Staff at Brock University are sounding the alarm on new job scams targeting students which could see them, among other things, being used as pawns in fraudulent activity.
In one recent incident, a fraudster posing as an employer at a legitimate organization hired a student via email without any face-to-face interaction. On the student’s first day of work, their job description suddenly changed and they were asked to deposit a cheque and run errands for the employer who was suddenly out of the country.
Alarm bells went off and the student didn’t cash the cheque. Instead, they followed up with Career Services staff at Brock who helped to verify with the real employer that no such person worked for the company and that the job offered did not exist.
In another similar case, an unsuspecting student cashed a counterfeit employer’s cheque and conducted the errands they were asked to carry out only to be later told by the bank that the cheque was a fake and that they were on the hook for $2,500.
“This student cashed a phony cheque that bounced, which is considered fraud,” says Amy Elder, director of Career Services at Brock. “The bank couldn’t go after the individual who issued the cheque, since it was a fake. So the student was unfortunately responsible for paying it back because the bank had no other recourse.”
Fraudulent job postings are increasing in number and sophistication. Thieves are using clever tactics and technology to make it more difficult to identify scams. And trusting students are sometimes being lured by promises of high pay and benefits.
“These types of scams have always been around,” adds Elder. “Especially when the job market is tight for youth, as it is now.”
Brock’s Career Services and Co-op offices, and the Goodman School of Business‘ Career Development Office have stringent mechanisms in place for the approval of employer accounts and postings with the University’s job board system.
In light of the recent increase in online job scams targeting students, all three offices are working collaboratively to address issues as they arise. Additionally, these on-campus groups employ trained professionals who are well versed in recruitment practices and available to coach students on all issues related to their job search.
“We manage a large volume of postings every day and we ensure we have done our due diligence to verify employers, review postings and look for anything that doesn’t sound legitimate,” says Stephanie Harper, manager of the Goodman School’s Career Development Office. “Some scams are really creative and difficult to identify, so students are encouraged to contact one of the three campus career offices if they are unsure about a job posting or have questions about an employer.”
Brock University staff may be diligent about weeding out fraudulent postings on campus, but have no control over what is posted on public job posting sites.
“We want our students and any other job seekers to educate themselves and be cautious,” says Lisa Kuiper, who oversees employer development for Brock’s Career Services. “We want students to notify us if they come across something that doesn’t seem right to them. Even if you’re not sure, ask the question. We’re here to help.
“We’ve had students come into our office telling us how embarrassed and stupid they feel having fallen for these scams,” adds Kuiper. “But we want our students to know that we and other services at Brock are here as a resource help them out.”
Brock’s Career Services has prepared a list of the most prevalent kinds of job scams, as well as a list of red flags to help you determine if an online job posting is legitimate or not. The general public should also be aware and should immediately report anything that does not seem legitimate on any job-posting sites.