Two simple ways to spot a Fake Job Scam

As the "Designated Googler" in my rapidly-contracting social circle, I am occasionally the recipient of emails, web links and other documentary detritus with the attached question "Is this a scam?"

A particular category of scams is that of Fake Jobs and/or Homeworking opportunities. Purporting to be legitimate attempts to recruit staff, these scams are common methods to conduct cheque fraud in the US, and more generally to launder, hide and move money obtained through other illegal schemes. Now if you received one of these as unsolicited email, you might quickly disregard it. But what if you're looking for work, and are listed on Job Search websites. Say you receive an email referencing your CV uploaded to those job sites? Perhaps your normal scepticism might not be triggered.

So, this is the job advertisement even now being received by people registered at a popular Job listings sites:

DSP Finance Company is looking for a candidate:
* Vacancy - Finance Assistant (No Experience Required).

 *  All ages 18+.
*  Sufficient English language skills.
*  Candidates must be eligible to live and work in the UK.
*  Meticulous attention to detail.
*  We are looking for an individual who is capable of working. independently and on their own initiative.

What we offer in return:
 *  Absolutely Free: computer Tests, practice, exams, study in UK with a trainer, providing Software DS-3A.
*  Opportunities to progress and develop.

  * Full-time: 24300+
* Part-Time: 17600+

Email  back and  We will send you an email with information on how to continue.

HR Manager

Via the 2011 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, the UK figure for median gross annual earnings for full-time employees is £26,200. So £24K for a job which requires no prior experience sounds pretty compelling. If you respond to the email, you'll receive the following:

Return-Path: <>
Received: from [] by with NNFMP; 15 Dec 2011 17:00:58 -0000
X-Yahoo-Newman-Property: ymail-3

Received: from [] (mary_pittman@ plain) by with SMTP; 15 Dec 2011 09:00:19 -0800 PST
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 16:09:16 +0000
From: "Mary W. Pittman" <>
Organization: DSP Finance Company
Subject: Vacancy Information - Application - 15.12.2011
MIME-Version: 1.0

More detailed information about available position

Please fill out the "Application form" carefully and send
the form by email.

P.S The application must be completed in full detail
Our manager will call you within 1-2 working days.

Sincerely , Mary W. Pittman
HR Department , DSP Finance Company

Originally sent from a browser session somewhere in the University of Manchester, referencing a domain hosted on Yahoo's US cloud and registered by a private individual using Yahoo's Australian registrar partner, the email contains two Word Documents.

The first document describes the duties and benefits of a role with the MFI Consulting Corporation as a Finance Assistant.

View DSP info - - a document received as part of a job scam, likely a cheque fraud network on Scribd"

I particularly like the pseudo-official Notary stamp on this one. A nice touch.

The second document is described as a Job Application Form, but also contains language suggesting it is a contract.

DSP App - - a document received as part of a job scam, likely a cheque fraud network

So, you've got your application form, details of the job and its generous salary and benefits. But, you're still wondering... Is it too good to be true? Is it a scam?

The Short Answer: Yes

The Long Answer: Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss.  [rhetorical hat tip to ZP]

First thing, let's look at some warning signs in the documents and website:

Any one of these is a good reason to disregard the offer (or if you're feeling keen, report it to the authorities).

If you receive a job advertisement, particuarly via one of the larger job sites, then just look for these two warning signs:

1. An Improbable Proposition

If it looks too good to be true, it is.

2. A Vague Identity

If you don't know who you are dealing with, then don't deal with them.