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How to Identify Internet Job Scams


Work from home scams involving fake interviews over Google Hangouts are on the rise and targeting veterans. Beware of the Google Hangout Scam trying to steal money by disguising themselves as interviewers. As well as the Apple gift card scam asking for you to pay using Apple gift card codes. According to the Better Business Bureau, there were an estimated 14 million victims with $2 billion in direct losses related to job offer scams in 2020. There are various types of job scams to be on the watch for. Although the goal is always the same. To manipulate for money or gain access to benefits the government provides to those who served.

We Sought Out Google Hangouts Scams to Understand Their Tactic

In order to help you understand how these job scams work, we applied for one of these jobs. 


The job scams we tested involved an employment opportunity that sends you a check. The check is to cover initial equipment purchase after you are hired. The job scammer tells you to deposit the check in your bank account. Then to transfer the money to an approved vendor. What you don’t realize is that your bank will let you withdraw the money from the job scammers check before the check has really cleared. By the time the check bounces, you have already transferred thousands of dollars to the suggested vendor who is the job scammer’s accomplice.

What to Look Out for in a Job Scam

Below, you will find clues to be aware of when applying to a job. This will help mitigate your risk of falling for an employment scam.

Clue #1: Check Their Email Address

The first clue that something is not quite right is an odd email address used for the hiring manager. A gmail address is fairly unusual for a company email address, although not unheard of. Always check the domain of the email address and see if it matches the company. Also, most corporate addresses have the person’s name rather than the title of their position.

Clue #2: Grammatical Errors

Of course, it is normal to have an occasional typo or grammatical error every once in a while. However, if there are more errors than you can count, you should definitely see this as a red flag. A big clue that the paperwork from the interviewer is from a foreign source is that many of the spellings use the British spelling of a word rather than the American spelling.

Clue #3: Sounding Too Good to be True

In the online job scam we tested,  the interviewer recommended we work from the beach since it is a remote position. This is a great example of a too good to be true scenario as there are almost no companies who encourage their employees to work from the beach. Also, if the salary they are offering you has a very high pay rate for the position according to your research. This is another example of a situation that is too good to be true.

Clue #4: Repeated Long Gaps in Conversation

It is already a warning sign if the interview is conducted via instant messaging. During the scam interview we tested, the interviewer wandered away for long periods of time. This is a major red flag as an interviewer should be prepared and alert. Of course, in video interviews this is more obvious to see which will be to your advantage.

Clue #5: Offering you the Position Without Checking your References

There are companies out there that request references to have on file and do not reach out to them. However, the majority of the time, if they ask you for references, chances are they will reach out to at least one.

Clue #6: Offering you the Position Right Away

Adding on to the previous clue, it is especially odd if the job offer is extended at the conclusion of the interview. Again, it can happen where an employer knows you are a good fit right away and is eager to get you on board. Most of the time however, the interviewer takes at least a week to think it over, talk to their team, go over the position details and your experience, etc. There are also times a test is taken by the candidate and the score takes time to be determined.

Clue #7: Asking you to Deposit a Check for Employee Training

Beware of your employer asking you to deposit a check for the employee training. They may say that the money is to help purchase the right equipment for training. However, the company you are applying for should be providing you this. In the test interview, the scammer had us deposit a check and wait to see if the funds from the check were available. As soon as they were available, they insisted on the transfer of those funds into another account. Once the cash was transferred, the check they sent eventually bounced and we no longer had access to that money. Even if we were to report the scam to the bank, they would not help since we took the money out originally. The bank is not at fault and will not reimburse the amount lost.

Clue #8: Interviewer is Playing Multiple Roles

If your interviewer seems to be taking on multiple positions at the same time, it is likely a scam. For example, in this instance, the interviewer was the person conducting the interview while claiming he was the hiring manager and boss. Of course, this is common in a smaller business so make sure to do your research to best determine if this is true for your situation.

Clue #9: Requesting Codes from Apple Gift Cards

The Apple gift card scam shows another online scam that can happen to anyone unaware of the warning signs. In the scam interview we tested, the scammer requested we purchase Apple gift cards and send the code for it to be redeemed. This scam is quite prevalent and Apple warns customers not to fall for it.

Clue #10: Asked to Provide Personal Information Early On Over Unsecured Methods

The final clue in an employment scam is one of the most important things to know when applying to a job online. If an employer is requesting your social security number, bank information, or access to your personal information make sure you know who you are sending it to. Also, that it is being sent over a secure network. If they are asking for this information in a vulnerable email or instant message, it is important to take a step back. Consider all of the warning signs in this situation.

In Conclusion

Hopefully this list has been useful to help you identify work from home scams and job offer scams like the Google Hangout Scam or Apple gift card scam. They are increasing due to the influx of work from home opportunities. At MilitaryHire.com, we value a safe and secure job application process. We ensure all employers in our database are trusted for a smooth remote hiring process. You can help fellow veterans avoid falling for the Google Hangouts scam by sharing this information.