Scammers are luring job-hunters with fake remote jobs


Whether full-time or part-time, work-from-home job postings are still in high demand, especially as more companies ask workers to return to the office in 2023.

Unfortunately, scammers are taking notice.

If you are hunting on popular job sites, the Federal Trade Commission is urging caution.

Tracy Bickel found her dream job a few weeks ago, working remotely for a biotech company based in Ireland.

She had put her resume on a job site.

“I got a personal text and that’s how it started,” she said

After answering some questions in a text interview with their recruiter, she got the job as a patient liaison.

“I would go between the patients and the company itself,” she said.

The company texted her a link to a contract, and she signed it online, giving her Social Security Number and all her personal information.

Almost immediately, she was sent a check for almost $5,000 to buy a computer and get started. She was thrilled, but that all changed when she went to the bank.

“The bank said it’s fraudulent,” she said. “They don’t believe this company exists.”

It was all a scam. The biotech company is real, but the “recruiter” who contacted her did not really work for the company.

Her dream was gone, and a scammer had her Social Security Number.

Warning signs of a remote job scam

With recent layoffs in the tech industry, the FTC has warned that scammers are going to great lengths to get job seekers’ personal information.

The FTC says they will:

  • Set up fake websites, often copying the website of a legitimate company
  • Conduct fake job interviews, typically by text message or email
  • Set up fake portals for onboarding employees

Toni Frana of FlexJobs notes that scammers can be very convincing.

“It isn’t even an actual job but it will entice people to apply,” she said.

Frana says the first red flag to any remote job scam is getting a message through social media or an instant messaging app like Telegram or WhatsApp.

She says real businesses should only reach out from company accounts.

“Legitimate companies will email job seekers and candidates from a company email address,” Frana said.

Red Flags

  • Grammatical errors
  • An immediate job offer
  • Requesting cash upfront
  • Sending a big check before work begins

Frana says when applying for remote work, ask for a face-to-face conversation. If the company declines, Fana said that’s a red flag.

“It might not be in person but you definitely want to be able to have a verbal conversation whether it’s over the phone, over Zoom with video,” she said.

In an in-person interview, you can quickly pick up whether the person hiring you is not who they claim to be.

A recent FlexJobs survey found 65% of people would like to work remotely full-time.

But use caution, because that dream company could all be fake, even if they say all the right things.

“They seemed perfectly legit,” Bickel said. “They had crossed all their Ts and dotted all their Is. It’s amazing.”

So check out any potential employer carefully, and be suspicious of interviews by chat or text, so you don’t waste your money.

About the Author

John Matarese

John's goal is to help as many TV viewers as possible save money, avoid bad deals, know a rip-off when one comes their way, and be educated consumers. His informative weekly consumer segment "Don't Waste Your Money" now airs on 45 TV stations from San Diego to Tampa to Houston and Cincinnati. More.

More to explore