Scammers are posing as real companies to steal from job applicants

A company should never ask for money or other devices when you apply for a job. There's a good possibility that they will ask you to send money or other devices.
After luring applicants from Indeed and Mashable, at least three job seekers were lured into this scam.

Through our reporting, we have found that the scammers are linked to an address located in Nigeria. They prey on those who apply for job listings or upload their resumes to job sites. This scam comes as U.S. companies ramp up hiring after a nearly two year pandemic which saw high unemployment rates. Some applicants are desperate to return to work and turn their noses to unusual hiring practices.

"But, for $45 an hr, fuckit, I'll take it, but it's too risky."

"My antennas were up. Things were giving me red flags...but, for $45 an hour. Fuck it, it's worth it," Michael Kunz, a 31 year-old filmmaker, told Mashable. He said that he fell for the scam because of the attractive rate and the possibility at a dream job.

The fake employer then asks the employee to buy equipment, such as iPads or phones, for their work. They promise that they will be reimbursed for the high costs. The fake employer then asks the employee to send the devices in to Queens, New York to be fitted with the necessary software and other hardware. Kunz stated that he was also promised a Sony camera and a laptop.

Kunz stated that the idea was to set up Kunz with this and then send him a new iPad and iPhone.

His devices weren't going to Queens IT reps. Instead, he was tricked to send them to a shipping company near JFK Airport. They were instructed to ship the gear to Nigeria.

Scammers go one step further by asking Kunz, new employees to pay an installation fee via Zelle. This payment network allows you to instantly send money to someone's checking accounts. The scammers will also ask for personal information such as Social Security numbers and bank account numbers. This is just like any job that offers direct deposit or a W-2 tax form. This could open the applicant up to identity theft.

This scam is unclear. Mashable spoke with applicants who claimed they submitted their resumes to Indeed or applied for the fake job.

Indeed, which removes millions of job postings each month, stated that it has a dedicated search quality team that uses a variety techniques to evaluate the validity and suitability of job listings.

Scammers pretending to be Mashable hiring managers sent applicants a fake job posting. Credit: Mashable

Job seekers receive emails from an email address that looks like the URL of the company. In this instance, the scammers sent applicants emails at [email protected] or [email protected]. According to records the website was registered earlier in the month and forwards to Mashable. Someone could be easily tricked into thinking that this domain was actually owned by Mashable.

A potential job candidate is contacted via email to learn more about a role. They are then asked to create an account on Wire, an encrypted chat app. All seems very plausible. It turns out that the selected applicant joins Wire and adds the HR manager as instructed by email.

After being tipped about the scam, i set up a fake Wire account and added Harry C. Longman, the HR manager. He messaged me shortly after I added Harry and said he would be conducting an online interview for my job.

Harry C. Longman did a complete interview with me. Credit: Screenshot: Wire

Harry asked me to introduce myself and informed Harry about the job as a video editor. He explained that I would need equipment, but that the company would pay the cost. I would need to buy a phone through either my carrier or their partnership with Verizon. Harry promised me that the phone would be reimbursed.

Later in the process, I was asked if I wanted to buy a new iPad Pro (799+) or iPhone 13 Pro Max (999+).

Conversation with the fake HR Manager. Credit: Screenshot: WIRE

Although it was all about chat, the interview was thorough. I was asked many questions, including why I would be a good fit for the company and what equipment I use to shoot videos.

There were a few other red flags I saw that might have been overlooked by someone who was excited about a job. Harry continued to spell Mashable "Marshable" while giving me bogus statistics such as, "We have a broad reach of more than 80% of Americans in our 20s every month."

After the interview is over, the HR manager informs applicants that they can expect a call or email. They are then connected with a fake "director of operations" and "head of brand and marketing." The new hire will eventually be connected to a "team lead", who will lure them into sending money and devices.

Folks, I am happy to announce that I have been offered the job.

Mashable offered me a job. Credit: Screenshot:Wire

Kunz reached out to Mashable in order to share his story. Kunz had applied for jobs recently like many others looking to settle down after a stressful gig-work life.

Kunz was hired after completing the interview and being offered the job. Kunz was then asked to buy an iPhone and iPad. An IT specialist would update the software so that Kunz could track his work hours in the field. As employees are now working remotely, more companies have added tracking software to their devices.

The scammers make it seem like applicants are paying for tracking software. Credit: Screenshot: Wire

If you can rationalize it OK, then if I'm going on video, that's a smart way to track hours. Kunz stated that it was one of those "no, I shouldn’t go forward" situations.

Scammers sent a fake job offer letter. Credit to mashable

Kunz claimed that he received a call from someone claiming to be at Mashable in addition to his Wire chats. This was likely to legitimize the fraud attempt. Although the fake rep used a real name, the person did not work for Mashable or Ziff Davis, which is where he was working. The scammers posed as other people who worked in the tech and media industries.

The scammers not only duped him into sending him the iPad and iPhone, but they also wasted a lot of Kunz's precious time distracting him so that he would forget what had happened. As his first task, they asked him to create a 30-minute video within 72 hours. He did.

"I thought this was a bit crazy, but I'm OK with it, I'm good at what my job entails. Kunz said that he could pull it off.

It gets worse. He was then asked to pay $500 for the software installation. Once again, he was promised that he would be reimbursed. Kunz was then alerted. He sent the money, but only "partially" to check where it was going. You need an email address or a phone number to send money via Zelle. He was connected to someone in the U.S. via his email address.

Kunz eventually sent the scammers an iPhone and iPad via Zelle. According to Zelle's support pages on scams, you cannot get your money back if you are tricked into sending someone money. However, Kunz stated that the company is currently processing his case.

Mashable was eventually able to locate the package Kunz had sent to Nigeria after a few calls and emails to JFK's shipping center.

"Your package has arrived! It's good that you called me to inform me that shipment was scheduled for tomorrow. TO NIGERIA! Mashable was informed by an employee of the shipping company via email. We linked the two and Kunz was informed by the shipping company that the package would be returned to Kunz. He claimed that he wasn't able to track the package because he was "in shock".

Nigeria is a long-standing victim of cyber crime. Scammers have earned respect in a country that is struggling with underemployment. Fake princes continue to scam Americans with emails that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Now, fake job postings are encouraging eager applicants to pay high-priced devices and cash.

Kunz jokingly said, "The Nigerian prince now is your Nigerian boss."

These scams can be avoided by being alert for red flags such as interviews over encrypted chats, being requested to ship devices to random subcontractors, and emails that don't match what is on company websites. Indeed advises potential employers to ask applicants for video or in-person interviews. It also warns against sending money. Users are encouraged to report any suspicious job listings to Indeed, and for victims of scams to contact the local police.

Employers pay their employees and not the other direction. It's a scam job if an employer asks you for money. Across the country, Americans are striking for shitty jobs.

You can see his portfolio if you are interested in hiring Michael Kunz.