When you’re on the hunt for a job you may come across a posting that seems too good to be true…incredible salary, work from home, vague or low level of responsibilities. However, we’re here to remind you that if an opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is.
In career services, we call those who post fake listings ‘fradulent employers’, and unfortunately, we have worked with students who have experienced negative interactions with as such. Engaging with fraudulent employers typically have financial implications for students who are not well-versed on reading and reviewing job postings.
Here’s a real-life example. Recently, someone was posing as a University of Florida staff member in need of an assistant while he was out of the country providing services as a doctor. This person used what looked like an @ufl.edu email address. Once they made contact with a student, they changed email addresses to a gmail account and began to instruct that person to deposit money through an “e-check” to start on some tasks. Additionally, the student was told to keep some of the money for theirself.
There are several problems with this. Once the student deposited the check into their account, which is a large sum of money, they “withdrew” the funds to purchase iTunes gift cards, or wire it to a different account for their employer. The catch is that the check is a fake and has no actual value. The student is now out of the money that was withdrawn (or supplied) to complete the task and the the amount of the check. Per the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information website about fake checks, “you’re out the money because the money you wired can’t be retrieved, and you’re responsible for the checks you deposit — even though you don’t know they’re fake.”
This is just one example of how someone pretends to provide our students with a job opportunity. Some fake employers even go the distance to say that they are with our student employment office.
Below are some seven general fraudulent job posting red flags to spot a fraudulent employer.
1. You received a random email, or check, out of nowhere
2. The job only says that they need help, but there are no specific tasks or duties
3. Employer will only communicate via text or email but will not speak on the phone
4. They are sending you money without meeting in person
5. You do not sign any formal hiring paperwork
6. The employer indicates that they need a “virtual assistant”
7. The salary for the position is much higher than you might anticipate – for example, if they are advertising $30-$50 per hour to work “whenever you want”, that is likely not a legitimate offer
Here are action steps to take if you are contacted with an “opportunity” like this:
• Do NOT deposit any random checks that you receive in the mail without potential verification. Bring your “checks” to the bank to deposit, bank tellers are trained to identify fake checks
• If someone with an “@ufl.edu” email reaches out advertising a position, look them up on the UF Directory and Google® the department for their name. You can always call the department to determine if the “person” works there and is actually looking for an assistant
• Report the fraudulent email to firstname.lastname@example.org and notify Erica Betz at EBetz@ufsa.ufl.edu to assist with the tracking of frequency
If You Have Already Lost Money
• File a police report with the University Police Department
If you are a University of Florida student questioning a job posting and wondering if it’s legit, let us help you. Send a note to EBetz@ufsa.ufl.edu for assistance.
If you are not a University of Florida student but still feel concerned about a job posting, connect with your university’s career center.