Job Seeker Scams: How to Know if You’re Being Scammed
DISCLAIMER: All information in this article serves as examples only. The information provided is not any form of advice or inspiration! Decisions based on this information are made on your own account and at your own risk. The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent those of my employer.
Every profession has people who just don’t care about their field or profession; they are only looking for a quick way to generate money. Scamming people is just an easy way to do this, in many cases very quickly.
The recruitment field is no exception, and it’s not protected against these swindlers. Sadly, our field is also filled with people trying to do anything possible in the name of money; to them, people are just merchandise, a source of their easy income.
I hate any type of scammers and especially those who are trying to cheat people looking for a job. These people are very often in a stressful situation because they have just lost a job and they need to pay their bills. I am sharing this list of their tricks just because I would like to interrupt their scams to raise awareness about them.
Recruitment is a great field, and we have so many great and talented people trying every day to make it better. Sadly, recruitment is not immune from scammers. I hope at least some of their tricks I will mention below will raise awareness and people will be more careful. Don’t blame everybody in recruitment for these tricks; we’re all trying to fight these people and practices that are giving our field a very bad name.
These are tricks that I discovered during a year when I had some free time to check what scammers are doing. Some of them are very common; some of them are not widely known. And if you think that only a dull person could trust these tricks, trust me; everybody can fall for them.
Fake Job Offers
This scam is quite old but is still working. People receive an amazing job offer or find one through sites like Craigslist, and the only thing they will need to do to start working for that ‘company’ is to send a registration fee. The fee is not very often high, but after people send the money, they will not get that job, and nobody will give them their money back.
One update of that old trick is that scammers will call you and start bombarding you with paperwork for that job opportunity. And they ask various questions, and one of those questions is the number of your credit card with the CCV number.
Fake LinkedIn Profiles
We all have received at least one request from a fake profile. These scammers are creating many fake LinkedIn profiles just to get the contact information from LinkedIn users. There are many reasons why—some people will use your contact details for spam, others for phishing messages. Some people will sell your contact information and data to marketing companies, and others scour the profiles of people in their network to do talent mapping. There are many ways in which your data could be used.
How is it possible to get information about companies that is only intended for internal use? The easiest way some people are trying to trick people is through fake surveys. Some ‘student’ will reach your company saying that he/she is doing some school project and collecting information for it.
It always starts with a simple form with easy and general questions; at the end of that form they are asking things like, “What is the salary range at your company for position XY (select one of the options).” They usually add, “Don’t worry; all answers are anonymous.” This means you have a unique link and the answers are connected with your company and are not going to be anonymous at all. This is one way that your competitors could get competitive intelligence about your company.
Fake Salary Reports
How can you get the attention of candidates that are not responding? All recruiters think about a solution to that problem every day. How to write a tempting email or message that will make candidates reply.
One agency found a way to raise the number of answers from candidates. They created a salary report and sent it to candidates together with their message. That’s a legit way, BUT the salary ranges were 25% higher than the ranges that were typical for a market. And the whole salary survey was fake.
They just sent the message, “We are looking for XY like you for position XY,” adding their salary report and waiting for candidates to contact them. And we all want to earn more, so the greed is working very well quite often, so candidates reached them based on the salary report that was included in that message.
Candidates had a pre-screening call with that agency, they also shared their resume with them, and when the recruiters asked for their salary expectations, candidates shared the ranges mentioned in the salary survey. And they were quite surprised when the agency told them that these ranges were the ranges of the highest paying companies and, at that moment, they weren’t hiring, but the agency had some other opportunities for them, but the salary ranges were lower (they were market ranges).
Yes, the agency got a few resumes but made more people angry and hurt their reputation and brand.
Phishing Through Newsletters
There are many techniques that still amaze me because you are not going to recognize them as a recruitment technique and I personally believe that the methods are not ethical at all.
I saw this technique done by one agency. It’s based on massive spamming from some rented server or rented SMTP service. When they collect the list of all employees from LinkedIn, they find out the way the email addresses are created in that company.
And after they create the list of email addresses they send some spam message that will look like a newsletter message. Very often it includes some note saying that this is a weekly newsletter and if they would like to remove themselves from it they just have to reply with the “Remove me” text in response.
There is no unsubscribe link, just “Send us: ‘REMOVE ME as the subject of your message’ and we will remove you from our newsletter.” It looks like an error, but when most people send, “Remove me,” as a reply to that message, their Outlook or any other email programs will also include (in many cases) their email signature within that response. That signature very often has a landline phone number, email, and their mobile number together with some other data that could be relevant for that agency, as their job position.
Offering Real Job Offers to Sell You Shares
A company that is selling shares very often uses workers from “low cost” countries. They hire a recruitment agency in one of those countries. And the goal of that agency is to reach a potential target. In this case, it’s usually managers and more senior roles with the real offers that companies are currently looking for in that market. I got one of those offers and because I know the leader at that company I called him and asked him about it, especially why a Czech company was using a recruitment agency that was located thousands of kilometers away.
When I dug deep into that, I found out that the agency had a goal to get the phone numbers and information about the salary expectations for their customer, the company selling shares. The agency prepared the list of “targets,” and because the company knows the salary expectations, they also had an idea how much money these people could have for “investment.”
I played their games once and gave them some crazy salary expectation and next day I got a call with an “amazing offer” to buy shares that would skyrocket. That guy was selling that ‘opportunity’ in the same way as was described in the movie Boiler Room. When I asked them where they found my phone number, the answer was, “The computer generated it.” That was interesting, especially as the guy said, “Hi Jan, how are you?” at the beginning of the call and I only introduced myself by surname.
Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them,” and he was right, but he wasn’t alive in a century full of fake news, deception, and scammers. It’s good to trust people and keep suspicion to a minimum, especially when you get a call or email with the best opportunity that’s a one and only.
For every scammer trying to make money out of not caring what damage is done to others, there are thousands of others in recruitment who are doing an honest job and fighting these scammers.
Trust, but verify!