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Employment scams, also known as job scams, are a form of advance fee fraud scamming where certain unscrupulous persons posing as recruiters or employers offer attractive employment opportunities which require the job seeker to pay them money in advance, usually under the guise of work visas, travel expenses, and out-of-pocket expenses.
The scams typically involve lucrative offers of employment in Europe, the Middle East, West Africa, or South Africa with money demanded to be paid to an agency or travel agent for visas or travel costs. These companies often present themselves with official-looking websites and documentation. Once the victim has paid the advanced fees for employment, the 'business' either 'declines employment' or 'ceases operating' as soon as the transfer is finalized.
This type of scam has become more and more frequent recently due to the popularity of 419 scams, and growing suspicion towards e-mails offering to transfer money from bank accounts, especially those originating in Africa. Unlike 419 scams, job scams tend to mostly target persons looking for employment in other nations such as hopeful immigrants or contractors and operate out of nations with high immigrant and foreign employment rates.
It is advisable to be wary of any job offerings which arrive in e-mail unsolicited and eventually require anyone to pay a fee in advance, particularly if the fee is asked to be paid through a financial services company such as Western Union, or if one must pay the amount to a bank or person in a third country (especially a West African nation) that is suspiciously unrelated to either party. Most reputable companies and/or agencies will absorb these costs themselves if they are the ones seeking the employee.
Types of job scams
The simplest form of employment scamming offers guarantees of employment within a fixed time period, such as 30 days, for a fee. These "seeker companies" then distribute the victim's resume to prospective employers (in a process known as "resume blasting") in hopes of tricking the victim into believing the authenticity of their business. The victim then pays money to have his or her details sent to employers who are hiring, but what the fraudsters do instead is spam hundreds or thousands of employers, industry websites, and online magazines with a victim's details in hopes of having the companies send them correspondence they can use to scam new victims.[clarification needed] Occasionally, they will also have the company pay for travel and other work related expenses by passing themselves off as the victim, thus scamming both the employers and job seekers.
Some of these "employment agencies" offer a money back guarantee as an incentive so as to bait victims who do not wish to pay money for a failed employment search. Very few job seekers ever receive a refund, though it has been known to occur.
Bogus job offers
More sophisticated scams advertise jobs with real companies and offer lucrative salaries and conditions with the fraudsters pretending to be recruitment agents. A bogus telephone interview may take place and after some time the applicant is informed that the job is theirs. To secure the job they are instructed to send money for their work visa or travel costs to the agent, or to a bogus travel agent who works on the scammer's behalf. No matter what the variation, they always involve the job seeker sending them or their agent money, credit card or bank account details.
Another form involves bogus jobs being placed on legitimate Internet job boards. For example, a fraudster places a bogus job listing on a legitimate employment site, which is then e-mailed to thousands of job seekers wishing to find a job meeting that criteria. The fraudsters then take advantage of those who contact them, by asking for employment, visa, or travel fees in advance before they can consider the person for employment. Often, they create fabricated websites mirroring the real company sites, or create fake websites parodying a non-existent company which is legitimately registered in their origin country for the sole purpose of scamming victims.
Most often, fraudsters will use stolen credit card information to pay for posting their job opportunities on legitimate sites, as well as paying for the hosting of a bogus company's site.
A newer form of employment scam has arisen in which users are sent a bogus job offer, but are not asked to give over financial information. Instead, their personal information is harvested during the application process and then sold to third parties for a profit, or used for identity theft.
Another form of employment scam involves making people receive a fake "interview" where they are told the benefits of the company. The attendees are then made to assist to a conference where scammer will use elaborate manipulation techniques to convince the attendees to purchase products, in a similar manner to the catalogue merchant business model, as a hiring requisite. Quite often, the company lacks any form of physical catalogue to help them sell products (e.g. jewelry). When "given" the job, people is then asked to promote the scam job offer on their own. They are also made to work the company unpaid as a form of "training".
Still another form involves making the candidates pay up money upfront in person. They are then led to believe that after the training the job would materialize. But the job is fake, and does not exist in the first place. The candidate effectively is fooled using deception.
These scammers do internet searches on various companies to obtain hiring managers names. They then advertise job offers on Job Search sites. The job hunter will then apply for the position with a resume. The person applying for the position will get a message almost instantly from a common email account such as "Yahoo", asking for credentials. The scammer will sometimes request that the victim have an "Instant Messenger" chat to obtain more information. The scammer guarantees employment, usually through automated computer programs that have a certain algorithm, with "canned responses" in broken English.
At the "Instant Messenger" stage it is usually too late and the process has already begun. If the victim questions the integrity of the process, the computer program may call them a "scammer" and can be quite vulgar. Quite often the fraudulent negotiables are still sent to the address on the victim's resume, even after the fake online rant.
The scammer sends the victim fraudulent negotiables, assuring them that they get to keep part of the funds. They will expect the victim to send the remainder to various parties that they specify, under the guise that they are legitimate business contacts. This is a money laundering scheme, as the victim becomes a pawn in the filtering process. The process continues until the victim catches on, or even gets caught.
Another form of the scam is the "Representative/Collection Agent" variation wherein the scammer advertises, usually on legitimate online job sites, available positions for "Representative or Collection Agent" for a company abroad. As the representative, the job involves receiving cash payments and depositing payments received from "customers" into one's account and remitting the rest to the overseas business bank account. This is essentially money laundering.
- Shin, Annys (2007-10-02). "Taking the Bait On a Phish Scam, Job Seekers Are Targets, Victims of Sophisticated Ploy". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
- Menn, Joseph (2007-11-09). "Sleeping on the job? Security at work-applicant sites faulted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
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