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Although the vast majority of internships and job postings are legitimate, it is important for students to know the warning signs to watch for. Students should notify the Career Center if they have any concerns by calling (718 951 5696) or emailing Being notified about negative internship/job experiences allows us to assist students with handling the situation, and prevent other students from applying in the future.


The list below does not necessarily mean the position or company is not legitimate but it should cause you to do deeper research before proceeding.

  • The internship is unpaid but does not comply with DOL's Guidelines for Unpaid Internships.
  • There is a generic description of what the company does, and not what the intern/employee will do.
  • Limited details about the organization are available.
  • You receive an email from someone you do not know. It may even appear to come from a student's school address.  
  • The posting forwarded to you says to use your personal email to respond and not your school email.
  • They email you at your school email address but ask you to email them from a personal email to try to avoid the school's spam filters.
  • The employer uses a personal email account to communicate.  Be leery of those wanting to communicate on Google Hangouts, Skype, or through text. 
  • Difficult to contact or identify the person who posted the position.
  • The listing contains poor grammar and/or spelling.
  • The employer asks for your social security number or other personal information, before hiring you.
  • You are set to work in a home office or residence versus a business office setting - the internship/job can also be virtual where you work from home.
  • The organization has no established website.
  • Be cautious of startup organizations; some can be unorganized and not in compliance with DOL guidelines.
  • The organization posted an internship after mid-semester when it is too late to make arrangements for academic credit.
  • The organization uses street canvassers.
  • You did not apply for the position (this may happen but it is best to call the company to make sure it is a real person).
  • Contacts you via LinkedIn, or another social media outlet (While this can be legitimate, you should always try to call or email the company’s Human Resources department, to find out if they really have such a job opening and, if the name of a recruiter is given, ask if that person really works for them).
  • Employment agencies that charge a fee; some legitimate agencies do charge but it is best to do a lot of research before paying.
  • The employer makes a job offer over the phone or via email without an interview.  
  • The employer requests for an interview during non-business hours.
  • The opportunity sounds too good to be true. An example of this can be the organization offers a high hourly rate or salary.
  • The employer makes inappropriate comments or has unprofessional behavior during the interview or after.
  • Asks you to send money or to deposit money.
  • The employer asks illegal interview questions.
  • The employer uses an e-mail address or website that may look legitimate but differs slightly from the real organization's e-mail address and/or website (one letter off).  The phone number or address does not match the company.

Examples of emails that look like it may be legitimate but is a scam:

(sent to a BC staff member)

My name is Alexandra, i am an Alumni of Brooklyn College. I have an uncle Doctor Paul <last name> who is moving to the College  area, he needs someone to watch, bath and walk his dogs, he is offering $300 Weekly. if you know a student who might be interested in this position have them email him via <different email address>. to make sure he sees their respond, interested student should message him from their personal email address.

sent to a BC student from another BC student's email or appears to come from a BC student's email

I'm Denny <last name>. from Indeed. I am in urgent need of a Personal Assistant/Errands person (part-time) Pay is $500/week. Interested? Write to <different email address> from your personal email for more details about this job.


Types of Scams:

Never accept a check or any kind of funds from a company to purchase materials necessary for your position.  Or send money

The frequency, complexity, and variety of employment scams are on the rise. Below you will find examples of four common employment scams:

Payment Forward Scams

After you apply for a “position” or reply to an e-mail the bogus “employer” replies with instructions to complete a task. The task: you receive a check in the mail with instructions to deposit the check into your account, and send a percentage, via wire transfer, to another person. The employer promises that you will keep a percentage. This scam is sometimes referred to as a “money mule,” posted under the titles of “financial manager”, “payment processor”, or “transaction specialist”.

Do not accept the check. The check will bounce and you, the job seeker, will lose whatever money you sent to the “employer”.   

They will ask you to deposit a check, transfer some of the money to someone else or to purchase other items. But in reality, the money received is stolen, often the result of fraud on accounts, and is then laundered to overseas bank accounts. 

Application Fee or Training Scams

These scams charge you an “application fee” or ask you to pay for “mandatory training” in exchange for “guaranteed” employment. The cruise line, postal service industry and security officers have been used as pawns in this scam.

Phishing Scams

Unsolicited emails or texts from “employers” declaring that they are responding to your posted resume are typically examples of phishing scams. They will often state that your skills match the position that needs to be filled, but they need more information from you. The information they are seeking is often personal information, which can be used to steal your identity.

Mystery/Secret Shopper Scams

There are legitimate mystery shopping companies that hire college students and others to provide feedback to retailers and restaurants. Unfortunately, many mystery shopper postings are scams. This scam also occurs through unsolicited emails or via online job posting boards. Typically the “company” asks you to pay a fee to become an “employee” or “mystery shop”

If a job sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is…don’t pursue it without diligent research.

Legitimate employers will not:

Ask for your bank account details or your SSN prior to a job interview, job offer and/or job acceptance.  They will not ask you to send money or to deposit money.

Prior to a legitimate job acceptance, don’t:

  • Provide financial information
  • Provide a copy of your driver’s license
  • Provide a copy of your SS card
  • Provide a copy of your Student ID

What to do if you are caught by a Scam:

  • Assess how much of your personal information is potentially out there.
  • Get in touch with your bank or credit-card company and dispute any fraudulent activity immediately.
  • Notify the Magner Career Center.

What to do if you experience Discrimination/Sexual Misconduct on an Interview?

For further information on recognizing and protecting yourself from job posting scams view the following links:

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful job boards on the internet, but it doesn't mean potential scams aren't on there. 

Follow the below article by Robert Hellmann which details how to spot job search scams via LinkedIn. 

Job-opportunity scams have risen with the growing level of unemployment. Below I explain how to spot them by analyzing an actual scam message that hoodwinked some recipients. It turns out that the scam message was sent from a real recruiter's hacked LinkedIn account, which made this deception more believable (note: if you ever suspect your LinkedIn account has been hacked, get help).

Below I’ve shared excerpts from the scam message, followed by my analysis.

  • “Your background would be perfect for this role…” Really? Why? We don’t know, because they did not elaborate. This kind of generic "your background is great" compliment should immediately trigger skepticism. Legitimate recruiters will reference something very specific about either your background or about the job as it relates to your background.
  • “I’m a recruiter from WellKnownCompany…You can reach me at .” A legitimate recruiter will always use the company email address, not a personal email address, so this is an absolute giveaway – it's a scam.
  • WellKnownCompany is seeking for a Remote Administrative Assistant…” “is seeking for…” is a huge tip off. They couldn’t get the English right, or it’s a typo. Either way, very suspect.
  • “Send me your resume…” They wrote earlier in the message that the recipient's background is perfect for the role, so why do they need a resume? Something doesn’t add up. Look for these illogical or contradictory statements.  Also, when a legitimate employer or recruiter takes the initiative to establish a relationship and messages you for the first time, they ask for a conversation, not just for your resume.
  • “Upon review of your resume, we’ve decided that you’re perfect for this job! Congratulations, we’d like to make you an offer…” Not even an interview? That does not happen with a legitimate employer. This is truly a scam.
  • “As part of the application process, we need some background information from you, including your social security number, bank account…” No legitimate recruiter or employer would ever ask for this information in the application process. In fact, even after you’ve accepted an offer and have a start date, don’t provide your social security number or any financial information without being absolutely sure it’s a legitimate offer.
  • “Click on this link to begin the application process.” Hover over the link before clicking on it and you’ll be able to see the URL. Does it point to the real, established company’s website? If not, don’t click on the link. Even better, skip the link and try to find the posting via going to the website of the company they are supposedly representing, e.g. check out their “careers” page. Or call the company and tell them you’re checking to be sure the message you received was legitimate. Similarly, don’t open any attachments from strangers (and sometimes even friends) without verifying they are legitimate, as attachments can be a source of viruses.

Tips Provided by Robert Hellman:

Research the sender

Verify that the sender is legitimate if there's any doubt, especially when they are asking for personal information. You can start by looking them up on LinkedIn, keeping in mind that someone could be impersonating a LinkedIn member as in this case. Nearly everyone recruiting these days has a substantial LinkedIn presence. Do they have a profile? If not don't respond. If so, do they show a professional photo and a professional-looking work history with at least 500 connections?

Go beyond just checking out their profile. If it's a smaller organization, are they shown on the website? Try to message them on LinkedIn (the scammer who hacks into a LinkedIn account usually won't field LinkedIn messages as it would tip off the real owner) and at their organizational email address. Call the company switchboard and ask for them. Make sure an offer came from an employee using a real company email address. Ask for references from them before submitting any paperwork required post-acceptance.

Avoid Blind Ads

A blind ad is a posting for a job opportunity where the company isn’t named. These ads can make the opportunity sound very tempting, especially in a difficult job market. The problem is that these jobs usually don’t exist. Most of the time, you’ll hear the recruiter say that the job’s been filled but they’ll keep you on file for future opportunities; then they’ll try and sell you on something you really don’t want. So now you’ve wasted your time. At worst (and all too often), you’ll run into one of these scenarios:

  • They will ask you who you’ve been interviewing with. Don’t tell them! This is a sure sign to end the conversation, as you’ve reached an unethical firm. They only ask you this to learn for themselves who has openings so they can submit their other candidates (that is. not you, since you’re already interviewing) for the job. A good search firm will never ask you this question; they might ask you what types of jobs you’ve been interviewing for, but never specifically where.
  • You’ll be getting involved in a scam similar to the one just described.
  • The ad has been posted by your current employer – now they know you’re looking!

The solution: stick with job postings where the company is listed so you can research them. And even better, go beyond job postings, build and leverage your network, and take the active approach to your job search.

One last thought

Very occasionally I’ll have a close call with a scam message, and it’s always because I’m distracted, trying to multitask, and clicking on things without my normal caution. Some of these scam emails can look authentic at first glance. So be careful out there

Please note: The Magner Career Center has no affiliation with these employers and can make no representation or guarantees concerning positions listed. While the vast majority of positions are legitimate, we have seen an increase in the number of scam employers who are using job posting sites to scam students. While the center does vet the employer and postings, it is students' responsibility to do additional research before they apply or interview for a position, even if the posting is on HireBC. Scam employers are becoming more sophisticated in evading detection during the vetting process by masquerading as legitimate companies.

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