Online Job Scams: Top 10 warning signs

She started looking four months ago, but nobody seems to return her calls or applications. Irina was looking for a job for a while, and after months of searching for a new job, she grew drained of countless job applications that yielded no interviews.

About that time is when ABA employment agency sent her an email via a job board, complimented her professional skills and work experience. The agency assured her she is a perfect fit for the opening at this fast-growing startup company in New York. Irina called me super happy to share the news, but I was skeptical about the opportunity and the place itself. We had a big fight, and she did not want to hear about my questions anymore. She wanted a job, and she wanted it now, so she continued communicating with ABA. I did not hear from her for a while.

The post has a single goal: inform you about the top ten signs to look for when you suspect Job Scam. After reading the post, you will know what to do, what to ask, and how to figure out that you are about to get scammed.


1. They contacted you, you did not contact them

Be very worried when a company, you did not contact all of a sudden contacts you directly. It rarely happens in real life. If someone calls, emails, or messages do not react, do not reply or follow the links; this could be your first mistake. Delete emails or mark them as spam/junk/scam in your inbox.


2. Company has no contact details

Typically job fraud companies do not have actual full name, title, company name, email address, or phone number listed at the bottom of the email.


3. The online company only with no physical address

The first thing you want to do if you are curious about the company if to type their name directly into a search engine window. Type company name and the proposed job title. If it is a real company job, the search will return with an actual company website and physical email address. If the company has an only online website but NO actual address, it is most likely fraud.


4. Company has no digital footprint

I call it “Googlability” or what is the current digital bread crumbs the company has online. Building Google ranking and SEO optimization take a lot of work and companies who make money on scamming job seekers and frequently manufacture and re-manufacture their identity will not show up at the top of search results. Solid American company should, must have a website and LinkedIn presence profile at the very minimum. If those two things are not there, move on.


5. Job offer without an interview

No self-respecting, reputable employer will make a job offer without a solid, multi-step interview process to scan and research candidates. If a company skips that step or interview is done virtually via text messaging, for example, that should worry you. Typically first “informational” interview is a screening one with an HR representative.


6. A vague job description that does not match your skills

I receive dozens of emails that I mark as “junk” and block senders that offer me opportunities in remote work, phone service jobs, translation, modeling, physical therapy and many other jobs/occupations I would not be interested in or qualified for. If someone did not research your background and send you generic emails, they are not a real recruiter, even if they use your real name in the welcome email.


7. Unprofessional communication

Any types of typos, strange grammar, punctuation, and “copy and paste” mistakes are tell-tale of job fraud artists. Avoid opening or following links. Delete without thinking or considering. No further research is needed.


8.  The pay if too high or it is the wages are unclear

A company that offers too much pay or does not discuss pay at all most likely is fake. When something is too good to be true, it is most likely not real.


9. They asked for your bank details, or Social Security #

The sign is the most dangerous and worrisome part of the process, and this is where things can get very bad, very fast. Please remember, the real employer will only ask for your bank details or SS# AFTER you accepted the offer and started working for a company. Typically, the information is provided directly to the HR manager or via secure upload channels to protect your privacy. If anybody anywhere asks you to provide your bank, social security number via email or phone, report them immediately to police. They are a scam.


10. Asking for money in any way shape or form

No employer, ever, should require you to pay money to start working in any job. Period. There are no exceptions from the rule. If your agency, employer, or a company rep asks you for funding, purchase, or financial support in any shape you have to run and report them as fast as you can.


Conclusion on Irina Story:

Irina and I did not talk for nearly two months, so when she called me, I was so happy to hear her voice again. When I picked up, she was crying, angry, and upset with her experience dealing with ABA. It turns out after weeks and weeks of back and forth communication, countless promises and dozens of emails Irina was still unemployed.

Irina told ABA she is done and no longer interested in the job, but this was done two months too late.

Before she ended the catastrophe, she suffered financial loses. ABA convinced her that she needed to prepay mandatory online training for 110 dollars and download and buy a license for the exclusive use of  “must-have” software for her job for 319 dollars. She did both, eager to get a job ABA promised.

Additionally, ABA asked Irina to provide a scan of her voided bank check. ABA explained that the information was needed to set up an automatic bank deposit with her bank to transfer her wages every two weeks. Irina asked her husband, and he confirmed that the step was a standard procedure in the U.S.

Irina wanted a job, so she shared her bank details with ABA. After weeks of exchange, Irina`s husband started to have a bad feeling about ABA and called the number listed on the email, so he decided to call them directly. He called, but nobody picked up the phone, so he left a message, and messages went to a voice mail. Just two days later, Irina reported the scammer to the police and local authorities but with no help.

Ten days after the last contact by the ABA agency her bank notified Irina that her bank account was suspended due to numerous charges from various places in Key West, FL and bank fraud protection team has canceled her debit cards to stop fraudulent activity on her account.

Irina and her husband were living the nightmare. The weeks of follow up, endless emails to scammers, phone calls, messages, and police reports led nowhere. In the end, the scammers were not caught.

That said, I, Irina and her spouse learned a valuable lesson about online job scam artists who could manufacture an entire company identity out of thin air and lead you to share personal, private and financial details that allow them to steal money from you and ruin your trust.




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