Most common scams

Last updated: April 12, 2024
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Ashley Wilson
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Content Manager at Jobcase
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Most common scams
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So you've heard about a job scam that left your best friend's cousin out of money and disheartened. Now, you're worried about becoming a victim yourself.

The Coronavirus pandemic has left millions of workers without jobs, and many are searching for remote opportunities that provide a source of income without having to leave their homes. Unfortunately, this also means that scammers are on the prowl for vulnerable individuals looking for work.

Sadly, job scams are becoming more common and can be hard to detect. However, there are ways to protect yourself and spot a scam before it's too late.

This article will explain how to identify job scams through certain warning signs. Plus, you'll learn how to verify the authenticity of a job.

What are job scams?

A job scam is a fraudulent scheme in which a person is tricked into paying money or providing personal information with the promise of a job. Fraudulent and fake job postings often circulate online, and people fall prey to them.

Job scams are often hard to detect, as the potential employer, a scammer, can be persuasive. They may pose as employers, headhunters, or a legitimate company. The goal of a job scam is usually to steal money or personal information from the applicants.

In 2020, 16,012 people became victims of job scams, losing up to $59 million. Many fraudulent job posters posed as a legitimate company or recruiter to trick people. The number of fraud reports for fake work-at-home jobs and business opportunities is the highest.

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What to do

To confirm if job postings are legitimate, the Federal Trade Commission suggests you ask the following questions from your potential employer. The answers to these questions will help you determine if the job offer is coming from a legitimate company.

  • How long has your business been operational, and where are you located?

  • Which payment method do you use? How often will I be paid?

  • Do I have to spend my own money on postage, supplies, application, account creation, etc.?

Besides asking these questions, you can also search for the company name online. If it's a legitimate company, you'll find the details quickly. Meanwhile, the absence of any online information or company social media pages are some warning signs to consider.

It's best to go with your instincts rather than fall prey to claims of unbelievably high payments and too-good-to-be-true offers. Thus, if you think something is fishy, do your research well.

How do job posting scams work?

Job scams can take many different forms, but they all have one goal: to steal your money. They may promise high salaries, ask for direct deposit, want your credit card information, or require you to pay for training or equipment. Keep in mind that a legitimate employer won't ask for sensitive information until you’ve at least signed a contract.

Scammers pose as a real company and post job listings and employment opportunities online. When they get job applications, the fraudulent employer then cons applicants for money, credit card details, or bank account details.

Types of job scams

People often consider the make-money-quick scheme a dream job and rush to give the details. The scam artist often creates a sense of urgency by telling applicants they'll lose the job opportunity if they do not act quickly. Here are some types of employment scams.

Stuffing envelopes

In this job scam, a potential employer will contact you about a fraudulent “work-from-home” opportunity to stuff envelopes with flyers or other promotional materials. The employer will usually require you to pay a fee upfront to get started with the job.

Once you have paid the fee, you will either not receive any further information about the job or receive low-quality materials that are unsuitable for stuffing envelopes.

In some cases, the employer will provide you with a list of names and addresses to which you should send the materials, but you will not be reimbursed for your expenses.

Legitimate Work-From-Home Careers

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Instead of falling for this common job scam, you should look for legit WFH jobs, such as transcription, bookkeeping, graphic design, and tutoring. These jobs are available on reliable websites and platforms, such as Upwork and FlexJobs.

Repackaging

A repackaging job scam also involves a work-from-home opportunity. The fraudulent employer will tell you that you can earn money by repackaging items that need to be shipped.

In some cases, these fraudsters pose to be merchandise resellers outsourcing labor. You will have to give your address for this job. Then, you'll receive packages at your home that you'll have to repackage.

The employer will tell you to take the items out of the boxes they were delivered in and repackage them in new boxes. You'll finally have to send these packages to a new address. While this seems harmless, you're laundering stolen goods for your “employer.”

Fake checks

Fake check is a common job scam that fraudulent employers market with buzzwords like “quick cash.” Your employer will give you a check to purchase supplies for the job. When you deposit the check, it may even clear.

However, the bank will later find it to be fraudulent. Before this can happen, the employer would have already asked you to send a certain amount of money to a “supplier” or “vendor.” They will promise to reimburse you for this later.

Of course, the check is fake, and you are left with no job and no money. Fake checks are often used in work-from-home scams, mystery shopping scams, and other employment scams.

Elements of a Fake Check

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If you think you might be dealing with a fraudulent employer and it's a fake check scam, you can look for certain things to determine the authenticity of the check. Never use your money to buy gift cards, supplies, or any equipment for an employer.

Mystery shoppers

In a mystery shopper job scam, a scam artist will contact you, often by email, claiming to represent a market research or customer service company. They'll offer you a job, usually involving going to a store or restaurant and posing as a customer while evaluating the business. They might also ask you to evaluate customer service over the phone.

They'll send you a check for several thousand dollars and tell you to deposit it in your bank account. They'll then instruct you to wire a portion of that money to another person, usually in another country, as part of your job.

However, the check is fake and will eventually bounce. By the time you realize this, you've already wired away your own money and are dealing with a negative balance in your account.

Many people fall for this scam since there are real mystery shopper jobs too. You can use this site to determine if the mystery shopper job is real. Meanwhile, if you're searching for legit mystery shopping jobs, it's best to know about the warning signs to spot fake job listings.

Government grants

During the pandemic, the government started many relief programs. That led to an increase in job scams during COVID-19. Scammers ask for personal information, such as your bank account details, credit card information, and social security number. They later use this information for identity theft or financial fraud.

It's critical to know which programs are legitimate and which are scams. Avoid giving out personal information over the phone or clicking any links in emails and texts that look suspicious.

Here are some warning signs of a fake government grant offer:

  • They will ask you to pay a fee.

  • The grant will be presented as an exclusive or secret offer.

  • Some random website or call will contact you and claim you're eligible even if you did not apply.

You can learn about legitimate government grants here.

Warning signs to look out for

BBB Employment Scams Report shows that job scams went up by 27% from 2018 to 2022. Look for the following items in job descriptions.

Missing details

If a job listing is missing important details, such as the company name, contact information, or a job description, it's likely a scam.

Must-Haves in Job Descriptions

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A job opportunity from a real company should have important information in the job description, such as job location, summary, and title. The job specifications section will indicate the experience, qualifications, and training needed to get the job.

Strange contact information

Legitimate businesses use their physical address, company contact information, and title when posting job ads. However, scammers use their personal phone numbers and email accounts.

Even if someone from a well-known company contacts you for a job opportunity, do not consider it legit unless the email is coming from a company email address. Most company emails have the following structure: [email protected].

If the email address is something like [email protected], it is probably a scammer.

When in doubt, always look up the company's website and find their contact information. You'll see the email address format for the company. Compare it to the email address in your inbox and connect the dots.

Quick job offer

Another warning sign of a fake job offer is that you are offered the job without an interview.

You might be contacted out of the blue and told that you are perfect for a certain position. They might not even ask for your resume. The scammers will try to get your personal information as fast as possible before you realize it is a scam.

Look for offer letter essentials to ensure you're getting a legit job.

Job Offer Letter Essentials

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Too good to be true

If a job sounds too good to be true, it's probably not true. For instance, the employer might be offering a much higher salary than the industry standard for your position.

Or they might be promising unrealistic growth opportunities. No company can guarantee you'll be promoted to a management position within six months of joining them. For instance, if a recruiter is paying $100k per annum for a data entry job, that's a red flag.

What do you do if you paid a scammer?

So you fell prey to fake listings and paid a scammer for training materials, postage, or whatever else they asked for. What can you do now? The first step is to report the scammer to the Federal Trade Commission. You can file your report at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Even if you didn't pay the scammer, report them as soon as you realize it's a scam. You can also try to get your money back if it's not too late.

Watch out for the red flags

The best way to avoid job scams is to look for red flags such as spelling mistakes in the job description, excessively high salary, no proper recruitment process, claims of quick cash, and fishy contact information.

You can look at the company's website, check reviews online, and go through online forums to see if other people have received similar employment opportunities that turned out to be scams later.

It's best to stay wary of such jobs. Instead, search for reliable jobs on Jobcase from reputable companies.

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Kelley Harger
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Copy writing/survey/ research training management is main quality I have been s.

Great knowledge

36w
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Benjamin Ossai
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Bakery Chef at Abuja continental Hotel

Nice one Please tell me is it true that people can be paid by playing games online

1y
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Janelle Fitzpatrick
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Marketing/ Sales/ Customer Service ~ *Rockstar*

The amount of scammers is rediculous! Never give anyone your personal info. Oh and there's no student loan forgiveness program, unless of course you can prove you're homeless or dead!!

2y
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Katherine Gonzalez
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Rug thank you so much this is great information

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Andria Ckark
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Much needed. Get alot of scams on my phone all the time. Car scams are one too. Online car scams. Using your information to get a car or to get your information. I have had car scammers. Give me pre- qualification to get a car in my city but they would. Dent me but someone that has my name would get it instead with my good credit report. Or use it as a write off. And I really needed a car. Now , I thought about going to the fBI. What do you think

2y
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Glend Mattew
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Civil construction Engineering

Hi

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Km Metzger
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Office Housekeeping Manager at Arrowhead Motel

Ok I've had this job offer this couple needs a housekeeper and I haven't been told much detail butthey supposedly sent me a check today ups ots for a pay advance for the first week of work. And sent more cas money on the check so I can make sure the painters get the money for supplies they gave me a tracking number and I've received emails on the tracker location I feel like it's a scam help me please anybody...

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Khaliah Allen
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Cna at In Home Care

I wasn't paid for my overtime hours and never filled out a w2 or I-9 form and now I'm trying to find out what legal steps do I take

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Patrick Crawford
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Courtesy Clerk at Stater Bros

Thank you for the heads up.

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Tracey Jones
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Thank you so much that has been a lot of good information I just read and I can't believe that I was really actually putting down my information to some of these scammers so I will be very careful and look for red flags

2y
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