Students and graduates ‘most vulnerable’ to online job scams: 8 tell-tale signs to look out for

Students and new graduates are often prime targets for online job scammers due to the fact that most are unaware of the risk – only 83 percent know that such a threat exists.

According to experts, unsuspecting victims can lose up to £4,000 in made-up administrative fees and security checks.

SAFERjobs (Safe Advice for Employment and Recruitment), a non-profit organization specializing in online crime, and CV-Library, an online jobs directory, revealed data showing that students and fresh grads are particularly susceptible to online scammers who put up advertisements for bogus jobs.

Those who apply for the jobs are then tricked into parting with large amounts of money with the belief that it will help them secure the job, oblivious to the fact that they don’t exist.  

Based on the figures, nearly half of the scammers’ targets were successfully conned into handing over money, and one in three of them were university students or have recently graduated.

CV-Library’s managing director, Lee Biggins, told the Independent: “This is an exciting time of year for students and graduates, who will be starting to think about their first job post-university, but this could be hindered by the fact that scammers are out there targeting a cohort that is unaware of the threats and potential impacts of job fraud.

“Our findings suggest that a large proportion of young people would not recognize what a job scam might look like and this is extremely concerning,” he added.

Biggins explained that due to the high level of competition in the job market among the age group, there is “an element of desperation can set in among graduates which scammers will sniff out and take advantage of”, and warned job seekers to “stay vigilant”.

In a comment to the daily, Employment Minister Damien Hinds said that there were around 740,000 genuine vacancies up for grabs at any one time.

“It’s important that people learn to recognize the tell-tale signs of a fake job advert,” he added.

To avoid getting scammed, here are eight red flags in job adverts or offers that prospective applicants should watch out for:

8 tell-tale signs of online job scams

  1. Personal email addresses (e.g.
  2. Obvious spelling and grammatical errors
  3. Unrealistic salaries (if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is)
  4. Stating ‘No Experience Necessary’ in the job advert
  5. Getting a job offer without an interview
  6. Exorbitant DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) costs (anything over £75 should be questioned), or requesting a candidate to pay for a CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau), which no longer exists
  7. Applicants asked to call premium rate phone numbers for interviews (if an employer wants you to work for them, they will call you)
  8. Illegitimate company names and web addresses (registration information for most websites can be checked through a ‘WHOIS’ search)

SAFERjobs chair, Keith Rosser, said: “We are working to highlight the importance of staying safe online, particularly within the student and graduate market, where less experience could mean higher vulnerability.”

He urged students and graduates to do their research and keep an eye out for warning signs, “whether this be an unrealistic-looking salary, a job which requires no experience or a posting which is full of spelling mistakes”.

“With the right help, and confidence to ask the right questions, people of all ages can continue on their job hunt safely,” he said.

Image via Unsplash

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