ephraim, UT and a physical address and 800 number are provided. Unfortunatley, when you call the 800 number you get a fast busy signal. I called several times over the span of 2 hours yesterday and called several times again today. I also noticed that every time I pulled the posting up on Vanara's site the job ID number is different. Stay away.

Anonymous said...

I looked up and saw these posts before replying to one of Vanara's ads, but figured I'd apply anyway - the posting looked legitimate (although I couldn't figure out what company it could be), and not many jobs in my field near where I live, so nothing to lose.

Got the exact canned email others have quoted, even though if the job they had posted actually existed it was right in line with my credentials. Interestingly enough, the response claimed that recruiters are more selective than the companies hiring, exactly the opposite of my experience - recruiters have such a financial incentive to talk to anyone who might be a fit, whereas companies these days don't have time to do that.

At least I didn't waste a lot of time crafting my response, since I had the heads' up on the scam. Thanks for exposing them!

Andy said...

Yes, they're still at it, and I got a very similar looking email today in response to what seemed a very legitimate job posting. I smelled something a bit off about the approach suddenly suggesting "How I can be more successful without a recruiter" and "here's resources we recommend".

I sent a letter back referencing the ability to Google this Website in association with the firm's name. I don't expect a response. Thanks for the valuable information!

Anonymous said...

I fell for this today... I wish I had googled them first but it looked so legitimate and the job seemed real.

Had anyone had any luck deleting their account with them? Has anyone experienced any other strange occurrences as a result of posting a resume with them?

Saur♥Kraut said...

Answer to the most recent Anon posting:

They pested me for a little and I wrote to them and told them they were a scam and to leave me alone and they did. See if there's an "opt out" at the bottom of the emails they send you.

atomgobbler said...

I just got the canned response too. Starting to write a blog about it, but will just link to yours. I found blog researching harvesters and SEO blackhats SOB's.

American Maestro said...

My Friend:
You have been victimized by one of the internet's biggest scammers. I think he is going international now. A. Harrison Barnes is a real barnicle on the backside of jobseeks. Keep spreading the word.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I was fortunate enough to have my spam filter intercept the mountainous volume of email from vanara.
I have also been receiving phone calls from an outfit like vanara. They post jobs in order to collect phone numbers.
Good luck if your job search.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no doubt that this is a very wide-spread scam and the only way to stop it is to communicate.
I checked out several sites which documented complaints about vanara, Barnes, Law, etc. and found people who paid him for over a year, hoping for something.
They all got the same thing everyone else did. Nothing.
This may be the biggest employment scam of all, but there is a question: What else is out there?
I have put a lot of effort in job apps on-line, as have others, and what is the waste of our time and money? A lot!
Spread the word.
We're not kidding.

Sophie said...

I reported them to, asking them to ban Vanara from their site. I also reported them to IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) which is a government site to report internet crimes.

I suggest all of you contact, Monster and other legitimate job sites and tell them that they should get rid of Vanara and the other "job" sites on the Vanara e-mail link.

Anonymous said...

A blogger named americanmaestro also has a thread about A. Harrison Barnes and has written on both his web site and RIPOFFREPORTS.COM about being threatened with a lawsuit for operating his blog. Everything written here seems like valid grounds for a scam, especially with the response that you received after you submitted your "fast food" resume.

I provided americanmaestro with certain guidance but the information is more applicable to consumers who were ripped off. The person who runs and the Better Business Bureau pointed out the relevant laws. Anybody with a gripe against Vanara or any of A. Harrison Barnes' other employment companies have powerful remedies that they don't seem to be using. So in the immediately next posting I share the same advice that I gave to "americanmaestro." I hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

As Promised - the response:

"If this attorney is for real then he is an idiot by talking about some back door way to add everyone in the country. If what was posted on your site by someone who responded is true then A. Harrison Barnes is guilty of multiple misdemeanors, has avoided paying taxes on his companies and EVERY SINGLE PERSON who ever did business with any of his employment companies can, according to CA Civil Code 1812.503(thank you legalauthorityscam.blogspot website), rescind their contracts for at least a full refund (with the potential for treble punitive damages) with every one of his employment companies that hasn't filed the proper paperwork with the state.

All it would take is one lead plaintiff and a good class action lawyer could serve a discovery request on A. Harrison Barnes and all of his companies for a list of ALL individuals who paid money to every one of his employment related companies, certify the class because there is a sufficient nexus of interests among all people who paid Harrison Barnes money via any of his employment related companies and effectively bankrupt him, shut down all of his companies and create sufficient grounds for disbarment. There may be other causes of action based upon consumer protection given that the representations that he makes on his sites appear incredulous and federal and state can-spam laws. (Is he really the largest portal of job opportunities in the world? It sounds like he might have the largest database of companies but that doesn't mean that a job exists - see below). If a civil suit couldn't cause disbarment then the multiple misdemeanors and failure to pay taxes would stand a chance (the failure to pay taxes, at least in CA, might be the reason that A. Harrison Barnes announced on his own blog that he changed his residency to NV and is moving there). Unlike the jerk of a lawyer representing the scamming and spamming A. Harrison Barnes, this would be an "in your face" easy font door way to wreck the man. Also, I'm not sure if he has officers in the company or people with similar status but they might be liable also.

I would take the case myself (my firm does class actions in CA) but I am an associate and the partners aren't interested. In this economy there should be some hungry lawyer interested in this matter. Until that happens at least someone who has been affected by the antics of A. Harrison Barnes should start reporting him to the law enforcement authorities in Los Angeles or Pasadena or Malibu or any other place in CA as the statute states that "the Attorney General, any district
attorney, or any city attorney may prosecute misdemeanor actions." The CA Bar Association might also be interested. All of this can occur even if he doesn't proceed with the libel suit.

A. Harrison Barnes and Paul Berra would both be smart to keep their mouths shut and their heads down and maybe consult with a criminal defense attorney before threatening others with very tenuous lawsuits. The rest of the employees may want to get as far away from that company as possible until he straightens out his legal and tax problems.

chris said...

I think that firm should change their name to "Vanarial Disease" because I certainly got sick after reading all these comments.

I consider myself to be a saavy person who doesn't get taken very easily and, in fact, it seems that Vanara has gotten a little wiser in the way they present themselves to unwitting sucke... ummm... candidates.

I too got a email from our good friend Carina Zaragoza BUT, it was preceeded by the following "pump up your ego" message from a Carleen Trapp, yes....TRAPP. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Well, here's her ego boosting message;


Thank you for taking the time to contact Vanara. At the outset, I want to let you know that I believe your credentials are very strong. Part of my job as a search consultant at Vanara is to take the time to better understand your background. I will review the information you submitted and contact you shortly.

There is no need to resubmit additional resumes or candidate profiles in response to advertised positions. The profile you created will be automatically reviewed for any and all positions that match your practice area and region(s) of interest by the search consultant in charge of the search.

I am looking forward to working with you.


Carleen Trapp

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the heads up! Saved me a lot of time and effort.

Best Regards,

Anonymous said...

UPDATE ON VANARA: It looks like Harrison Barnes and Carleen Trapp are a little rattled by all of the commotion over the legitimacy of Vanara. Barnes no longer lists the Vanara as one of his companies and the site is shut down. Maybe someone with authority finally investigated his unlicensed and deceptive charade and forced him to shut down. Now if he will just please remove all of the fictitious third party posts that still reflect that Vanara and Carleen Trapp are supposedly legitimate.

RDC said...

Now that Harrison Barnes has shut down Vanara, it looks like BCG Attorney Search may not be around for long. Since January 2009 recruiters have left the company in Boston, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Texas, Los Angeles and Washington DC. Last year the manager of BCG quit the company because he was tired of putting up with Harrison Barnes’s shady methods and other recruiters left in Atlanta/Charlotte and New York. Right now there is one recruiter that has not done any work this year for “personal reasons” and at least two other recruiters are planning to leave.

BCG now has a couple of people in NY, 1 in DC, 1 in TX 2 in Chicago and a couple in southern CA but only a few of those are active. Morale is terrible and Harrison never discusses departures honestly with the rest of the recruiters so it is not clear if these people were fired or quit.

One thing for certain is that departures are usually bitter and Harrison Barnes speaks very poorly and disparagingly of his employees after they leave. What he says is much worse than anything written by the people he is suing and none of it is true. Harrison Barnes takes pride in running his businesses in secret while deceiving everyone including his employees. For example, during 2009 he constantly told the recruiters that BCG was strong and growing while the company was falling apart. The reason he speaks so poorly of other employees is so he can blame them for the problems that are entirely of his own making.
Part of the 2009 breaking point came in April when Harrison harassed the recruiters to attend a recruiting convention in DC and told the recruiters how important it was that everyone attend. Some people thought they would be fired if they didn’t attend. Then, instead of attending the convention himself, Harrison races off to a multi-thousand dollar motivational seminar (probably paid for by the company) and then continues to vacation in the Pacific. Harrison also annoys recruiters to fill their free in this bad economy time by writing articles and blogs even though he doesn’t pay any recruiters anything except for commissions and is less than honest with how he pays his recruiters.

I used to like Harrison Barnes but he couldn’t hide his true self this year. He became the Emperor with no Cloths and nobody would tell him the truth because he usually fired anyone who disagreed with him. I think the reason so much of the background is coming out now is because so people have left and are still leaving and have nothing to lose by revealing the truth. Every former and remaining recruiter at BCG are great, hard-working and caring people. It is a shame that it took so long for everyone to learn his true nature. My guess is that just about every remaining recruiter will leave at the first opportunity, especially as the economy gets better.

Vigil said...

Warning. Vanara is back up with a different web design. It is still a sham and illegal operation.

Complaint Resolution Option said...

For anyone interested in filing more effective complaints against any of A. Harrison Barnes’s companies or interested in a potential class action lawsuit, please refer your comments to Each complaint is thoroughly reviewed by staff including attorneys specializing in class actions. A complaint form may be found at and their position on class action review may be found at Consumer Affairs is a legitimate organization that does not seek a fee from anyone who files a complaint.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for this crook and I can tell you that the servers for all of the CROSSING websites (there are about 80 of them) are located in Pasadena and there is also an office in Efraim Utah that handles more criminal activities. If you "Google" Carleen Trapp you will find some more information on these scams. A. Harrison Barnes is the owner of the whole network of these scams. You may want to "Google" him as well. My advice is to stay away from any website that ends in "CROSSING" to avoid most of this. If you see links to "CROSSING" websites, stay away from those sites as well. Stay away from and Good luck in your job searches!