Employment scams have been around for a while. Whether you fell in love with them or not, you’ve probably met them before. Many credible job and job posting websites still lack strong verification processes for new accounts that allow scammers to easily create fake profiles. The booming job market and ongoing pandemic stress is a perfect recipe for bad actors to scam job seekers out of money.
According to Federal Trade Commission, (FTC) Americans were defrauded of $68 million due to fake business and employment opportunities in the first quarter of 2022. This begs the question; how to avoid falling into the trap of employment scams? Let’s consider some tips to keep us safe and improve our awareness of scams like these.
Scammers often take a direct approach by contacting their victims over the phone, through phishing emails or even through social media. They may pose as a recruiter or be part of a recruitment or temp agency looking for candidates to fill “job opportunities”. Scammers can also pretend to be from a trusted company and link their “website” in the message. However, these links may lead victims to a fake website created by the crooks to add a sense of legitimacy.
If they initiate a conversation, the scammer can claim that they are not conducting in-person or secure video call interviews. But instead, interviews are conducted through teleconferencing apps that use email addresses instead of phone numbers. They may also claim that a fee must be paid to complete the interview process, background checks, “starter kits” or onboarding.
If a victim buys a fake recruitment, they can give out very sensitive information such as their social security number. This would allow a malicious actor to steal the identity of the victim.
Attractive job descriptions
Too often, scammers will try to make their supposed job opportunities as attractive as possible. The offer can seem almost guaranteed, with promises of little get-rich-quick and lavish returns. One professional “benefit” that a scammer may promise is the ability to work from home with a “flexible work schedule”. Common work-from-home scams to watch out for include:
Reshipping scams. These can be referred to as “quality control managers” or virtual personal assistants. Once “hired”, your job will be to receive the shipments at your home. You will then have to repackage and reship the said products to a different address, often abroad. The company often promises that you will receive your salary after working for a certain period of time. By the time the victim realizes that no check is coming, the scammer is long gone.
Resell goods. Victims are told that they can make money by buying brand name products at discounted prices from the fake company and then reselling the merchandise for a profit. But after paying for said “products”, the package never arrives and the employer can no longer be reached.
Fake check scams
Malicious actors can also use fake job postings for nannies, caregivers, virtual assistants or mystery shoppers. According to FTC, these may be facades of fake check scams. Often a scammer will send a check to the victim and ask them to deposit it. Shortly after, the scammer will then come up with a reason why they need some of the money (for example, you were overpaid or a fee is charged for start-up equipment).
The FTC states that a legitimate employer will never ask you to do this. So this can only mean that the check received is a fake. Since banks are required by law to make deposited funds available quickly, the scammer hopes the victim will return the money before realizing that the check has bounced. Once this has happened, the victim is either left with lost money, or worse, with money that now has to be paid back to the bank.
How to Avoid Employment Scams
We’ve discussed just a few of the many ways scammers can use employment scams to trick their victims. With that in mind, here are some red flags to help us spot and avoid employment scams:
- Unsolicited job offers from companies with little or no presence on the Internet. Their “website” may be linked, but be careful. It could just be a fake website or even a malicious URL. If you need to see if the company is legit, try visiting their website for yourself by typing it into a browser.
- The job postings and description sound too good to be true and guarantee big returns in a short time.
- Incorrect domain names or email addresses. If a scammer is posing as a legitimate business, there will likely be spelling mistakes in the email address they are sending from. This will often be difficult to spot at a quick glance. Also beware of the standard @gmail or @yahoo email addresses used by the “employer”. A company will never contact you by personal email.
- Messages that ask you to pay a fee or provide personal information to access more job information or startup materials.
- Interviews are only conducted on teleconferencing apps using email addresses instead of phone numbers. Not conducted in person or using a secure video call.
- Potential employers ask you to return some of the money sent to you by check.
Increased Awareness Leads to Better Safety
As you may know, October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. There are many different facets that make up cybersecurity. Foremost are steps such as using strong passwords, using a password manager, or using a VPN. These are particularly useful for businesses and individuals.
In this article, we have discussed the ways in which scammers can attempt to undermine our personal security through employment scams. By getting to know them, they provide important tips that correspond to cybersecurity, such as being aware of phishing, practicing safe clicks, and of course protecting your personal information.
By increasing our knowledge of the tactics used by malicious actors, we will be better equipped to protect ourselves when a scammer confronts us.
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*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of Safety through education written by Social-Engineer. Read the original post at: https://www.social-engineer.org/social-engineering/employment-scams-how-to-avoid-them/