Job Scams

How to Protect Yourself from Job Scams After a Layoff

Getting laid off is a difficult time in itself but going through scams when looking for the next job can quickly turn this difficult period into a nightmare if not handled carefully. So I will be going over the most common job scams that target laid off workers, and ways to combat them.

To combat job scams after a layoff:

1) Take a break and calm your emotions so you can think clearly

2) Watch out for anything that appears out of the ordinary in your job search via email or phone calls

3) Check if your ex-colleagues have experienced any similar job scams

4) Block and report the offending scammers to the authorities

When a person gets scammed during a job search, s/he may be unaware that it is a scam for quite sometime. This wastage of time, effort and money, and the resulting frustration and confusion can be easily avoided by following a few simple strategies.

Safely Dodging Job Scams After a Layoff

Getting laid off can be a traumatic time for most people and those who get laid off may have their emotions running high for a few days to a few weeks after the layoff. Due to this vulnerability faced by employees who are laid off, scammers are likely to target such job seekers who are desperately looking for their next job.


It is important to remember that scammers are relying on people’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses to profit in such activities. So the best way to maintain your sound judgement at all times is to take a nice break after a layoff and to understand that it’s not that big a deal.

To relax after the layoff, speak with your close friend or with your spouse if you are married about this. Try to spend some quality time with your close knit family or friends who can help you feel relaxed and positive after the whole layoff process.

Family vacation
Family vacation

Be sure to restart your job search only after you have had the time to relax and only after you feel totally healthy in body and mind.


Don't get scammed
Don’t get scammed

Throughout your job search, watch out for any warning signs from scammers posing as recruiters or employers. Here are ten common mistakes to avoid when looking for your next job:

  • Falling for too-good-to-be-true job offers: Be skeptical of job offers that promise high pay, no experience necessary, or other too-good-to-be-true benefits.
  • Paying upfront for job opportunities: Be wary of any employer that asks you to pay for a job or training upfront.
  • Providing personal information too soon: Be cautious when providing personal information such as your Social Security number, banking information, or date of birth. Do your research on the company before providing sensitive information.
  • Responding to unsolicited job offers: Be careful when responding to job offers that you did not apply for, as these could be a scam.
  • Not researching the company: Take the time to research the company and the job opportunity before accepting the offer.
  • Ignoring warning signs: Pay attention to red flags such as misspelled words or grammatical errors in job postings, requests for payment upfront, or interviews conducted over instant messaging apps.
  • Not verifying the recruiter or employer’s identity: Verify the identity of the recruiter or employer by checking their LinkedIn profile, company website, or social media accounts.
  • Falling for phishing scams: Be careful when opening email attachments or clicking on links in emails, as these could be phishing scams that aim to steal your personal information.
  • Ignoring your instincts: If something feels off or suspicious about a job offer, trust your instincts and do additional research or seek advice from others.
  • Not reporting scams: Report job scams to the relevant authorities or platforms such as LinkedIn, job boards, or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help prevent others from falling victim to the same scams.

By avoiding these common candidate mistakes, you can protect yourself from job scams and find legitimate job opportunities.


If you are contacted by someone during your job search who appears suspicious, it may be a good idea to contact some of your ex-colleagues to see if they had seen anything similar. Job scammers often work off of a database when looking for possible targets.

Talking to colleagues on the phone
Talking to colleagues on the phone

So if you were recently laid off, there are high chances that others in your company who got laid off around the same time got contacted by the same scammers. By sharing the details with your colleagues, you will feel less fearful and might even be able to catch the scammers in their act!


To protect yourself from job scams carried out over the phone, be cautious when answering calls from unknown numbers. If you receive a call that you believe may be a job scam, hang up and report it to the relevant authorities.

To protect yourself from job scams on LinkedIn, be cautious when responding to job postings or messages from recruiters. Research the company and position before providing any personal information or payment, and be wary of job postings that seem too good to be true.

Also, be sure to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and review your privacy settings regularly to protect your personal information. If you believe you have been the victim of a job scam on LinkedIn, report it to LinkedIn’s customer support team and take steps to protect your personal information.

For tracking job scams on Upwork, check the client’s history on the platform. Before applying to a job, take a look at the client’s job history and feedback from other freelancers. If the client has a lot of negative feedback or has a history of not paying freelancers, it may be a red flag.

If you suspect a job posting or client is a scam, report it to Upwork’s customer support team. They can investigate the matter and take appropriate action.

Job Scam Surveys: Employers Speak Out

Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees and job seekers from job scams.

Job Scam Survey

Here are some common ways that employers respond to job scams:

  • Warning employees and job seekers: Employers may post warnings on their websites, social media accounts, or employee portals to alert employees and job seekers about job scams and provide tips on how to avoid them.
  • Reporting the scam: Employers may report job scams to job boards, social media platforms, or law enforcement authorities.
  • Conducting internal investigations: Employers may investigate any suspicious job offers that claim to be associated with their company to determine whether the offer is legitimate or a scam.
  • Enhancing security measures: Employers may implement enhanced security measures to prevent job scams, such as improving background checks or using multi-factor authentication.
  • Providing resources and support: Employers may offer resources and support to employees and job seekers who have been affected by job scams, such as counseling services or legal advice.
  • Developing partnerships: Employers may partner with organizations or government agencies to prevent job scams, share information, and provide resources to job seekers.

By taking proactive steps to prevent job scams, employers can help protect their employees and job seekers from falling victim to fraudulent job offers.

Job Scam Surveys: Candidate Responses

Here are some common criticisms that candidates have of job scams:

  • Wasting their time: Job scams can be a significant waste of time for candidates who invest time and effort in applying for a job only to realize it was a scam.
  • Financial loss: Many job scams require candidates to pay for something upfront, such as a background check or training materials, which can result in significant financial losses.
    Stress from being scammed
    Stress from being scammed
  • Emotional stress: Falling victim to a job scam can be emotionally stressful for candidates who may feel embarrassed or ashamed that they fell for the scam.
  • Compromised personal information: Some job scams require candidates to provide personal information, such as social security numbers, which can be used for identity theft or other fraudulent activities.
  • Damage to their reputation: Falling victim to a job scam can damage a candidate’s reputation, particularly if they unknowingly become involved in fraudulent activities as part of the scam.
  • Loss of trust: Candidates may lose trust in job boards or other sources of job listings if they repeatedly encounter job scams.

Overall, job scams can be damaging and frustrating for candidates, particularly those who are already in a vulnerable position due to unemployment or financial hardship. It’s important for candidates to be aware of the signs of job scams and take steps to protect themselves from fraud.

Job Scams: Horror Stories and Lessons Learned

Here are ten job scam horror stories from recent times:

  • Fake “Dream Job” Offer: In 2018, a man in the UK received a job offer that appeared to be his dream job. He signed the employment contract and sent his bank details for payroll, but the employer disappeared with the money he had sent them as a “security deposit” and was never heard from again.
  • Pyramid Scheme Job Offer: In 2019, a woman in the US was offered a job that turned out to be a pyramid scheme. She was told to recruit others to sell products, but she eventually realized she wasn’t earning any money, and the company was taking advantage of her and other workers.
  • Job Interview Scam: In 2020, a job scammer in India conducted fake job interviews for a non-existent company and collected fees from hundreds of job seekers. The scammer was eventually caught by the police.
  • Work-from-Home Scam: In 2021, a woman in the US fell victim to a work-from-home scam. She paid for equipment and software for the job, but the company disappeared with her money and didn’t provide any work.
  • Social Media Job Scam: In 2020, a woman in the UK was offered a job on social media, but the employer asked for her bank details and ID information. She later discovered that the employer was using her identity to commit fraud.
  • Job Placement Scam: In 2021, a man in the US was offered a job placement service that guaranteed him a job in his field. He paid a fee but never received any job leads or interviews.
  • Fake LinkedIn Recruiter Scam: In 2022, a woman in the US received a message from a fake LinkedIn recruiter who claimed to represent a reputable company. The recruiter asked for personal information and a copy of her passport, which raised suspicions and led the woman to report the scam.
  • Identity Theft Job Scam: In 2020, a man in the UK was offered a job but was asked to provide personal information, including his National Insurance number. He later discovered that the employer had used his information for identity theft.
  • Fake Job Training Scam: In 2021, a woman in the US was offered a job training program that required her to pay for training materials. She paid the fee but never received the materials, and the company disappeared with her money.
  • Freelance Job Payment Scam: In 2022, a freelancer in the US completed a project for a client but was never paid. The client stopped responding to messages, and the freelancer lost time and money on the project.

These examples demonstrate the range of job scams that exist and highlight the importance of being cautious and conducting research before providing any personal information or payment.

Job Scams: Catching Scammers in the Act!

Scammer getting arrested
Scammer getting arrested

Here are some examples of past high-profile cases where job scammers were caught and punished:

  • In 2016, a group of scammers in Nigeria was arrested for running an employment scam. They created fake job ads and convinced job seekers to pay fees to secure the positions.
  • In 2018, a man in Canada was sentenced to 8 years in prison for running a multi-million dollar work-at-home scam. He promised job seekers high-paying jobs, but required them to pay upfront fees for training and equipment.
  • In 2019, a man in the UK was sentenced to 10 years in prison for running a job scam that targeted immigrants. He created fake job ads and promised work visas and permanent residency in exchange for money.
  • In 2020, a woman in the US was sentenced to 12 years in prison for running a $31 million job scam that targeted elderly people. She convinced victims to invest in a fraudulent business opportunity that promised high returns.
  • In 2021, a man in India was arrested for running a job scam that targeted job seekers on social media. He created fake job ads and charged fees for job interviews.

These are just a few examples, and there are many more cases where job scammers have been caught and punished. However, it’s important to remember that many scammers operate from overseas, making it difficult for law enforcement to track them down and prosecute them.

Career and Degree Completion in the Midst of Job Scams

Though a layoff can bring in financial and other challenges, it is also a great time to get further education and skills training. Completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree when laid off can pay huge dividends by improving your resume and make you eligible for more lucrative job offers.

Job scams can indirectly affect degree completion if it causes financial or emotional distress that interferes with your ability to focus on your studies. For example, if a job scammer steals money from students, the students may struggle to pay for tuition or other educational expenses, which would delay or prevent them from completing their degree. Similarly, if a job scam causes students to experience stress or anxiety, they may find it difficult to concentrate on their studies, which could also affect their ability to complete their degree.

Additionally, job scams may impact a person’s career prospects, which could affect their decision to pursue a degree or continue their education. If a job scammer convinces a person to pay for fraudulent job training or certification programs, the person may be left with useless credentials that are not recognized by employers. This could make it more difficult for the person to find a job in their field, which could impact their decision to pursue further education.

Overall, while job scams may not directly impact degree completion, they can have a range of negative consequences that may indirectly affect a person’s ability to complete their education or achieve their career goals.

So please be wary of scammers during your job search and in case of any doubt, simply cut off all communication with the scammers right in the beginning. Instead, contact the company recruiters directly and report the scammers to the company HR department. You can also ask the company about their job openings, provide your resume to them and start the interview process with the company directly.


There are lots of ways to build a strong career and avoiding job scams is just one of them.


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