FBI Portland
Portland Media Office
(503) 460-8060
May 16, 2017

FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Hiring Fraud Scams

In recent months, the FBI has been getting more and more reports of hiring fraud scams hitting Oregonians. Here's how they work:

The scammer says he is hiring for a well-known company, and he is looking to hire people who want to work-at-home. The scammer asks for the person's resume, which is used to collect personally identifiable information, or PII. PII includes addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and the like. Once the scammer has the PII, he uses that information to launch as many different schemes as he can before the victim realizes what is going on.

In one version of this scam, he offers the victim a check to buy job-related equipment. When there is money left over—and there is always a lot of money left over—the scammer asks to get the remaining funds returned. Once the victim's bank determines the original check was a fraud, the victim gets stuck with the bill for all of it. In a slight variation, the scammer convinces the job applicant to pre-pay for needed equipment, but the applicant never gets reimbursed as promised.

One final twist: the scammer sometimes gets the applicant to set up a bank account to receive funds for work-related expenses or to conduct business transactions for the company. In this case, the scammer is using the account to launder illicit funds. Again, the victim is held responsible by the bank.

How do you protect yourself?

  • Confirm that the company that you are dealing with really is hiring. Call the company using a publicly-available number—such as one off its website—to confirm that the offer is legitimate.
  • Watch for use of poor English, grammar, and spelling.
  • Be wary of an exceptionally-fast hiring process.
  • Never open a bank account for use by strangers.

How do businesses protect themselves?

  • Make sure your website and social media accounts specify how your hiring process works.
  • Be very clear about the fact that you would not hire people in the ways described above.

For more information about cyber safety for home and work, check out fbi.gov. Victims should report any cyber scams to the FBI through its Internet Complaint Center at ic3.gov.