Is this a fake recruiter? Six recruitment scam red flags

July 3, 2023

Recruitment scam red flags

Spot recruitment scams with these essential tips for jobseekers

When conducting a job search, you may find yourself inundated with attractive job offers from various recruiters.

Unfortunately, not all of them may be from legitimate companies.

Recruitment scams are wreaking havoc on the employment industry, resulting in $2 billion in direct losses each year, according to the Better Business Bureau. During the initial quarter of 2023, there was a staggering 250% increase in job scams compared to the previous year.

Amidst a challenging economic climate, scammers are taking advantage of vulnerable jobseekers. With financial constraints due to high inflation and rising expenses, many individuals are at risk of falling victim to fraudulent schemes.

Scammers often impersonate professional recruiters or potential employers to access personal and financial information. These scam recruiters can be difficult to spot as they employ tactics like using details from real companies and online resumes to make their fraudulent listings appear genuine.

However, it is possible to spot these fraudulent recruiters and avoid falling victim to their job recruitment scams.

Read the rest of our blog to learn the essential tips to help you identify fake recruiters and protect yourself during your job search:

Looking for genuine jobs? Visit our job board


Six red flags that suggest a potential job scam

1. Emails from a free account

Be wary of recruiters using free web e-mail accounts from services like Gmail or Hotmail as opposed to using a business email address to contact you.

There may also be tell-tale signs within the email itself, too. While some scammers may send out well-written emails, many will seem unprofessional.

If the email contains excessive spelling or punctuation mistakes, incorrect capitalisation, or poor grammar, it could be from a fake recruiter.

It's also important to consider attachments sent in emails. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of the file, use a virus scanner before opening it. Some scammers may send attachments that contain viruses designed to corrupt your device and extract personal information.

2. Asking for money or unnecessary personal information before submitting your application

While discussing job opportunities, you should not be asked for payment.

Some scammers might ask you to set up a new bank account and give them the details or send you to a website and fill out a credit report form. In these instances, the scammer might say that they need your personal details to put you onto the company insurance.

Genuine recruiters may ask for your contact details, an up-to-date resume , references, and salary expectations. However, they should always be open and honest about why they need this information. They should never ask you to transfer money before starting the recruitment process.
You should never give out your full Social Security Number, bank account details or credit card information before successfully securing a new position and starting the onboarding process
If a “recruiter” asks you to fill out a form, always check that the website they send you to is secure. You can do this by looking at the web address bar. If the URL begins with HTTP://, then it isn't secure; only HTTPS:// sites are secure.

3. Recruiters being evasive when asked about the job in question

Real recruiters should always be knowledgeable about the job they're recommending. If they seem vague, skirt around questions regarding the hiring process, or gloss over the finer details - this should set off alarm bells.

If the recruiter avoids addressing your questions adequately, it's a clear indication that their identity may be fabricated, and this raises doubts about their legitimacy.

However, it's important to note that there are instances where legitimate recruiters have confidential positions and are unable to reveal the client's name. Nevertheless, they should still possess industry knowledge and be able to provide as much information as possible about the role.

4. Fake job offers that sound too good to be true

Job posting scams typically make their job offers as appealing as possible to entice people to share information. Be on your guard if they present a job opportunity that seems too good to be true.


Whilst most job descriptions highlight the benefits of a role, fake descriptions may have an abnormally long list. They may also say ‘no experience necessary' and have shorter hours than expected of the role in question.

5. Instantly offering a high salary

Similar to the point above, fake job offers tend to include unrealistically high salaries. For example, a starting salary that is 50-100% above the average salary market rate is unlikely to be real.

If the salary offered seems at odds with the role, it’s worth questioning whether the job is part of a scam.

6. Offering you the job without an interview

Some scammers may even offer you the job without putting you through an interview process. Some will go further and have an interview with you on the phone, but will only cover basic questions about your previous job experience.

Another tactic scammers use is to invite you to an online job interview using an unfamiliar or insecure messaging service. Scammers can obtain your details by asking you to set up an account on the online chat platform. It is recommended that you research any software or websites you are invited to sign up to.

Part of a genuine recruiter's job is to spend time ensuring you're the right fit for the company that's hiring. If they offer you the role without even putting you through a job interview process, chances are it's a scam.

Common recruitment scams to watch out for

Work-from-home scams

The rise of remote work has revolutionised the employment landscape, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. As a result, more and more individuals are actively seeking remote roles.

Unfortunately, scammers have taken advantage of this trend, using various tactics to lure unsuspecting jobseekers. One common method involves circulating fake remote job advertisements through email, social media, or text messages. These deceptive ads often promise lucrative pay, flexible schedules, and enticing benefits.

Scammers may then request an initial investment in office equipment or training materials or even demand payment for access to supposed work-from-home job listings.

Fake jobs on verified job websites

One of the most deceitful tactics used by scammers is posting hoax job listings on legitimate recruitment platforms. Targeting jobseekers who may let their guard down due to the perception that these sites only feature verified and trustworthy job opportunities.

However, it's important to understand that these platforms operate as aggregators, gathering job postings from various sources, including companies posting jobs independently. So, while the job website may have a verification process, it doesn't necessarily mean that every job listed on the site is from  a real company.

Job ad phishing emails

Job scam emails often come from fake recruiters or companies, enticing you with alluring job prospects. They may claim to have discovered your employee profile on LinkedIn or your profile on a job board.

Identifying these scams can be challenging since legitimate recruiters occasionally contact candidates through email. However, there are usually obvious warning signs that indicate an employment scam. One clear indication is when the recruiter requests confidential information like your bank details or Social Security number.

Here are additional signs to watch out for:

Here are additional signs to watch out for:

  • Urgency or pressure tactics, such as claiming the job offer is time-sensitive or insisting on immediate action

  • Poorly written emails with grammatical errors 

  • Vague job descriptions lacking specific details about the company, role, or responsibilities

  • Requests for payment or fees upfront in exchange for job placement or training

  • Requests for you to click on a link or open an attachment to get more information on the job being advertised

  • Use of generic email addresses instead of official company domains

  • Emails originating from foreign countries where the job offer doesn't align with your location or expertise

Job placement service scams

Another prevalent tactic used by scammers is pretending to be job placement services like staffing agencies or headhunters. Credible job placement services understand that candidates should never have to pay to use their services. If you encounter a site that requires you to pay a fee, especially if it is requested in advance, it is likely a scam.

Authentic job placement services prioritise the success of their candidates and work with employers to match them with suitable positions. They earn their revenue through partnerships with employers, not by charging candidates.

When evaluating a job placement service, be cautious of any requests for payment or fees. Scammers may convince you that the fee is for administrative purposes or to secure exclusive access to job listings. However, these claims are often false and are intended to deceive jobseekers.

How to find out if a recruitment agency is legitimate

It might seem scary that people would go to these lengths to scam somebody, but luckily, there are several ways to check whether a recruitment agency is genuine.

Here are five tips for jobseekers to spot a fake recruiter. By following these practical steps, you can confidently navigate your job search and stay vigilant and safeguard yourself from potential recruiter scams.

Ask the right questions

Regardless of whether a recruiter is legitimate, you should always ask questions when discussing a job role. This is especially important if you suspect you're being targeted by a job recruiter scam. Don't shy away from checking their credentials and asking questions about their experience, contact information and company.

pexels-fotografierende-1925536 (1)

Good questions to ask in this situation include:

  • Have you placed any previous candidates with your client?
  • What can you tell me about the company’s culture?
  • What opportunities are there for growth in this role?
  • Please can you tell me more about the role?
  • How long has the company been operating?

Legitimate agencies always invest time and effort into the recruitment process and, even if the role is confidential, should be able to answer the majority of your questions.

Check their LinkedIn profile

If you get contacted by a recruiter, exercising caution and verifying their identity should be your first port of call. LinkedIn is a valuable resource for assessing the credibility of a recruiter.

Here are some steps you can take to verify the recruiter: 

Conduct a LinkedIn profile assessment 

When researching a recruiter on LinkedIn, take note of the recruiter's connections and their level of engagement on the platform. If their profile has a lack of connections, no track record of sharing or posting about job openings, or incomplete information, these could be red flags indicating a fake profile. Legitimate recruiters typically have well-established professional networks and maintain comprehensive profiles.

Conduct a Google search

For a more comprehensive investigation, take the recruiter's profile photo and the text from their bio, and input it into a Google Search. Scammers frequently pilfer information from legitimate recruiters to construct misleading profiles. By conducting this search, you can detect if the same profile photo or bio text appears elsewhere on the internet, which could indicate potential fraud.

Investigate their company connections on LinkedIn 

Verify if the recruiter's LinkedIn profile is linked to their agency's corporate page. Legitimate recruiters are typically associated with an official firm and maintain a connection to their company's LinkedIn page. If the recruiter's profile lacks a link to their company profile, it could suggest that they are not affiliated with an authorised recruitment agency.

LinkedIn login page in a laptop screen 

Research the job being advertised

Thoroughly research the job posting to determine its authenticity. Check the job posting to see if it's available on the company website. Real job opportunities are usually showcased on a company's official careers or job opportunities page. Go one step further and cross reference this to see if the job offer has also been posted on job boards or career websites.

If you discover that the job is not listed on the company's page, this could be an indicator that this is a recruitment scam. Genuine companies usually advertise their job openings on various platforms to attract qualified candidates. Therefore, if a job offer is not present on any official or reputable websites, it may indicate that the offer is suspicious and should be further investigated.

Let Airswift help you find your next dream job

Airswift is a renowned recruitment agency empowering candidates to discover their ideal positions in the engineering and technology industry across sectors such as renewable energy, technology, process, and power for over four decades. With their extensive expertise and industry knowledge, Airswift is dedicated to matching candidates with the perfect opportunities that align with their skills and career aspirations.

Our team of specialist recruiters is spread across various countries, giving us a global presence and earning the trust of clients worldwide. With our international team, we are able to provide extensive coverage and offer candidates a unique perspective on the global job market and available opportunities.

If you ever find yourself feeling uncertain about the authenticity of an Airswift recruiter, it's important to be vigilant and look out for any warning signs. Rest assured, our team will always contact you using an email address, and you can easily verify our recruiters as genuine Airswift employees on LinkedIn. Your trust and confidence in our services are of utmost importance to us.

If you're eager to embark on your next professional journey, we are here to assist you every step of the way! Take a look at our extensive job board, where you'll find a wide range of exciting opportunities from legitimate employers across the globe.

Find your next role on our job board

Notice to all potential candidates

Airswift has been made aware of fraudulent activities targeting candidates. It has come to our attention that an individual named Simon Gerlach has been falsely claiming to be associated with Airswift. We want to emphasise that Airswift has no affiliation with Simon Gerlach, and he is not employed or connected to our organisation in any way.

To ensure your safety and protect yourself from potential scams, we urge you to exercise caution and verify the authenticity of anyone claiming to represent Airswift. Genuine communications from us will always come from official email domains, and we assure you that we will never request payment when submitting candidates for vacancies, setting up interviews, or registering their CV with Airswift.

We appreciate your understanding and ongoing support.

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This post was written by: Leanna Seah, Content Manager