Source: 2019-20 Consumer Sentinel Report
Whether it is a flyer taped to a street pole or an offer through social media, scammers use fake jobs to lure people in. The end goal of these scams is to ultimately steal your money, whether it's by asking you to pay a fee to secure a new job or whether they first steal your information and identity.
Employment scams are evolving as scammers find new ways to trick innocent people into handing over their money. Regardless of how much the script changes, the general story is usually the same. To help you avoid the most common job scams, read below for details on each scam.
Scammers create fake jobs that allow you to work from home. Often they will offer conditions that are too good to be true, like part-time work for full-time pay or guaranteed weekly earnings. They may impersonate actual companies or make up fake companies looking for new employees. They contact victims via email, social media, and SMS requesting that applicants fill in an application form or call them to apply. Their goal is to trick you into sharing personal information and/or steal your money.
These scammers rely on never having to meet you face to face, which makes it harder to verify them or their company. Domestic and international scammers run these scams. They often target workers whose movement is restricted, like stay-at-home parents, people with limited transport, people looking for a second job, and people in areas of high unemployment.
Many job placement agencies legitimately help many people find real jobs. It is crucial to understand how a legitimate agency works to make it easier to spot a fake. Real agencies do not charge the job seeker a fee for their service. Instead, the employer pays a fee, usually a percentage of the new employee's starting salary.
Scammers create fake job placements companies and pose as recruiters. They promote outdated or fake job openings on job websites, social media, and through email. When a job seeker contacts them, they tell them that there is an upfront fee to be paid via wire transfer to use their service. The goal of scammers is to steal your personal information and your money.
This scam uses the same tactics as the work from home scam and job placement scam. In this case, the job offer is to get paid to be a mystery shopper. Scammers choose mystery shopping because it is harder to validate and doesn't require a face-to-face meeting. It seems like easy money, and the pool of victims is large because it is easy to convince someone that pretty much anyone can do it.
There are many other variations of this scam. The things to watch out for are any kind of request for payments upfront or any overpayment by check. The ramifications for victims of job scams are losing money, having your identity stolen (which can lead to other scams), and personal impacts like loss of confidence and humiliation. The chances of getting your money back are low, particularly if the scammers are based overseas.
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