Too good to be true? Don’t be scammed by fake jobs…

Too good to be true? Don’t be scammed by fake jobs…

Keith Rosser is Chair of SAFERjobs, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness and combating criminal activities in the recruitment industries.

Online job fraud is becoming an increasingly widespread and lucrative criminal enterprise. SAFERjobs has been receiving on average more than five reports of fraud per work day and reports of over £50,000 worth of fraud each month. This is all the more reason to be vigilant when looking for your next contract.

A sophisticated scam in which criminals posed as a global oil and gas company received national media coverage late last year. The scammers offered £10,000 a month to a contractor, using the organisation’s letterhead and a fake stamp on correspondence, even posing as its actual head of HR.

The scammers then requested the contractor pay fictional costs such as visa and insurance expenses. However, the contractor researched the email address and telephone number of the contact and found them to be bogus. In separate cases, it has been reported that the scammers will redirect contractors to a fake third party, which they also run, to pay these ‘costs’ in order to make everything seem legitimate.

It’s important to always stay aware when looking for jobs. With this in mind, below are some of our top tips on avoiding scams.

Keep your money safe

  • Never hand over money or give your bank details to a recruiter to try and secure employment;

  • A professional recruitment company will not ask job seekers for money to process applications or to guarantee work.

Make sure the employer is genuine

  • Professional companies will use company email addresses and traceable contact numbers;

  • Check that the telephone number matches the location of the company's address;

  • Be cautious of job advertisements that have a foreign contact number. If you are uncertain whether an employer is genuine then give them a call, ask for references or use an online search engine to see if anything of concern comes up.

Keep your identity safe

  • Unless you are sure the company is reputable and the job advertisement is genuine, be protective of your National Insurance number, passport number and bank details. This is all someone needs to pretend to be you and make purchases or open accounts in your name;

  • If you are uploading your CV onto an online job board avoid including valuable identification and financial details;

  • Never, when applying for a job online, send any form of identification to the organisation that it can scan to check your identity – requesting this is not legitimate.

Fraudulent individuals will often steal the reputation of a company and pretend to be advertising job opportunities in its name.

Be alert to fictitious email job offers

  • If you have received an email advertising a job you have not applied for;

  • Look out for email job offers that claim they can make you rich quickly and offer incredibly high salaries for part-time hours, but require you to make an upfront payment to secure work. A professional recruitment company will not ask you for money to work for them;

  • Fraudulent individuals will often steal the reputation of a company and pretend to be advertising job opportunities in its name.

If you are in any doubt, make the necessary checks

  • You are entitled to ask for references. Request a list of clients and employees the company has worked with;

  • Use an internet search engine to do background checks on the company;

  • Look at the sender's email address. Does it end in a company name? Is it in the same format as other email addresses from that particular company?


If you suspect any fraudulent activity when searching for work, or for more information on common scams, please get in touch with SAFERjobs directly through its website:

IPSE will continue working closely with SAFERjobs to keep ahead of new types of fraudulent practice and ensure our members are informed. As an IPSE member, if you would like legal advice on this issue you can access our free legal helpline via your IPSE dashboard.