Brock warns of fraudulent student job postings

When applying for a job, if something doesn’t feel right, it likely isn’t.

That’s the message Brock’s Career Education is hoping to share with the student community after experiencing a rise in fraudulent job postings.

The student-targeted scams have included attempts by scammers, posing as employers from legitimate organizations, to use students as pawns in fraudulent activity.

In one recent incident, a student was ‘hired’ via email without any face-to-face interaction with the employer and was asked to cash a cheque as part of their new duties.

“Thankfully, the bank caught the falsified cheque before it went through,” said Lisa Kuiper, who oversees employer development for Career Education. “But that doesn’t always happen.”

There have been incidents in past years where students have cashed cheques after interactions with what turned out to be an illegitimate employer. The cheques bounce and students are left on the hook for sometimes thousands of dollars, she said.

Some scams have also seen students providing detailed personal information as part of the application process, which is then used to steal their identity.

While Brock vets employers before they’re permitted to post on the CareerZone job board, the fraudulent activity is taking place during subsequent steps in the recruitment process, beyond the actual job posting, where career staff are not directly involved. Students are also be targeted on external job boards.

Fraudsters have been getting more creative with their tactics, making scams harder to identify.

“We’ve seen them using the name of a real person working at a legitimate organization, but the contact information is different, or using an email address that looks legitimate but changes when you hit reply,” Kuiper said.

To help students identify job scams they may encounter during their job search, Career Education has created a tip sheet that can be accessed on CareerZone and is linked from every job posting on the job board.

“We want to educate our students to recognize inappropriate recruitment practices, equip them with resources to support their job search efforts and be available when they have questions or concerns,” said Stephanie Harper, Associate Director, Career Education.

“These job scams are not isolated to Brock students; post-secondary institutions across the country are seeing the same issues on their campuses and we are working together through our network of career centre directors to keep informed of any illegitimate employer activity on our campuses.”

When students see an employment listing that raises concerns, they’re encouraged to contact Career Education.

“If they have questions about something they find on our job board or on another job board and they’re not sure if it’s legitimate, they can come to us,” Kuiper said. “We encourage that. We’re here to help.”

The presence of fraudulent postings tends to come in waves and as the holiday season nears, with many students looking for part-time work, another influx has arrived.

“It’s very frustrating,” Kuiper said. “They’re taking advantage of an audience that is eager to work and often less experienced in recruitment practices;

they don’t think to question the process.”

Her best advice: “Follow your gut.”

“If something doesn’t feel right, don’t apply, don’t take anymore steps to communicate with the employer,” she said. “Come and talk to someone in Career Education and we’ll work with you to make sure it’s a legitimate opportunity.”

When a posting is flagged as fraudulent, other Canadian universities are warned through a network of career centre directors.

Additionally, the issue is brought to the attention of campus security, who follows up with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

“This way a trail is created,” Kuiper said, which allows the experts to attempt to track down those responsible.

A full list of potential scams, as well as red flags and tips, is available on the CareerZone website.

Students are encouraged to contact any member of the Career Education team or to stop by CareerZone (entrance from Market Hall) during business hours.

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