So you just got a text (no less) offering you a dream stay-at-home job. Congratulations!… You are in the process of a scam.
First, no employer will likely ever solicit you randomly unless you are already employed in a sophisticated, elite, high-paid position. Employers do not “poach” unskilled workers. PS… “Mystery Shopper” isn’t a skilled position – it’s not even a real position (see below).
Second, real companies don’t text message job seekers. Legitimate companies usually only reach out unsolicited through a recruiter via official email addresses or LinkedIn messages. If you get an email from a Gmail or Protonmail address, not an official domain, run far, far away. Furthermore, real companies NEVER use Google Hangouts, Telegram, Signal, TextFree, TextNow or WhatsApp to communicate with job seekers.
Third, legitimate companies don’t make spelling mistakes in their communications to candidates. Employment scammers are known to operate in developing countries where English isn’t the first language. Thus, if your job offer or invitation to apply for a job has a high number of spelling, grammatical, and formatting mistakes, it’s probably a scam. Also, real recruiters don’t use emojis 💀.
Fourth, “Mystery Shopper” isn’t a real job. Think of it this way: if the job you were offered is too good to be true, it’s a scam. Likewise, if the job makes no sense, like repackaging mail or “rerouting” money from your home, its a scam.
Fifth, no legitimate job in the world would ever ask you for money upfront. If you are asked to deposit bitcoin or send a wire transfer to start a job, RUN. It’s a scam.
Sixth, no legitimate job in the world would ever ask you to cash a check for the company in your own bank account. It’s nonsensical. It’s a scam. Likewise, if the recruiter asks you to deposit a check so you can buy home office equipment from some random vendor instead of just sending you the equipment, its a well known scam.
Seventh, if you’ve been asked to purchase something from the company to start your job, it’s a scam. No legitimate company in the world would require you to buy something before you start work (except maybe a Ponzi scheme or an MLM).
Eight, real employers would only ever hire you after an interview, whether in person or on a Zoom call (with both parties on camera). If the job doesn’t have an interview, it’s a very likely scam, particularly if it is a work from home job.
Ninth, if you receive a job offer from a company you didn’t even apply to, it is a scam. Your data from a job site was leaked, and scammers are trying to scam you.
Tenth, unpaid trial periods are illegal; thus, if the job offer asks you for an unpaid trial period, it’s a scam.
If the job offer promises to pay you more than real jobs in the same position, it’s a scam. This is the scammer hoping you are greedy enough to ignore the sketchiness of the situation.
Twelfth, if they ask you for your social insurance number before you start your job, it’s a scam. Nowadays, in part because of these scams, real companies won’t ask you for your social insurance number or your banking information until you come in and start working or until after its very clearly not a scam.
Thirteen, if the first communication doesn’t mention your name, its a scam. These scams are conducted through bots that send thousands of similar messages to thousands of different potential victims at once, and the bots are not smart enough to know your name. It is a dead giveaway.
Lastly, if you have a bad feeling and go to Google or Reddit to search if the job you were offered is a scam, it’s a scam. Your gut instinct is correct.
Stay safe out there.
PS Sorry if this article sounds harsh and condescending, but I want my message to be convincing. I don’t want to hold your hand. I want to save you and your family from literal financial ruin.
Jeff is a lawyer in Toronto who works for a technology startup. Jeff is a frequent lecturer on employment law and is the author of an employment law textbook and various trade journal articles. Jeff is interested in Canadian business, technology and law, and this blog is his platform to share his views and tips in those areas.