How to Identify Job Scams and Email Hoaxes

If you think you have been the target of a job scam or an email hoax, but you cannot be sure, read about the different types of scams and how you can identify and protect yourself against them.

What are job scams? 

Online job scams are another way for scammers to gain access to either your personal information, your money or your bank account or credit card data. These scams prey upon people searching online sites for new jobs. Many job seekers are often desperate to find a position, they might overlook certain red flags that something is not right with an online listing. 

 Scams take various formats which can include: 

  • Check-deposit schemes 
  • Fraudulent job opportunities to earn money from home 
  •  Appeals to help others in distress 
  •  The most notorious scam now involves fraudsters sending you large checks to cash and asking you to refund some of the money in a separate check
    Why does this work? This scam works very often because bank rules give customers access to funds even before checks have cleared. The scammers check will bounce, while the one written from the victims account will not.   

Here are different types of job scams with actual examples of email content included: 

  • Unsolicited Job Offers: job scam emails which are not sought out by job seeker and offer either immediate employment or the opportunity to interview for a great job. Some scammers will pretend to be from a well-known company of job board (such as FlexJobs, ZipRecruiter, or Indeed). They may also come in through social media (Facebook, Instagram, or even LinkedIn). TREAT EVERY UNSOLICITED OFFER AS A SCAM. 

o   “Our Worldwide Corporation is looking for new employees on various vacancies. We are already for a long time in the market and now we employ employees to work from home. Our supreme desire now is to enlarge our business level to more countries, so we are advertising here in hope of cooperating with you all. We highly appreciate honest and creative employers. You do not need to invest any sum of money and we do not ask you to give us with your bank account requisites! We are engaged in totally officially authorized activity and working in our corporation you can reach career growth at a permanent job.”

  • Career Advancement Grants: This scam is geared toward job seekers who may want or need to gain extra education or certifications for their career. You’ll typically receive an email asking you to apply online for a career advancement grant that supposedly comes from the government and can be directly deposited into your account if approved. 

o   Hi, hope you are doing well. We were notified that you may be eligible for the new Career Advancement grant. If you have not taken advantage of this program, the deadline is approaching soon. $5,730 can be direct deposited into your account, should you qualify for the grant. Last week 71 members took advantage of this Career Advancement grant. This is a grant from the government and does not have to be paid back.” 

  • Data Entry Scams: are jobs that claim to require little to no experience 

  o  Numerous companies are looking for workers to submit information into online forms and they will pay you nicely in return. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme but a legitimate way to earn money from home. For Full Details please read the attached .html file.” 

  • Pyramid Marketing: this is completely illegal and has no basis in real commerce. Typically, there is no product involved in a pyramid marketing scheme, just the exchange of money. People often invest in pyramid marketing because they believe they will benefit from investments made by the people who follow them into the program.
    o  My name is Michael. I’ve made it my job to help people succeed online. I’m constantly on the lookout for the best ways and means to make your job simpler, and I pass the good stuff on to you. I have developed the eBay Cash Machine – it allows everyone to make a great income on eBay 99% automatically. It only takes a few minutes to set up and once that is done you will have your own eBay Businesses that literally run on auto-pilot! You just wait for the money to come in!” 
  • Wire Transfers: popular among thieves, these scams involve moving money quickly from one account to another. These transactions are difficult to reverse, making it nearly impossible to recover lost funds.
    o   “We are small new firm engaged in export of goods to overseas outside my country. We have won various small exports contract at one time or the other, recently we were (engaged) contracted to supply financial programs for market analyzing, management project software in USA which was successfully done. We do not have so much time to accept wire transfers and can’t accept cashiers checks and money orders as well. So we need your help to accept this payments in your country faster. If you are looking to make additional profit we will accept you as our representative in your country. You will keep 10% of each deal we conduct.”
  • Online Re-Shipping: serious job search scam because those who fall for it unintentionally become criminals. Also known as postal forwarding, are work-at-home jobs that involve repacking and forwarding stolen goods to customers outside of United States. 

o   “Honest workers needed for a package processing company located in NY, but any location in US are welcome! We have customers worldwide and started that position to suit they needs. We offer you 40$ for each processed package. The payment shall be made twice a month. The Company shall also bear all shipping expenses. Your salary totally depends on your ability to work fast and handy.” 

  • Rebate Processor: mislead job seekers by promising them high income in exchange for processing rebates at home. A nonrefundable “training” fee is usually required to get started. Instead of simply processing rebates, this job involves creating ads for various products and posting them on the Internet. A small commission is earned when someone buys the products, part of which is sent back to the buyer as a rebate. 

o   “Make money simply by filling out online forms – Enter the data into the forms that we provide you, click submit, sit back and collect the money. You’ll earn $15 per rebate processed. Opportunities like this do not come by every day – act now!” 

Tips on how to avoid job scams: 

  • Avoid “get rich fast” job descriptions or listings that claim to provide income for minimal to no work at all. If the employer is pushing you to accept, it is most likely a scam. 
  • If an “employer” asks to send money as part of the application process, that should automatically be a red signal. Do not go forward with it. 
  • If you are told to purchase mandatory kits/software for the job, that is a red signal. Do not proceed. 
  • Avoid job proposals that claim to require little to no experience. 
  • Avoid jobs that do not require a formal interview or no interview at all 
  • Do not participate in text-only interviews 
  • If you are contacted for a job you have not applied for, consider the source of the job and do not respond 
  • Avoid conversations with recruiters who cannot be identified or has unclear contact information 
  • Make sure the contact information of the employer/recruiter matches the business they say they work for. Be wary of emails from non-business email accounts (Gmail, yahoo, aol, etc.,) 
  • Check to make sure the business has a legitimate website and the email of the person you’re speaking with is coming from the same domain (eg. “” domain – 
  • Watch out for online forms requesting personal information as part of the application process. Make sure the form can be found on the business website of the employer requesting the information. 
  • Never give out personal information like social security, or bank account number. Especially over email or phone. 
  • Job offers coming through emails, texts, phone calls, or instant messages that require you to click on a specific link to enter “personal” or “financial” information are a form of phishing. If you are unclear, reach out to an employer directly through their website rather than responding to suspicious emails to confirm. 
  • Never take cashier’s checks or money orders as a form of payment. Fake checks are common, and bank can hold you accountable for it. 
  • Do not cash a check that comes with “extra money” and never buy gift cards and send bar codes at an employer’s request. Scammers often send checks that require you to deposit a check at your bank to withdraw the extra money as cash, and then deposit that cash elsewhere. Check will get bounced and you will get held accountable. 

The best way to bring awareness on job scams is to be alert of the type of scams that are circulating, carefully analyzing all job offers and watching out for many of the red flags listed above. There are plenty of resources online, including our school website, which demonstratexamples of job scams and ways to avoid them. When coming across a job scam, please notify those around you in order to help prevent anyone from falling into the trap of a fraudulent job offer. Especially within a college setting, it is easy to be swayed into making costly choices. Look out for each other and notify the Starr Career Development Center as quickly as possible regarding the potential job scam. 

Have you been scammed? Here’s what to do next: 

Here are some other helpful resources: 

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