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The rise of fake job adverts and recruitment fraud

December 2018

Jobseekers are being scammed out of time and money by fraudsters posting fake job adverts on popular recruitment websites

According to Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) data, recruitment agencies and websites are the most common method by which UK graduates find jobs. Fraudsters have been taking advantage of this, advertising fake jobs on some popular job-search websites.

How do fake job adverts appear?

There is a range of ways that this occurs, but the most common is on websites that allow individuals to upload photographs of locally-advertised vacancies (such as those posted in shop windows) in return for rewards such as Amazon vouchers.

This enables small and local businesses to publicise their jobs much more widely. However, problems arise because there is no way to verify the authenticity of the adverts uploaded - leaving the way for scammers to prey on unsuspecting applicants.

What impact do they have?

Fake job adverts remain live on recruitment sites until they are detected, which often takes weeks or months. In the meantime, individuals unwittingly waste time and effort filling out job applications - complete with personal details - for non-existent roles. What's more, if the contact details provided on the fake advert are those of a real business, it will have to deal with receiving applications for a vacancy that doesn't exist.

There are also financial consequences. Jobseekers have been known to travel considerable distances at significant cost to interview for these fake roles. They have been tricked into calling premium rate phone lines for interviews, participating in money laundering via work-from-home scams, and paying extortionate fees for non-existent background checks, online training, visas or insurance.

This kind of fraud is becoming more common. Keith Rosser, chair and board director of SAFERjobs - a non-profit organisation created by the Metropolitan Police to raise awareness and combat criminal activities targeting jobseekers - has said that 'in the last two years we have witnessed a 300% rise in recruitment-related fraud and misconduct'.1

This exponential increase is even more worrying given that job advertisement fraud has also been linked with people trafficking and slavery.

The latest statistics from the National Crime Agency (NCA) show a 35% increase in the number of people trafficked into the UK, many of whom were lured into what they originally thought was the chance at a new life with a new job. Instead, they find themselves at the mercy of a highly-organised gang of 'poly-criminals' - those involved in a range of often violent and serious organised crime, according to deputy director of the NCA, Tom Dowdall.2

How can the problem be tackled?

Fake jobs are acts of criminal enterprise that can have devastating consequences for those affected. If you suspect that a job advert is fake or part of a recruitment scam, report it to Action Fraud.

Tips to help jobseekers avoid falling prey to fake job adverts can be found in this BBC article and on the SAFERjobs website.

Suggestions include:

  • Research the employer in detail.
  • Be wary if all elements of the application process are online.
  • Use a reputable recruitment company that is a member of an industry association, such as REC, APSCo or TEAM. This means that their processes will have been checked. Look for association logos on the company website or go to the association and search by member.
  • Do not include personal details such as your date of birth or bank details in applications or CVs.

Notes

  1. Jobseekers being targeted by scammers, minister warns, BBC, 2017.
  2. 'Sophisticated' Albanian gangs linked to people trafficking surge in UK, Sky News, 2018.

The Modern Slavery Helpline number is: 08000 121 700.

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