shell gameA gang of fraudsters were jailed recently after posting fake job adverts online. The gang used the ads to facilitate the delivery of computer viruses to the applicants that made copies of their bank details.  The issue, sadly, isn’t isolated as a spate of similar crimes have hit the news in months gone by.

Whilst such incidents remain rare, vigilance is nevertheless recommended for those looking to find employment or change jobs in the near future. So what steps can you follow to ensure that you avoid becoming the next victim of this latest scam?

Fortunately, whilst many fraudulent ads are cunning in their disguise, there are normally a few signs that all is not well.

Words of warning

First and foremost, certain words are often a giveaway that someone is trying a little too hard to sound official. Complaint resolution site Scambook warns to look out for phrases like ‘careers’, ‘partners’ and ‘staffing’; often used to form part of the prospective employer’s company name.

Of course, not every occurrence of such words necessarily point to a ‘dodgy’ listing. However, as one of the first things you’ll see in an ad it’s a good place to start assessing its legitimacy.

Google is your friend

If you can’t quite work out whether the company listing the opportunity is the real deal or not, you’re not alone. Google (in fact any good search engine for that matter) can help shed some light; just search for the company name in question.

A word of warning here however, is that it’s not unheard of for scammers to have gone to the trouble of creating a web site to throw skeptical candidates off the scent. With this in mind, it’s important to look for physical addresses and phone numbers on the site itself and for references to the business in question on respected, third-party web sites.

To be doubly sure, try searching via Companies House’s webCHeck service. This will give you a definitive answer as to whether a business really exists, although it’s important to bear in mind that many business’ often trade, completely legitimately, under an alternative guise to their official, registered name.

Money, money, money

It’s every job hunter’s dream; the role promising big rewards in return for few hours and little effort. The likelihood is however is that it is little more than that; a mere dream. The old mantra rings true – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The harsh reality is that a jobs are seldom well paid and easy. If an ad suggests that may be the case, be prepared to run a mile.

Likewise, the highest paid jobs are rarely available to those without relevant experience or qualification. Sarah Yeomans of Endsleigh Insurance writes that the phrase ‘no experience necessary’ should sound alarm bells, particularly if the package apparently on offer is disproportionately high. In any case, suggests Sarah, ‘entry-level’ is more likely to be used to describe an authentic opportunity, but don’t be planning any trips to the Maserati garage just yet.

Stay secure

Whilst computer viruses are often used to extract personal and banking information from prospective candidates, the scam’s mechanic is often not that subtle. In some cases, victims have been conned into sharing sensitive information simply having been asked for it.

Let’s be clear about this. Legitimate employers simply will not ask you to pay as part of the application process, nor would they require your banking information until you have been interviewed at least once, and awarded the job.

Regardless of how cleverly worded or seemingly well-meaning the request may be, never, ever hand over your personal and / or financial details.

Keep in mind these pointers, and good luck in finding your real dream job!

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