Job scams are on the rise, and no industry is more vulnerable than recruitment. How can you protect people and organisational reputation?
There are many reputable recruitment firms, but their reputation is at increased risk through the growing number and frequency of employment and job scams.
It takes time for a firm to build up a good reputation and trustworthiness, but it can all be undone by less scrupulous players. As a result, individuals, companies and the recruitment industry can all be at risk.
The recruitment industry is considered low cost to enter. Anyone who has built up business contacts or can mine sites such as LinkedIn can create a business plan.
The industry is not regulated. There is no global code of conduct or set of industry regulations agreed upon by all. Scammers know this, and they are taking advantage of the situation. Recruitment firms can help their own industry by setting high standards and ensuring they run a clean business.
It’s not unheard of for recruitment agents to bait candidates with fake jobs to drum up business. “Often when it’s quiet and you don’t have much going on, you will put a fake job online to get candidates in,” says a former recruiter in a public statement.
Baiting becomes a fact-finding mission. The goal is to seek information about where candidates are working or interviewing, to get information contacts, or an idea of the structure and needs of the existing company.
Candidates are quizzed about where they might be interviewing or if they are looking for other roles. They might inadvertently tell an agent people within their organisation are leaving. The recruitment firm can then ring the company and pitch candidates.
What keeps recruitment firms honest is the knowledge that their reputation and continued business depends on them delivering the goods – in the right way.
Some job scams involve working-from-home and get-rich-quick schemes, which usually come with the promise of a large salary or an (unrealised) high-investment return following some upfront payments. In total, job and employment scams cost the country more than $32 million in 2013.
Tricks of the trade
Among the other types of job scams that are out there and growing are:
- Immigration schemes: This type of scam involves offers to assist migrants or international students with the false hope of securing visas and jobs in Australia.
- Phishing: Scams that involve impersonating companies are increasing. The purpose is often to extract money from unsuspecting candidates. They might be asked to send money for a health check, an identity check or a police check, believing that they are being considered for a role in a real company. Often they have been asked to fill out a bogus application form and they can also be sent fake letters of employment.
- Money laundering: Employment and job scams can be a front for money launderers. Scammers are targeting job seekers for identity theft and ‘money mules’ by posting employment ads online masquerading as legitimate Australian recruitment agencies.
The adverts include links to fake recruitment websites, and applicants who respond to the ad are led through a series of steps via email that can include requests for their bank account details, personal information, and copies of identity documents such as a passport and a driver’s licence.
Some victims have also reported receiving payments into their bank account that they were instructed to redirect into other accounts – also known as being a ‘money mule’.
Everyone needs to do their research before agreeing to offers. Conduct a search online, and if it involves an investment, seek independent advice.
Human resources needs to stay appraised of what is going on, stay close to updates around cyber security, and ensure access to firms that may scan and remedy any scamming issues.
Scamming will continue to evolve rapidly, and as a result it can outpace the law. Human resources needs to be ahead of the issue, the solutions, and the employee and organisation barriers to protection.