Jennifer Astle

February 25, 2009

Con-Artists Posing as Employers: Beware!

In an effort to offset my income, I’ve been looking for administrative work.  During the course of my job search I started to notice something fishy.   I had applied to several administrative and marketing jobs which all appeared to be reasonably legitimate.  It wasn’t until I got some responses and started to do a little research that I learned of large and pervasive schemes that are currently being advertised as “careers”.  Two of these schemes seem to be the most common.

1)  “Entry-level marketing jobs”. Here is an example of the type of job postings which fall under this umbrella.

[Un-named] Marketing Group is now offering positions at the entry level for sales and marketing.​ Our firm has a very high success rate of developing SPORTSMINDED individuals into TOP PERFORMERS in a management capacity.​ We are seeking inexperienced professionals that would like to take their “Winning Mindsets” and apply them to lucrative business careers.​ We want to develop our own people, (starting in entry level), rather than hiring people with habits counteractive to our mission.

Our field of expertise is executing business customer acquisition campaigns for Fortune 100 companies.​ We are not an employment or temp agency.​ We are an outsourced sales and marketing team.​ Our clients need us to communicate with their customers since their telemarketing and direct mail channels are failing.​ We provide the human interaction our clients so desperately need.​ We’re currently expanding in 4 new markets across the country.

Seems legitimate, doesn’t it?  Guess again.  These “event-based” marketing firms are essentially door to door sales.  When you interview with them, you are informed amidst a big speech about how you will become a marketing manager in 6 months – 1 year, that your role as an entry-level assistant is to sell products or go door to door handing out free tickets to entertainment or sporting events.  It’s not marketing, it’s selling Girl Scout cookies (without the chocolate!).  Often, these companies fall under one or two parent companies, and are each strategically given several different names. However, the postings are well written and any young person struggling to find work will see “sports” or “entertainment” and jump at the opportunity to work for the company.  Until they discover what really happens.

2) Administrative Assistant Wanted. This is a tricky one because a lot of administrative jobs are legitimate.  However, occasionally you’ll receive an email like this (I left the company name as is because this was their direct response sent to my inbox);

Thank you for taking the time to reply to our
job posting here at Zephyr Research.

Our company develops market research for national
finance and investment companies. They depend upon
our online data collection methods so they can
develop better marketing campaigns.

Because this job position requires excellent data
entry skills, we ask that you take our two-part
data entry test. At the end of the test, you
will have an opportunity to submit your resume.

For Part 1 of our test, you will access one of
our websites which has been customized for this
test. Part 1 should take you less than 2 minutes
to complete and is 3 pages long.

You will be tested on your ability to follow
directions and your accuracy rate. Therefore, it
is crucial that you enter all of your personal
information correctly on pages 1 through 3 as it
will be matched with your resume information.

Also, be sure to answer every question, even those
that seem survey or opinion oriented. You may answer
those questions however you choose, but if you skip any
of them then your test cannot be processed.

IMPORTANT – Once you complete page 3, be sure to
write down the first 3 words of text that you see
on that page, because you will need those words to
complete Part 2 of the test.

You can access Part 1 of the test here:

Once you complete page 3 of Part 1, go to
Part 2 of the test here:

When you are finished, you will be automatically taken
to our resume upload page. After you submit your
resume, we will contact you with your test results
and your application status.

Again, thank you for showing a sincere interest in
our position.

Georgia McNeal
HR Director
Zephyr Research

When you click on the link to take the “test” and complete the “application” you are brought to a site encouraging you to sign up for some product or service which has NOTHING to do with your career.


It is simply a scam to harvest mailing lists, and to convince unsuspecting job seekers to sign up for something they don’t need or want in exchange for a pay check.  The pay check, of course never comes because neither does the interview.  If you’re lucky, you might get an exact copy of the email, “signed” by a different name, but with the same title at the same company.  Slick, guys.

Oh, and in case you can’t decipher the tiny blue print at the bottom of the screen shot, it says;

* We will never rent, sell, or give out your personal information. We hate spam too! *

Injury, may I please introduce you to my friend, Insult.

So, as if you didn’t have enough to be afraid of what with the economy, job loss, two wars, and global warning, now you have to be afraid of people harvesting your information while you conduct an honest job search.  That said, these scams are avoidable.

  • Don’t send your resume to job postings unless the name of the company is clearly listed, as well as a contact person for the hiring process.  Most legit job postings will refer you to someone as a point of contact.  No name? No resume!  If you find yourself intrigued by one of these jobs, send a brief query letter asking for more information about the role.  If you get the email above, or anything that doesn’t resemble a real email, written in haste by a real, busy HR person, it’s probably a scam.
  • Pay particular attention when applying to jobs posted on Craig’s List.  Yes, companies are posting legitimate jobs there, especially since the service is free while Monster and Careerbuilder charge employers for their job ads.  However, the above rule applies.  Do some research, ask questions, protect your information.
  • If you are given a company name that by all other standards appears to be legitimate, Google it.  Google it like it’s a long lost lover. If there is one post calling it a scam, it may just be a disgruntled employee, but read what they have to say anyway.  If they are disgruntled, perhaps you could end up the same way.  If more than one site indicates it is a scam, it is.  Run.

1 Comment »

  1. This was fantastic. Have had untold scamalicious responses to my job queries. It can be extremely debilitating as I spend valuable time in a genuine effort only to be rewarded with this hoohah. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by anne — March 11, 2009 @ 1:46 am

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