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For Job Seekers

What are recruitment scams?

Three steps to spot fake job offers and protect yourself from fraud

Published on

September 12, 2023


Some of our candidates recently reported receiving fraudulent messages from people impersonating Altis recruiters (read about this scam here).  

We’ve learned this kind of impersonation is affecting many employers and staffing firms, so we wanted to highlight how it works and three steps you can take to protect yourself.

The goal of employment fraud is simple: Scammers want to lure candidates into sharing their personal information (identity theft) or paying them money, or both.  

It’s increasingly sophisticated and on the rise in Canada. The Better Business Bureau ranked it as the second-riskiest scam in this country in 2022, resulting in Canadians losing $7 million, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Here’s how a typical recruitment scam works

1. The fraudsters may scrape the details of real recruiters and create fake LinkedIn profiles under their names.  

2. They create and post fake job listings on reputable job sites like LinkedIn and Indeed, sometimes even creating an alternate website for a recruitment firm by changing the web address slightly.

3. They randomly send fake job ads through any number of channels—unsolicited e-mails, text messages, direct messages on social media or phone calls—claiming to be from an employer or recruitment firm.

Note: If you receive a fraudulent message, it does not mean your profile has been hacked or the database of the recruitment firm in question has been breached. Fraudsters posing as recruitment firms will spam completely random people hoping to engage.

4. If jobseekers are lured into responding (i.e., calling, emailing, or texting the person back), they can be given a job offer quickly (with or without a virtual interview), typically at an unusually high salary.

5. Then comes the fraudulent ask:

  • The jobseeker is asked to provide personal information such as their Social Insurance Number or driver’s license – which can lead to identity theft.
  • The jobseeker is asked to pay money. In some cases, the fraudster sends the jobseeker a cheque to deposit in their account, with instructions to transfer some or all of the money to a third-party for services, such as on-the-job training. The problem is, these cheques are fake and bounce, so the jobseeker has now sent their own money to the scammer.

Read more about other kinds of scams: Nine types of employment scams

Three steps to protect yourself from fraud.

If you receive a message from an unknown recruitment firm or employer, follow these three steps to avoid being scammed.

Step 1: Do a gut check: Is the message unusual or too good to be true?

If the message is written in a strange way (i.e., typos, poor grammar, etc.), contains language that violates human rights legislation (i.e., it’s racist, sexist, ageist, or otherwise discriminatory) or seems too good to be true (i.e., offers very high pay for easy work requiring few skills), it is likely a scam.

If you suspect it’s fraudulent, it probably is. Here’s what to do:

1. Do not engage.  

2. Delete the message (email, voice mail or text message).  

3. Block the sender and report the message as junk or spam.

Note: Since there are many ways to perform these actions, and they vary according to the channel (i.e., email, voicemail, text, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.) and your device (Android, iPhone, etc.) your best bet is to research how to delete the message and block the sender on your device.

4. If you have an existing relationship with the employer or recruitment firm in question, send an email or call them to report the fraudulent message!

Remember: Altis takes the privacy and security of our clients and candidates very seriously. If you receive a fraudulent message from someone posing as a member of the Altis team, it does not mean your Altis profile has been hacked or our database has been breached. Fraudsters posing as recruitment firms will spam completely random people hoping to engage.

If the message seems legit, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: The message looks genuine. Before you engage in any way, do your research.

If the job ad seems real and interesting, here’s what to do before you engage:

  • Rather than calling/texting the number in the message sent to you, Google the recruitment firm to make sure it exists. And if the message includes the recruiter’s full name and job details, call the number listed on the company website to verify whether the recruiter works there and is hiring for the role sent to you.
  • Confirm the message originates from a Canadian phone number. Many fraudulent messages are sent from numbers outside of Canada. Note: Altis is 100% owned and operated in Canada—all our messages come from Canadian phone numbers.
  • If the message contains any salary details, do a search to determine what the normal pay range is for the job in question. If the salary being offered is much higher, it’s likely fake.
  • If you received an email, verify that it’s from the domain of the recruitment firm (i.e., sent from an address like, rather than from a generic Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail address.

If it all seems genuine, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Engage with the employer, recruitment firm or recruiter.

Once you’re satisfied that the message is real, follow the instructions in the message to call, email or text the person back. And, if you note any of the following red flags at any time, do not proceed any further.

IMPORTANT: Do not click links in any message you receive from an unknown sender. Doing so could install malware on your device or direct you to a bogus site that asks you for sensitive information.

Red flags to watch for:

  • You’re offered a job on the spot, without doing an interview or applying to an official career website.  
  • You’re asked to participate in an interview conducted through Google Hangouts, Telegram App, texting apps (TextFree app, TextNow app) or WhatsApp.

    Altis best practice: Candidates being considered for any role we advertise must create a profile in our secure candidate portal and submit an official application. We conduct multiple interviews with all candidates being considered for a role—by phone and virtually or in person.
  • During an interview, the recruiter asks you to provide personal information, such as your driver’s license, passport or Social Insurance Number.

    Altis best practice: We will never ask for your Social Insurance Number. Instead, after you accept an employment agreement, and we are at the stage of onboarding your contract, you will enter this information yourself in our secure, online candidate portal. Likewise, we will never ask you for sensitive information like birth dates by phone, email or text—all such information must be entered by our candidates directly into our secure candidate portal. We will only ask for valid photo ID like a driver’s license later in the hiring process, if our client employer requires background checks.
  • The recruiter asks you for your credit card or bank account information during an interview.

    Altis best practice: We never ask any candidate for credit card information; we will only require banking information for electronic payment transfers once you have signed an official employment offer.
  • The recruiter asks you to pay for equipment or training to get the job, saying you will be reimbursed by the company. They tell you who to send the money to.

    Altis best practice: We never ask any candidate to pay for equipment or training of any kind.
  • The recruiter asks you for your banking details so they can transfer money into your bank account. Then, they ask you to transfer this money to a third-party (i.e., for training or equipment), often in the form of Bitcoin, iTunes cards, Steam cards, etc.

    Altis best practice: We will only require banking details once you have signed an official job offer with one of our client employers, and only for the purposes of payment for hours worked.

When in doubt, contact us.

If you receive a message from an Altis recruiter that seems suspicious in any way, before you engage with it, please confirm with us that it’s real:

We take the privacy and security of our clients and candidates very seriously and do our utmost to connect talent with opportunity in the safest, securest way possible.

If you’re looking for your next opportunity, browse our open roles to get started.

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