10/28/2022 Getwork

Recruitment scams to look out for and what to do

Everything you need to know about recruitment scams 

Searching for a job can feel like a full-time job and if it wasn’t stressful enough you also have to keep an eye out for recruitment scams. Unfortunately, scammers prey on those who are looking for work, need to secure an income asap, and are willing to jump through hoops for a job.

Fake jobs and fake recruiters target job seekers to get their personal information and money, here’s what you need to know.

What’s a recruitment scam?

Scammers have two main ways of creating a recruitment scam. Firstly, they’ll post a job that isn’t real on free-to-post sites like Gumtree and Craigslist and await applicants. Some may even take these applications offline and post fake jobs on notice boards or lampposts. 

Either way, the role they advertise is often too good to be true. They could advertise a real job that they’ve stolen the description of from a legitimate company but hugely bumped up the pay, or they could be advertising a way to make thousands of dollars in just a few hours a week. 

Once you apply, fake recruiters will approach you to discuss the role further. 

Some fraudsters come straight in at this point, they don’t even advertise. Instead, if they have found a person’s contact details they’ll contact them directly via phone or email, offering a too-good-to-be-true role.

What are the scammers trying to achieve?

Money is first and foremost the big incentive here but they’ll go about this in different ways. 

The more information that you give to a scammer, the more information that they can use to take out fake loans or credit cards in your name. They might even be able to hack into your personal bank accounts and steal money directly. 

They could sell your information to other fraudsters, especially if they don’t have information such as your social security number. By selling information such as an email or telephone call, scammers can bombard you with spam and malware, all with the eventual goal of making yet more money from you. 

For recruitment frauds playing the long game, on being offered a job you’ll be asked to pay a set-up or recruitment fee. Sometimes this is well over $200 and is often through a service like Western Union which makes it really different for your bank to recoup or trace. 

Some of the fake jobs themselves involve illegal activity and can defraud you even further. A popular job scam is being employed as an administrator or financial controller. Here, you’ll be asked to use your own bank account to move stolen money from A to B. Often, the incentive is keeping a small amount of the moved money yourself. Of course, you won’t be told the money is stolen, in fact, you’ll often be told this is just while they’re setting you up on the system. However, as money laundering is a serious crime you could be in big trouble.

How to spot a recruitment scam

First things first, if something seems too good to be true, it often is, especially in the job market. High-pay roles that are easy to get should be your first red flag. 

Similarly, if you’re offered the job on the spot, or not asked standard questions about your experience and your resume, then again the role is too good to be true. When you speak to a recruiter, even if they found your resume online they’ll want you to talk them through it. They’ll also want to check your availability, your notice period, your salary expectations, and why you’re currently looking for a role. 

Next, keep an eye on where the job is being posted. If it’s appearing on Craigslist or on a local Facebook noticeboard, it may not be from a legitimate employer or recruiter. 

To avoid scams, it’s safest to apply to roles directly on an organization’s website or with job boards like Getwork or Adzuna

Think about whether the person contacting you has contacted you out of the blue. This can be hard to notice if you’re applying for a lot of roles but does the job itself sound familiar? You can keep an eye out for someone’s credentials regardless of if they seem a bit fishy. Search for their phone number online and look at their domain name. In fact, your phone might even flag spam numbers. 

Scammers can be really smart with domain names changing just one character or a .com to a .net. If a website or email domain doesn’t quite match up with the company, or if the domain is showing as non-secure or not linked to a registered company, these are all signs that something fishy could be going on. 

You should be able to find out from companies and recruiters what their emails should look like, find out if someone is employed by them and look them up on LinkedIn. Of course, in cases of identity fraud, the person speaking to you might claim that they’re a legitimate employee of a recruitment company, so ask if you can speak to them on video and see if the picture matches. Luckily, a lot of recruiters have their emails on their LinkedIn profiles so you should be able to see if the emails match each other. 

If you get a call out of the blue and the quality of the line is bad, this could be a sign that this is a scammer calling you from overseas. Similarly, if they only refer to you as “Sir” or “Madam” it’s probably a sign that they don’t actually know your name yet, they’ve just bought your phone number. 

Poor spelling and grammar should also be something to keep an eye out for. Normally if a job is being listed on a company’s website or a jobs board, at least a few people will have read the post to check the spelling and grammar and to check that everything is clear. If it’s poorly written and vague, this is a sign that it’s not real.

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed

Firstly, don’t panic. Unfortunately, these scams are designed to hoodwink us and it’s worth remembering there could be a whole team of people working against you. 

If you think you’ve been scammed but no money has currently changed hands and your bank accounts are showing as normal, it’s still worth contacting your bank to let them know. It will probably be worth at the very least changing all of your passwords and upping your security. 

If money has left your account then make sure you contact your bank as soon as possible. Most banks will have a stand-alone fraud line with a team of experts who can help you. 

If you’ve been hoodwinked into laundering money, again your bank should be told asap and they will help you to establish the next steps. If you have yet to send the money to where it needs to go, avoid sending it on while you speak to your bank and the police. 
In any of these scenarios, make sure you report this to the authorities. USA.gov suggests the next steps based on the type of fraud committed. You can also speak to your local police officer.

How to avoid recruitment scams in future

Spend some time securing all of your accounts. This can be anything from your social media accounts to your bank accounts. 

Ask some friends to Google you and see if they can find your contact details. If they’re readily available online then this is a sign you need to tighten up your personal security. 

Avoid easy passwords too, password123 is far too common and makes a scammer’s life a bit too easy. 

Be vigilant online, especially if you’re applying for roles on sites that are free to post on. Sure, your local cafe may post a temporary role on a local Facebook group, but a large multinational company won’t be advertising jobs via these means. 

If you’re looking for full-time employment, job boards are a safer place to look. Companies have to register to post, and pay a fee to do so, which makes recruitment scams a lot harder. 

Get into the habit of checking the email, the phone number, and the website that all jobs are coming from, and do a bit of your own homework. Recruitment companies are aware these scams exist, so it won’t reflect poorly on you if you ask for evidence that a role is real. 

And finally, never pay to start a new job. The only money exchanging hands should be your first paycheck!