Have you heard of fraudsters posing as real employers in order to lure unsuspecting candidates in to divulge sensitive data or become a useful pawn in a larger scheme? This is a real thing, and so are the financial and reputational losses for both employers and job seekers.
It's not a new phenomenon, but the Covid pandemic’s acceleration of work-from-home opportunities fanned the flames, and technological advances made fakes harder to spot.
For job seekers, it might just be the lost time and effort in their search. Or, even worse, they can be tricked into thinking they landed a job, eagerly submitting personal information and financial data to start their onboarding. If they’ve been duped, job seekers might have to switch banks, cancel credit cards, or fight with credit ratings agencies to resolve the impact to their credit score.
Employers are equally vulnerable. Without proper oversight, a company’s reputation can be damaged when potential candidates spread the word that their job postings aren’t legitimate. This can dramatically hamper a companies legit recruiting process. The unexpected financial costs of battling this fraud – from attorneys’ fees to lost productivity – can add up quickly.
Let’s take a look at how individuals and organizations can protect themselves.
Get to know how fake job scam artists lure unwitting targets.
- Promise of simple, remote work for substantial wages (usually $500-$4000/week). If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This tactic is often employed by pyramid schemes, fake import/export jobs, and “reselling” opportunities. The Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Advice section defines a number of these scams and ways to avoid and report them.
- Fake LinkedIn profiles. While Twitter’s bot issue makes headlines, the proliferation of fake employee profiles on LinkedIn is hurting real companies. These nefarious actors are targeting crypto companies and networks and many others in an effort to fool would-be victims.
- Enticing people with flattery by fast-tracking their interviewing process. Recently, an MBA graduate was lured into a fake job scheme this way. She was excited that a major technology company had moved her to the front of the line based on her skills. She interviewed with someone she thought was a C-suite executive. Only later would she learn this was an elaborate ruse to steal her personal data.
Candidates, verify the positions you apply for are legit.
- Read emails, job postings, and other communications carefully. Watch out for strangely worded sections, misspellings, syntax errors, punctuation errors, and the like.
- Check and double-check email addresses and URLs. Often, scammers will obtain URLs which are almost identical to a legitimate web address. They’ll add a hyphen or obtain the .net or .us extension for a company that uses .com.
- Do your homework on those who contact you and are set to interview you. Find them on LinkedIn and match photographs to other social media accounts.
- Contact the company’s HR department to verify the authenticity of the job opening and the hiring managers.
- Find multiple postings and verify authenticity / consistency of job descriptions.
- Be cautious if you receive an offer to interview on the same day with someone over the phone or VoiP without video. Request a video interview or, if feasible, an in-person interview. This request may scare off a scammer.
- Never provide banking, routing, or financial information until after you have accepted a position and verified its authenticity.
- Conduct internet searches for the company name or hiring manager’s name along with terms such as “scam”, “fraud”, “fake”, or “criminal activity”.
- Helpful resources:
Employers large and small, have plans and procedures in place to find and deal with fraudsters attempting to impersonate your company.
- Assign someone to monitor the internet for fake jobs and report any fraud to the FTC.
- Set a bimonthly cadence to check current employee profiles on LinkedIn. If you find there are fake profiles, submit a complaint to the LinkedIn Customer Support Team.
- Regularly review your jobs posted online to ensure they are legitimate postings. Keep an active list of the job sites (ZipRecruiter, Google Jobs, Indeed, etc.) where your postings should appear. If you find erroneous or fraudulent postings, report them to the FTC and to the specific site’s customer support team. Request that the site administrator take down any postings you don’t recognize.
- Pay attention to how people are talking about your company on social media and sites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Fairygodboss, and CareerBliss. Job applicants and interviewees use these sites to report the good, bad, and downright awful experiences they have with specific companies’ interviewing process. If there are negative reviews from candidates you’ve never heard of or complaints about an interviewer whose identity you don’t recognize, this could be a sign your company has been targeted.
This space is evolving quickly. At Creative Alignments, our recruiters are always on the lookout for these tricksters - whether fake candidates or fake employers. It’s part of our due diligence and protection for our clients who need to hire real people. Stay tuned. In the coming months, we will share specific scenarios our recruiters are unearthing and how they successfully navigated them.