It’s a crime of opportunity. With the COVID-19, fraudsters are multiplying their illicit schemes to extract money from their victims. Among their prime targets: job seekers. Here are some trips to avoid falling into their traps.
Research the company
Even if a company posts a job posting in a traditional media or on a reputable website, find out about it, advises the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). Does it actually exist? Is it genuinely seeking a new employee? Does it use an email address with a custom domain name?
Take the time to examine the job offer. Is it written without spelling or grammar errors? If it is a well-known organization, is its website mentioned? If yes, is the URL provided written correctly? Has its logo changed? Are the contact details correct?
“Typosquatting is often used in CEGEPs,” reports Catherine Bernard, spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). “It consists of posting job or internship offers on the website of an educational institution. The correspondence email address contains a slight spelling difference, which leads students to the fraudsters.”
If the ad focuses on the attractive salary or generous bonuses given when goals are met, caution is in order, according to the SQ.
Beware of the job that falls from the sky
Have you received an email or text message from someone you don’t know from Adam or Eve who is assigning you a job on the spot? Be on your guard! The CAFC recommends that you never respond to an “unsolicited text or email”.
Fraudsters generally offer administrative assistant, date entry clerk or mystery shopper positions, the CAFC has found. The also offer to dress up their victim’s vehicle with a commercial logo in return for a large sum of money.
The hiring interview conducted by scammers is usually done by videoconference or even by text message.
“Visiting the company premises is recommended to find out if the job offer is credible,” Catherine Bernard advises. She points out, however, that this process can be difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Do not give out any information during the hiring process
Until you are officially hired by a company, do not provide any personal information such as your bank account number.
If a potential employer asks you to take a preliminary exam, beware. Fraudsters use this subterfuge to get information about you, the SQ warns.
Do not agree to deposit company cheques into your personal account
This is a popular technique these days! The fraudsters stratagem is simple: they require that the candidate or the “new employee” deposit a cheque into his or her personal bank account, then return a portion of the amount to them in the form of cryptocurrency or gift cards, or even by wire transfer or through a company that specializes in international money transfers. Then, the cheque bounces due to insufficient funds.
“A legitimate employer will never ask you to accept money into your personal bank account,” says the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
If you are the victim of a fraud, contact your local police department, your financial institution and the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501.