HOUSTON – It’s been a rough few weeks for people who work in the tech industry. Many companies, big and small, have initiated some major layoffs.
“It came as an absolute surprise,” said Mira McDaniel who lives in Spring.
Houstonians are no exception to these cuts, including McDaniel’s.
“I had just joined a startup that I was just told was well set for the future and everything was going to be great. They put a random meeting on our calendar and my co-worker pinged me and said, ‘hey, are we all getting laid off today?’ I was like, ‘no way they would do that, we’re fine,’” explained McDaniel. “And it happened. They said we are unfortunately going to be laying everyone off. That was November 1. It was kind of like a ripple effect after they laid us off, you started seeing all the big name companies cutting costs, Amazon, Meta, and Stripe were the big ones, and of course, Twitter.”
She said she immediately jumped on her computer and reached out to her connections to try and find work. She would soon be closing on a home just in time for the holidays. She primarily searched on LinkedIn because the types of roles she was interested in were primarily listed on that social platform.
“I came across this remote senior talent recruiter role and applied for it,” said McDaniel.
She noticed the job had a starting salary of $240,000 and over 800 people have already applied.
“That is a lot of money. That is very high, like unheard of high for a senior tech recruiter,” said McDaniel.
But to her surprise, she landed a virtual interview, on camera.
“She seemed totally legitime. I asked her very specific questions about talent acquisition and she also asked me great questions,” said McDaniel.
After the call, she emailed the recruiter a thank you and then started to do some background searches on the company.
“It only had one employee listed, which was her and that was very fishy to me. There’s usually a page about their leadership team (but) there was nothing there,” noted McDaniel “I always referred back to LinkedIn because it’s supposed to be that safe haven of information. The website was a little funky, and the formatting was a little off, so I thought that was weird, plus the Twitter only had a couple of posts. At that point, I took a step back and I was like I really think this is a scam.”
She received an email that said she was being offered the job and they would need her address and social security number for a background check. She said she wasn’t alarmed by this because a background check is normal protocol when you start a new job. Luckily, Mira was not a victim of identity theft this time but she worries she was the lucky one.
“It’s kind of eye-opening that somebody could pull something like this and it seemed completely legitimate. That is probably my biggest fear right now because there are so many people looking for jobs and it’s the slowest time of year for jobs. They’re going to fall for it if they’re not aware of it.”
Mira tells us as a recruiter she talks to applicants on a daily basis for her job and has previously been questioned by others if her company was in fact real. She immediately contacted someone at LinkedIn and the VP of security did a review of the listing and had it removed. The company, The Earn App, is still listed on the platform.
Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Do a simple internet search and see what is out there about the company. Platforms like Techcrunch and other startup sites will report on businesses that are new or even established.
- Look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn and other social platforms. Does this person have a photo and how many posts do they have?
- Scan the website to see if there is any bad grammar or weird formatting that would question it’s authenticity.
- And you can always reach out to “known” employees to see if the company is in fact real.
Here are two links from the FBI about a similar employment scam targeting college students.
With many people looking to change jobs, the Better Business Bureau is also warning people to be on the lookout for scammers posing as potential employers. The BBB says this scam works by a person getting a LinkedIn message from a supposed recruiter. They encourage the potential victim to apply for a job. After uploading a resume, the victim is prompted to provide personal information ranging from their address to their social security number. Other times, the BBB says the scam may look like a potential victim responding to the recruiter’s message and being “hired for the job. After being hired, the victim is asked to pay upfront for training or other expenses. No matter the details, the job never materializes. The scammer takes the money or information and disappears. If the victim provided personal information, they may become victims of identity theft.
People can protect themselves from this scam by:
Setting their LinkedIn privacy settings. People can limit which LinkedIn users can send them messages or connection requests.
Don’t accept every request. Check out the user’s profile for completeness and correct grammar. Just because a user has several connections in common does not mean they are real. Scammers frequently create a large network to look more legitimate.
Ask to talk on the phone. If a recruiter contacts a user through email, ask to speak by phone. Scammers will try to dodge this with excuses, such as being out of the country.
Check out BBB Tips: Many job scams use similar techniques, see bbb.org/employmentscam for more advice.
Anyone who has been the victim of this or a similar scam should report it to the BBB Scam Tracker. Reports can help educate other consumers by raising awareness of scammers’ tactics