I want to start with my own experience running into a scam job positing. Summer was coming, and I needed a paid internship in marketing. My ultimate goal was to work in downtown Chicago. I applied to internships through several recruiting companies, but then I received an interview invitation from a company located downtown even though I had never applied. I second guessed myself, thinking maybe I had just forgotten to write it down.

I accepted the invitation and reviewed the company’s website to come up with a couple of questions to ask during my interview. When I arrived, there were still four other interviewees before me. When my turn finally came, the interviewer told me she was very pleased with my resume. This boosted my confidence and excitement. She told me the company was a Fortune 500 company that works with other companies. She explained the company was looking for someone to mold into a marketing manager to help expand their company to six new cities.

Even though I was looking for intern positions, she told me she was very pleased with my resume. At this point, I felt I had the job in the bag. At the end of the interview, she stated that I would receive a call within the next hour or so to let me know whether or not I received the job.

Walking out of the interview I knew the job was mine, but then I started to think about some of the things that seemed pretty off to me that I now know are red flags.

  • I didn’t apply for this company, and I didn’t know how they received my resume
  • Many of the offices at this company were empty, except for one which was a disorganized mess
  • The hiring manager complimented my resume, but never asked about my experience
  • I received a call 10 minutes after my first interview with an invitation to return for a second interview, but the woman on the other line was in the middle of a conversation and did not respond right away

At home, I did further research on the company’s website and told my family about my interview. My grandfather suggested that I look the company up on the Fortune 500 list. I went through the list multiple times and realized they were not there. I had a hard time finding more information about the company, but then I found some reviews.

This is where things get a little scary.

The first review stated “Scam. Scam. Scam,” but didn’t offer any explanation. Then I found multiple reviews with the same kind of story in different states. The reviewers claimed they were taken to unfamiliar areas and asked to do door to door sales to see if they had “what it takes.” The people who decided they were no longer interested in the position were left and forced to find their own way home. This company was using people for unpaid labor.

I thought about going to my second interview and calling them out on my findings, but then I did some more research. I found this article about fraudulent companies and how to look for their red flags. Here are some of the warning signs:

  • The job is too good to be true
    • You did not contact them; they contacted you
    • The pay is great but doesn’t match the job
    • You get the job right away
  • The post has a vague job description and job requirements
  • The scammers want to conduct online interviews via Yahoo Instant Messenger
  • Emails don’t include contact information or are sent from a personal email account
  • Search results don’t add up
  • You’re asked to provide confidential information
  • They say they will send you money or valuables and request your account information
  • They want you to pay for something like software, a credit report or a resume review
  • Your “gut” says it’s a scam

I decided not to go to the second interview and didn’t notify the company. The next day, the company emailed me to reschedule. In my opinion, that goes to show my suspensions were correct. If you miss an interview without a real company without warning, they will not be contacting you for a reschedule date.

I hope that you can learn from my experience. Do your research! Do not just stick to the company website to learn about them. Dig deeper, and see how the outside world perceives the company.

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