Scams targeting the recruitment industry are on the rise. To combat the impact of fake and dangerous job ads, one of the UK’s leading HR and recruitment specialists, Gi Group, is raising awareness to help job seekers spot the warning signs and avoid falling victim.

Recruitment scams involve criminals luring victims in by posing as consultants from either a recruitment agency or company to try and con candidates out of money or sharing personal information.

City of London Police say the number of people reporting these scams to Action Fraud increased more than eightfold in the past year, with the amount of money reported stolen jumping from £20,000 to nearly £1m[1].

The scammers often use a variety of different communication channels, such as email, text and WhatsApp, to impersonate agencies and extract information from job seekers, luring them in with attractive job offers such as remote working and high salaries.

Targets are particularly rife amongst students and new graduates who may be less savvy about the recruitment process.

As cases continue to rise, the UK government has set up a specific law enforcement body called JobsAware, to help tackle this type of fraud by providing free help and advice to UK workers who have suffered from job scams.

Sherrie Brown, Candidate Experience Executive from Gi Group, explained how they have witnessed this first-hand at Gi Group with scammers from Australia posing as a recruiter from the business, asking for $50 from candidates to approve the application.

Sherrie Brown, Gi Group

On why we might be witnessing a spike, Sherrie said: “As the UK has been hit hard with the cost of living crisis, a lot of people have become more inclined to switch jobs if the position offers a higher income, and scammers are aware of this. Paired with the move to virtual and remote working, with little human interaction, more so than ever job seekers are vulnerable.

“We are also seeing the rise of technologies such as AI and ChatGPT playing a major part in the upsurge as it is becoming easier to impersonate individuals, and increasingly harder to spot whether a job advert is fake or not.”

With experience placing one person in work every 90 seconds, and with over 1,500 clients from 85 UK locations in 2024, Gi Group is a well-known and trusted partner for job seekers and is looking to share its knowledge to prevent others falling victim.

Sherrie has outlined the key ‘warning signs’ of a potential job scam:

Direct, unsolicited contact

Scammers will often pose as recruiters, often for well-known companies or recruitment agencies, take real recruiters’ names and profile pictures from their website or social media accounts and approach people directly. They will invite them to virtual interviews alongside providing job details and benefits – at this point you should question the legitimacy of where this came from e.g., email/platform.

Asking for payment or personal details

The scammer will then offer you a job, but it’s at this point they’ll push for payment, stating they will reimburse you. They may also ask for personal information, such as bank account number to fill out ‘employment paperwork’. This is a key red flag, as recruitment services are always free to a candidate.

Reluctant to reveal the hiring process

The job is offered without a proper hiring process, and when you do ask, the scammer refuses to reveal more details, such as which company they represent or are hiring for, stating that it will be made clear after payment has been made.

Sherrie added: “In this digital world it can be incredibly confusing to differentiate what is real and what isn’t. As an experienced recruitment business, our advice would always be to use official channels and if you’re unsure, contact the business or agency directly using the contact details on their website. Do not click on any links sent within any communication if you’re unsure who the sender is, and if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is!”

Looking to the future of the recruitment landscape, Sherrie said: “It’s a real shame job seekers must now be so cautious; it really has cast a negative shadow over the recruitment industry. Unfortunately this type of fraud may always be present, so our best advice is to always go with a trusted recruitment agency for support.

“At Gi Group in particular, we pride ourselves on creating a safe, confidential, and supportive space for those looking for a new role, and plan to do all we can to maintain the human element of recruitment. Working as a collective in the recruitment industry, we hope we can stamp out this type of fraud by helping others spot the signs early on.”


Share The Story