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Security & privacy

These spoofed websites are costing victims thousands, FBI warns

When you’re looking for a new job, the last thing that probably comes to mind is being ripped off. Unfortunately, with criminals always on the lookout, you have to keep your guard up no matter what you’re doing online — even job hunting.

One reason is scammers have figured out ways to spoof websites and phone numbers to trick you into thinking you’re on an official company site when in fact you’re dealing with impostors. Tap or click here to learn about a convincing fake text scam from your bank.

That’s exactly what’s happening right now with the latest batch of scams. The FBI warned criminals are targeting job applicants, and you really need to know what to watch for.

Fake job scams making the rounds

The FBI released an alert this week warning people about fake job and fake hiring scams.These involve criminals attempting to trick victims into believing they have a job or a potential job.

Scammers leverage their position as potential “employers” to talk victims into handing over personally identifiable information (PII) or to send money.

RELATED: Future robocallers will spoof numbers and voices

These types of scams have been around forever, but technology is making them easier to pull off. Cybercriminals are now posing as legitimate employers by spoofing company websites and posting fake job openings on online job boards.

They even go so far as to conduct false interviews with unsuspecting victims, then request personal data or money from them. The information they collect can be used for a number of corrupt purposes including identity theft and draining a victim’s bank account.

Here’s a typical way these scams work: Crooks begin by spoofing a legitimate company’s website and posting fake job openings that direct job seekers to the spoofed site.

Applicants then apply for the position through the fake site and are contacted by email to conduct an interview. Of course, these fake interviews don’t take place in-person, they are usually done through a teleconferencing application.

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After being interviewed by the imposter, the applicant is offered a job, usually in a work-from-home position. To make it all appear legit, the crook sends the victim a contract to sign physically, at which time they are asked to submit a copy of their driver’s license, Social Security number and banking information for direct deposit. Yikes, right!?

The crook might even tell the victim they need to pay upfront for background checks or screenings, job training, equipment or supplies. Many times victims are told they will be reimbursed for these expenses with their first paycheck.

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Of course, once the impostor gets the money and PII they disappear. It sounds too unbelievable to be true, but it is.

The FBI has received numerous reports of cases like this happening since the beginning of 2019, with the average loss to a victim of $3,000 — not to mention all the damage to their credit scores after handing over all the PII.

How to stay protected

With scams like these becoming more common, the FBI is trying to make everyone aware of what to look for and how to protect against them.

Cybercriminals executing this scam request the same information as legitimate employers, making it difficult to identify a hiring scam until it’s too late.

Some indicators of these scams include:

  • Interviews are not conducted in-person or through a secure video call.
  • Interviews are conducted via teleconference applications that use email addresses instead of phone numbers.
  • Potential employers contact victims through non-company email domains and teleconference applications.
  • Potential employers require employees to purchase start-up equipment from the company.
  • Potential employers request credit card information.
  • Job postings appear on job boards, but not on the companies’ websites.
  • Recruiters or managers do not have profiles on the job board, or the profiles do not seem to fit their roles.

Now that you know what to look for, you need to know how to protect yourself.

Here are some suggestions from the FBI:

  • Conduct a web search of the hiring company using the company name only. Results that return multiple websites for the same company may indicate fraudulent job listings.
  • Legitimate companies will ask for personally-identifying information and bank account info for payroll purposes AFTER hiring employees. This information is safer to give in-person. If in-person contact is not possible, a video call with the potential employer can confirm identity, especially if the company has a directory to compare employee photos.
  • Never send money to someone you meet online — especially by wire transfer.
  • Never provide credit card information to an employer.
  • Never provide bank account information to employers without verifying their identities.
  • Never share your Social Security number or other personally-identifying information that can be used to access your accounts with someone who does not need to know this information.
  • Before entering personally-identifying information online, make sure the website is secure by looking at the address bar. The address should begin with “https://”, not “http://”. However, criminals can also use https:// to give victims a false sense of security. A decision to proceed should not be based solely upon the use of “https://”.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being a victim to one of these scams, there are steps you need to take ASAP.

The FBI recommends the following actions:

  • Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at or your local FBI field office, which can be found online at
  • Report the activity to the website in which the job posting was listed.
  • Report the activity to the company the cybercriminals impersonated.
  • Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions.
  • Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.

Another thing you can do to know you’re safe when looking for work or trying to hire for your company is to stick with trusted job sites like our sponsor, LinkedIn.

Find the right person for your business, today, with LinkedIn Jobs. You can pay what you want and get the first $50 off. Just visit Terms and conditions apply.

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