Last week we were victims of a phishing scam. Hackers posing as our hiring recruiters reached out to several of our potential applicants with fake job offers. 

Fortunately, the applicants contacted us in time to prevent any actual harm from being done by the scam.

It undoubtedly feels like we’re constantly bombarded by scammers on all platforms. Often I get text messages from people claiming to be my bank agent and needing my account number. Additionally, I’ve gotten emails from fake Amazon representatives, phone calls from fake nonprofits asking for cash. And now the hackers are hitting LinkedIn and hitting it hard. 

LinkedIn is a huge target for scammers

LinkedIn has become a major hotspot for job recruiting. Everyday millions of job seekers connect with potential employers and vice versa. All of a sudden, there has been a surge in scams, with fraudsters posing as recruiters to exploit people looking for jobs. 

These scams often involve offering fake job opportunities to extract personal information or financial details from unsuspecting candidates. 

We had to act fast to shut this scam down

Between our team and the LinkedIn team, we were able to shut this scam down very quickly. No data breaches were found on our dashboard. We reached out to all the applicants and let them know what was happening. 

But, as a team, we found this hacking of our recruiting base to be disheartening in so many ways. We build our company with the idea of building a family. Our focus is to create positive change in this industry and elevate our team’s potential. Furthermore, we take pride in our hiring process and in building our reputation. So the idea that people were tricked into believing they had a job offer with us, only to realize this was a phishing scam, really REALLY upset us. Not to mention that searching for jobs is stressful and time consuming and we hate that this caused so much turmoil to applicants. 

It can happen to anybody, anywhere

Veteran tech writer Shawn McDonald has been applying to jobs on LinkedIn and recently was contacted by one of these fraudsters posing as a recruiter. He went as far as submitting his driver’s license photo but thankfully never sent any more of his information. Looking back, however, he says there were many red flags and also many reasons why he ignored them. McDonald says “I’m deeply embarrassed at how close I came to being scammed by someone pretending to be an employer on LinkedIn who exploited my “Open to Work” status.”

Safeguard against LinkedIn scammers

Here are key tips to help you identify fraudulent activities:

  1. Scrutinize Profiles: Genuine LinkedIn profiles are usually complete, include a professional photo, list detailed work history, and have endorsements and recommendations. So, if a profile seems sparse or too good to be true, proceed with caution.
  2. Verify Unsolicited Offers: Always cross-check any unsolicited job offers or business opportunities. Legitimate companies will not ask for payment for interviews or training materials.
  3. Check for Company Details: Research the company offering the opportunity. Verify its website, contact information, and online presence outside LinkedIn. Scammers often use nonexistent companies or mimic real ones.
  4. Think Before You Click: Be wary of any links sent by unknown contacts. They could lead to phishing websites designed to steal personal information.
  5. Use LinkedIn’s Reporting Features: If you encounter a suspicious profile or offer, use LinkedIn’s tools to report them. In the long run, this helps protect the wider community from potential scams.
  6. Listen to Your Gut: Trust your instincts. If something feels off about an interaction or offer, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Scammers often rely on pressure tactics or overly generous offers to lure in their victims. Therefore, always take your time to thoroughly vet any opportunity that comes your way.
  7. Seek Second Opinions: If you’re unsure about an opportunity or contact, reaching out to a mentor, colleague, or networking group for their insights can be invaluable. Nevertheless, a second set of eyes can spot red flags that you might have missed.
  8. Be Knowledgeable About Common Scams: Educating yourself about the types of scams that frequently occur on professional networking sites can give you an upper hand in avoiding them. From job offers that require you to pay money upfront to too-good-to-be-true consulting gigs, being aware of these common tactics can help you steer clear of trouble.

Be careful out there job seekers! When searching for jobs, stay vigilant and critically assess the legitimacy of any job offer. Above all, always conduct thorough research on potential employers to avoid falling victim to such deceptive practices.

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