detect online job scams

How to Detect Online Job Scams

The rate of online job scams is growing and the tactics used are also advancing. Gone are the days when online scammer's tricks look so shabby and unprofessional.

The rate of online job scams is growing, and the tactics used are also advancing. Gone are the days when online scammer’s tricks looked so shabby and unprofessional.

The advancement in technology has also narrowed the gap between differentiating the fake from the original. Online job scams today look so real that it will take a third eye for one to detect them.

One thing you should always bear in mind is that whenever the process becomes very easy, it is time to become more security conscious. This is not only about online jobs but also about other areas of your online transactions.

The rapid growth in companies adopting remote jobs due to pandemics has also created a new avenue for online job scams to thrive. Gone are the days when you had to travel to a company’s office before you could get an interview. Technology has made it easy for employers and employees too, but also for the perpetrators of online job scams.

If you are a freelancer on UpWork/Fiverr or you are a job seeker on LinkedIn or any job searching websites; there is no other time to gain knowledge on how these online job scams work than now.

 Are Those That Fall Victims to Online Job Scams Greedy and Stupid?

It is always common for people to look at those that have fallen victim to online scams with contempt. And as those whom their greed has caught up with. But the fact remains that online scammers today targets your needs and interest more than they target your greed.

Having that mindset that those that fall victim to online scams are the greedy ones will make you more vulnerable today to online scammers than ever.

We are no longer in that era where every online scam is detected through the bogus offers they make. More like through their promise of a salary more than what you are worth. Or through them sending an email that does not look well-constructed or is full of errors.

Online scammers today blend themselves in the market and play the same role as legit businesses do to get their victims. They also do their market survey; research on their bait company employment processes; and know the current salary scale for the jobs they want to offer you and of the company they want to impersonate or create.

Therefore, before you conclude that online scams only work on the greedy ones, it is time you start reconsidering that assumption and start embracing cybersecurity knowledge.

Kinds of Online Job Scams

Before we discuss the key elements, you should look out for and the things you should do to verify if an online job is a scam or legit, it will be great for you to understand how online job scammers calibrate their acts. This will help you to understand how they operate and the tactic they use.

There are two common ways online job scams operate. They include;

  1. Through the Impersonation of Other Company’s
  2. By Creation of an Imaginary Company

Online Job Scams Through the Impersonation of Other Company

This is one of the most common types of online job scams. What those that perpetrate these kinds of online job scams do is that they replicate a company’s employment process and use it to target their victims.

The process for this kind of online job scam is segmented into two. They are what I call the scam design, and the scams need search and execution.

The scams need search involves the scammer going online in search of people’s reviews of a company’s employment process on job review sites and on social media and taking notes and paying attention to the recruitment process they underwent and then after that, they will replicate the same kind of model into their scam.

They might also through open-source intelligence gain knowledge on how the company’s employment letter looks and the adequate wording they use, including their logo and letterhead.

A good example of an online job scam that uses this pattern is the Upwork Hachette Book Group job scams on Upwork and LinkedIn and the AGWAY INC job scam. Below is a sample letter from Hachette Book Group job scams.

Hachette Book Group Online Job Scams
Scam employment offer letter
Online Job scams Hachette group employment letter
Scam letter

After the scam design, the next segment of action for the scammer is to find victims that have the need for the scam. In most cases, they may reach out to their target victims through keyword search on freelancing websites like Upwork or Fiverr or through social media or LinkedIn, while in some other cases the victims might fall prey to fake job adverts placed by the scammers.

One thing you should notice from the Hachette Book Group scam is that the scammer still used the company’s correct website address on their letterhead, this is to confuse their victims more on the credibility of the process.

Common Attributes OF Online Job Scams That Uses Company Impersonation Strategy

Common characteristics of these kinds of online job scam attacks include;

  1. The scammer tends to reach out to their victim first. -So, if you receive that unsolicited message on LinkedIn or other job sites telling you how greatly you are qualified for a job opening, you should not gloat yet. You might be talking to a scammer.
  2. Interview through chat, audio or messages. -Most of these scammers conduct their interview through texts or chat and they will avoid a video call from you.
  3. They never use the official email of the company they claim to be. That means their email address never ends with company’s domain name like Rather, their email will end mostly or
  4. They mostly act in urgency and will always put you in a state where you are trying to prove your worth to them.
  5. Advert about such jobs on a freelancing website like Upwork comes from an unverified account or an account with unverified payment method.
  6. The job requirements and entry is always easy and enticing.
Example of An Interview Chat Setup For Impersonating a Company

The above-listed characteristics will only tell you to be more careful as they won’t inform you clearly if the job is legit or not as some legit jobs might also have some of the characteristics.

Online Job Scams Through the Creation of An Imaginary Company

This type of scam follows a similar pattern to the company impersonation scam. The only difference is that the name of the company used for such a scam is not popular or does not exist and there is mostly little or no information about the company on the internet.

The common characteristics of this kind of online scam include;

  1.  Lack of information about the company website using Whois search. – It is either the website was created newly, the domain name was registered to last for a short period or there is no detail about the domain registrant.
  2. Another characteristic is that the website will have little or no online mentions on social media or on other sites

Other attributes of this scam can be related to the first type.

People Also Read This: Two Vital Tips to Protect Yourself From Online Scammers

How to Know If an Online Job is Legit

There are three ever working ways you can verify if an online job is legit or not. These two ways can be summarized into one word “Search”.

The only way to know if an online job is legit or not is to search and verify information about the job. This search can be done on google and on social media. The characteristics of online job scams listed above might serve as a pointer, but most of those characteristics are not only peculiar to online job scams.

So, the first thing to do to verify if an online job is legit is to search on google about the company.  As you search, these are the key things you should look out for;

  1. The company’s correct websites – there is a post here on how to avoid falling victim to a fake website.  Once you are sure of the correct company website, the next thing is for you to verify if the company is in an active recruitment now.
  2. Verifying the company’s recruitment status and the company- This should be done by making a direct call to the contacts on the company’s website checking if the company is currently recruiting. Before you make such calls, make sure the site you are on is legit and not owned by the scammer.

    This you can do by running the whois search on the whois website or whois <the website domain name> on the terminal. Pay attention to the date the site was created and the domain expiration date. This will tell you if the site was designed just to steal from people and it will be down.

    The second thing you should pay attention to is the domain name extension. If the company website ends with domain name extensions like”. xyz”, “.zk” for example; “” or “companyname.zk”, that is a number one sign that it is not a genuine company.
  3. The third thing you should do is what I call scam search on social media and on google. This is a kind of search where you ask questions like “is ABC company a scam” or “Is ABC recruitment legit”. What makes this search different from the one you did above is that the keyword “scam” and “legit”. They will help bring up information or reviews about what people had said about the company. You may be lucky to read from people who may have experience the same thing you are about to experience.  

What Do Online Job Scammers Need from You?

Many still have this belief that they do not have what an online scammer can come after me. I do not have much money? They say.

Three common reasons online job scammers may target you;

  1. Is to steal your money-Here, the scammers main interest is to steal your banking or credit card details, social security number or Bank Verification Number.
  2. The second one Is to steal your identity- this is a situation where the scammers are after your details to impersonate you online or to use your info in perpetrating other scams.
  3. The third reason is to use you to fulfill their scams or as a bridge to reaching their main targets- Example, you may be contacted for a freelancer job just to create a multiple verified email address or google my business account for an unknown company in your location.

Remember, online job scammers will be quick to hire you. Before you start going through their documentation processes by giving out your details to them; make sure you have done the verification steps listed above to ascertain if the job is legit.

What Do You Do When You Fall Victim to Online Job Scammers?

The first thing you should do is to close or block the affected bank account or credit card. You can also close the affected email account. This you can do immediately after you discovered it is a scam.

Then you can report the case to those in authority. You can then share the scamming incident online using social media or other online channels and websites like

Also, remember to call the original company being impersonated to inform them about the discovered job scam. This will help the company place an online notice on public platforms.

Notes for Freelancers on Upwork or Fiverr Online Job Scams

As a freelancer on Upwork or Fiverr. Try as much you can to avoid contracts that take you off the freelancing platform for payment. Pay attention to mostly verified employers. Avoid employers with unverified payment methods as much as you can, irrespective of how lucrative their payment plan is. Also, avoid jobs that help you create a legitimate presence for people that are not in your locality. Like creating social media account for them using your city address, or country phone number. Or serving as customer care to a business model you do not understand.

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