Ten ways to recognise online scams

There are numerous scams on job sites disguised as vacancies, job offers, MLM or work from home opportunities. Over the years we have seen some very well disguised scams, so I thought I give you an update as to how they’re trying to fool you into handing over your money.

Before you read further, remember:

1. Never hand over your personal bank account, PayPal, or credit card numbers to an employer you have not met nor work for.

2. Never agree to have funds or paychecks paid into any of your accounts by a new or untested employer.

3. Never forward, transfer, or “”wire”” money to an employer.

4. Never transfer money and retain a portion for payment.

Abuse of your bank details
Legitimate employers do not usually need your bank account details. One of the ways a fraudulent employer will try to get consumers’ bank information is by stating that they will only pay via bank transfer, direct deposit of a paycheck, or something similar.

While direct deposit of a paycheck is convenient, if that is the only option an employer offers, then you should be cautious about accepting the job unless you have carefully vetted the potential employer.

If companies want you to accept money on their behalf and transfer it through your own account, you will most likely be laundering drugs- or illegally gained money. The police will be onto you in no time and you could face a lengthy prison sentence. (And have to pay back the money you transferred. Double whammy!)

So, moral of the story: don’t get involved!
Warning signs scammers might be involved

Many scams contain some easy to spot “”red flags””. Indications that should alert you to the presence of a job scam include:

1. Request for your bank account, your social security number or a copy of your ID/passport. No real employer will ask for these details unless you’ve actually started working in their offices. Never, ever send them via email before you have met them in person and you trust them. All of these can be used in identity scams and could cost you a lot. You might end up with a mortgage in your name without ever having seen the money, but you might be liable for paying it back.

2. A contact email address that is not a primary domain. For example, an employer calling itself “”Omega Inc.”” should have an email address similar to their company name, e.g. anyone@omegainc.com and not have a Yahoo!, a Google or a Hotmail email address. Even if they appear to have an email address linked to their name it is worthwhile checking that the domain part of the address (the bit after @) actually works.

3. The domain name is owned by a person rather than the company. Check who owns the domain name. If the company claims for instance to be headquartered in Luxembourg, but their domain is registered to someone in a small village in the middle of nowhere in Russia, you know you most likely will be dealing with a scammer.

4. The person you’re dealing with seems not to exist on the internet. Google the name of the person who contacted you. If they’re legitimate you will find blog posts, references, an entry on LinkedIn, etc. indicating that you’re dealing with a real person. This is not a cast iron guarantee, but a start to confirm their identity.

5. Misspellings and grammatical mistakes in the job ad. Scammers often have a poor command of the language they write in.

7. There are a number of descriptive words in job postings that are tip-offs to fraud. These include “”package-forwarding””, “”money transfers””, “”wiring funds””, “”eBay””, “”PayPal””, “”payment clerk””, etc.

8. Their website does not contain any contact details or the contact details don’t work. They obviously don’t want to speak to you as it might give them away. A real company will enable you to contact them one way or another.

9. The job seems to good to be true. They’re offering thousands of pounds/euros for a very simple job. You could earn a brain surgeons’ income just to be a security guard for which you won’t need any qualifications. Scammers will prey on people who want to become rich without putting any effort in.

10. You receive a job offer (which might be totally irrelevant to your experience) before you have been interviewed or even before you have sent your CV. Employers generally check you out and don’t offer jobs on the spot. It is too costly and too difficult firing someone, so they are very careful when it comes to hiring people.

11. The charge you for getting a job. They’ll call it an admin fee, the cost of a visa or work permit or any other debatable cost. Normal employers absorb these ‘costs’ and you should not expect to pay anything. On the contrary, you should be reimbursed for your costs.

So, always check the employer if you don’t know/trust/recognise them. Put a little effort into discovering who you are dealing with. This will save you a lot of trouble and money in the longer run.

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