- A recent MBA graduate has gone viral on LinkedIn after being targeted in an online recruitment scam.
- “This is a sophisticated, calculated and targeted crime,” she wrote in the post.
- Here are some tips to avoid being scammed while looking for a job.
When Narisa Kiattaweesup checked her email earlier this month, she was delighted to see an invitation to interview for a product design manager position at software company Splunk.
But her joy turned to horror when she discovered the following week that she had been the victim of an elaborate identity theft scam.
In a viral LinkedIn post, Kiattaweesup wrote that she was “fast tracked to an interview” because the skills on her AngelList profile matched the position. After immediately receiving an offer, she was asked for personal information, including a copy of her driver’s license, a direct deposit form and authorization for a background check.
The recent MBA graduate wrote that she began to feel “uneasy” after being asked to use company funds linked to her personal bank account to buy an iPhone and Apple Watch for her home office. She was then told to send them to the company for software updates.
After consulting with friends and family members, they urged her to contact Splunk’s human resources department, who confirmed that the messages were not from the company and that it was a scam. Kiattaweesup immediately canceled the shipment and her card.
“The most terrifying thing is how I get this through my school email,” she wrote. “They were targeting students like me. Part of me felt like I should have known better. The other part of me knows this isn’t one of those stupid scams.”
A Splunk spokesperson told Insider that it is “aware of this industry-popular recruiting scam” and is not involved in the fraudulent behavior.
“We can confirm that the communications referenced in the LinkedIn posts were not sent by or on behalf of Splunk,” the spokesperson said. “Splunk is working diligently with our talent acquisition, legal and security teams, and external parties to help prevent this from happening in the future.”
Kiattaweesup is one of many victims targeted by theft scams through job sites like LinkedIn and AngelList. In recent months, new graduates and young job seekers have been particularly vulnerable to such scams, thanks in large part to the rise of telecommuting and fake accounts on job networking sites.
Here are some tips and warnings to avoid being scammed while you’re looking for a job.
Be careful with virtual on-site interviews
Kiattaweesup writes that she was twice tricked into thinking she was talking to actual Splunk employees, including CIO Alexander Friedman. However, she later learned that they were frauds.
According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), job seekers should “be wary of any request to conduct an online video job interview immediately without prior contact from the hiring organization.”
“A legitimate online interview is usually preceded by an initial engagement, as well as information such as the interview time, names and titles of those who may participate, among other things,” FINRA states on its website. “Lack of advance preparation can be a red flag.”
Double-check your grammar and punctuation
Watch for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in all correspondence. While the occasional typo may not be a cause for concern, multiple errors or inconsistencies should raise a red flag.
FINRA suggests being alert to “strange or poorly written text, including spelling errors or unusual wording, on the online platform page or in other communications.”
Be wary of equipment purchase and reshipment requests
Although reshipment tasks are in their own category of fraud, any request to purchase and ship products should raise a red flag, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
“The products are often high-priced items, such as name-brand electronics, purchased with stolen credit cards,” the FTC warns on its website. “Reshipping goods is never a real job. It’s just part of the scam.”
Double-check email headers and URLs
Fraudsters often make subtle changes to a company’s website URL or emails to trick potential targets, according to job search site Flex Jobs.
“For example, a real company website might have the address companyname.com. But when you look at the fake website, the address is company-name.com. It’s a subtle change, but it could mean you’re not on the company’s real website,” Flex Jobs states.
In Kiattaweesup’s case, the initial email was sent from [email protected], while the company actually uses “.com” addresses.
Be skeptical of requests for personal information
Personal information, such as social security numbers and bank accounts, should never be shared over email or over the phone. Most legitimate companies will provide secure portals or other encrypted forms to share this information.
Bank information should always be provided after you are hired, according to FINRA.
“And even then, you should contact the company directly to confirm that the position and requested forms are valid before providing personal information,” FINRA states.
Do thorough research on the company and its hiring managers
In addition to a basic Internet search for the company and hiring manager, the FTC recommends searching for anyone along with the words “fraud,” “review,” or “complaint.”
Potential job seekers can also call the company’s human resources department directly to confirm a job opportunity.
Ask for a personal meeting if possible
In today’s age of telecommuting, it’s easier than ever for scammers to target vulnerable victims online. In Kiattaweesup’s case, she was approached about a remote role where online interviews and discussions are now commonplace.
The University of Colorado recommends requesting an in-person meeting if possible to better ensure the validity of the company and the opportunity itself. Additionally, the university recommends that you never agree to a background check without first meeting with the employer.
Consult friends and family members
If something seems suspicious, the FTC recommends discussing it with a trusted person, as Kiattaweesup did. Recent graduates may be new to the hiring process, and an outside source can help determine whether or not an offer seems legitimate.