How to Recognize Fake Job Offer Emails in Your Inbox

fake job offer emails

Fake job offers can be frustrating because they waste the time and effort of legitimate job seekers. It’s also big business. According to the Better Business Bureau, employment scams cost workers around $2 billion every year!

The coronavirus pandemic correlated with a massive increase in work-from-home scams and these are still prevalent.

Job scammers seek your money or personal and financial information they can use to commit fraud, such as identity theft and unauthorized transactions.

Not only do job hunters find themselves without their promised salary, but they can even find themselves deeper in debt due to a bogus employer running up a bill in their name and making it more difficult for them to obtain credit.

How do you stay on track when searching for your dream job? Here are 13 tips to help you protect yourself.

13 Tips to Spot a Fake Job Offer Email

Note that no single tip is the key to spotting fake job offers in your inbox. However, applying all these tips and considering the context of the communication you’ve received will help you protect your time, money, and identity.

1. Recruitment Scams Often Begin With a Direct Message

While you might learn about a job opportunity on social media, few legitimate companies begin the recruitment process via direct message. An unsolicited request for you to email the company with more details is a red flag signaling that this may be a scam.

2. They Use Personal Emails

When receiving an email from a supposed recruiter or when asked to communicate by email, check out whether they’re using a registered domain name or personal email, such as hotmail or gmail. While some businesses use personal emails, especially when starting out, it doesn’t look professional and most companies change to a more reputable solution such as info@companyname.com.

If they’re using personal emails, add this to the “potential scam” evidence pile.

3. The Job Description Is Vague

Vague job descriptions are designed to be a wide net for potential victims. Scammers aim to create enough information to make the job sound good, without alerting you to the fact that the job duties are generic and not really tailored to you.

4. You Are Not Even Looking For Work

Recruitment agencies and HR departments typically have a formalized hiring process and procedure that includes promoting positions, seeking candidates, and evaluating and hiring them.

While headhunters may contact very skilled people with unsolicited job offers, legitimate recruiters normally maximize their productivity by responding to people who are actively looking for work.

5. Too Good to Be True

A five- or six-figure salary. Just a few hours per week. A long list of success stories.

If the job seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

Stuffing envelopes, redistributing flyers, and assembling things at home rarely if ever make people rich. Except for scammers who convince others that these things are lucrative employment opportunities in which they should invest time and money.

6. They Are Evasive When You Ask Questions

Scammers often craft their introductory emails to hook victims, but these emails lack actual information about the job. This is because the job doesn’t exist.

If the recruiter is vague when you ask for more details or they tell you that all will be revealed at a later time, you can take this as evidence that it’s probably a scam.

Legitimate recruiters are much more likely to give you the information you seek because they want to make sure you’re suitable for the role as quickly as possible.

7. No Interview Is Required

scam job offers

Most jobs require you to go through an interview process before being hired, even if it’s just a video call to reassure everyone that real people and real companies are involved. Being hired without an interview is very appealing to many candidates, but it’s often a bait to lure potential victims.

8. They Ask For Money Upfront

If there is no job, how do fake recruiters make money? One way is by asking you to pay for something upfront. Often, fake job postings lead to a request for money, sometimes for “equipment” to perform the role.

While it’s normal to need your own equipment to work from home, it’s not normal to have to buy office equipment from the company before you start.

Alternatively, the money requested might be for materials. If you’re being sold an assembly job, they may ask you to pay for the kits you assemble. In this case, selling the kits to job seekers is how they make their money.

Sometimes job scammers claim that you need to create a company account to receive your first paycheck. Opening a special company account requires a small investment. This is a con.

Legitimate employers expect to make money from your talent and the value you provide to the company, not upfront fees for joining.

9. They Ask For Your Financial Information

Posing as an employer is a great way to get hold of financial information. Job seekers know that when they work for a company, they will be expected to give their bank account details and other financial information so they can get paid. This normally happens during the onboarding process, however. Candidates may have started work before the employer has their bank account information.

If your potential employer seems overly keen to get their hands on your bank account information or social security number, be wary of a scam.

10. The Company Website Is Fake or a Copy

Scammers posting fake jobs will often copy a genuine website or business to give their attempt realism. They may imitate or wholesale copy the branding and text of another company so that they can present you with a good-looking email that has branding that feels familiar.

On investigation, for example, by looking up the firm online, you’re likely to spot small differences. Investigate the URL and look for an official job board or HR page.

A fake website may have a similar name to a genuine website. Look out for sites and companies with minor differences from the real company, such as “Facebook” becoming “The-Facebook”, or small branding differences.

11. They Lack Verifiable Information

When you try to find people talking about the company on LinkedIn or you look for social media interactions on sites like Twitter and Facebook, you’re likely to be disappointed. Scammers sometimes fabricate a web presence to make a job offer seem more realistic, but they tend not to have the months of interactions and business listings of a genuine company.

12. Communications Have Grammatical Errors

Professional recruiters understand that the hiring process reflects on the company. They want the best candidates, and recruitment is not cheap, so they put in the attention to detail to make their communications sound polished and professional.

Job scams are much more likely to contain errors. Although more and more scammers are using AI to improve their terrible language skills, poor grammar and spelling still give them away.

With a job scam, you may find that the initial communication is well-written because they’ve worked on it for some time before sending it. If you enter into more communication, you’ll find that the responses are unprofessional, a sign that the scammer is writing to you on the fly and using language that no longer has that honed, polished feel.

During a professional recruitment process, all communications are considered a reflection of the professionalism of the business. Anyone communicating with you from a legitimate company will take the time to ensure their emails are error free.

13. They Will Only Deal in Cash, Zelle, or Something Like Paypal

If the recruiter asks to deal only with cash or online money platforms like Zelle, it’s probably because these ways of exchanging money (let’s face it; they’re in the business of taking money and running away) are more difficult to trace than other methods of money transfer.

More Ways to Deal With Scam Job Postings

fake job opportunities

Verify Their Identity

If you’ve got a job email and it looks pretty convincing, turn to Nuwber to verify the contact details. Nuwber’s massive database of US citizens will tell you if the sender is who they claim to be, providing information like their location and occupation, and information about how the number has been used.

You can also see if they have left a reputable social media trail by doing a Google search. And LinkedIn, a place where professionals connect with other professionals and receive endorsements, is great for checking if a business is reputable. A “company” lacking professional contacts or with suspicious-looking contacts will tell you what you need to know about them.

Contact the Company Directly

Don’t use the number that the person contacting you gave you, which is probably their personal cell. Contact the company through their widely publicized, publicly available number, if there is one. If there are true job openings, they will know about them.

Report the Scam

You can report fraudulent job openings to the Federal Trade Commission. Reporting fraud makes life more difficult for scammers. It’s like removing another shark from the ocean so people can swim more safely.

You can also report the fake job posting to the job listing site, web host, or the brand being imitated if relevant.

Conclusion

Whether you’re actively looking for work or you’ve been contacted out of the blue about potential job opportunities, follow these tips to keep your data and money safe from scammers.

Share these tips with your network and lean on your associates for the best job opportunities! Use all the tools at your disposal to check out suspicious emails and texts before committing your time or money.

FAQ

Are there fake job search websites?

Yes, job scammers create bogus websites to create the impression that their job opportunities are for a real company. They also post fake jobs on legitimate job search sites.

How can you spot a fake recruiter?

Job scams have similar giveaways to spam and malicious emails. They tend to use high-pressure tactics, they offer things that seem too good to be true, and they want you to click on a link or send financial or personal information to secure the bogus job opportunities.

Do recruiters send text messages?

It’s very unusual for a recruiter to contact a candidate by text in the first instance. Most legitimate companies communicate by letter, phone call, or by email in response to a query or form submission.

What is an example of a fake job offer?

Subject: Exciting Job Opportunity β€” Immediate Start!

Dear Applicant,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected for an exciting job opportunity at [Company Name], a leading company in the tech industry. Your profile matches our requirements perfectly, and we believe you will be a great fit for our team.

Position: Remote Administrative Assistant Salary: $70,000 per year Benefits: Health insurance, 401(k), paid vacation

To proceed with your application, please follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the attached application form and email it back to us.
  2. Provide a copy of your ID and proof of address.
  3. Send a deposit of $200 for your work equipment, which will be reimbursed with your first paycheck.

We look forward to having you on board!

Best regards,

John Smith

HR Manager

Company Name

hr.companyname@gmail.com

Remember that a legitimate job offer will usually address you by name and reference your application or interview details; legitimate employers will never ask for money upfront for equipment or any other reason; a real company will have a professional email domain (e.g., @globaltechsolutions.com), not a generic one like @gmail.com.

How do I report job scams?

You can report a fraudulent job description to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also notify the job search site, if one is involved, and contact the real company if a scammer is imitating it.

Eugene Kirdzei
Eugene Kirdzei

Chief Technical Officer at Nuwber
With nearly two decades of experience in the IT industry, Eugene possesses comprehensive knowledge across his professional field, including in data management, data protection, and information search. Through his writing, he aims to provide valuable insights and practical advice on how to safely explore the online environment and leverage digital tools to enhance people’s lives.