Scams in the Job Market: What to Look Out For and How to Protect Yourself

Written by Camelle Gregoire
Graphic Design by Daniel McConnell

Scams have existed since the dawn of time. In 300 B.C.E., two Greek men tried to sink a ship full of passengers to avoid paying interest on it. They failed (thankfully), and the court records from the criminal trial remained, making this the earliest scam in recorded history. You can read all about it here. What do two ancient scammers have to do with our lives today? They show us that fraud is timeless.

According to the Better Business Bureau, 14 million people were exposed to employment scams in 2020. Notice how we specifically said “employment” scams? That’s right; that 14 million is only talking about scams taking the guise of a new job or business opportunity. With odds like that, it’s essential to take precautions.

These scammers think they can get away with preying on people who only want to find decent work and the salary they deserve. Well, we aren’t going down without a fight. We will give you the tools you need to spot and avoid these scams. We will be focusing on LinkedIn in this blog because it is the new resume.

How I Learned the Hard Way

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s make one thing clear; falling for a scam does not mean you are stupid. Victims of scams might struggle with feelings of shame, but I’m here to tell you that it happens to a lot of people. It happened to me. I was taken in by a fake job offer. It seemed like a very legitimate offer at first glance. First, they wanted me to watch company videos, which just so happened to focus solely on how integral it would be for me to buy the CEO’s book. I decided I would buy the book after negotiating the job offer, thankfully, but I was excited, to say the least. They had good pay, but not too good to be true. They offered insurance as well. It was like a dream come true. 

Then, however, I met with a harsh reality. I went to email my recruiter via the email they had been using to communicate with me and…I couldn’t. There was no person on the other side that I could communicate with because it was an automated email. I couldn’t schedule an interview or ask questions. I hadn’t been selected because they saw my amazing resume, I was one of many who received this ‘offer.’ There was never an interview, and I felt very un-special and very, very dumb.

Whether it’s the story from 300 B.C.E or 2022 A.D, there are victims to be found. Scamming is simply too profitable for scammers to give it up. It’s a bit depressing, but we need to get up, remind ourselves who is really responsible (spoiler alert, it’s not the victim,) and learn from our mistakes so it doesn’t happen again. That’s what this blog is for.

Most Common LinkedIn Scams

We are going to focus on three types of scams: malware, phishing, and fake job offers. These are the more common LinkedIn scams, so it’s important that you know what they are and how to avoid them. First, let’s go over what each one is.

So, what is a malware scam? Scammers will send victims a link that, if clicked, will infect a computer with malware. If you’re wondering what exactly malware is, it’s a catch-all term for bad software. It’s usually used to steal data for the scammer’s financial gain. If you get a message on LinkedIn with a link, make sure that you trust the account. Be careful of fake accounts and make sure the person sending that suspicious link is actually who they say they are!

Next, we have the Old Reliable of scams, if a scam can be described with the words Old Reliable, phishing. Phishing is when a scammer pretends to be someone with authority so they can convince their victims to hand over their personal information. Imagine you get an email from “LinkedIn support” and they say that your account has been compromised and you need to give them your password immediately. More than likely, you’re looking at a phishing scam. Remember, make sure a person is who they say they are!

Finally, we have fake job offers. Scammers will pretend to offer you a job in order to get your personal information. You need to be sure that an offer is legit before you hand out any information.

Now that you know how these scams work, you’ll have an easier time identifying if someone is trying to scam you. Knowledge is power, after all. We aren’t done yet, however. Now it’s time to go over all the signs, big and small, that something is a scam.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

First things first, let’s look at some of the tips LinkedIn themselves provide. According to LinkedIn, “Legitimate companies should not require transfers, checks, or the wiring of funds as a condition of the application process.” If you have to pay to apply, it’s better to stay away. No matter how good it reads, don’t fall for the temptation! Similarly, we’ve come across jobs where, after the person was ‘hired,’ the company would say they needed to send supplies but wanted a deposit to make sure the person was “serious.” They even assured them that they would send the deposit back once the work supplies came! As you can imagine, that money was never seen again. It might seem obvious when it’s written here, but for someone desperate for income, it might seem like a dream come true.

Who wouldn’t want a dream to become a reality? Unfortunately, life is rarely so giving. So, always do your research on average salary ranges! It will help you determine whether the offer is genuine or too good to be true.

Let’s say you are scrolling LinkedIn and see a post from a massive company. Great pay and good benefits here I come, right? Before you hit the ‘apply’ button, you might want to wait a second. Scammers will pretend to be big companies to trick people into applying and giving them their information. So how do you know who’s who? A good tip is to check the domain names. Big businesses have distinct domain names that scammers can’t use.

If you see a job posting and you’re having trouble finding the poster or company name, run! Well, don’t actually run; you could sprain something doing it so suddenly. Metaphorically start pumping those legs because there is no reason for a job poster or company to hide their identity. If you can’t find that information quickly and easily, they are probably up to no good. Likewise, it could be a red flag if you start the application process and the recruiter refuses to meet in person or over a video call. They might say something like, “Can’t we just do this over text?” Why wouldn’t a recruiter want to meet a potential employee face-to-face? It doesn’t take much to have a quick Skype meeting. Meet with the people that might hire you, so you know who they are; it’s much harder to scam you that way.

Have you ever noticed that scammers have a less-than-average ability to write? It’s true. Here’s the interesting part, it’s usually on purpose. That’s right; scammers are intentionally desecrating the English language in their posts and emails. But why? The answer is pretty sinister. Scammers want to weed out the more weary, cynical people so they can go straight for the money. So a job posting with tons of grammar mistakes had best be avoided.

What to do When you Suspect a Scam

If you have determined that a post is suspicious, do NOT contact them. It needs to be said, seeing as how many people have admitted to contacting someone they knew was trying to scam them. When you identify someone as a possible scammer, you should report the post and move on. LinkedIn can deal with them. You don’t want to engage with someone who is only out for your money. If you aren’t sure it’s a scam, then leave it be; it’s better to be safe than sorry.

It’s a shame that some people would rather hurt others to get what they want than go through legitimate means. We can get desperate at times when looking for jobs, which unfortunately makes us easy prey. We want you to have the safest job search you can, so please take precautions, watch out for yourselves, and check out our other blogs for more job searching advice and how to earn The Salary You Deserve!

Have a Super Day!

Camelle Gregoire

Camelle Gregoire

From an early age, I’ve always loved to read and write. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make a career out of these passions, but thanks to Super Purposes I could. Now I want to be able to help others make careers out of their passions as well.