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How to Avoid Fake Recruiting Scams

by on May 30, 2019
in Tips & How-Tos, Computers and Software, Computer Safety & Support, Home Safety & Security, Privacy :: 15 comments

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You receive a personalized email from a recruiter claiming to be filling a senior level executive position and you could be the perfect candidate – too good to be true? It probably is. There are a variety of fake job and recruiting scams going around that offer no opportunities except to separate interested candidates from their cash.

How the job recruiting scam works

There are multiple flavors of the scam, but the general process is the same. You get a personalized email from a “recruiter” filling a senior level spot. The email will suggest that they got your name through a referral and that you have just the credentials they’re looking for (even though they haven’t interviewed you or gotten any information from you yet). In some cases, the scam may originate on legitimate job sites like Indeed.com. Here is an example of an email I received in November, 2018 (note that it is nearly identical to emails others received with a different recruiter and company name):

Hello Josh,

I hope this message finds you well. I am reaching out to see if you would be interested in exploring new opportunities. I am senior executive recruiter at ProRecruiting Solutions Inc.  and our client has retained us to fill various senior level positions in one of their recent acquisitions. I was referred to you by an outside talent sourcing firm and based on your previous experience I think you are a very credible candidate.

If you are interested in learning more, please reply back to this email with an updated copy of your resume and I will connect you with the recruiter leading this project and schedule an introductory call.

P.S: We are a retained search firm and get paid by the employer. You will not be asked to share any confidential information or pay any fees.

Best Regards,

David Miller
Senior Executive Recruiter
ProRecruiting Solutions Inc.
http://www.prorecruitingsolutions.com
1450 Broadway 7th floor,
New York, NY 10018, USA

If you research the company, you may find a well-constructed website listing their credentials, recruiting team, etc. But don’t be fooled. Anyone can set up a fake website. The ProRecruiting Solutions website claims the company has been in business since 2007, yet the site only went live in August, 2018, a couple of months before I received the email (both the site and phone number are no longer active, but you can see an archived version here). To help support the myth, should you choose to research the company further, they even put out a press release touting their growth (also in August).

Some recruiting scams will go so far as to create fake LinkedIn profiles of their executives, which can be spotted because they have few connections (real recruiters generally have 500+) or endorsements. In the case of ProRecruiting Solutions, I could find no professional information about the supposed principals, which is a big red flag for a recruiter.

The email also has suspicious indications, which you can find if you’re more technically inclined. While the From address is david@prorecruitingsolutions.com, the email was sent via Sendy.co, a newsletter app that “makes it possible for you to send authenticated bulk emails at an insanely low price”. Unlike many other newsletter services, Sendy is self-hosted, so a scammer would not need to provide credentials for an account with a hosted service, like ConstantContact or Mailchimp, who would also be quick to kick anyone off the service they suspected of sending spam emails.

Version 1 - the resume review scam

Once you respond back to the email with your interest, the scam will go one of two ways. In one version, the recruiter will claim there is a “problem” with your resume and ask you to upload it to a purported resume review site.  These sites charge a fee of around $10 to review your resume, at which point they will tell you why your resume needs to be redesigned to work with company applicant tracking systems and show off your skills, which they will be happy to do for an extra $150 and up. If you go for the resume service (or choose to opt out), the recruiter will then sadly inform you that the job you were supposedly in line for has fallen through.

Version 2 - the pay for interview scam

The second version of the job scam, perpetrated by one of the largest recruiting scam operators, has cost consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. In a complaint filed by the FTC, after the job candidate responded to a fake recruiting email sent by the defendants (who were operating under a variety of aliases, including Worldwide Executive Job Search Solutions LLC, WWEJSS, Seven Figure Careers, 7FigRecruiters, 7FC, Finnburg Switzer, ResumeterPro, Creating Job Opportunity, Confidential Jobs Only, CJOnly, and CJO Private Equity, PrivateEquityHeadhunters.com LLC, PE Headhunters, Private Equity Headhunters, and PEHHS.COM LLC, all owned and operated by Craig Chrest), they were included on an email string that had the name of the hiring company and the hiring partner’s name and email. Candidates who researched the company (usually a supposed VC or private equity firm called Agile Capital, Rock Hill Capital, or Sienna Ventures) found a website (also fake) confirming the information.

And then scammers set the hook. According to the FTC, “…to move forward with job placement services or to land an interview, the defendants required consumers to sign a contract and pay an advance recruiting fee of between $1,200 and $2,500. Consumers then got a purported job interview by phone with the hiring partner of the company – often identified as Agile Capital, Rock Hill Capital, or Sienna Ventures.”

As with the resume scam, once the interview was done, the job disappeared due to a “change in the company’s business plans or hiring needs.” And if you considered complaining about this treatment to anyone, the contract you signed contained non-disclosure language that threatened a penalty of 10x the recruiting fee (up to $25,000, in this case) if you discussed what occurred.

Thankfully, these guys have finally been shut down by the FTC, but others may be operating using the same tactics.

Version 3 - the advance check payment scam

This scam seems to be originating out of job boards, such as Indeed.com. After you apply for a position on the site (often one that offers a suspiciously high salary and benefits), you get an email congratulating you on being hired for all the details on your fabulous new job. They even arrange to send you a large check for your first month of work, which you happily deposit into your bank account. The only catch is that they ask you to send them money orders (or even iTunes gift cards!) so that they can purchase uniforms or other equipment that you need for your job. Or, the check includes money for the clients you'll be working with, so they ask you to wire funds to the accounts for those client. Shortly thereafter, you get a notice from your bank that the check you deposited is fraudulent – there is no money, your account gets frozen, you owe bounced check fees and whatever money you sent to the company or "clients" is gone forever.

How to avoid falling for a job recruiting scam

I spoke with Don Zinn, Vice President, Executive Search at boutique recruiting firm StevenDouglas, to get his take on what is legitimate for recruiters to ask of candidates and how you can recognize when you may be getting scammed. And, together, we developed these tips for recognizing when a job pitch may not be on the up-and-up.

  1. Recruiters should never be asking for money. Period. Paying a referral fee is not a legitimate practice at all – the client always pays the fee.
  2. No one is going to tell you you’re perfect for a job or put you in touch with a company without interviewing you first. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Ask the recruiter “What do they know about the client? What do they know about the opportunity? What is the time frame for hiring?” If they can’t give you clear answers, something isn’t right.
  4. Recruiters should never ask you to sign a contract or non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before an interview. And if they ask you for your social security number or banking account information, run the other way.
  5. Research the recruiters. Do you have connections in common on LinkedIn? Do they have a detailed professional profile other than on their own site? If you Google them, are you finding complaints on scam warning sites?

Zinn says that even if the recruiter is legitimate, “There is no barrier to entry to be a recruiter. You should be picky and choosy about who you work with. You don’t want people who are going to take your resume and send it to 300 people – especially if you are working. Tell the recruiter before they send your resume to anyone, you want to know who they are sending it to.”

And I’ll just leave you with Zinn’s advice above, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Author's Note 8/14/19: I just received an email with identical text as in the article above, yet from a different name and recruiting company (see below). If you go to the TQ Recruitment website About page, the pictures of the supposed team are identical to the photos of the team on another recruiting site, FS Recruiting, but with completely different names.

FS Recruiting TB Recruiting team

Also, the contact phone number for TQ Recruitment 877-373-2279 (not in service) is the same as that listed for a now de-active website for a TB Recruiting. Complaints about TB Recruiting go back to at least 2017.

If you receive a similar recruiting email, please post in comments below to help people identify the company and recruiter names being used in these scams.

Hello Josh,

I hope this message finds you well. I am reaching out to see if you would be interested in exploring new opportunities. I am Senior Executive Recruiter of TQ Recruitment Inc. and our client has retained us to fill various C-level positions in one of their recent acquisitions. I was referred to you by an outside talent sourcing firm and based on your previous experience I think you are a very credible candidate. 

If you are interested in learning more, please reply back to this email with an updated copy of your resume and I will connect you with the recruiter leading this project and schedule an introductory call.

P.S: We are a retained search firm and get paid by the employer. You will not be asked to share any confidential information or pay any fees

Best Regards,

Greg Berry
Senior Executive Recruiter

TQ Recruitment Inc.
www.tqrecruitment.com
54 W 21st St Suite- 260 - 4th Floor
New York, NY 10010

[Image credit: job interview via BigStockPhoto]



Discussion loading

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TQ

From J Kimble on August 22, 2019 :: 11:10 am

rec’d a Greg Berry email today.

Reply

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TQ Recruiting

From Patrick Fleming on August 22, 2019 :: 8:34 pm

Received the exact mail above from Gary Hill and Greg Berry. It’s unfortunate these guys are doing this.

Reply

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Here You Go - The Scam Continues

From Keith L on August 22, 2019 :: 3:37 pm

Hello Keith,
I hope this message finds you well. I am reaching out to see if you would be interested in exploring new opportunities. I am Senior Executive Recruiter of TQ Recruitment Inc. and our client has retained us to fill various C-level positions in one of their recent acquisitions. I was referred to you by an outside talent sourcing firm and based on your previous experience I think you are a very credible candidate.
If you are interested in learning more, please reply back to this email with an updated copy of your resume and I will connect you with the recruiter leading this project and schedule an introductory call.
P.S: We are a retained search firm and get paid by the employer. You will not be asked to share any confidential information or pay any fees
Best Regards,
Greg Berry
Senior Executive Recruiter
TQ Recruitment Inc.
http://www.tqrecruitment.com

54 W 21st St Suite- 260 - 4th Floor
New York, NY 10010

Reply

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Yep

From Josh Kirschner on August 23, 2019 :: 10:26 am

So many credible candidates out there!

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Greg and Gary are scammers

From Kelly T on August 30, 2019 :: 4:29 pm

here’s the last email sent:

Hello Kelly,

We just got off the phone meeting with the client. Unfortunately, the deal fell apart due to some conflict of interest. This is a surprise for us as we were under the impression that deal was already completed and were expecting to get our retainer agreement signed today. There is another investor who is interested and we have already sent them an intro email, if they complete the acquisition we will try our best to get back on the project.
I really appreciate your time and interest and I am sorry about how this turned out and I hope you understand, this has nothing to do with your candidacy. This is just how these things work sometimes.


I will keep your contact information saved and will contact you if something similar comes up in the future.

Best Regards,

Gary Hill
Senior Executive Recruiter

TQ Recruitment Inc.
http://www.tqrecruitment.com

54 W 21st St Suite- 260 - 4th Floor
New York, NY 10010

Reply

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What did you send them?

From Josh Kirschner on September 03, 2019 :: 12:22 pm

Hi Kelly,

What interaction did you have with them prior to that email? Did you send them a resume or pay for any services?

Thanks,
Josh

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Fell For It

From Ken on September 03, 2019 :: 4:07 pm

They are still out there and nailed me with the same scam from TQ Recruiters.  Cost me $100 to get my resume “fixed”.
Glad I found this site.  Don’t let it happen to you.

Reply

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Scammed

From Kevin on September 14, 2019 :: 1:15 am

I got scammed by Gary Hill at TQ - paid 10.00 for resume review and 100.00 to “fix” it for applicant tracking system - sickening.

Reply

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They changed the name but not the face

From Dana Partridge on September 18, 2019 :: 10:22 am

Now it’s FSrecruiting - but check out the photo of the “recruiter” - he’s now named Jeff Walker…

https://www.fsrecruitinginc.com/about.php

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FS Recruiting

From Dana Partridge on September 18, 2019 :: 10:23 am

Hello,

I hope this message finds you well. My name is Jeff Walker and I am a Sr. Recruiting Specialist in FS Recruiting Inc., a reputable Global Recruitment Firm. I am reaching out to see if you would be interested in exploring new opportunities.

One of our clients has retained us to fill various senior level positions in one of their recent acquisitions. I was referred to you by an outside talent sourcing firm and based on your previous experience I think you are a very credible candidate.

If you are interested and want to learn more, please reply to this email with a copy of your resume as soon as possible. I will forward it, along with a brief introduction to the client and will contact you back to complete the NDA and get started.

P.S: We are a retained search firm and get paid by the employer. You will not be asked to share any confidential information or pay any fees.

Company Size: $2.5B

Best Regards,
Jeff Walker

Senior Executive Recruiter

+1 (917) 636-4976

FS Recruiting Inc.

https://fsrecruitinginc.com

80 Maiden Lane, 14th Floor - Suite 1404 Financial District

New York, NY 10038

logo_fsrecruitinginc

Reply

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Thank you for the update

From Josh Kirschner on September 18, 2019 :: 10:29 am

Posting the various names and sites these guys are operating under will hopefully get people to this article before they put out any money.

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Same scams from CCG Recruiting

From Michael Christie on September 25, 2019 :: 4:47 pm

Heads up that there is now a “recruiting firm” called CCG recruiting who is doing the exact same thing.  Received the interest email, followed up with issues around my resume.  Be on the lookout for them.

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Same ...

From Malcolm M Bordelon on September 25, 2019 :: 8:12 pm

Same exact email as provided above - word for word…. except this company:
Keith Wilson
Senior Executive Recruiter
CCG Recruiting Inc.
http://www.ccgrecruiting.com
153 W 27th St Suite 502 - 4th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Then followed up by “his associate”:
Emma Stone
Senior Executive Recruiter
CCG Recruiting Inc.
http://www.ccgrecruiting.com
153 W 27th St Suite 502 - 4th Floor
New York, NY 1000

Reply

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Thanks for the additional info

From Josh Kirschner on September 26, 2019 :: 10:14 am

Sharing the updated info on the scam is helpful so others won’t get taken in.

One thing I’ve noticed is that while these guys always use New York City addresses, I suspect they are not based here. For example, suite numbers almost always correspond to floor numbers. So Suite 502 would be on the 5th floor, not the 4th floor. That could just be carelessness, but in the example provided by Dana above for FS Recruiting, they include “Financial District” in the address. That address on Maiden Lane is in the Financial District, but I’ve never seen anyone use that reference in an address that way - it’s just not how NYers would do it.

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Same Scam - SE Headhunters

From Bob on October 11, 2019 :: 11:50 am

Got the same email/scam from SEHeadhunters.com. One of their mistakes is that they left “TQ” in the bio copy for one of the “team members”. Plus the domain was only registered 2 weeks ago and they’re not on LinkedIn.

Reply

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