A few months ago I decided to look for other opportunities by seeking for jobs online. I just wanted a new start, considering of course this. Ok I visited quite a number of employment agency websites and dropped my resume together with cover letters. So weeks passed by and there were no responses, but a lot of junk mail or mail coming from these agents advertising various other job opportunities and etcetera etcetra. In my view this was irrelevant because all I wanted at that moment in time was at least an invitation to an interview or something better. However …….nothing came through. Then out of the blues, I received an email from a certain employer offering me a job, claiming that they had got my information from the internet. Okay, this was good news but personally I never take anything at face value because of this and this. This is what I then started doing; digging for information to see how legitimate this so called employer was. I first of all accepted the offer and then started investigating. I must say what I unravelled was out of this world….these guys are getting really smart at their game. Check out the following red flags I found that you should look out for when offered a job online.
Red Flag 1:- Offered a job I never applied for
I mean seriously getting a job offer for a role I absolutely did not apply for, is a bit suspicious. Now to me that stood out as red flag number 1. I did not apply for the job so why offer me something I never showed interest in. Okay, at the back of my mind I was like well maybe they really liked my resume. But come on, seriously no interview, no prior communication….but a job offer with a reasonable salary, that’s interesting. Well, it is important you take heed of this red flag when offered a job online.
Red Flag 2:- Different emails used.
After receiving a job offer email, I responded, and then the response came from another email with a different domain address. Okay there is Red flag number 2. Now hear me out, at first I thought this was not a scam because I was not asked for my personal details or bank details which is an obvious sign of a scam. Nothing regarding my bank details or personal details was asked, but however it gets more interesting. Check the red flag below.
Red flag 3:- Referred to a lawyer
Now this part took my breath away, I was referred to a lawyer to help in the processing of my travel documents. I was given the lawyer’s email address and contact number. Well right away I dropped the lawyer an email indicating that I was referred by so and so for the processing of travel documents and a Guarantee Bond for immigrants. Guess what, the lawyer responded and what he requested for immediately raised my eyebrows (see the red flag below). Oh yes in addition the document that was sent was not on the Law Firm’s Letter Head. Hmmmm, interesting.
Red Flag 4: Make a payment for the Guarantee Bond
I was requested to make a payment of USDxxx for the processing of a Guarantee Bond. Okay for starters I understand the significance of a guarantee bond but from my research this is significant when you are now in the targeted country not when you are yet to apply for a VISA. What made this more interesting is I was asked to deposit funds through one of the money transfer agents to that lawyer. In my view this was to avoid traces of bank transfers considering the risks of money laundering. The question that immediately came into my mind was why the funds were being transferred to an individual and not to a law firm. The other interesting thing is the transfer was being done to another country, outside the country where I got the employment “offer” from.
Red flag 5:- Face Book page
In my quest to get more information I then decided to search for the employer’s name on Face Book and other social media platforms. Well guess what, the employer was on Face Book, but the employer had no friends, I immediately sent a friend request which was responded to within hours. As soon as I got the response I sent a message asking whether the employer had sent an email offering a job. And guess what the person responded that it was the employer and they confirmed the job offer. I then started asking a lot of questions which brought me to Red Flag number 6.
Red Flag 6:- Discrepancies in information presented
There is a saying that goes; it’s difficult to remember a lie than the truth. When you are lying about something you need another lie to keep the first lie alive and well most of the time when you lie, it is very difficult to remember that very same lie. Which brings me to Red Flag number 6 discrepencies in information. Well I asked a lot of questions. And so many times I would ask the same question in another angle just to verify whether I would get the same response. Let me give you an example, at first I asked where the employer had got my details from. The first response was they had got my information from a social network on the internet. Later on I asked the question from another angle and the employer said he had received my information from another department within his company. Well I further did my research, the FB page had a different Date of Birth from the age the employer purported to be. The FB page had the contact number of the lawyer and not the company owner. Very interesting.
Red Flag 7:- Poor communication skills
This red flag stood out for me from day one; poor communication skills. The English grammar was so bad. I even asked the employer what his first language was, and they confirmed it was English, but the email communication had such bad grammar, I immediately knew I was not dealing with the said “employer”, but someone else, leading me to Red flag 8.
Red Flag 8:- Identity theft
I saw this one as a classic scam. After querying the payment to the lawyer I asked the employer what guarantee I had that I was dealing with a genuine person, and I got a copy passport sent. Well I must say I was relieved for a moment, then again thought of identity theft, where one uses someone else’s documents especially of an old person and presents the documents as if it was them. The danger with this is the people doing the scam tend to use documents of a person who has no track record on the internet. I tried searching for this person online but no track records found which I found rather odd. Then I remembered that this person might be old and not using the internet. As such they might not even know that their details are being used by someone else online.
Red Flag 9:- Persistent demands to settle
After receiving the email to pay for a Guarantee Bond it was now a daily demand to settle the payment in order to commence travel documents and VISA processing. To me, the persistent demand to settle the bond fee was a clear red flag. An employer who wants to hire you does not demand for payment upfront instead they bear the full cost of the VISA and travel documents together with other costs.
Red Flag 10:- Public domain email addresses
Another Red flag is the use of the public domain email addresses not work related domain addresses. In this case a Gmail account was used not the work related domain. When I asked the employer for their work related email, they sent me an email whose domain address does not even exist. The excuse I got for not using the work related domain was that the work server was down, which I found rather odd. Oh by the way the company name that was used to do this scam is an international company known worldwide.
So what do you do when faced with a more or less similar scam?
• DO NOT pay anything. I repeat do not pay anything no matter what demands the employer presents. If the employer wants you they should bear the whole cost.
• ALWAYS query a job offer that is presented without you applying for it or let alone getting interviewed.
• NEVER disclose any personal information , like your physical address, credit card details or bank details
• ALWAYS do background checks before making your final decision. With the beauty of the internet, just a few clicks can give you all the information you need.
• Check for any of the Red flags above before making the final decision
• If the “job offer” is from a foreign country, engage the embassies or commissions of that particular country to find out more information.
• NEVER give in to the pressure to do anything they ask for. If the job is legitimate, they will be patient with you and not make unnecessary demands.
No matter how desperate you are for a job, do not fall for any online scams. I took a risk in responding to these people, I kindly request you do not do the same.
You can actually build a successful online business by doing this. I have tried it and it has worked.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop them below and I will be more than happy to respond to you.