Job scams fleece students and new graduates out of £1,000s

As the new term starts, graduates knuckle down to applying for their first full-time job and students search for a way to cover their university costs, fraudsters are out to steal their limited funds

Kate Hughes
Money Editor
Wednesday 07 September 2016 18:27 BST
New graduates and students keen to get a foothold on a competitive jobs market are being targeted by fraudsters
New graduates and students keen to get a foothold on a competitive jobs market are being targeted by fraudsters (Getty)

Newly qualified and young workers are being targeted by online job scammers, with victims losing up to £2,600 each in bogus admin fees and security checks. But most are unaware of the threat.

Figures from SAFERjobs, a not-for-profit e-crime organisation, and job site CV-Library have revealed that students and graduates are at particular risk of those pretending to advertise and offer employment while convincing the victim to hand over thousands of pounds for non-existent checks and clearances associated with the fake job.

Almost half of those targeted were convinced enough to hand over money. But despite one in three job scam victims currently attending university or having graduated in the last year, only 17 per cent of students and new graduates are aware of the risk.

“This is an exciting time of year for students and graduates, who will be starting to think about their first job post-university,” notes Lee Biggins managing director of CV-Library. “But this could be hindered by the fact that scammers are out there targeting a cohort that is unaware of the threats and potential impacts of job fraud. Our findings suggest that a large proportion of young people would not recognise what a job scam might look like and this is extremely concerning.

“After all, while there are some great career opportunities out there for this age group, it’s also a crowded market. This means that an element of desperation can set in among graduates which scammers will sniff out and take advantage of. Job hunters should stay vigilant.”

“The last thing job seekers want is to fall victim to a scam that could see them lose hundreds of pounds, so it’s vital that people do all they can to stay safe while looking for work online,” adds Employment Minister Damien Hinds. “There are plenty of genuine opportunities in the labour market right now — around 740,000 vacancies in the economy at any one time — so it’s important that people learn to recognise the tell-tale signs of a fake job advert, and if you have any concerns visit the SAFERJobs website to find out more.”

However, almost three-quarters of inexperienced job seekers think more should be done to protect young would-be workers, with 83 per cent saying they were not offered any advice from their college or university on staying safe online.

Warning signs that a job advert or offer may not be what it appears include:

  • Personal email addresses, eg
  • Regular spelling and grammatical mistakes, which could indicate poor translation
  • Unrealistic salaries (if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is)
  • Stating ‘No Experience Necessary’ as a job title
  • A job offer without an interview
  • Extortionate DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) costs (anything over £75 should be queried), or requesting a candidate to pay for a CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau), which no longer exists
  • Premium rate phone numbers for interviews
  • Illegitimate company names and web addresses

Keith Rosser, chair of SAFERjobs, adds: “We are working to highlight the importance of staying safe online, particularly within the student and graduate market, where less experience could mean higher vulnerability. Any job seeker can get free, expert advice at SAFERjobs; understanding the signs to look out for is crucial, whether this be an unrealistic-looking salary, a job which requires no experience or a posting which is full of spelling mistakes. With the right help, and confidence to ask the right questions, people of all ages can continue on their job hunt safely.”

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