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If you’ll be seeing college-age relatives over the holidays, warn them about a variation on the “job interview” scam that students looking for summer or permanent employment have reported to us. And warn your human resources staff that crooks may be misusing your company name as part of the scheme. 

Virtual job scams are nothing new, but they’ve taken a personal – and persuasive – turn. College students report they’ve been contacted on social media platforms by people claiming to be recruiters for Wall Street firms, national retailers, tech companies, and other attractive places to land a job. The pitch is convincing. The “recruiter” may claim to have a connection at the college and say that the Dean or a professor has recommended the student as top-flight talent for the company’s prestigious management program. Or the person may say theyre a fellow alumni and pepper the conversation with faculty names, campus landmarks, and memories of their days back at good ol’ insert-school-here. 

Then comes a series of online interviews with “executives” calling from impressive-looking conference rooms. Next is the “job offer” on a formal-looking document with the corporate logo. After the jubilant candidate accepts, the usual “HR paperwork” arrives, requiring the student’s Social Security number, bank account or driver’s license information, or other personal data. In some cases, the recruiter may send a generous check as a “signing bonus,” but needs to have a portion of the cash sent to someone else, perhaps to cover the cost of a company phone or laptop.

What’s really going on? It turns out the “recruiter” is an identity thief who has used a phony conference room background, a cut-and-pasted logo, and publicly available facts – the Dean’s name, well-known professors, school traditions, etc. – in an attempt to steal personal information or pull off a fake check scam.

What advice can you give a student to avoid a bogus employment offer?

  • Check the recruiter’s “references” first. If a recruiter uses the name of someone at the school, contact the faculty member directly before engaging further. If the story doesn’t check out, it’s a scam. Do your classmates a favor by alerting your college Career Services Office.
  • Scrutinize the recruiter’s email address. Corporate executives email from corporate accounts, not from or other personal addresses. Of course, imposters have been known to hack into companies’ email systems. A legit-looking address isn’t a guarantee it’s the real deal, but a message from a personal account is a strong sign it’s a scam.
  • Pump the brakes if you’re asked for personal information. If the talk turns to bank account data, driver’s license numbers, etc., stop the conversation. Contact the company at a phone number you know to be real – not one the recruiter gave you – and double-check to see if the job offer is genuine.
  • Report your experience to the FTC. If a student you know crosses paths with a scammer, tell us at

Also, make sure your HR professionals are aware of this scam and are prepared to respond to students inquiries if your company name has been misused. 

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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Gary Couch
December 29, 2023

Thank you very much for calling our attention to this scam. I am forwarding this information to my HR Manager and will be following up with him thus afternoon.
G Couch
Southwestern Assets Corporation

January 02, 2024

Maybe time to look at " LYING ON REFERENCES " instead of "LYING ON RESUMES".
If the References are Real then everything that follows on Resumes would be logiocally !

December 29, 2023

Maybe time to look at " LYING on REFERENCES " instead of " LYING ON RESUMES" . If the References are Real and check out then the rest of what follows would be more authentic perhaps !

January 04, 2024

In reply to by Sue

I know that's right you should have seen what went down at my job

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