Security Awareness: How to Recognize a Fake Job Offer


Scammers can be quite sophisticated in their tactics.  That makes it hard to know if an email message regarding a job is a scam or a legitimate employment-related email message.  Fortunately, there are some tip-offs when it comes to fake job offers.

Types of Email Job Scams

As with many scam or phishing emails, the goal of the sender is to get you to do one of two things:  (a) give up personal information; or (b) send money.

You will NEVER be asked by a legitimate employer to return money after cashing a check or to send money elsewhere. This is a very common cashier check scam, where the victim cashes a check, sends part of the money back to the 'employer' for any made-up reason, and then the bank discovers the check is fake and the victim is held accountable for all of the money.

How to Know "This Might Be a Fake Job Offer Scam"

Here are some common identifiers for a scam job offer email:

  • If a job offer email claims that your resume is posted on a particular site, and you know it is not . . . it might be a fake job offer scam.
  • If the reply email address is not a address, or a non-company email address (e.g. gmail, yahoo, hotmail, aol) . . . it is very likely a fake job offer scam.
  • If the offer is not addressed to you . . . it might be a fake job offer scam.
  • If the offer contains typos and/or poor grammar . . . it might be a fake job offer scam.
  • If the offer requires processing a payment electronically or cashing a check and sending money elsewhere. . . it might be a fake job offer scam.
  • If the offer asks for any personal contact information, such as phone, alternative email, or address to be sent in might be a fake job offer scam.

Also, look for job offer scams that say "you got the job" before ever meeting with you in person.  If that sounds unlikely, it's because it is - it's hard to imagine many scenarios where a company would offer a job without an interview.  Occasionally in these situations, the "employer" will actually speak to you briefly on the phone, but most of your contact with the "company" will be via email.  Once the "company" has you "employed", they will typically will ask you to forward or wire money from a personal account to another account or even cash a check and return part of the money.

Anytime someone is providing a payment via a cashier check with the request to send part of the money anywhere else, you are very likely being scammed. It can take the bank a few days to determine that the cashier check was fake, and you are held responsible to repay the bank the entire amount of the check that they cashed for you.

Fake Job Offer Scam Example

Below is an example of a scam email sent to a job seeker.  Problem areas are highlighted:

  • Poor spelling or grammar, sloppy or unprofessional construction
  • Offer of a work at home or "independent" work situation
  • Unrealistic or suspiciously high hourly rate for the work described
  • Personal email address used in a business communication

Dear First Name,

[Company Name] was established in 20XX by an international team of financial and marketing experts.  We specialize in delivering positive business results through solving currency exchange problems as well as online payments and transactions, their tools being innovative solutions, high performance and e-commerce optimization techniques.

We offer a "work at home" part-time position "Regional Manager".  This includes process payments between our partners' clients and our company, ensure all personal data relating to customers is maintained, accurate and kept discreet, identifying opportunities to improve service delivery. 

Position Type:  Permanent.  Working hours:  9:00 AM - 1:00 PM weekdays.  Variable overtime is also required Occupation Type:  part-time (1-5 hours a day occupation).  Salary $40 per hour.

Professional qualities and skills:  Scrupulous and diligent; Computer literate; Good organizational and administrative skills; Payment procedures prior experience would be an asset; Ability to work independently.

Please REPLY to this email to receive further information and application forms.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Hugley, HR Manager, [Company Name]

Steps to Take After Receiving an Unsolicited Email About a Job

If you receive an email offering you a job, you can take the following steps to help understand if it is legitimate or a scam.  Some of these are referenced in the highlighted text of the example above.

  1. Are they hiring you through emails and texts? Almost every legitimate employer will have an online application process through their trusted website. No one will ever credibly hire you through an email, text, or phone call exchange.
  2. Review the email sender information.  The offer may come from a person using a Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail account, although scammers occasionally use a fake company domain name.  Legitimate hiring managers do not use a personal email address.  If the email comes from an address that looks like a company domain (@COMPANYABC.COM), check that it matches the actual company domain.  That is, if you get an email from, confirm that "" is the company's real website address.
  3. Read carefully for typos and errors.  
  4. If there is a logo in the email, check to see if it looks professional, and if it matches the company's logo online.
  5. Research the company.  Do a quick online search.  Does the company have a website and presence online?  Try searching for the company on the Better Business Bureau website, and searching the company name along with the word "scam."
  6. Be skeptical if the job boasts flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home.  Not all remote work jobs are scams, but many of them are.
  7. Gauge the salary.  If the rate seems far higher than what you would expect for the role, that is another red flag. 
  8. Be careful.  If you decide the offer seems legitimate, and do reply to an email like the one above, be thoughtful about what information you share.  Do not share financial information or pay the company.  Treat requests for personal information (e.g. your mother's maiden name or the last four digits of your social security number) with great skepticism and do not share this information. 

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Never respond to job offers that ask you to wire money, cash checks, submit your credit card information, pay for a credit report, or do any other transactions that require a fee to get hired.  When you are asked to pay for a job or share personal financial account details as part of a job application process, that is a classic sign of a fake job offer scam. 

Remember:  at Indiana State University, we take the security of your email very seriously.  If you ever receive an email that appears to be a fake job offer scam, feel free to forward it to  Our security administrators will review it to assess whether it is a scam/phishing attempt, and block the sender if it is.  You may keep others from falling victim to this scam! 








Article ID: 118972
Thu 10/22/20 2:47 PM
Thu 7/6/23 1:14 PM