The Black Hole of Job Scams and Recruitment Fraud
Your New Zealand Recruitment Specialist warns Job Seekers to beware of scammers and fraudulent job sites that use advertisements ‘scraped’ from reputable job boards as click-bait.
Scams are rife in the international job market and New Zealand is now being targeted more than ever. LinkedIn’s Jobs section unwittingly connects to some of these sites, making them appear more credible to the untrained eye.
Many job boards look like they are NZ-owned, but in fact, are operated offshore. Applications seldom make it to the original employer/recruiter/job advertiser, and if they do, it comes at a price, as they effectively data-mine personal information along the way.
Kirsty Morrison, from Tauranga-based recruitment agency One21, is also advising hiring companies and recruitment agencies to check if their own jobs are being ‘scraped’ and to put a stop to it wherever they can.
‘’These sites use our jobs to divert candidates’ applications. Those looking for work assume they’re going through the right channels, which appear plausible enough but are usually a ‘Black hole’ for applications. The Scammers copy our Ads from other job boards to attract applications, and in the process capture a staggering amount of an individual’s private, personal and professional information.’ says Kirsty Morrison.
The details they accumulate from Job Seekers are being used in a number of ways. One local site appears to be getting their visitor numbers up to attract paying clients (with our jobs!) and is building a database of candidates they can use to ‘market’ or ‘target’ later – highly unethical, but not actually breaking the law – unless perhaps for plagiarism and false advertising.
Other offshore sites try to charge executive search fees to applicants or use the info to make fraudulent job offers. And yet others gather data for phishing scams, bank and online shopping scams, advanced fee scams, sell databases for advertising spam, use the contact details for trojan and ransom malware, identity theft, and more.
Kirsty started investigating after being contacted by a candidate who’d applied for her client’s job, yet never showed up in One21’s inbox or applicant tracking system.
I tested the link to see where it lead – applying through LinkedIn took me to Neuvoo Jobs where I had to register details and then on to a site called “Hiree Jobs’ with another registration process. I received an automated confirmation, yet the CV never arrived in my inbox or CRM. So I started checking other job ads and discovered just how prolific these scams are.
This means hiring companies are missing out on Job Seekers.
Job Seekers are missing out on jobs and their information is potentially being used for something sinister.
‘These websites try to attract paid advertising by looking busy with our job ads. But what else are they up to? What happens to the candidate applications that we never receive? Are they building a database of CVs to sell? Do they target those desperate to gain an NZ work visa by promising fake job offers for a fee? Will they lure unsuspecting Kiwis to be ‘bankers’ for the numerous offshore retailers scamming online purchasers? Are they amassing personal details to use for targeted mailing lists? Are they collating data for Cybercrime? Log-in password numbers for bank hackers? ID information for identity theft?….
Is there someone out there right now using my name and client’s job to con someone?’
Job Scams on LinkedIn
Big players such as LinkedIn and Neuvoo are often full of these scraped ads. Some vacancies are genuine and paid for by the hiring company, but others connect to these hackers and scammers and applications inevitably end up in the black hole.
The big well-known websites often boast the largest amount of jobs, which grows their online traffic and candidate pools and in turn attracts paid advertising. But they are making millions of dollars at a cost to us, our clients, our job seekers, and the real Job Boards, that we have chosen to advertise with .’
Kirsty has connected with recruitment agencies, hiring companies, and government agencies whose jobs are being replicated on these websites and sent them test applications that they never received.
‘Those I’ve contacted were either genuinely concerned about the implications or in other cases blazingly complacent as they saw it as a free marketing tool for their vacancies. They didn’t appear overly concerned about losing applicants, or that their candidate’s privacy was being compromised.
These websites unethically obtain confidential information and divert potentially good candidates away from the businesses trying to recruit them. They are literally taking jobs from people, which is demoralizing for those seeking work, and never hearing back from the employer. And those hiring also risk damage to brand credibility and business reputation by appearing to post on these sites, yet not responding to applicants.
Some of these non-secure sites hide their identity through a paid offshore service and are associated with a number of potentially high-risk countries such as Russia, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, and Nigeria.
Some sites even have warning pages saying ‘beware of scams’ to make themselves look more credible.
In fact, Kirsty was directed to one by Netsafe NZ. ‘I found it disturbing that Netsafe referred me back to the Hiree Jobs website which had the audacity to provide an advice page on avoiding job scams – the very same website I was notifying Netsafe about for ‘scraping’ my own job advertisements!’
New Zealand and Australia’s largest job board Seek are aware their website is being ‘scraped’ for job ads. They have various checks in place to ensure they only advertise authenticated and current job vacancies on their own website and that their job seekers and advertisers are protected. To a point. They can’t stop their client’s ads from being copied and replicated and encourage applicants to always apply online through the Seek ATS, so they receive updates on the status of their job applications.
Trade Me is also fighting the battle of having their paid Job Ads scraped and has tried to make it difficult to copy their listings.
Facebook noticeboard group pages are also getting increasing numbers of ads for fake job opportunities. One of the common schemes is for ‘work from home online sales and marketing positions, where an offshore business employs New Zealanders as ‘bankers’ to run sales through their own personal bank accounts – these are often for retail goods that will never be delivered. Others offer roles that don’t exist, directing job seekers to private message them and then asking for bank accounts, IRD numbers, copies of passports, etc before they commence ‘work’.
‘It takes just a few clicks to see that the person placing the Ad has a newly created fake profile – yet most don’t check before giving their information away and fraudsters are getting cleverer with their tricks so even the most vigilant person could still get suckered in.’
Kirsty believes these scams could severely impact the New Zealand employment market at a very vulnerable time.
‘With the Covid19 worldwide crises creating medical, social, and economic uncertainty, we have seen declining employment security and increasing job loss. There are many vulnerable people looking for jobs and at risk of being scammed.
New Zealanders need to be warned of these fake job sites now!’
One21’s Advice for Job Seekers:
- There is no guarantee that a vacancy on these scraper websites is real or current, that they have permission to advertise it, or that your application will ever make it through to the hiring manager. Find the original ad before applying.
- All major job boards are faced with employment and job scams, so be wary of what and to who you are applying.
- Always use a unique password when registering on any website – don’t give the same password as your internet or bank login!
- If you have to navigate through more than two websites to apply for a job – then don’t bother. Find the original ad and apply there.
- If in doubt check who the recruitment agency or hiring company is and apply to them directly (if that is an option), or go through a reputable and well-known job site that has been operating in New Zealand for a while, such as Seek and TradeMe or through LinkedIn’s instant apply (where your application goes directly to the paying advertiser).
- Don’t put sensitive information in your CV (such as ID numbers, passports, or licenses) you can always provide these later if required.
- Check a company is genuine by doing some online research – e.g if a Facebook Job Ad doesn’t give a business name and asks you to apply via private message, click through to the person’s profile and see how long they have been online, do they have a post history, are they local, etc. Any doubts – don’t apply.
- Follow up by email/phone after a reasonable period of time if you don’t hear anything back from the recruiter or hiring manager.
- Beware of anyone who pressures you for confidential information. An application form is standard practice, however, there should be no need to give anyone your credit card number or bank account details and you should be very, very wary of sharing birth certificates, passports, or social security ID online.
- If you are approached by anyone who offers a higher than average paid position for doing very little and it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
- The biggest indicator that a job vacancy is a job scam is if you have to pay for anything!
- Do NOT give anyone your bank account details without doing your due diligence and getting a job offer and contract from a verified company. Those offering to deposit money in your account are bound to be up to something fraudulent and illegal.
One21’s advice for job advertisers/employers/recruiters:
- Be vigilant – check where your Job Ads are being displayed and test where the links lead to – are you receiving those applications?
- Don’t be complacent – those are your candidate’s details they are nicking and it is your name being used and reputation at stake.
- Ask these websites to remove your Job Ads. Sure they may appear to be a free vehicle for getting the word out about your vacancies, but is it worth the risk of losing potential candidates?
- These scammers are using you – whether you are receiving the candidate applications or not, it is your Ads being promoted as click bait and these websites are unethically capturing your candidate’s personal and professional data along the way – does that sit well with your values?
- Don’t pay these websites – they are taking your money offshore and they don’t care whom they compromise! Instead, put your job advertising dollars into local businesses/job sites that keep New Zealanders in employment.
- Let’s work together to expose these job scams!
UPDATE from @One21 Your Recruitment Business Partner:
I’ve had a number of private messages and responses asking ‘Why do job sites do this for no gain?’ But they DO Gain – all of them do by advertising our jobs as Click Bait!
Some sites like RecruitMe and Neuvoo may just scrape jobs to build traffic, get paid advertising, and grow a database of candidates to draw in paying clients/employers.
They skim legitimate roles and re-post those jobs under their own banner. They usually do not have relationships with the employers or recruiters, yet re-direct users to their site and gain access to your credentials and boost their visitor numbers which in turn will attract paying advertisers that think they have to advertise their jobs on there since everyone else appears to be.
Unethical? Yes – Very!
Are they selling their databases, marketing the candidates themselves to our clients, or using the information for some other money-making scheme?
Probably all of the above.
Annoying and Frustrating? Absolutely!
We do not get your applications. They scrape our jobs but don’t forward on your CVs, so we don’t even know you have applied.
Other sites are more complicated and dangerous – our jobs are used to gather data for #Phishing #Scams, #Spam, #Trojan #Malware, #Identitytheft, etc.
People log in – often with a well-used password and register info on where they live, work, full names, personal interests, contact details, and the type of job they want to get – all of which can then be used to target and extract money in other ways.
Scammers are always looking for elaborate ways to relieve us of our money and the more info they capture, the greater pool of people they have to target.
Unfortunately, there will always be someone who falls for these scams.
This article by Kirsty Morrison was originally published on LinkedIn