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There’s a lot that goes into job hunting – you need to find a job advertisement that you’re interested in, make sure your CV’s up to scratch and then present yourself in a way that shows off your best qualities, and even then the job’s not guaranteed!

With all of this effort made on your part, it’s natural to expect the same back from your prospective employer, but unfortunately some aren’t what they seem. Fraudsters can use the prospect of finding a job to scam their victims, so make sure you’re not their next by following our guide.

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There are a number of different ways that a conman can go about conducting a recruitment scam. Typically, a fraudster will approach you after finding your CV or personal details on a job site. They will claim to be either the employer or the employer’s agent and tell you that you’re being considered for the position, and some will ask for a small fee to apply for the job.

You won’t ever have any face-to-face interaction with your prospective employer, but instead be asked to answer a questionnaire and take part in a phone interview. You’ll be offered the job and be contacted about the arrangements. This may include discussing travel, accommodation and visas if the job you’ve applied for is abroad and you’ll usually be referred to an agency to help you with this (again, for a fee). The agency will usually have a website that you’ll be referred to, to help them look legit.

Once you’ve paid one fee, you’ll simply be asked to pay another. In reality, none of these arrangements are made and the money is pocketed. They may even approach you for your bank account details under the pretence of setting up salary payments, but they’ll only use these details to take money from your account.

Although this is the typical mode of operation, some fraudsters take a different route. In the Daily Mail, one woman described how her husband applied for a job as a mystery shopper and was in turn handed a cheque for £4,800 along with instructions. He was told to use part of the cash to carry out a mystery shop and the other to send £2,920 abroad to another supposed mystery shopper – under the cover of reporting how quickly and safely the money was received. The couple thankfully recognised this as suspicious but they could have faced awkward questions from police over why they tried to bank a forged cheque or got involved with money laundering.

Protect yourself

• If you’re approached for a job, make sure to check over any documents or correspondence that you’re sent. Look out for poor spelling and grammar, as this is often a major warning sign.

• No reputable employer or agency will ask you to pay a fee to apply for a job, this should be an indicator of something shifty.

• Check the email address that they contact you with – if it’s Yahoo or Hotmail, be suspicious.

• Make sure that you do your own research about the company before you agree to anything – check Companies House to see whether they’re a registered company and get in touch with them directly to confirm the job offer.

• If the job you’re being offered is overseas, tell the employer that you’ll make your own arrangements in terms of travel and accommodation. Alarm bells should start to ring if they try to persuade you against this or say that you can only go through the agency.

• If you’re going to work abroad, get in touch with the embassy in the country you’re potentially travelling to. Ask how much it would be to obtain a visa and how to go about getting one – cross check the information that they give you with what you’ve been told.

• Never under any circumstances should you give your bank details out over the phone or via email. Being asked to should raise enough suspicions.

• The simplest advice of all is: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is – always trust your gut.

If you believe you’ve already fallen victim to a recruitment scam like this, report it to Action Fraud. Get in touch with your bank immediately if you’ve handed money over, and warn the operators of the site where you placed your CV.

You can use Safer Jobs to get more information about recruitment scams and what to look out for.

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