What is an employment scam?

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Predatory job-hunting operations that operate online are increasing in number. Many other varieties exist, particularly in the age of remote employment, from fake job postings to phishing messages on LinkedIn.

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How do fraudulent job offers function, and how can you avoid falling prey to one?

What is an employment scam?

Con artists that are carrying out a job offer scam will establish fictitious job vacancies as a means of concealing their genuine objectives.

In most cases, they will attempt to infect the victim’s device with malware or extort the victim for money or personal information.

Despite the fact that similar frauds have been present since before the internet, their prevalence in the digital sphere has expanded in recent years, especially in the era of telecommuting.

It is a regular practise for people looking for jobs to communicate with potential employers via the use of electronic methods such as email, video conferencing, and private messaging on professional networking sites like LinkedIn

Con artists now have a lot more discretion to postpone or avoid the time of in-person meeting that is likely to quickly reveal them as a consequence of this development.

Types of employment scam

Phishing messages

The potential victim of a job-hunting con could receive an unsolicited email or a message on a professional networking website like LinkedIn. Both of these are examples of spam. In recent years, headhunters and recruitment businesses have become an increasingly significant part of the job market that is conducted via the worldwide internet.

A significant number of reputable companies rely on independent or third-party agents to interact with prospective employees and generate interest in available opportunities.

Scammers have taken note of this trend and have started impersonating recruiters in order to persuade their victims, who they find on the internet, to apply for employment at trustworthy companies.

Even if they compliment you in their emails, you will still feel pressured to submit your application before the due date.

Naturally, if the victim clicks the link, harmful software on their computer, such as a virus, might be downloaded and installed, putting their data at risk.

Fake job listings

This kind of fraud uses a somewhat different strategy than phishing emails, although the two are conceptually comparable.

Due to the rise in people looking for work online, platforms like Monster and Indeed have evolved to facilitate job listings.

It may be challenging for site administrators to ensure the authenticity of each job posting when tens of thousands of jobs are listed and new jobs are posted on a nearly daily basis.

This is why it’s so simple for cybercriminals to create fake job listings on legitimate sites frequented by individuals actively seeking employment.

Links on job boards to the corporate website, where prospective employees may apply for positions or, in this case, download malware, are not uncommon.

Equipment scams

Equipment scams are increasing in prevalence and may have disastrous financial effects, while they are currently less prevalent than phishing attempts and bogus listings.

The procedure is as follows. You come across a posting for a remote employment opportunity or are encouraged to apply for one through private messaging. However, there is no malware present in this instance.

The application procedure and subsequent online interview are both viable options for anyone interested in the position. The happy news that you got the job will arrive soon.

Then, your new boss informs you that, since you’ll be working remotely, you’ll need certain tools, such as a more powerful laptop, external hard drives, and maybe even paid software.

If you do decide to purchase any of these things, the firm will reimburse you providing you shopped at approved vendors.

These purported internet shops are, in fact, fake sites set up by con artists. As soon as you’ve purchased the advised products and sent the invoice to your new employment, they break all ties with you.

Fake applicants

Not only the job seeker but the employer falls victim to a fraud. Hackers are always on the lookout for new entry points into the networks of businesses, governments, and other establishments.

Hackers may try to do this in a number of ways, one of which is via infecting an employee’s device with malware.

The goal of a fake-applicant scam isn’t to get the victim hired; rather, it’s to entice a trusted employee to visit a malicious website.

The malware infection may begin if the hacker is successful in convincing the company’s recruiting manager to download a file (perhaps disguised as a CV) or click a link promising to view the applicant’s portfolio.

When a hacker takes over a worker’s device, they have a lot of freedom to do anything they want. A hacker may exploit an employee’s work email to disseminate ransomware or request access to sensitive company information.

The resources at the disposal of these con artists are becoming more and more advanced. The FBI warned in June 2022 that some fraudulent candidates were attempting to pass themselves off as real by employing deepfake technology, speech modulating software, and in-depth stolen identities.

How to protect yourself from employment scams

To avoid falling victim to these scams, educate yourself on the telltale signals to look out for. Observe the following warning signs.

This account is brand new; it was likely set up only for you. Check the LinkedIn profiles of the firm that posted the position and the recruiting agent who just messaged you to see how long they’ve been in operation. Be wary of anybody or anything that seems to have appeared out of nowhere in the last week.
This career opportunity almost appears too wonderful to be true. There is no one determining factor that may prove it is a scam, but if the income is much more than usual, the hours are short, and the employer is eager to hire you without an interview, you should be wary.
There is no mention of the company on the web. Research the company thoroughly before accepting any employment offer, since even the smallest ones create digital paper traces. Are there records of them in public domain or trademark databases? Is it possible to see feedback left by clients and former workers? Furthermore, even if the business is legitimate, does the individual you’ve been in contact with have a traceable web presence that can be connected to the business?


There’s an impression of urgency conveyed by the listing. This is a common tactic used in frauds of all kinds.

The bad guys will make you feel like you have to act quickly to avoid missing out on something spectacular if you don’t click their link.

But that’s not how hiring usually goes, and if someone is pushing you to act quickly, it’s often because they don’t want you to take your time.


Having a healthy dose of scepticism may help keep you safe online, particularly when it comes to job frauds. Unfortunately, it is possible to accidentally visit a dangerous website even if you take every precaution.

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