Looking for a job? Scams are on the rise and preying on those desperate to work

According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are using legitimate employment posting web pages, even conducting interviews to reel in unsuspecting victims.

Using legit job boards and copied postings, some con artists even conduct interviews

A keyboard is shown with the word Scam written where the Return key is.
With more people hunting for work, con artists are using the employment scam and taking advantage of legitimate job posting sites. (CBC)

Scammers are taking advantage of those desperate to get a job — and according to the Better Business Bureau, they are using legitimate employment posting websites, even conducting interviews to reel in unsuspecting, unemployed people. 

Shawna-Kay Thomas with the BBB serving southern Alberta & East Kootenay says calls about employment fraud and scams have gone up since the beginning of the pandemic.

"More people are on the hunt for jobs as well, and scammers are aware of that," Thomas said. "So they are pitching at every angle, and they're trying all kinds of tactics to reel people in, to give up their personal information, to give up money as well."

Thomas says legitimate web pages where people are looking for work have been infiltrated by those seeking personal information, or cash. Sometimes, she says, they conduct interviews — often they lift job postings from positions online or pose as legitimate companies.

"It takes extra care, extra caution, extra research on the part of the person looking for employment just to make sure that you don't give away your personal information so that you don't give away your money," Thomas said.

Keegan Seltner has been looking for work throughout the pandemic. After hundreds of tries and several rejection emails, some good news landed in his inbox. 

A screen capture shows an online job posting for a company calling itself CBC News Online, which has no affiliation to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (Submitted by Keegan Seltner )

CBC News Online, a web page that has no affiliation with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, offered him a position as a quality control agent. 

"It was actually a trip in the right direction," Seltner said. "I have been searching for a job for some time now and I guess I was just desperate."

The posting said no interview was required. But in a followup email, Seltner was asked for personal information, like a scan of his passport.

'It could happen to anybody'

His mother was visiting Calgary. She says he was excited and showed her the posting. She had some concerns and told Seltner to run the posting by his job coach. 

"Have you ever talked to a guy with autism syndrome who is trying to make ends meet in this economy?" Seltner said.

He really wants to land a job, but hasn't had much luck. And when his job coach told him the posting might not be legitimate, he felt like he'd been played, fooled.

His mother, Ruth Seltner, says it's a huge concern for her, not just because it happened to her son.

"For him, it was a really good learning experience, but it's a huge concern," she said. "It could happen again and it could happen to anybody, not just happen to someone who is pretty vulnerable, but I think anybody is vulnerable."

Job posted on Indeed

CBC phoned the company behind the job posting. Someone answered the call, but when the reporter identified herself, they hung up and didn't pick up subsequent calls.

The job was posted on CBC received more than one news tip about the impersonation. 

And, searching for the terms "quality control agent" and "Indeed" online reveals that a similar posting, under similar circumstances, has appeared on the Indeed website before. 

"Indeed has a team dedicated to the search quality effort, and employs a variety of techniques to review job advertisements to determine their suitability," reads a statement from spokesperson Madalina Secareanu.

"We encourage job seekers to report any suspect job advertisements to us, or if they feel it necessary, to make a report to the police. Job seekers should never agree to send payment to a potential employer, and charging fees is a violation of Indeed's rules for companies posting on our site."

Look out for red flags

Thomas says red flags include: grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in the job posting, a position that says no training or certification is required, and jobs that either ask for money to pay for training or cheques to help the employee set up a home office. 

The best thing that job seekers can do is research the company and ensure the job posting is on that company's web page before continuing with the application and interview process. 

"Make sure that the company's website is legitimate and make sure that you're spending time to check on reviews about the company," Thomas said. "Do your research before you go ahead and jump in giving any kind of information."