How to help spot and avoid a job scam

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has been warning Canadians that fraudsters are attempting to exploit the ongoing crisis to perpetrate various types of fraud.

With Canada's unemployment rate climbing due to the pandemic, more Canadians are searching for jobs which is creating more opportunities for fraudsters to take advantage of people who are on the job hunt.

If you find yourself on the hunt for a new job, it's important to check the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre's website to be aware of the potential job scams fraudsters are attempting to run. Read on to learn how some job scams work, what you need to be on the lookout for, and tips to help you avoid these kinds of scams.  

How some job scams work

One type of job scam can involve a fraudster posing as an employer who makes fraudulent offers of employment to unsuspecting victims. Fraudsters will sometimes advertise these fake jobs on legitimate job search websites, in classified ads, and through direct email or texts.

Once the fraudsters have offered their target victim a job, the fraudster (i.e. the "employer") convinces the victim to send them funds. The fraudster will often claim that these funds are either for training, uniforms or supplies for the job.

None of which is true.

Another tactic fraudsters may use (once the victim has agreed to the job) is to send the victim a counterfeit cheque with a convincing story about why they need them to cash the cheque and send back some of the funds.

In this scenario, the fraudster is essentially using the victim to commit fraud on their behalf by having the victim deposit a counterfeit cheque to the victim's deposit account after which the victim withdraws their own money and then sends some of it to the fraudster.

Some tips to help you avoid being caught in a job scam

"Job scams are particularly insidious because they exploit people," said Tammy McKinnon, Head of the Financial Crimes and Fraud Management Group at TD.

"Job seekers need to stay vigilant and remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Here are a few tips to help protect you from job scams:

  1. Keep your guard up. Most legitimate employers will conduct an interview (in-person or by video) before hiring you for a job. You should be wary of anyone who offers a job strictly over email or text, or an employer with an overly simple interview process.
     
  2. Do your research. Check out the company that you are applying to and look for online reports of scams relating to the type of job you've been offered. You might also consider asking for references from current employees about what it's like to work at the company.
     
  3. Watch out for red flags. A job that promises "easy money" may be a red flag. Other red flags may include poorly written or vague job descriptions.
     
  4. Don't send money. A legitimate employer won't charge you to apply for a job or for job training and won't ask you to send them money directly or through a third party.
     
  5. Know your responsibilities around depositing cheques, and who is on the hook for the money if the cheque is returned as counterfeit. For more information on how cheque fraud works, read this TD Explains story from the TD Newsroom. 

More ways to help protect yourself from job scams

  • Get educated: Check the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website. It's a great resource to help you learn about common fraud trends and scams so you can be better prepared to avoid them.
  • Always be wary of anyone who sends you money and then asks for some of it to be sent back – particularly if you've never met them.

If you've been the victim of a job scam

Report it: If you or a family member has fallen victim to a job scam, report it to your local police, as well as to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Talk about it: If you've fallen victim to a scam, share your story. The more people who know about these scams, the harder it can  be made for fraudsters to take advantage of us all.