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What are some scam employer red-flags?

The Magner Career Center has prepared the following page to inform Students on how to stay safe and avoid scam opportunities. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, be cautious.

Students with concerns about any job posting or opportunity should notify the Magner Career Center. Students can reach us at 718.951.5696, or through email at careernews@brooklyn.cuny.edu.

The Magner Career Center has no affiliation with these employers and can make no representation or guarantees concerning the positions listed. While the vast majority of positions are legitimate, we have seen an increase in the number of scam employers who are using job posting sites to scam students. While the center does its best to vet the employer and postings, it is the students’ responsibility to do additional research before they apply or interview for a position, even if the posting is on HireBC or any other site you encounter. Scam employers are becoming very sophisticated in evading detection during the vetting process by masquerading as legitimate companies or sending emails that come from a Brooklyn College email.

Before responding to any email about a job or job ad:

  • Legitimate employers will not ask for your bank account details or your SSN prior to a job interview, job offer and/or job acceptance.  They will not ask you to send money or to deposit money.
  • Prior to a legitimate job acceptance, don’tProvide financial information, a copy of your driver’s license, a copy of your SS card or a copy of your Student ID.
  • Reddit can be a great tool to begin the job vetting process. Simply search up the name of the company on Reddit and see if you can find any existing discussions.

The Recruiter (BIG RED FLAGS)

  • How They Contacted You/Want You to Contact Them 
    1. You receive an email from a professor or student you do not know (Tip: refer to the Brooklyn College Directory to confirm they are truly BC Faculty).
    2. You receive a job opportunity in an email from a sender that is not brooklyncollege-csm@symplicity.com, which is the primary email address for the Magner Career Center.
    3. The posting forwarded to you says to use your personal email to respond and not your school email or they email you at your school email address but ask you to email them from a personal email to try to avoid the school’s spam filters.
    4. The employer uses a personal email account to communicate. Make sure addresses are coming from a corporate or business email.
    5. The email came from one address such as a BC email but after you respond they are emailing from a different email address.
  • You did not apply for the position (this may happen but it is best to call the company to make sure it is a real person). Tip: be careful what information you post on job search sites. Even legitimate sites can have scam job postings.
  • Contacts you via LinkedIn, or another social media outlet (While this can be legitimate, you should always try to call or email the company’s Human Resources department, to find out if they really have such a job opening and, if the name of a recruiter is given, ask if that person really works for them). For entry level jobs they usually won’t reach out to you.
  • The organization uses street canvassers.
  • The employer uses an e-mail address or website that may look legitimate but differs slightly from the real organization’s e-mail address and/or website (even just one letter off). 
  • Or is pretty different from the URL of the company or emails listed on the site (might even say the company name but does not match the rest). The phone number or address does not match the company. 
  • Difficult to contact or identify the person who posted the position.  Tip: Check on LinkedIn to see if the person is there  but even if you find the person’s name on LinkedIn the scammer may be just using their name. 
  • The employer makes inappropriate comments or has unprofessional behavior during the interview or after.
  • The employer asks illegal interview questions.
  • The employer makes a job offer over the phone or via email without an interview.  
  • The employer requests for an interview during non-business hours.
  • The employer asks someone to apply on a website separate from the company website

Information They Ask For/Instructions Given 

  1. The employer asks for your social security number or other personal information such as a copy of your ID, mailing address, bank information especially before hiring you or interviewing you.
  2. Asks you to send money or to deposit money.
  3. Employment agencies that charge a fee
    1. While some legitimate agencies may charge for use of their services, it is encouraged to do extensive research

Company/Job Details

  • The organization has no established website.
  • There is a generic description of what the company does, and not what the intern/employee will do.
  • Limited details about the organization are available in the posting or online when you do research.
  • You might even get something that looks legitimate, has their logo, address etc. but read the document carefully to see if what is written makes sense, has proper spelling and grammar.
  • An internship is unpaid but does not comply with DOL’s Guidelines for Unpaid Internships.
  • The organization posted an internship after mid-semester when it is too late to make arrangements for academic credit.
  • Be cautious of startup organizations; some can be unorganized and not in compliance with DOL guidelines.
  • You are set to work in a home office or residence versus a business office setting – the internship/job can also be virtual where you work from home.
  • The opportunity sounds too good to be true. An example of this can be the organization offers a high hourly rate or salary.

Here are some real examples of emails that look legitimate but are a scam:

  • Sent to a BC staff member: My name is Alexandra, i am an Alumni of Brooklyn College. I have an uncle Doctor Paul <last name> who is moving to the College  area, he needs someone to watch, bath and walk his dogs, he is offering $300 Weekly. if you know a student who might be interested in this position have them email him via <different email address>. to make sure he sees their respond, interested student should message him from their personal email address.
  • Sent to a BC student from another BC student’s email or appears to come from a BC email: I’m <First name last name> from Indeed. I am in urgent need of a Personal Assistant/Errands person (part-time) Pay is $500/week. Interested? Write to <different email address> from your personal email for more details about this job.
  • Sent to a BC Student: “Dear Staff and Student, This message is from Campus Job Placement & Student Services. During this time that we are in, working from home would be great. Therefore, The school job regulatory system has offered you a Job Opportunity at the convenience of your home or school,  which serves as a gateway to paying all expenses incurred on campus. This opportunity should be done at leisure taking at most 1 hour/day,2-3 times a week and earn $450 Bi-Weekly.. It’s a Flexible Opportunity where you will determine your working time. All the tasks are work from home/on campus, you don’t need to travel , you don’t need to have a car to get started.You can be in any location and work from your home/ school, To apply:
    CLICK HERE or email your resume to …@m.com.” 
    CUNY Career Centre
  • Sent to a BC student through someone who got their email from Linkedin:

You are welcome to <name of real company> Pharmaceuticals telecommute position, attached to this Email entails the company details and the job briefing of the position.  I would like to chat with you for about 40-55 minutes to learn more about your background and what you are looking for in a career. To setup an interview, you are required to follow up by following steps below.

Step 1.Download RingCentral application for your device (glip.com) on your PC,smartphone,IOS/Andriod.  

Step 2. Create an account using your existing email to create a username and password.

Step 3. Add me to your contact using my email (barbara@careers-name of real company.com) after you might have created your account.

Step 4. Send me your Interview Code: “PF501180” once you are set up.

Let me know what time works best for you to interview. Note: This is a work from home position and you can work from anywhere within the states. Full training will be offered to you. You are also welcome to apply for part-time, keep your other jobs and still enjoy full benefits.

Signed with name of actual employee from company (found on Linkedin) 

Types of Scams:

The frequency, complexity, and variety of employment scams are on the rise. Below you will find examples of four common employment scams:

  • Payment Forward Scams: After you apply for a “position” or reply to an e-mail, the bogus “employer” replies with instructions to complete a task. Typically, the details are that you receive a check in the mail with instructions to deposit the check into your account, and send a percentage, via wire transfer, to another person. The employer promises that you will keep a percentage. This scam is sometimes referred to as a “money mule,” posted under the titles of “financial manager”, “payment processor”, or “transaction specialist”. Do not accept the check. The check will then bounce and you, the job seeker, will lose whatever money you sent to the “employer”. They will ask you to deposit a check, transfer some of the money to someone else or to purchase other items. But in reality, the money received is stolen, often the result of fraud on accounts, and is then laundered to overseas bank accounts. 
  • Application Fee or Training Scams: These scams charge you an “application fee” or ask you to pay for “mandatory training” in exchange for “guaranteed” employment. The cruise line, postal service industry and security officers have been used as pawns in this scam.
  • Phishing Scams: Unsolicited emails or texts from “employers” declaring that they are responding to your posted resume are typically examples of phishing scams. They will often state that your skills match the position that needs to be filled, but they need more information from you. The information they are seeking is often personal information, which can be used to steal your identity.
  • Mystery/Secret Shopper Scams: There are legitimate mystery shopping companies that hire college students and others to provide feedback to retailers and restaurants. Unfortunately, many mystery shopper postings are scams. This scam also occurs through unsolicited emails or via online job posting boards. Typically the “company” asks you to pay a fee to become an “employee” or “mystery shop” If a job sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is…don’t pursue it without diligent research.
  • Network Marketing: Individuals, claiming to be Brooklyn College alumni, have been contacting students and enticing them with promises of earning income and retiring early. They employ persuasive phrases such as “network marketing,” “personal mentoring,” and “investment opportunities.” They may also offer you a book to read and discuss during an in-person meeting. It is important to recognize these red flags, as these individuals may eventually request that you invest money with the promise of high returns. If you receive messages of this nature, it is crucial to report them immediately through LinkedIn and refrain from responding.
  • Personal Assistant Scam: Individuals claiming to be successful international employers have been reaching out to students via WhatsApp. Be wary of any job requesting you to call or text to apply; this is not a common application method for legitimate employers.

What to do if you are caught by a Scam:

  • Assess how much of your personal information is potentially out there.
  • If they sent you a check, destroy it and let them know you are no longer interested in the position.
  • Get in touch with your bank or credit-card company and dispute any fraudulent activity immediately.
  • If you received the scam through your BC email or another BC source notify the Magner Career Center so we can alert other students.
  • Review the FTC’s article on what to do if you were scammed 

What to do if you experience Discrimination/Sexual Misconduct on an Interview?

For further information on recognizing and protecting yourself from job posting scams view the following links:

Although the vast majority of internships and job postings are legitimate, it is very important for students to know the warning signs to watch for. Scams can appear on legitimate sites such as HireBC, indeed.com, LinkedIn etc. Just because it is on the site, does not mean the posting/employer itself is legitimate. Some postings may be using the information of a real company but the contact information is directing you to a scammer or the scam may even come from the BC email of another student or staff member, whose account was hacked.  Students should notify the Career Center if they have any concerns by calling (718.951.5696) or emailing careernews@brooklyn.cuny.edu. Being notified about negative internship/job experiences allows us to prevent other students from applying in the future.

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