Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer


8 Ways To Spot & Avoid Fake Job Scams On The Internet
By Mark O'Neill,
Make Use Of, 15 July 2016.

Working remotely online is all the rage these days. I’m living the glamorous lifestyle of tech article writing, sun bathing, and Pina Coladas. But if you want to be like me (and who wouldn’t?), then it pays to be a bit careful when applying for jobs online. There are sharks out there lurking and ready to take advantage of you, whether it’s extorting “training fees” out of you, getting your personal details for identity theft purposes, or simply getting as much work as possible out of you and not paying for it.

But as always, Make Use Of is your guardian angel in all things tech. So here are the warning signs that the Elbow Grease Salesman job might not be as kosher as you thought.

1. It’s On Craigslist

Credit: Calton/Wikimedia Commons

No doubt the Craiglist Fanboys Brigade is going to assault the comments section below and get irate with me for saying this one. But it’s true - if the job is on Craigslist, be extra careful.

Anybody can post anything on Craigslist cheaply (the fee for job listings vary depending on the location, but it is still dirt cheap). Proper companies with real, credible job offers are going to be on reputable jobs boards, such as Monster and Indeed. Blogging jobs are likely to be on Problogger. If it’s on Craigslist, then personally for me it’s a red flag, because they are advertising on the cheap. And if they are skimping on advertising costs, what else are they skimping out on? Salaries, maybe?

And ladies, be extra careful of the waitressing jobs. You might instead end up being interviewed for a job where you’ll be expected to take your clothes off. Unless that’s your thing. In which case, more power to you.

2. Make a Million Dollars! Look, Here’s My Adsense Balance!


I’m sure you’ve seen it online many times before. Someone offers you the chance to make an easy million dollars. But there’s a secret (shhh!!!), and they won’t give away that secret for free. To tell you how to make a million dollars, they want you to pony up US$99.99 to them first. Even though they have that million in the bank, they still need to pay the bills, so secrets are not free you know?

And to sweeten the deal, they have posted a screenshot of their Google Adsense account. Look at all those zeros! Sweetheart, give me a hundred bucks! Food for the kids? Nah, this is more important! But before you hand over your dough and consign the kids to eating cat food for the rest of the month, bear this little nugget in mind. The picture and screenshots are fake.

Sounds so obvious doesn’t it? Faking this stuff is so easy to do - all it takes is 5-10 minutes with Photoshop or GIMP. Or an online generator like this one.

3. We Have High-Paying Waitressing/Cleaning Jobs Overseas


This is another one for the ladies to be careful about, as sex trade traffickers normally use the ruse of well-paid overseas waitressing or cleaning jobs. Women then apply believing that they are going to be in a really good job only to have their passport taken away from them when they arrive. Then they are transported into a life of hell.

I’m not trying to be excessively gloomy and morbid here, but nevertheless it would be remiss of me not to mention it. I AM talking about job scams, and this is the biggest scam of all.

4. We Don’t Need to Interview You, You’re Hired!


If you apply for a job and you are instantly hired without even so much as an interview, then that is when you need to get suspicious.

It doesn’t even have to be a full proper interview. Even just a casual chat on Skype would be fine. But if they base their decision without even talking to you once, then you have to ask yourself - is there even a job there to begin with? And if so, does FlyByNight Industries have any intention of paying you at the end of the month?

5. Their Contact Email Address Is a Yahoo or Hotmail Address


Proper companies have professional domains. For example, Make Use Of is It is not, or Therefore a professional domain means professional email addresses at that domain.

If you get a job offer from, or (in case you haven’t worked it out, “remmacs” is “scammer” backwards), then it’s time to run for the hills. Credible companies do NOT email from free email accounts. If they do, they will either pay extremely little, or not pay at all. I should know, accepting that job offer from was the worst decision I ever made.

I mean, come on, how much is a domain these days? US$10 a year? Less, if you go to GoDaddy?

6. They’re Being Trashed on Google


This is the biggest red flag of all that you should not apply to join a company. Before sending in a job application, you should always Google the company first to see what people are saying about it. But as with everything in life, a sense of perspective is needed here. EVERY company and individual gets a little criticism sometimes - it’s all part of the game. Nobody is going to please every single person all of the time. Hell, I get people mad at me every time one of my articles comes out.

It’s unavoidable.

But if you see pages and pages of search results all saying the same negative stuff, then you have to conclude that there is a pattern forming there - and it isn’t good. Time to start applying at Walmart as a greeter.

7. Wait, Did I Really Apply to Be Donald Trump’s Toupee Groomer?


Quite often, I get emails telling me that I have been accepted for a job vacancy. Normally that would be great, except I didn’t actually apply for the job in the first place.

If you get the same emails, then the chances are this is just outright spam, getting you to click on a link so they can infect you with malware. Or getting you to reply to them, so they can con your personal details out of you to steal your identity and/or your money. If it is a Nigerian Prince offering that you become their personal banker to transport a “bountiful amount of untraceable gold and jewels in the sum of 10 BILLION DOLLARS,” then trust me, this is a job offer to delete.

Besides, that thing on The Donald‘s head doesn’t need combed. If you try, it’ll bite your hand off.

8. Well Payn Jobb Opattunitties! Big $$$$!


Lastly, one of the biggest things to set off your internal scam siren should be grammar mistakes in job adverts. Why should spelling mistakes bother you? Well because it speaks to the professionalism and standards of the business if they are prepared to let such sloppy marketing go out in public.

That sloppiness can then lead on to how they treat their staff.

Of course it goes without saying that the occasional grammar blooper is fine. We’ve all done it (I would get “Mississippi” wrong without Chrome spell-check!), but in the age of browser spell-checkers highlighting misspelt words, there is less of an excuse for professional companies to put out illiterate job adverts. I’m not being snobbish when I say this, it’s just a plain fact. Maybe you disagree?

It’s Not All qs Bad Aqs You Think

There are countless companies online who have a unimpeachable reputation (Make Use Of being one of them, I am proud to say). So it is entirely possible to get a well-paying online job with flexible hours, and other benefits such as working from home in your Superman pajamas. But it also pays to be extremely careful that you don’t accidentally fall victim to the predators out there. Hopefully this article has covered the basics you need to watch out for.

Top image credit: Don Hankins/Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

[Source: Make Use Of. Edited. Some images added.]