The OCBC scam as well as other banking scams have us on high alert. For job seekers, such caution should be extended to offers as well. After all, Straits Times recently reported that in the first six months of last year, there were 658 cases of job scams – a 16-fold increase from just 40 in the same period in 2020. Victims of such scams lost about $6.5 million between January and June last year.
To understand how to avoid a job scam, it is important to understand what it entails. There are many variations, but the police have highlighted two methods of “cashing out” from victims – requiring them to pay huge upfront fees to “get started”, or setting them up as “business partners” who are unknowingly used as money mules to launder the proceeds of criminal activities, or instructed to download unverified mobile applications and tasked to transfer funds in the form of cryptocurrency into their purported job accounts with promised commission.
Similar to the bank scams, job scams may also ask “potential hires” to reveal personal details like their names, IC numbers, phone numbers, phone security codes and one-time passwords (OTP). Information like this allows scammers to access bank accounts, which they can then siphon money from.
Hence, the scams very method of operation gives us some clues to discern real job offers from fake ones. Be on the lookout for:
1. Offers that are too good to be true
Recruiters for scams often offer much more than the going salary, and emphasise that they do not require prior experience or “freshers welcome!”. They may also include extremely attractive benefits and promises of further career growth.
2. Vague job descriptions
What stands out about these offers, however, is that they do not describe anything about the job clearly. Instead, they use vague language such as “Help merchants to improve their sales by performing tasks” or “Make commissions based on amounts transferred”.
Typical skills required for the job will also not be mentioned. For example, a scam claiming to be for a sales position will require no prior sales experience.
3. Requests for personal and/or banking details
In addition, scammers may request irrelevant personal information with the aim of accessing a victim’s bank account or personal particulars.
Hence, they post irrelevant job requirements or information needed such as:
• must have a valid passport
• no relevant experience needed
• willing to travel overseas
• bank account details
• name, NRIC and other personal information
4. Payment required upfront
If you do reply to the job offer, the scammers may ask for money or your bank account details for “expenses” or “training”. They may emphasise that you need to pay this upfront fee to get started, after which you will make your own money.
These scammers will usually ask for payment to cover the following fake ‘expenses’:
• download a business app
• make a purchase on a business app
• medical tests
• travel visa/work visa application
However, a legitimate employer will never ask for payment upfront before you have signed an offer.
5. Offers sent from a personal email
A common phishing tactic used by cybercriminals involves spoofing the display name in the sent email. This way, the scammer’s email displays as being from a legitimate company or institution. And because only the username is displayed in most mail client inboxes, an unsuspecting receiver has no reason to distrust the fraudulent email as it will appear to be perfectly legitimate.
To avoid this, check the email address of the sender in addition to checking the display name. If the offer is sent from a personal email account and has a domain such as ‘gmail.com’ or ‘hotmail.com’, it is definitely sent from a job scammer.
6. Offers you did not apply for
The most obvious sign of a fake job offer is receiving an offer for a job that you did not apply for. It may also be for a field that has no relevance to your experience and background.
For those who have applied to multiple jobs, you may wish to keep a record of your applications to ensure you are only receiving replies from legitimate sources.
At Jobscentral, we take pride in being a source of reliable, trustworthy job offers that fit job seekers and clients alike. Hence, should you come across an offer that seems too good to be true, do not hesitate to reach out to us to report the issue.
Stay safe and happy job hunting!