- A recent MBA graduate went viral on LinkedIn after she was the target of an online job recruitment scam.
- “This is an elaborate, calculated and targeted crime,” he wrote in the post.
- Here are some tips to avoid being scammed during your job search.
When Narisa Kiattaweesup checked her email earlier this month, she was pleased to see an interview invitation for a product design manager position at software company Splunk.
However, his joy turned to horror when he discovered the following week that he was the target of an elaborate identity theft scam.
In a viral LinkedIn post, Kiattaweesup wrote that she was “fast-tracked for an interview” because the skills on her AngelList profile lined up with the position. After quickly receiving an offer, she was asked for personal information, including a copy of her driver’s license, a direct deposit form and authorization for a background check.
The recent MBA graduate wrote that she began to feel “unsettled” after she was asked to use company funds linked to her personal bank account to buy an iPhone and Apple Watch for a home office. She then told her to send them to the company for software updates.
After consulting with friends and family, they urged her to contact Splunk’s human resources department, which confirmed that the communications were not from the company and that it was a scam. Kiattaweesup immediately canceled the shipment and your card.
“The most horrible thing is how I receive this through email from my school,” he wrote. “They were targeting students like me. A part of me felt like I should have known better. The other part of me knows this is not one of those dumb scams.”
A spokesperson for Splunk told Insider that it is “aware of this industry-wide trending recruitment scam” and is not involved in the fraudulent behavior.
“We can confirm that the communications referenced in the LinkedIn posts were not sent by or on behalf of Splunk,” the spokesperson said. “Splunk is working diligently with our talent acquisition, legal and security teams, and external parties to help prevent this from happening in the future.”
Kiattaweesup is one of the victims of identity theft scams through job sites like LinkedIn and AngelList. In recent months, recent graduates and young job seekers have been particularly vulnerable to these types of scams, largely thanks to the rise of remote work and fake accounts on job networking sites.
Here are some tips and red flags to avoid being scammed while looking for a job.
Beware of virtual on-site interviews
Kiattaweesup wrote that she was twice tricked into thinking she was talking to actual Splunk employees, including CIO Alexander Fridman. However, she later found out that they were scammers.
According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), job applicants should “beware of any request to conduct an online video job interview immediately, without any prior contact from the hiring organization.”
“A legitimate online interview is usually preceded by an initial disclosure, as well as information such as the time of the interview, the names and titles of people who may be on the call, among other things,” FINRA states on its website. . “Lack of prior preparation could be a red flag.”
Double check grammar and punctuation
Be on the lookout for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in any correspondence. While an occasional typo may not be a cause for concern, multiple errors or inconsistencies should raise a red flag.
FINRA suggests being wary of “strange or misspelled text, including typographical errors or unusual wording, on the online platform page or in other communications.”
Be careful with requests to purchase and resend equipment
While forwarding jobs are in their own scam category, any solicitation to purchase and ship products should raise a red flag, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
“The products are often high-priced items, such as brand-name electronics, purchased with stolen credit cards,” the FTC warns on its website. “Forwarding merchandise is never a real job. That’s just being part of a scam.”
Check email headers and URLs
Scammers often make subtle changes to a company’s website URL or emails to trick potential targets, according to job search site Flex Jobs.
“For example, a real company’s website might have the address companyname.com. But when you look at the fake website, the address is company-name.com. It’s a subtle change, but it could indicate that you’re not on the actual company website,” says Flex Jobs.
In Kiattaweesup’s case, the initial email was sent from [email protected], when the company actually uses “.com” addresses.
Be skeptical about requests for personal information
Personal information, such as bank account and Social Security numbers, should never be shared over email or over the phone. Most legitimate companies will provide secure portals or other encrypted ways to share this information.
Bank information should always be provided after you’re hired, according to FINRA.
“And even then, you should contact the company directly to confirm that the position and forms applied for are valid before providing any personal information,” FINRA says.
Dig deeper into the company and its hiring managers
Beyond a basic Internet search for the company and hiring manager, the FTC recommends queries for each along with the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.”
Prospective job applicants can also call the company’s human resources department directly to confirm the job opportunity.
Ask to meet in person if possible
In today’s age of remote work, it’s easier than ever for scammers to target vulnerable victims online. In Kiattaweesup’s case, she was approached for a remote role, in which online interviews and discussions are now commonplace.
The University of Colorado recommends requesting an in-person meeting if possible, to better ensure the validity of the company and the opportunity itself. In addition, the University recommends that you never consent to a background check without first meeting with the employer.
Consult with friends and family
If something seems suspicious, the FTC recommends talking to someone you trust, as Kiattaweesup did. Recent graduates may be new to the hiring process, and an outside source can help discern whether or not an offer seems legitimate.