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Scammers luring job hunters with fake remote jobs

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Jan 30, 2023

Whether full-time or part-time, work-from-home job postings are still in high demand, especially as more companies ask workers to return to the office in 2023.

Unfortunately, scammers are taking notice.

If you are hunting on popular job sites, the Federal Trade Commission is urging caution.

Tracy Bickel found her dream job a few weeks ago, working remotely for a biotech company based in Ireland.

She had put her resume on a job site.

"I got a personal text and that's how it started," she said

After answering some questions in a text interview with their recruiter, she got the job as a patient liaison.

"I would go between the patients and the company itself," she said.

The company texted her a link to a contract, and she signed it online, giving her social security number and all her personal information.

Almost immediately, she was sent a check for almost $5,000 to buy a computer and get started. She was thrilled, but that all changed when she went to the bank.

"The bank said it's fraudulent," she said. "They don't believe this company exists."

It was all a scam. The biotech company is real, but the "recruiter" who contacted her did not really work for the company.

Her dream was gone, and a scammer had her social security number.

Warning signs of a remote job scam

With recent layoffs in the tech industry, the FTC has warned that scammers are going to great lengths to get job seekers' personal information.

The FTC says they will:

  • Set up fake websites, often copying the website of a legitimate company
  • Conduct fake job interviews, typically by text message or email
  • Set up fake portals for onboarding employees

Toni Frana ofFlexJobsnotes that the scammers can be very convincing.

"It isn't even an actual job but it will entice people to apply," she said.

Frana says the first red flag to any remote job scam is getting a message through social media or an instant messaging app like Telegram or WhatsApp.

She says real businesses should only reach out from company accounts.

"Legitimate companies will email job seekers and candidates from a company email address," Frana said.

More red flags:

  • Grammatical errors
  • An immediate job offer
  • Requesting cash up front
  • Sending a big check before work begins

Frana says when applying for remote work, ask for a face-to-face conversation. If the company declines, that's a red flag.

"It might not be in person but you definitely want to be able to have a verbal conversation whether it's over the phone, over Zoom with video," she said.

A recent FlexJobs survey found 65 percent of people would like to work remotely full-time.

But use caution, because that dream company could all be fake, even if they say all the right things.

"They seemed perfectly legit," Bickel said. "They had crossed all their T's and dotted all their I's. It's amazing."

So check out any potential employer carefully, and be suspicious of interviews by chat or text, so you don't waste your money.

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