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Avoiding Job Scams: 2023

When you're desperate, some people take advantage of that

Now that over 300k people have been laid off in the first two quarters of 2023, people are getting desperate. The market is terrible in tech, and folks are wondering if they’ll lose everything. If they’ll ever recover. Some may not.

Enter the lowest life forms on the planet, the opportunistic scammer. They know you’re desperate, so they take advantage of that to steal what little money you have left with fake jobs. They’re getting better at it, too.

So we’ll have to get better and spotting them.

The Scam

The most common right now is putting up a fake job to reel people in. It will look exactly like a real job, usually because they copied a real job to make it. They’re also using a real service like LinkedIn or Indeed. No one checks to see if you’re really affiliated with the business you claim to be part of, they just want your check to clear. And it is painfully easy to create a fake profile on LinkedIn and just say you work for someone. Try it. Add Google as your last employer. Unless they’ve changed it, it only takes you a couple of steps. No validation at all.

So they create the fake job and applications go to their almost accurate email. In return, they contact you with an interview request or even an offer without an interview (always a huge red flag).

Below is one that tried with me. Take a look and see what you notice:

Here’s what stood out to me:

  • They listed the items you would get. Almost no one does that, because they usually aren’t sure beyond “Probably a Mac.” This is part of the pattern because the scam is that they will send you a check to use to purchase these items from a special website. After you spend the thousands of dollars, you’ll find the check didn’t really clear and you’re out that money yourself. And the job vanishes. They also add an inkjet printer to pad their prices, but many of the jobs will have no need for a printer.

  • They subtly add that you will get to keep an iPad Pro

  • The email is close to the real one. In this case, The real company is .com

  • The interview process is weird. In this case, you create a Teams account and contact the hiring manager immediately. What hiring manager has that kind of time to just sit and wait for someone?


So what did I do when I became suspicious? I verified.

  • Check the contact name on LinkedIn. It had no photo. Checked the employees under the company, and only saw the one no-photo name.

  • Checked the .work address, and saw that it had only a parked (nothing here yet) page.

  • Checked the company URL that Google gave me, and saw it was .com and nowhere was mister no-picture.

  • I contacted their HR, both through LinkedIn and through their website, and asked about the job. Someone got back to me and said no, it was a scam that they have been dealing with.

And sometimes I post it on LinkedIn to see what my connections think. Often additional eyes will spot something.

And it isn’t just regular jobs. I’m run into it as a freelancer as well. Someone will post a job on Upwork, and when they contact you they want to take it off Upwork and have some of the same warning signs. If you’re using Upwork, NEVER go off-platform with a new client.

So, in summary, let’s be careful out there.

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