1. Home
  2. tech
  3. news
  4. College students desperate for jobs are getting scammed online by criminals posing as tech recruiters

College students desperate for jobs are getting scammed online by criminals posing as tech recruiters

Camilo Fonseca   

College students desperate for jobs are getting scammed online by criminals posing as tech recruiters
  • College students are increasingly targeted by job-recruitment scammers, the FTC said.
  • Scammers use fake listings and pose as recruiters to steal money and identities.

College students can feel a lot of pressure to join the workforce as soon as possible — and scammers have been increasingly trying to take advantage of that.

Students on the hunt for new jobs or internships, especially virtual ones they can work part-time during the school year, are being targeted by criminals posing as job recruiters, a recent alert issued by the FTC said.

The agency said that "if a new employer mails your first paycheck before you even start working, that's your cue to stop — it's a scam."

Scammers use various tactics to lure in would-be applicants, such as posting fake job listings, using fraudulent email addresses and even mentioning familiar names like that of a mentor or faculty member.

Sometimes, the scammers are just looking for a quick cash payout. But they can also target a college student's identity or bank information.

Scammers often approach victims about remote positions, using virtual communication as a front to obscure their identities and the cost of setting up a home office as pretext.

"Scammers post ads for fake jobs for personal assistants on common job sites and social media. Or they might send emails that look like they're from someone in your community, like a professor or an office at your college," the FTC said.

"If you apply, they'll mail you a check to deposit at your bank. Then, they'll ask you to send some of the money to another account," the agency added. "They tell you a convincing story, but the check is fake and the whole thing is a scam. The check will eventually bounce and the bank will want you to repay the money you withdrew."

The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed students who had encountered scammers during their job hunts.

One college senior told the Journal that he had received an offer for a data-analyst internship, apparently from an email associated with a real company. But after a Microsoft Teams interview — conducted entirely over chat with the supposed "hiring manager" — he received a check to cover the cost of a laptop and software.

The student deposited the check into his bank account and sent the money to a vendor the company had directed him to pay, before realizing that the check had bounced and he had spent $1,745 of his own money, the Journal reported.

Major recruiting and staffing firms have issued warnings about the practice — especially since their names are being co-opted by scammers to make their "offers" seem more credible. Murray Resources, a Houston recruiting firm, told the Journal it had received over 100 complaints in March from victims of scammers claiming to represent the firm.

"Murray Resources does not use WhatsApp and we do not text candidates unless we have already been in contact and received their prior permission to do so," the company said on its website.

Last month, LinkedIn took steps against recruiting scams by launching a verification feature for recruiters. Indeed also warns users to be on the lookout for positions that seem "too good to be true."

The FTC says that job seekers who are contacted for a prospective opportunity should always research the job and the recruiter. If it's a job at a university office, for example, they should contact the department directly to confirm the details.

Correction: May 1, 2024 — An earlier version of this story misstated when LinkedIn launched a verification feature for recruiters. It was last month, not earlier this month.

Popular Right Now