Scammers Post Fake Jobs on Sites Like LinkedIn and Indeed

Sites like LinkedIn and Indeed have protocols in place to try to minimize fake posts, but scams can still slip through.

Scam job postings and fraudulent recruitment efforts abound in email inboxes and on websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Zip Recruiter a new report from the Washington Post. Under the guise of fake job listings and opportunities, cybercriminals try to prey on job seekers and collect personal information.

The Post article describes the specific experience of Lisa Miner, a dialysis technician who was almost scammed by a fake recruitment email into becoming an app developer for CVS Health. She received the eager outreach message amid an ongoing job search via popular listing sites. After a skills test, the “recruiter” offered Miner the role.

But during onboarding, the Georgia-based technician became suspicious when she was asked to purchase thousands of dollars worth of supplies from a particular vendor using a certified check that was mailed to her. Rather than immediately purchasing the items as instructed, Miner instead attempted to cash the check and see what happened. Spoiler alert: It hasn’t been deleted — which suggests it will a scam was in progress. She reported the incident to the FBI but has yet to receive a response or information, according to the Post.

Fake job postings are not a brand new concept. A 2021 ProPublica investigation cataloged a wave of list fraud focused on stealing victims’ identifying information and then claiming unemployment benefits along with other nefarious activities. And the Better business office, FBIand Federal Trade Commission have all made it their goal to warn jobseekers about fraudulent job offers at various times over the last few years.

Such scams have been on the rise since the pandemic began, they say a BBB analysis from 2021. Between 2018 and 2020, the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog Group reported that online scams increased by 27%.

And right now – when years of labor market instability, the rise of remote work opportunities and an ever-expanding one a row of high-profile layoffs have come together – it is a particularly vulnerable time to navigate the job market.

“Employment scammers are trying to take advantage of people’s desire for flexibility,” Sinem Buber, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, told the Washington Post. “That’s why it’s a peak time.”

Listing sites told the Washington Post that they are working to filter out fraudulent job postings and fake employers. When asked about a specific fraud prevention method, a ZipRecruiter spokesperson referred Gizmodo a series from blog entries on their website on the subject. In one, the company wrote that “proprietary detection software” is used to screen potential posts. In another case, ZipRecruiter instructs job seekers to be vigilant when perusing job listings, and to look out for extremely vague job descriptions, poor reviews, and companies with no or limited online presence outside of the job posting.

“We have a dedicated search quality team that goes to extraordinary lengths and uses a variety of techniques to assess the suitability and validity of job postings,” Spencer Dandes, a spokesperson for Indeed, said in an email to Gizmodo. Similarly, a LinkedIn spokesperson emailed Gizmodo to say the company uses “Technology and expert teams to find and remove insecure information jobs and those who don’t meet ours norms.”

However, detection software and quality team or not, some scams are likely to still get through. “In fact, tens of millions of job postings that don’t meet our quality guidelines are removed every month,” Dandes said.

To avoid falling into a scammer’s trap, use the same common sense that keeps you from doing so other internet scams. Furthermore the FTC advises that you verify the existence of a position and company before applying (i.e. visit the company’s website and double check), search social media and review sites such as Glassdoor, do not pay any money to a prospective employer during the hiring or hiring process, and never pay a check submitted by a stranger.

Some scammers will go to great lengths to look legit, as with the Faux-Spirit Airlines scammers that ProPublica described. This scam involved a carefully constructed external website that was one letter away from the actual spelling of Spirit Airlines. Therefore, additional vigilance is likely to be warranted in some cases. Be especially suspicious of recruiters or job postings that require you to upload scans of your driver’s license or provide your social security number early on. When applying for a job for the first time, employers only need your contact details (along with CV, cover letter, etc.), no more detailed personal information.

And if you come across a suspicious listing on a listing site, you can report it. “We encourage job seekers to report suspicious job ads to us,” wrote Indeed’s Dandes. ZipRecruiter suggests the same. The site “encourage[s] Report any such activity to us so we can investigate and take prompt remedial action.”

Update 12/22/2022 1:12 PM ET: This post was updated with a comment from LinkedIn. Scammers Post Fake Jobs on Sites Like LinkedIn and Indeed

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