How Can You Steer Clear of Online Job Scams?

Are you familiar with the job scams that took place in Ghaziabad and Hyderabad? 

Well, in July 2018 the police apprehended several individuals from both locations for cheating job seekers. Both scams were separate incidents, however, miscreants in Hyderabad had duped 60 unemployed youth in a span of 3 months. Each candidate had paid 2 lakh for their services — the total amount swindled was to the tune of INR 1.2 crore.

As for the fraud committed in Kavi Nagar, Ghaziabad, the scammers had cheated hundreds of job seekers over a span of 2 years. The total loot stood at INR 3.5 crore.

Online job scams, you see, is a booming industry. And this industry is spread globally. 

There is a dearth of public and private sector jobs. Moreover, thousands of fresh, semi-skilled or unskilled graduates pass out from Tier-2 or Tier-3 colleges and universities located in small towns and villages every year. They’re individuals from middle-to-low income families with debts and loans to pay. As such, they’re willing to do just about anything to land a job. The desperation for employment coupled with the lack of jobs is just the perfect setting for scammers and fraudsters to lay their traps. 

Sadly, more often than not, they succeed in cheating job seekers. The police and law enforcement can only do so much — they only get to know once they’ve been alerted. By then, the damage is usually done. 

Job seekers are cheated financially, but companies too have a lot to lose — their brand presence and reputation can take a hit even though they’re not a part of the monkey business. Scammers advertise jobs and employment opportunities under the name of reputed organisations and companies. 

To alert the candidates, companies have resorted to putting disclaimers and advisories up with any job post they advertise. But again, not all companies do it. Moreover, it is only effective up to a certain level. The only ones who can stop the deceitful schemers are the job seekers. And we’ll tell you exactly how to spot and shirk online job scams. But first, let’s understand how the scammers operate and who they prey on.

Profiling The Prey: Ideal Job Scam Victims

There’s a reason why job scams usually run in crores and the victims are aplenty — the scammers are shrewd and know who to target. Following are the people who are drawn in by scammers:

Candidates who belong to Tier-II and Tier-III cities

Fresh graduates from Tier-II , Tier-III or lower colleges and universities

Jobseekers with poor communication (in English) and interpersonal skills

Individuals in their early to mid 20s and with only 0 to 5 years of work experience

Those who have applied on job portals

Operation SCAM: The Workings of an Online Job Fraud from Start to Finish 

Recruitment portals are a go-to destination for most of the scamsters as they can come in direct contact with job seekers. Unless the portal has a dedicated team to run background checks on all the employers posting jobs, they manage to slip through and lay their traps. Let’s take a look at how scammers operate. 

They get on online job portals and start assessing candidate profiles.

Once they have a list of victims, they send out emails to each and every one of them.

Some even set up temporary offices, fake websites or pose as job consultants.

Once interested candidates buy in, they ask them to pay a fee for registration or service; the candidates are reassured that the interview/selection can only be initiated once the transfer is completed . The transfer of this fee is done through online wallets and wired transactions.

They might conduct bogus online or telephonic interviews to sell the scam. Fake appointment letters can also be handed out. The scamsters can follow through with the steps mentioned here or might skip this step and vanish into thin air.

The 3 Ways Online Job Frauds Are Conducted

Scammers are after all extremely clever — they have several ways to con people. And most of the time, they succeed. What’s scary is that, it’s not just the candidates and job seekers in their youths and from small towns and cities who fall for their tricks. 

We list below 3 ways or methods that scammers use to conduct an online job fraud.

Fake Campus Placements

That’s right, it’s not only the job seekers who are victimized. The scammers reach out to senior leadership members in colleges and universities in Tier-II, Tier-II cities and towns as job consultants. They advertise their connections with some of the best companies and organizations and promise campus placements. As a result, the chairmen, director, or members of the placement cells part with a lump sum fee for the service. 

And you can probably guess by now what the miscreants do after receiving the money — they vanish.

Operating through illegitimate websites

This is yet another trick up the fraudsters’ sleeves. They built temporary websites that mirror official websites of job portals, reputed firms, organisations, and government agencies. The candidates fall for this trick as they see it as something legitimate. What’s next? The fraudsters then fabricate fake jobs, ask students to upload resumes (some might even upload fake resumes), conduct tests and interviews and declare the final results.

To an unaware candidate, this is all a ruse. The scammers ask them for a fee in exchange for the appointment letter. Some fraudsters with the resources actually go the distance to sell the fake offer to the candidates. They build temporary offices, hire actors to pose as employees and candidates, create well-designed appointment letters, conduct interviews and discuss salaries and so on.

Impersonate and attack

Ever heard of phishing? It’s a fraudulent activity where scammers pretend to be from reputable companies and send emails to individuals in an effort to obtain information, embezzle funds, and cheat. 

The easiest way for scammers to set up a phishing attack is to get on a job seeking portal. They obtain the candidates’ information and send mails to them about a job offer, interview and so on. Usually they ask for a security fee or a deposit of some sort. Upon receiving the funds, the scammers disappear. They might even conduct interviews, offer fake appointment letters to sell the scam.

Things You Should Do To Avoid Getting Duped

As mentioned earlier, the onus is on the candidate to stay vigilant, and sniff out legitimate job offers from those that aren’t. And here’s exactly what you need to do every time you’re applying for any job opening.

When in doubt, visit the company’s page 

Employers have multiple channels through which they can recruit candidates. One of the most prominent is through their own company portals or pages on professional websites or social media. Come to think of it, it’s the safest bet for job seekers. 

What you can do is head on over to their portals and pages and look for job opportunities. Even if you receive mails about any opening at any company, make it a practice to look up the job on the company’s website and pages. In order to facilitate application for the job, the company also leaves a link through which you can directly. However, in case you do find a job opportunity on some job portal, dig deeper, cross check the job opportunity, and find out if any redirect link for the said job has been provided in the description — you should route your resumes through the company’s portal.

Again, you should apply this method for any job opportunity — private, government, or foreign. In fact, for foreign jobs you must look up the opportunity on government websites and the official portals of reputed job consultants.

Be specific about the job designation

Understand this clearly: if you see any job openings with generic and vague job roles, it;’s most likely a scam. If you want to put yourself out there in the jobs market, prepare a CV and a cover letter with the job designation you want. Additionally, you must only list your resume with the relevant experience and the skills that fall under the aforementioned job role. Do make it a point to add only those experiences and skills that are recent.

Once you’re listed as a potential job seeker, only respond to the emails that offer the same designation that you had earlier listed on your resume and cover letter.

Money required for a job? Walk Away!

You know what separes a genuine job offer from one that is fake? The former asks the candidate for money or any personal (financial) information during the hiring process. Time and again, experts have let the job seeking community know that under no circumstance should anyone part with money asked by dubious entities for a job. But time and again, candidates have fallen for their traps.

The scammers ask money for any particular reason; it could be for the interview, registration, services, verification of documents etc. Whenever any of the recruiters approach you in this manner, you must walk away. The schemers won’t give up and will try to sweeten the deal by offering a discount on the money they ask, setting up an interview immediately, and meeting your salary expectations. And when this happens, it will be a clear indication of a full-fledged scam.

It might not only be money that they might ask. Some request sensitive information like your banking details, credit/debit card numbers, UPI IDs and so on. Always keep in mind that if money or sharing of sensitive information (usually financial) is involved, you must stay away at all times and not buy in.

The email can give away the true motive

What do you do when you receive a job email? Not respond to it immediately, of course, but inspect it for any flaws. It’s a meticulous process to observe a mail for any red flags, but it must be done nevertheless.

The red flags can be many. The first one would definitely be the sender’s email address. When companies send a genuine job offer, they use their official (company's) email domain. Scammers on the other hand, use personal email IDs. Another one you could look at is the syntax of the email and the spelling errors. The fraud job emails are not properly formatted and are littered with many spelling, grammatical errors. Word spacing could be off the charts and the entire structure of the fraud emails will look unorganised. 

You could also look at the name and the signature of the sender. and find out from the company if anyone by that name exists. For that you will definitely have to look up the company name and their address. But don’t worry, the scammers usually sign off the email with the contact details, company name, and address. And if it’s, in fact, a scam the details will be incorrect indicating that it’s a fraud offer.

Touch base with the employer

Consider this an extension of the point stated above. If you receive an email with a job offer, you must contact the company in question. You can get their correct contact details on their official website or pages. Once you have it, call them up to and ask if a job offer as described in the mail exists at all.

You can also let them know that you received a mail from an individual, stating the exact details as described in the mail. There is an off-chance that the job opening might exist after all. The scammers might only be leveraging it to cheat someone. If that’s the case, the concerned contact at the company can be questioned about whether your profile matches the description mentioned for the job role at all.

Watch out for excessive sugar coating

The scammers; not only are they crafty but also persistent. They’ll do whatever they can to dupe you. And that includes sugar coating the job offer. They’ll offer a salary package that includes a colossal increment in the range of 75-85%. What’s more, the compensation will not follow the industry salary patterns for the same role in your region. 

Also, the compensation being meted out might not reflect the work experience you have accumulated over the years or the skills you possess. If all of this happens then it is a clear indication of a job scam. You can also say that if it’s all too convenient, then it is a fake offer. To know this, the fraudulent job offer will most likely try to recruit you and roll out an appointment or offer letter without conducting any interviews. 

As the candidate, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you or any member of the job seeking community do not fall victim to any scams. Always follow-up on the email that is sent to you, inspect it, cross check, and verify with the company. IF you’re being called for interviews, ensure that it is being conducted on the company premises and not at a residential or commercial address.

 

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