LOCAL NEWS

Scammers target Washington’s unemployed with fake job listings

Jul 27, 2021, 8:24 AM
ransomware, LINX, job search, job listings...
(AP)
(AP)

The COVID-19 pandemic’s record unemployment saw Washington hit with unemployment scammers. Now, fraudsters are targeting unemployed Washingtonians in a completely new way — through fake job listings.

Puget Sound resident Kristi Simmons, one of Washington’s hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers, applied earlier this month for what she thought was an administrative assistant position at the Meydenbauer Center.

She received an email reply asking for her résumé, which she sent over. While the email did appear to come from the name of person who is actually employed by the Meydenbauer Center, it used a Hotmail address. In this first email exchange, Simmons had just assumed it was an employee who forgot to use his work address instead of his personal one.

Weekly job search requirement for unemployed Washingtonians to return in July

However, she got an email back the next day, telling her that she was the only qualified person for the job — even though she hadn’t had so much as an interview yet. What was even more odd was that she was not offered the job she had applied for, but instead offered a personal assistant position at $50/hour for just 10 hours a week.

This alone had Simmons very suspicious, but she was sure it was a scam when she read on and saw that the email asked for many details of personal information that wouldn’t normally be collected that early in the application process — or over email.

“He asked for all of my personal information via email and then he would follow up with me, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, something is not right here,'” Simmons said. “And I was reading through the email looking at his grammar and I’m like, ‘No, this isn’t right.’ Your gut feeling tells you this isn’t right.”

Simmons reached out to the Meydenbauer Center to ask about the job and found that it was indeed a scam.

“It looked what [the scammer] had done was probably taken a job that had been open previously, and maybe just saved that file and later on gone in and put it back on the site,” she said. “It looked legitimate.”

The next day, Simmons applied to another job that appeared to be at a Snohomish County construction company. Once again, she received an email with a supposed job offer asking for private information, and once again confirmed with the legitimate company that it was fake.

Indeed is working with companies to flag fake job listings and remove them from the site. The Meydenbauer Center told KIRO Radio that at the time Simmons contacted them, the false listing had already been removed thanks to an earlier report that had come in.

“We have been working with Indeed customer service to notify them of the issue and try to prevent it again in the future,” said Sara Waltemire, director of Sales and Events for the Meydenbauer.

Waltemire recommended “cross referencing any postings on a third-party job board with a company’s website to make sure they appear in both locations,” as well as checking that “there are other jobs posted from the same account on the job board.” She also advised job applicants pay close attention to an email sender’s domain name to see if it seems fitting for the company. For example, Meydenbauer employees’ email addresses will always end in “@meydenbauer.com.”

Simmons gave the same advice, and added that people should look out for grammar mistakes and offers that seem too good to be true. The biggest red flag for her, however, was the request for sensitive data.

“Be cautious, and don’t click on links in emails,” she warned applicants. “If they want your personal information … no HR person is going to ask for your personal information over email.”

This kind of personal identifiable information can include data like a social security number, bank account number, or home address. While it is necessary to give personal information to an employer for the purpose of payment, Simmons noted that this exchange would not happen until a person is offered the job, and — if it did not happen in person — would take place through a more secure method than a simple email.

When in doubt, Simmons advises contacting the company the posting appears to be from to see if it is in fact trustworthy.

Simmons appreciates what companies are doing to locate and remove false job listings, but she is annoyed with the fraudsters for forcing unemployed people to face an additional complicated hurdle, on top of already being jobless.

“It’s just really frustrating for people who are legitimately wanting to work, having to deal with this,” she said.

Follow Nicole Jennings on Twitter or email her here

Local News

Washington State University...
Associated Press

One killed, another injured in shooting near WSU campus

Police say a man has been arrested in connection with a shooting that killed one person and injured another near the Washington State University campus early Saturday morning.
1 day ago
homeless camp...
Andrew Scheinthal, KIRO 7 News

Seattle business attempts to clear homeless camp, backtracks after advocates step in

A Seattle business is facing heat from homeless advocacy groups after they attempted to clear out an encampment off of Lake City Way.
1 day ago
COVID, hospitals...
Nick Bowman

‘Tough few weeks ahead’ as state’s hospitals continue to struggle with flood of COVID patients

While Washington's COVID crisis has begun to stabilize in recent weeks, health officials warn that the state's hospitals are not quite out of the woods yet. 
2 days ago
Eatonville COVID outbreak...
MyNorthwest Staff

Eatonville school goes back to virtual learning over COVID outbreak

Eatonville Middle School sent students home on Friday, and will be temporarily moving back to virtual learning until at least mid-October. 
2 days ago
Amazon Bothell...
Dalton Day

Permits indicate Amazon is behind planned new warehouse in Bothell, despite denial from county

Plans for a 105,000-square-foot warehouse in Bothell named as a “fulfillment center" suggest Amazon is behind the project.
2 days ago
Employment Security, audit reports, unemployment tax, unemployment suspect...
Nick Bowman

Former state unemployment worker arrested, charged for alleged role in payment scheme

A former ESD employee was arrested and charged on Friday, for allegedly defrauding the state out of thousands in unemployment payments.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
...
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Scammers target Washington’s unemployed with fake job listings