If you are in the market for summer work or a full-time position, you may have noticed job postings that sound too good to be true. What you may not know is that scammers who want to steal your money — and maybe even your identity — create many of these postings. Learn to recognize the signs of job opportunity scams and how to avoid falling for them.
Never assume a job offer is real just because you find it on a legitimate website or in a newspaper. Job opportunity scams often promise good money and professional experience, but in reality, the jobs are either nonexistent or very low-paying. Some scammers ask job seekers to pay high fees for information, training sessions, or promotional materials that turn out to be useless. They fail to deliver on their promises, and victims end up losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Other scammers offer mystery shopping jobs that turn out to be bogus. In May, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center warned that scammers were perpetrating a mystery shopping scam using counterfeit checks that appeared to be from The Ohio State University Medical Center.
In the scam, consumers receive a letter from the “Income Booster Mystery Shopper Group,” which the letter falsely claims to be a subdivision of The Ohio State University Medical Center. The letter congratulates the consumer on being selected to participate in its mystery shopper program. Enclosed with the letter is a $1,490 check. Consumers are instructed to take $350 of the funds as their salary, to wire transfer $990, and to use the remaining $150 as a shopping fund. In reality, the check is counterfeit and consumers will lose any money they send.
Proceed with caution any time you receive an unexpected job offer or complete an online job application. Scammers often create phony job postings and applications in order to obtain personal information from unsuspecting jobseekers.
When applying online, make sure the site is secure before entering your personal information. The web address should read “https” rather than “http.” The “s” stands for secure, meaning that the information is encrypted and less likely to be hacked by scammers. Also, apply for a job directly through the hiring organization’s website rather than submitting your information to a third-party job search site.
Signs of a job opportunity scam include:
Demands for upfront payment via prepaid credit card or wire transfer
Requests for personal information
Unrealistic salaries, benefits, or incentives
Vague job descriptions
Claims such as “No Experience Necessary!” or “Guaranteed Placement!”
High-pressure sales tactics
No written information provided
Being selected for a mystery shopping job you never applied for
If you suspect a job opportunity scam or an unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
or by calling 800-282-0515.