Advisory - Online Job Posting Scams

Date Occurred: 

Members of the UMass community have fallen victim to these latest scams around job postings. Please know that if a job opportunity is asking you to send them money, it most likely is a scam. If you are in doubt, look into the job very carefully. Please use the information and resources below that Career Services has provided so you do not become the next victim.

Beware of people that might try to scam college students! (Updated June 2019)

The UMass Career Development & Professional Connections Hub wants you to be aware of possible employment scams. As you conduct a job or internship search, keep in mind…that if a job seems “too good to be true”, be careful!
“False contacts” can masquerade under a legitimate company name. Watch for misspellings, extra letters, phrases, etc. that are added to emails or website addresses or overzealous “recruiters”. All students are encouraged to exercise their own good judgment when evaluating a prospective job or internship.

i. Never give out any personal or banking information.
ii. Never agree to deposit a check or money order into your bank account from a company to start the work.
iii. Never agree to send money to another individual.
iv. Legitimate company contacts will never ask you do any of these things.
There are various employment scams designed to gain access to people’s money, bank account information, social security number, or identity. These scams are sometimes posted on online job boards, websites, in newspapers, or via e-mail.
The Career Development Hub & our college-based Career Centers do our best to block fake/fraudulent contacts from posting positions in Handshake. However, due to the deceptive means by which scammers post jobs, we cannot guarantee the validity of every employer, job posted or outside website that might not screen for this.

If you are suspicious or concerned about a company or job posting you find either on Handshake or on an outside job board, please contact your College Career Center or the
Career Development Hub at 413-545-2224.
Below are examples of commonly used employment scams:

1. Payment Forward Scam
This scam occurs after you apply for a position or reply to a spam e-mail. The employer will reply with instructions that you will receive a check in the mail and are asked deposit the check into your account (to buy supplies) and/or send a certain amount via wire transfer to another person. The employer promises that you will keep a percentage. It is a scam because the check is not valid; and if you deposit the check and transfer the money, you will be responsible for the funds.

2. Application Fee Scam
With this scam, you are charged between $25 -$100 for a “guaranteed” employment opportunity application. People have used this scam by posing as members of the cruise line industry, the U.S. Postal Service, and other organizations. Always check with the company to which you are applying to learn more about the application process. Employment applications should always be free, and there are no “guaranteed” positions.

3. Phishing Scam
This scam occurs when you receive an unsolicited e-mail from an employer stating they saw your posted resume. The “employer” states your skills match the position for which they are hiring, but they need more information from you. The employer asks for personal information, which they may use to steal your identity. This is probably a fake contact phishing for information. Always be cautious when sharing personal information, such as mailing address, phone number, and NEVER share social security number, identification number, or banking information.

4. Mystery Shopper Scam
There are legitimate mystery shopping companies that hire college students and others to provide feedback on stores, restaurants, and businesses. However, there are scammers posing as mystery shopping companies. This type of scam can occur through an unsolicited e-mail or via a job board posting. The fraudulent company asks you to pay a fee to become an employee. This is a scam because you should not have to pay a company to become an employee. Another variation of this scam occurs when the employer asks you to review a wire transfer company and complete a money transfer, this action then becomes a payment forward scam as described above.

5. Executive Personal Assistant Positions Scam. These are NOT legitimate listings, so drop all contact immediately if you see a listing or are solicited about a position like this.

How Do You Spot a Scam? Look for these “red flags”.

1. Catchy job titles. Scammers often use words in the job title to catch your attention, such as “Work at Home”, “No Experience Necessary”, “Make $1000 a week”, or “Work just one hour a week”, “Personal Assistant” – we definitely do not list these positions.

2. Required payment. When payment is requested for training materials, starter kit, or other items it could be a scam.

3. Lack of employer details. If few details about the employer are included in the ad, posting, or e-mail, such as no company name, website, e-mail address, or location, then this may be a scam.

4. Fake website. If the website is hosted by a free domain, such as Yahoo, it may be a scam. Scammers will use a legitimate company’s website information and post it as a fraudulent site. Research the company name and check to identify when the website was created. If the website was created recently or owned by someone not in the same location as the company, it could be fraudulent.

6. Unsolicited e-mails. If you receive an unsolicited e-mail and it comes from a free domain e-mail address (e.g.,,, or it could be a scam. If the name of the e-mail signature does not match the name of the e-mail, this may be a scam. Never click on a link in an e-mail from someone you do not know; it could be a virus or other malicious software.

7. Personal information requests. Requests for personal information via e-mail, such as a copy of your ID, bank account information, or social security number, can be used by identity thieves. Do not send any photos of yourself. They can see you on LinkedIn.

8. Guaranteed job offered. Legitimate employers do not promise a job before discussing your skills and experience.

9. Specific words or phrases. Beware of words in the job description, such as wire transfers, PayPal, eBay, package forwarding, or money transfers; these are indicators of a scam.

10. Job Scam Examples - Typical Job Scam Examples

We hope you will use this information to keep you, your information, and your money safe. If you are ever concerned about a job posting or think you may have been a victim of an employment scam, do not hesitate to contact your Career Center or the Career Development Hub at 413-545-2224 or the UMass Campus Police, or your local law enforcement agency. Also report it to the UMass IT Office at
Additional Links
Below is a list of helpful resources for learning more about employment scams or to research possible fraudulent employers.
1. Federal Trade Commission
Learn about employment scams or file a complaint.
2. Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
File a complaint with IC3 or review Internet crime prevention tips.
3. Better Business Bureau
Research employers by reviewing reports, complaints, and accreditation status.
4. RipOff Report
Discover complaints about companies.
5. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Learn about avoiding online job scams.
6. Job Scam Examples - Typical Job Scam Examples
Review job scam examples and share scam information.
FBI Tips and information
8. Glass Door
9. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

References: From the UMass Amherst Legal Consul, NACE resources, 2019 and Winston-Salem University.

Posted: Sep 21, 2020, 11:04 am
Last Updated: Sep 21, 2020, 11:04 am


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