What is a recruitment scam and how do you spot one?

The rapid increase in fraudulent recruitment scams is posing a serious threat to the recruitment industry, recruitment experts have cautioned.

The warning comes in the wake of a new campaign, launched by the Department for Work and Pensions, calling on recruiters to do more to help stamp out job scams. These include cases where a job hunter has been asked to part with money upfront for security checks and then receives no further communication about the role, or when premium rate numbers are used to rack up large bills.

“It’s unacceptable that jobseekers, typically ordinary people on low income, are being targeted by fraudsters,” said employment minister Damian Hinds. “Looking for work can be tough enough and even the smallest setback can derail the most promising careers.”

Research carried out by CV-Library, and cited by the Department for Work and Pensions, found that one in 10 jobseekers has been the victim of such a scam. Of those who had been targeted, nearly half (47 per cent) had been left out of pocket.

Meanwhile, a study by non-profit organisation SAFERjobs revealed that there had been a 300 per cent increase in recruitment-related fraud and misconduct over the last two years.

“Recruitment fraud is varied and affects people in different ways,” said Keith Rosser, chairman of SAFERjobs. “It can be a fake job offer advising that the individual needs to pay for security checks, online training, visas or insurance, or a work-from-home scam conning people into money laundering.”

Earlier this month, it was reported that coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons had fallen foul of scammers who posted adverts for roles in its new Glasgow store that paid less than the minimum wage.

Clare Flower, head of compliance at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, warned that criminal behaviour in the employment services sector is a “serious concern”, adding: “These scams mean both jobseekers and recruiters are at risk of losing money to criminals who pose as legitimate businesses and jobs boards.”

On the government’s announcement, Flower said: “It’s important that the SAFERjobs initiative is becoming more well-known and that more people are coming forward to report criminal activity. We are proud to be partners with SAFERjobs, working with government to drive out the fraudsters who seek to exploit our industry.”

Oliver Watson, executive board director for the UK and North America at recruitment company Michael Page, said that, as a “big player” in the industry, his company had a duty to show its support on the issue.

“I recognise the importance of the SAFERjobs campaign and agree we should sign up to demonstrate support to facilitate an improved code of conduct,” Watson said. “We would be very happy to take action and support safer jobs.”

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