minute read

Fake Jobs: 10 Ways to spot them to avoid being scammed

Mark Daniel //  0 Comments

Seen a job posting that looks too good to be true? Chances are, it is. Here are 10 ways to spot fake jobs, including examples, so that you don't fall victim to the scammers.


In April 2019, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Organisation) received 212 complaints specifically about fake jobs and job-related scams in which unsuspecting job seekers had been conned out of more than $261,000. This figure is estimated to increase with the growing volume of scammers out there but that is not the shocking part. The truly disturbing part is the fact that those figures are just the tip of the iceberg.

ACCA April 2019

ACCA April 2019

But only stupid people fall for job scams, right?

Wrong. But this is the number one reason why victims often keep quiet about being misled, misinformed or mistreated when applying for jobs. The fear that others will think they are stupid and gullible is often enough to keep people from reporting crime.

“The fear that others will think they are stupid and gullible is often enough to keep people from reporting a crime.

Real examples of real people being scammed

Every day, intelligent people succumb to clever, ingenious scams that have been honed over time to produce results. Here a few to give you an idea of how this is possible.

Example 1 - the information method

"Hi Mark,

As I said on the phone, here is my story. 

After searching online I applied for an advertised position of Drilling Supervisor (ExPat) 6/2 roster in Central Africa at the Lubambe. The ad at first looked genuine with a logo, company description, all quite believable, and even had a website.  

The ad at first looked genuine with a logo, company description, all quite believable, and even had a website.

In around three days I received an email that "the company" is interested and would like to arrange a phone interview. They also asked me for some further pre-interview questions via email.

They contacted me by phone the next day and the PA to the GM introduced herself and said she will transfer the call to the GM. The GM answered and started the interview.

The interview lasted around 20 minutes (OK, slightly suspicious as it was shorter than previous interviews) and the GM told me they will contact me further.

In about two days they sent me an email with the contract stating they were happy and would like to proceed and asked for further documentation including a Passport Scan, Driving license and various Drill and Blast certificates.

I had always wanted an expat role and I did not pay enough attention to the email address from which it was sent. The domain from which mail was sent was something like Lubambe-careers.com which I noticed on their second mail.

Even if I had checked the original website for Lumbambe Mine I couldn't at first recognise the mail was fake.

OK about the contract now. It was immediately suspicious with a strange red, white and blue outline around it and so to check it, I did copy/paste into Google and got the result that this is a scam from Russia where scammers ask you to send them your personal details and passport scan so they can use it for identity fraud.

Also, later when I was searching for more jobs on that same site, I found two or three more such ads and reported to this to the site but never got a reply to say something was done to remove the ads.

Hope my story can help others to avoid such scam ads on legit sites.

Kind regards, DD"

This would have progressed further, with introductions to travel agents to organise travel arrangements and fares, visa costs etc. 

DD would have been out of packet by $2000 USD at the end of the process with no job.

Example 2 - the FOMO method

A client of mine in Singapore, unfortunately, fell for this method after accepting a Middle East big dollar role.

This one will take you through the whole process, interviews reference etc and then tell you were unsuccessful.  You are left wondering why but you were suspicious all the way through the process, so you forget about it.  

Then about 10 days later, great news the other person has unfortunately been unable to start so they would like to offer you the position.

The difference this time is that there is urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out) so you’ll need to contact their broker to arrange the flights.  You will have to pay yourself upfront as they say that they have had candidates who just never arrived in the past, but all costs are automatically reimbursed, and all future FIFO flights will be booked by the company.

The difference this time is that there is urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out)

You contact the broker, pay for the flight ($926 One Way), and wait. And that's it.

There will be no tickets because there is no travel broker because there is no job. The phone number is disconnected, the website is gone - and so has your money.

Example 3 - the visa method

I have lots of clients in Africa, India and Pakistan and some are desperate for work to support and make a difference for their families.  

In the last year I have been told of this practice by four of my clients. They either apply for a job or are approached, they are told the good news that they are successful and then they hit them with obscure administration and visa fees that will give them the right to work in another country.

This method requires lower amounts of money that are just about affordable. 

This method requires lower amounts of money that are just about affordable. 

As a result, more people take them up and hey presto they are non-returnable and unfortunately you don’t and never would attain the criteria required.  Sorry and goodbye $200-$500.

Is it a crime to post fake jobs?

There are two types of fake jobs - those that are criminal and those that are loosely labeled as misleading. The first is the kind that I have outlined above. Someone somewhere posts a fake job to reel in job seekers on an often elaborate journey which ends in them losing money.

The other is where a job is posted for reasons other than criminal intentions.

5 types of misleading but not criminal job adverts


Testing interest in a role

A company may use a fake job posting to determine how much available talent there is for a particular position. This will give them an idea of how to recruit the position and what the salary expectations would be from candidates.


Populating a database

Companies and recruiters can use this method to build up a strong database of candidates that are ready for both expected and unexpected future opportunities. 


Internal recruitment

Companies sometimes advertise a job externally with no actual intention of hiring someone external. The posting is used to create the illusion that they are searching for the suitable candidate, but in reality they already have someone lined up internally. This ticks the box of their duty of care and equal opportunity mandate in one action, albeit rather misleading.


PR exercise

Sometimes fake jobs will be posted to bolster the image of a company or recruitment consultancy. The aim is to make them look successful, that they are in a period of growth, and should be taken note of within their sector.


Standard (almost!) recruitment practice

Let me use the words of a recruiter I know well and wants to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

“Agencies are notorious for it. I have worked in 5 so far and every one of them puts up really attractive job ads so that they get a bunch of CVs that they can then use to market to their clients.”

Another reason for doing this is to hit KPI's within their offices. The majority of agencies place their consultants on basic salaries plus commission. This will include making x number of interviews per week. This can lead to a little 'creativity'.

And finally, sometimes a consultant might post a fake job that is similar to one that they know will be available soon, but is currently confidential and they can't disclose.

“Agencies are notorious for it. I have worked in 5 so far and every one of them puts up really attractive job ads so that they get a bunch of CVs that they can then use to market to their clients.”

10 ways to spot fake jobs so you don't get caught out

Misleading fake jobs are bad for you because they raise your expectations and waste your time in targeting your resume for a specific role that doesn't exist. They are also hard to detect because they are usually from genuine employers and agencies. But the good news is that your application may still have a positive outcome.

The type of fake jobs you really need to look out for are the criminal ones because there is never a happy ending with these. So, here are your top ten signs to look out for.


It looks too good to be true

If it has shorter hours, more pay, is easy to be hired, and has an unusual amount of perks, then be suspicious - always. 


You need to pay for something

Being asked to purchase ‘starter kits’, equipment, materials or work clothing prior to starting a position is a common way of extracting money for nothing in return from unsuspecting job seekers. 


The job description is incomplete or confusing

Real jobs have real content. If you are applying to a smaller organisation, then they may not have as much written information. However, when you speak with them they will have a clear picture of the key requirements of the role. 


Search results are inconclusive

If you can't find anything about a company, it is definitely a scam. If you find something, it still could be. Delve further by doing these things:

  • Their website may look nice but it could be part of the scam.
  • Check the sites security status in your browsers address bar - it should be https:// and not http://
  • Check for poor English and grammar throughout the site
  • If it has masses of invasive advertising this is a bad sign
  • Compare the Contact Us page details with the information you have been given
  • Search for the interviewer's name on social media to see if their profile exists.

Emails are unprofessional

There are exceptions but most scammer's emails contain poor English and bad grammar. Also, check that their address matches the company site. That is, Peter Smith should be something like peter.smith@companyname.com and not peter@gmail.com


Using messaging services to conduct interviews

Many legitimate interviews take place online. They can use a variety of software but instant messaging should not be one of them. Typically scammers will give instructions on setting up and then will ask for confidential information. Give nothing away and ask lots of questions. 


Being asked for confidential information

This can take the form of asking for your exact birthdate, your social security number, or tax information. They will say it is to be able to pay you, put you on their insurance, or to run a security check on you. Don't do it. 


You can't contact them

Professional company emails have a person's name and contact details. If this is missing, be suspicious. If it is a noreply type email be very suspicious. Also, try to call any numbers given in emails or on their social profiles or website to see what response you get. 


Being asked to receive money or packages

A common scam is to send a cheque through the post. They instruct you to deposit it in your account, keep a large portion of it, and send the remainder to another account the same day. The cheque won't clear and you will have lost your money. Beware forwarding packages too as they contain drugs or stolen goods.


Check if they have already been reported.

If it all sounds weird to you, it has probably sounded weird to others. Paste the copy of emails you have received into Google and see if there is a match.

Sometimes though, new and unexpected methods comes along to catch even the most vigilant off their guard. So here are 5 things you can do if you think you may have, or are being lured by a fake job.

5 things to do if you think you have been scammed

01 Inform banks and institutions

If you think you have provided your account details, passport, tax file number, driving licence, Medicare or other personal identification details to a scammer, contact your bank, financial institution, or other relevant agencies immediately to alert them.

02 Officially report it

Report the scam to the ACCC if in Australia or a similar organisation specific to your country. This helps them to warn other people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams working where possible. Try to include as much information as possible such as copies of emails or screenshots of messages.

03 Tell others

Spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues to help protect them.

04 Contact the source

Contact the real website to let them know the scammer's profile name and any other details that may help them to stop others being scammed.

05 Don't be embarrassed or embarrass others

Scammers can be very sophisticated and catch otherwise vigilant people off their guard. If it happens to you, know that you are not stupid and you are not alone. Likewise, if you know someone who has been caught, offer support, not judgement.

Have a question or a story to share? Leave a comment below...

Follow me:

About the Author

A global resume writer and career coach, Mark is known for his honest, direct, and hard-hitting advice, helping people manage job applications and succeed at interviews. Now based on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, he is the co-founder of Real Life Career Advice and a prolific publisher, contributing to several industry magazines and his daily career advice blog to his 45,000 LinkedIn followers.

What are your thoughts?

Leave a comment or ask a question.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Enjoyed this article?

Find more great content here: