Online Job Scam: Critical Tips For Job Seekers to Help Avoid Job Scams

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The following four tips can help jobseekers protect themselves from falling prey to payment forwarding scams.

1. Never give personal bank account, PayPal, or credit card numbers to an employer.

2. Never agree to have funds or paychecks direct deposited to any of your accounts by a new employer.

3. Never forward, transfer, or “wire” money to an employer.

4. Do not transfer money and retain a portion for payment.

Legitimate employers do not need jobseekers’ bank account numbers. While direct deposit of a paycheck is a convenience, if that is the only option an employer offers, then jobseekers should not accept the job. A legitimate employer will give jobseekers the option of direct deposit, but not demand that it is used. Jobseekers should wait until they have met the employer in person before agreeing to a direct deposit option.

While some jobs may require an employee to make transfers for employers, legitimate employers making this request will go to extraordinary efforts to check the job seeker prior to making the hire. This would involve meeting the jobseeker in person and conducting rigorous interviews. This kind of job hire would not be made via email or even the telephone or a single meeting. Job seekers need to draw a line and understand that transferring money for employers is off- limits, period.

A. Known Red Flags

The UMAB payment forwarding scam contained what are now becoming known as “red flags” for job scams.

Red flags that should alert jobseekers to the presence of a job scam include:

1. Request for bank account numbers.

2. Request for SSN.

3. Request to “scan the ID” of a jobseeker, for example, a drivers’ license. Scam artists will say they need to scan jobseekers’ IDs to “verify identity.” This is not a legitimate request.

4. A contact email address that is not a primary domain. For example, an employer calling itself “Omega Inc.” will have a Yahoo! email address.

5. Misspellings and grammatical mistakes in the job ad.

6. lists descriptive words in job postings that are tip-offs to fraud. Their list includes “package-forwarding,” “money transfers,” “wiring funds,” “eBay,” and “PayPal.” WPF researchers also found that the term”Foreign Agent Agreement” often appears in contracts and emails sent to jobseekers.

Please see Appendix A for examples of what the emails and contracts for this kind of money transfer scam look like. The Timeline in Section IV has multiple examples of what the fraudulent job ads look like.

B. Most Effective Steps for Victims of Job Scams

Unfortunately, not everyone will escape job fraud in time. Jobseekers who are victimized by the UMAB scam and other payment forwarding scams are advised to take the following steps.

1. Close all bank accounts at the bank where the scam took place. It is a good idea to change banks to avoid “social engineering” attempts by the con artists to fool bank workers into giving out new account information.

2. Order a credit report from all three credit bureaus every 2 to 3 months. Watch the reports for unusual activity.

3. Victims of payment forwarding scams should contact their local Secret Service field agent. UMAB victims and other victims of payment forwarding scams should file a police report with local law enforcement officials as well.

4. Victims should report the company name, the job posting, and all contact names to the job sites where the scam was posted.

5. Victims should permanently close all email addresses that were associated with the job fraud.



Roadmap: A Year in the Life of an Online Job Scam – A Longitudinal Study: VI. Critical Tips For Job Seekers to Help Avoid Job Scams


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