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How to Detect Job & Employment Scams 


What are job and employment scams? 

Employment scams are designed to recruit unsuspecting individuals to launder money for criminal organisations. These scams can be found in the form of job advertisements posted online or emails sent to random addresses, promising quick commissions in return for work completed from the comfort of your own home. Eventually, the ‘job’ will turn into receiving and transferring money or goods elsewhere.

On the other hand, job scams include sending money to an employer, depositing money into your account and withdrawing it to send somewhere or spend on something, and/or providing the employer with personal information before you have the job. Job seekers have to be careful with offers such as these, because there are people who will pose as employers or recruiters to get your money and/or your information. 

In general, these criminals use online chat rooms, social networking sites, hoax websites and fake profiles to furnish the scam to convince the recruit. New recruits are usually found using resumes published on job platforms. The recruitment process is usually quick, with little to no training required. Most ‘jobs’ offered are work-from-home situations and relatively easy, but promise high-return commissions. Oftentimes, it is not until the victim is alerted by their bank or money transfer service that they will leave the scam. This scam also typically gains access to victims’ passports, driver licence and tax information under the ruse that they are applying for a legitimate job.

See also: How to Return to Work without Losing Your Comfort

Detecting employment scams 

If you believe you might be involved in an employment scam, keep track of the following warning signs: 

  • Spelling and grammar errors on emails or job ads. 

  • Blocked or unavailable phone number.

  • Email address from mainstream email providers (such as @hotmail or @gmail) that does not match the company’s web domain. 

  • Your first contact is via a text message. Though not unheard of, this is not typical and can serve as a warning sign. 

  • You did not apply for the job. Though legitimate recruiters might reach out to you, use caution when dealing with anyone who contacts you first and keep an eye out for other warning signs. 

  • You need to provide money or banking information. 

  • You are offered a job without an interview and the job involves you depositing and then transferring or taking out money from your own account. 

  • High salaries, but no interview and/or vague job requirements. 

  • You are asked to give money. You will never have to pay true employers for materials, training, or screening before you have the job. 

  • Contact information and details that do not fit the company’s website information. You can find this by researching the company online. 

  • They claim that you can make a lot of money for little effort using your personal computer.

  • Referee is not checked.

  • You never have visual contact with the person asking you to work for them. 

  • They are an overseas company wanting to transfer money through your homeland.

Example of common job scams 

Below are descriptions of some scams. These are not all of the job scams out there, but they are some common ones. 

  • Moving money scams. Often called a “financial agent”, “client manager”, or “payment processor”, these scams seem to be some of the most common. Fake employer will deposit a cheque into your account. You will keep part of the money and send the rest of it to another person or business. The cheques are often fraudulent, so you end up sending your own money. You can potentially also become involved in illegal practices with these scams. 

  • Mystery shopper scams. There are some legitimate mystery shopper employment opportunities, but this is also a common job scam. You might receive a text message or email or see an ad asking you to contact them for a mystery shopper opportunity. If you reply, you will receive a cheque in the mail and instructions to take out some of the money to spend at various stores as an assessment of those stores and to send the rest of the money (via money order or transfer) as an assessment of various banks. The cheques end up being fraudulent and you send your own money. 

  • Buying materials scams. Fake employers will have you deposit a (fraudulent) cheque and buy materials or equipment, such as software, etc., and send the rest of the money back to them. You do not get a job.

  • Reshipping scams. Fake employers will have you pick up and reship packages. They will not reimburse you, and they are often involved in illegal activities (moving stolen goods). 

  • Recruitment agency scams. There are legitimate recruitment and placement agencies that can be fantastic for finding employment; however, agencies that place workers into temporary positions are prohibited by law to charge you any sort of fee. For agencies that place job seekers in permanent work, they can charge for services, such as resume reviews, etc., but they cannot charge for helping you find work. Keep in mind that you have these services available to you for free. 

Responding to employment scams 

If you believe you have been a victim of an employment/job scam, there are a few steps you can take to limit the damage, such as follows: 

  • Stop sending any more money and immediately contact your bank(s).

  • Assess what identity documents the scammer has gained access to, and contact the relevant agencies.

  • Report the scam to police, and any relevant job sites if it originated from an online ad.

  • If you clicked on any links/downloaded attachments in emails, make sure to run antivirus scans on your devices.

  • Consider taking out credit bans to prevent future financial misuse of your credentials.

  • Be wary of secondary scams attempting to use your details.

Lastly, you can prevent job and employment scams in the future by always being suspicious of any unsolicited job offers, especially if they are guaranteed without an interview. Always do research before taking an offer and always stay alerted!! 

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