30 March 2016

How to Spot a Recruitment Scam


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


Recruitment and retention


Searching for and securing a new job is a stressful enough experience without the added potential nightmare of being scammed. Unfortunately, recruitment scams aren’t uncommon and can trick you in a plethora of ways.

While looking to further your career, you’ll undoubtedly upload your CV and share your information with multiple sites and platforms in the hope that a genuine recruiter or employer will contact you. One of the problems with this method is that the person who contacts you could be a faker trying to con you into giving away private information or your hard-earned money to them.

uploading personal details
This problem has spurred many large businesses, such as Shell, to publish dedicated pages on their website to highlight the problem and to reassure applicants that the brand will never ask for money during their application process.

Scams of varying kinds have always been around, however with the recession and rise in the number of individuals seeking employment, recruitment scams have grown to become a real issue.

As with any process involving your personal details, you can avoid these dangers by educating yourself about what to look for and adhering to a few do’s and don’ts. Here’s what to look out for and how to prevent yourself from becoming another victim of a recruitment scam:

What are the scammers after?

The aim of a recruitment scam is predominantly either money or your personal and/or financial information. They could also be attempting to get you to unwittingly launder money or pass on stolen goods.

In an article published by ThisIsMoney.co.uk, it cited some pretty eye-opening statistics (even back in 2013) regarding scam recruitment emails being used to launder money using innocent job seekers:

As many as 15 per cent of adults in the UK have been contacted with the suspect offers, research from Financial Fraud Action UK found. Of those approached, six per cent have accepted the offers, rising to 13 per cent of the unemployed, 19 per cent of students and 20 per cent of new entrants to the UK.”

In one reported case, the victim of a recruitment scam, who made the mistake of passing on his bank details to fraudsters, had his bank account used in further scams. This resulted in the police raiding his house and him being taken into custody, before being able to explain what had transpired previously.

phone scam

What are common scams?

Below are some of the more common scams; this list is not exhaustive, so caution should be exercised with any suspicious communication:

  • Advance-fee fraud – being asked for money during the application process for ‘admin fees’ or ‘checks’
  • Premium-rate phone scams – you’re asked to call a premium rate number and kept on hold for long periods
  • Work from home – usually hugely exaggerated pay and your work is often rejected with no payment given
  • Money laundering – avoid job offers with ‘financial processing’ using your bank account
  • Reshipping fraud – if you’re asked to repackage and send on anything, it’s very likely a scam
  • Pyramid schemes – receiving payment for signing up new recruits to sell a product from home

Source: AOL

What to look out for

Different scams will have varying levels of sophistication, but there’s some common factors to keep an eye out for during your job search:

  • Poor grammar and/or spelling in emails, letters or other communications
  • The message is not personalised to you
  • Being asked for money to perform checks, an ‘administration fee’ or other activities during the application process
  • Job offers or other recruitment communications from generic addresses such as Gmail or Hotmail accounts
  • Offers of employment when you’re not even looking for a job
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Job offers over social media
  • There’s no street address for the company on the communication, only a PO box or email address
  • Questionnaire-based interviews

How you can prevent yourself from being the victim of a recruitment scam

  • Never hand over money
  • Don’t share personal information or financial details until you are 100% sure that you’re dealing with a reputable brand
  • Pay close attention to grammar and spelling
  • Check that the company relating to the job offer exists. Do they have a website and active social media accounts with genuine followers?
  • Contact the company using officially listed contact details and ask in person if the offer is genuine
  • If the role is abroad, don’t hand over money or your bank details for travel arrangements, etc. Offer to pay these yourself – if the person you’re communicating with is overly insistent or informs you that you have to cooperate to proceed, then it’s likely a scam
  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be especially cautious
  • Check your bank statements regularly for suspicious transactions

Report a fake company to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06.

For further information on safe job searching, visit SAFERjobs – a non-profit organisation created by the Metropolitan Police to raise awareness and combat criminal activities that may be attempted on those within the industry or through the services provided by the industry.
SAFERjobs has GOV UK status and works with a number of government organisations to protect people searching for work or currently working within the recruitment sector.