While you're working hard to make sure you land that perfect job, be aware that the perfect job may not be so perfect. Con artists and scammers post fraudulent jobs that sometimes are difficult to spot at first. Keep reading to learn some tips on what should raise a red flag and how to protect yourself if you think you may have applied for a fraudulent job.

If you believe you may have spotted a scam, please contact Career Services immediately at 570-327-4502 or email careerservices@pct.edu.

Red Flags of Fraud

Stay on guard and avoid becoming drawn into a scam. What are fraud posting red flags? Information obtained from many resources we have created these fraud warning signs:

  • You must provide your credit card, bank account numbers, or other personal financial documentation.
  • The posting appears to be from a reputable, familiar company (often a Fortune 500). Yet, the domain in the contact's email address does not match the domain used by representatives of the company (this is typically easy to determine from the company's website). Another way to validate is to check the open positions on the company's website.
  • The contact email address contains the domain @live.com.
  • The position requires an initial investment, such as a payment by wire service or courier.
  • The posting includes many spelling and grammatical errors.
  • The position initially appears as a traditional job...upon further research, it sounds more like an independent contractor opportunity. When in doubt, contact Career Services at careerservices@pct.edu.
  • You are offered a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account (often for depositing checks or transferring money).
  • You receive an unexpectedly large check (checks are typically slightly less than $500, generally sent or deposited on Fridays).
  • You are asked to provide a photo of yourself.
  • The position is for any of the following: Envelope Stuffers, Home-based Assembly Jobs, Online Surveys.
  • The posting neglects to mention what the responsibilities of the job actually are. Instead, the description focuses on the amount of money to be made.
  • The employer responds to you immediately after you submit your resume. Typically, resumes sent to an employer are reviewed by multiple individuals, or not viewed until the posting has closed. Note - this does not include an auto-response you may receive from the employer once you have sent your resume.
  • The position indicates a "first year compensation" that is in high excess to the average compensation for that position type.
  • Look at the company's website. Does it have an index that tells you what the site is about; or does it contain information only about the job you are interested in? Scammers often create quick, basic web pages that seem legit at first glance.
  • Watch for anonymity. If it is difficult to find an address, actual contact, company name, etc. - this is cause to proceed with caution. Fraud postings are illegal, so scammers will try to keep themselves well-hidden.
  • The salary range listed is very wide (i.e. "employees can earn from $40K - $80K the first year!")
  • When you Google the company name and the word "scam" (i.e. Acme Company Scam), the results show several scam reports concerning this company. Another source for scam reports is: http://www.ripoffreport.com.
  • Google the employer's phone number, fax number and/or email address. If it does not appear connected to an actual business organization, this is a red flag. The Symplicity team often uses the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/us/consumers/), Hoovers (http://www.hoovers.com/) and AT&T's Anywho (http://www.anywho.com/) to verify organizations.
  • The employer contacts you by phone, however there is no way to call them back. The number is not available.
  • The employer tells you that they do not have an office set-up in your area, and will need you to help them get it up and running (these postings often include a request for your banking information, supposedly to help the employer make transactions).

Why Scams Work

There is a science to scams, and it may surprise you to know that scammers use many of the same techniques as legitimate sales professionals. The difference, of course, is that their "product" is illegal and could cost you a fortune. Here are the major techniques they use to draw you in:

  • Establishing a connection:
    The scammer builds rapport and a relationship with you.
  • Source credibility: 
    Scammer use techniques to make themselves look legitimate, such as fake websites, social media posts, or hacked emails that come from a friend's account. Most email phishing scams spoof real companies, and many scammers pretend to be a trusted business or government agency in order to add credibility.
  • Playing on emotions: 
    Scammers rely on emotion to get you to make a quick decision before you have time to think about it. An emergency situation or a limited time offer is usually their methodology. They count on emotional rather than rational decision-making.

What if You are Already Involved in a Scam?

  • According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
    The student should immediately contact the local police. The police are responsible for conducting an investigation (regardless of whether the scam artist is local or in another state). If you are a current student, you may file a report with the USC Department of Public Safety by calling them at (213) 740-6000.

If it is a situation where the student has sent money to a fraud employer: the student should contact their bank or credit card company immediately to close the account and dispute the charges. If the incident occurred completely over the Internet, the student should file an incident report with the:http://www.cybercrime.gov/, or by calling the FTC at: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).