Nigerian Princes Need Not Apply

“Hello Future Employee! We are now hiring for Package Inspectors. You will work 20 hours a week from your own home. Compensation will be $65,000/year…”

I get these sorts of emails all the time. While they usually provide me with some comic relief due to their absurdity, they’re part of a larger problem job seekers are facing today – job posting scams.

These scams try to get money or personal information from people who believe they’re applying for a real job. Scammers mimic reputable companies or recruiters in an attempt to gain the trust of the job seeker. Though not every off-beat opportunity is a scam, there are a few telltale signs that indicate you should run for the figurative hills.

They Send You Money

One example of this scam, reported by NBC Chicago, is a single mom who thought she scored the remote opportunity she’d been hoping for. Her job was to run errands for an artist in Los Angeles, who was (supposedly) traveling abroad. He mailed her a check for $2,800 to cover the cost of the errands, which included buying gift cards and sending money orders. A few days later, the check bounced and she was stuck paying for the bill. How could she fall for this? The scammer posed as a famed artist, so when she did her research, she found the company to be legit.

They Ask You for Money

A perfect example of this scam was posted on the popular blog, Ask a Manager. It involves security training companies that posted fake job openings online, listing their classes as a requirement for the job. Candidates were told once the $350 classes were completed, they could start the position. Lo and behold, there was no job opportunity waiting. These security companies offered their graduates faux referrals to companies that, when graduates called, had no knowledge of the security training companies or upcoming interviews.

They Request Sensitive Information

I know, it seems stupid to give your information, like Social Security number, out over the phone. But, this scam is a lot more common than you think! During my last job search, I had a call with a recruiter who was (supposedly) from a reputable firm. She asked me a bit about my experience and working status. Then, she asked for my Social. When I said no, she got very upset, saying she’s not allowed to give any details without it. She also used the line “everyone else has done this, it’s not a big deal!” I’ve had enough interviews at that point to know this was not the norm.

Some of these scams seem obvious, but someone who is new to the job market or desperate for a job may not pick up on the cues. Plus, when you have someone who is supposedly an industry professional telling you “it’s normal” it gets even harder to see the truth. So, new grads (and everyone else) beware! Keep in mind a job search should not cost you anything – whether it be your Social Security number for job details or $350 for training. And, remember, if your instincts are screaming no! you should probably listen.

One comment

  1. I have a question about the ZipRecruiter. I was unaware as a candidate that I would receive a call from them regarding a position matching my experience listed on my resume. Also the name on the caller id did not say ZipRecruiter, but rather an individuals name. When I asked what company the male caller was representing, he gave me the location of the employer and than asked if it was near me. I stated that I was aware of the employer and had completed an internship for emergency management there. Obviously this went over his head, as he then said, this is for Disaster Recovery Coordinator position. I told him that I had reviewed the announcement and it pays less than what I am already making. He response was, I wouldn’t be willing to take it for less. I no, not with having a graduate degree in the field and experience, why would I. He then said he was marking that I was not interested. However, I continue to emails about the same position from ZipRecruiter. I think it was a scam of some sort myself. Your thoughts?

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