Job search scammers and you

Some people have no shame. It wasn’t a year ago that I was approached by an Internet scammer posing as a job recruiter for a medium-sized New England IT firm. In that case, someone claiming to be a Ms. Kirsten Lambert contacted me through ZipRecruiter’s email service about a position with Belcan, LLC, and I spent several days "interviewing" for this bogus position until I finally called them out on their lies.

Now they’re back. Maybe not the same scammer, but one using a similar modus operandi (you’d think these idiots would maintain a database of blown "marks," but I digress). This time around it was a direct email from a "Stephanie Serra," ostensibly from the recruiting firm SourceLast. The message indicated that they had found my resume on Hired.com and that they wanted to know if it was up to date and if I’d be available for an interview this week.

Having never completed any profile with Hired.com, I was immediately suspicious. The details of just what they were looking for seemed rather vague. The email mentioned updating my resume and then threw around some high-profile company names like DraftKings, CarGurus, Wayfair and HubSpot. Also, the message’s return address indicated it came from Ms. Serra -- who, according to LinkedIn, is indeed a recruiter for SourceLast -- yet the contents were signed by a Ms. Sabrina Prijatel, for whom there is no such employment record.

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The final, telltale sign was the domain name in the return address. The scammer had ever so slightly tweaked it to make it plural instead of singular. So, if I had bothered to respond to the email, my correspondence would have been sent to a [email protected] (notice the extra "s" at the end), as opposed to whatever her actual email is at the company’s proper domain name of sourcelast.com (singular, no extra "s"). Try to visit "sourcelasts.com" and you’ll get a nasty warning message from Google about unsafe content before being redirected to the correct domain.

Now convinced this was indeed a scam email, I quickly searched for the real Stephanie Sierra on LinkedIn to inform her that her identity was being used as part of a scam. And as I await her response, I can’t but help feel a bit annoyed-bordering-on-enraged by this latest attempt to trick me. In a world of COVID lockdowns and high unemployment, preying on unsuspecting job seekers -- many of whom are absolutely desperate for work at this point -- is a truly despicable thing to do.

Bottom Line: If you’re actively seeking a job during these difficult times, be doubly careful. The scammers can smell the blood of desperation in the water, and they’re circling the hiring pool looking for marks they can pick-off through "too good to be true" type offers.

So, before you respond to that "recruiting" email, take a few minutes to check for signs of a scam: Incorrect domain names/invalid return email addresses; links to third party sites that don’t seem to be affiliated with the hiring company; and obvious spelling/grammar mistakes ("manglish") that indicate a foreign origin for the message.

And if, after you’ve done your due diligence, you still believe the offer might be legit, reach out to the hiring person via a secure, validated service like LinkedIn. In most cases, they will be happy to respond and confirm that they contacted you. Or, as I learned in my previous recruiting misadventure with Belcan, they will be grateful that you alerted them to the scam -- and might even show you their gratitude by giving your resume a look. Nothing greases the hiring wheels like doing the recruiter a potentially career -- and reputation -- saving favor!

Photo Credit: Lasse Kristensen/Shutterstock

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