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11 months ago


The festive season traditionally sees a spike in temporary recruitment activity as companies rush to hire seasonal staff who can help to cover this busy period, with retail and warehouse positions particularly in demand. Recruiters will see traffic to their website spike and candidates will no doubt notice an increase in email and social media campaigns as the need to fill positions becomes more urgent.

Although this means there are opportunities aplenty for recruiters and candidates, it is also the perfect time for fraudsters to make their move. Posing as recruitment managers from genuine companies, these fraudsters post bogus job adverts and try to persuade their victims to pay upfront fees to cover fake costs for administration and criminal record checks.

Far from unusual, 70,000 jobseekers fall victim to job scams every month with 19-24 year olds most likely to fall victim, according to voluntary organisation, SAFERjobs. Crimestoppers also reported that online job scams cost victims an average of £4,000 as these fraudsters think of more inventive ways to scam their victim. Some have even gone to such length as researching their victim’s career background online, through sites such as LinkedIn, in order to tailor their approach and make it more believable.

Meridian Business Support has first-hand experience of employment fraud as fake emails and social media posts were sent to people using falsified Meridian branding. The posts even included email addresses and social media profiles that were similar to the ones we use. Luckily, this was brought to our attention so we could act fast and warn people to be on the lookout.

While the level of sophistication of some of these fraudulent job posts makes them difficult to identify, there are several warning signs that things may not be quite what they seem.

Identifying a Scam

Recruiters operate in different ways but there are some fundamentals that should remain the same across the board. We’ve pulled together a list of things to look out for to make sure you don’t become a victim of fraud.

  • Bank details – always be wary of an email from a recruiter asking for bank details from the outset. No member of staff at Meridian Business Support will ever ask for your bank or card details at the initial point of contact.
  • Visas and Insurance – We would never ask an applicant to cover costs for items such as immigration visas and insurance expenses so you should be suspicious of any recruitment professional asking the same.  
  • Poor spelling and grammar – Check the wording of any messages and emails that come through from recruiters. Bad spelling and grammar is usually a sign that a fraudster is at work.
  • Company – While some fraudsters will operate by stealing the identity of a well-known recruitment business, others will provide a fake company name. If you’ve never heard of the recruiter then check the official records to make sure the company exists. If it does then give them a call to find out whether the contact you’ve received is genuine.
  • Email address – pay close attention to the email address provided to make sure it’s an official company address. Gmail and Hotmail are obvious red flags to look out for, as are email address where the company name is spelt differently or if the last part of the email address is different to the company’s website.

Remember that you’re likely to see more messages in the run-up to Christmas as employers seek out seasonal support. Keep your wits about you and pay close attention to any correspondence from recruiters.

If you think you might have been a victim of employment fraud then you should make a note of their details and report it to Action Fraud immediately. If you ever receive correspondence from Meridian Business Support that you’re not sure about then our team are on hand to speak to you.