March 4 2019

FTC Warns of Scam Headhunters Preying on People Seeking Jobs


Job seekers should be cautious when getting professional assistance in finding the right career to ensure they aren’t falling for a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) posted a general scam warning about the prevalence of fake headhunter services and firms.

“Online searching makes it easier to connect with companies offering job opportunities,” the warning reads. “But you can just as easily connect with scammers who seem to be offering legitimate jobs, including executive positions. But after taking your money, it turns out they offer nothing but empty promises.”

According to the warning, the FTC sued a group of businesses and their owner, charging them with deceptively taking thousands of dollars from job seekers who had hoped to get executive-level positions. Using fake emails, websites and corporate names, the businesses and their owner targeted people with executive experience, allegedly tricking job seekers into believing they were strong candidates for certain executive positions. Hopeful candidates paid $1,200 to $2,500 upfront for resume and recruiting services. After paying, says the FTC, many job seekers went on interviews but they were staged interviews, not real ones. And there weren’t any real jobs.

If you’re considering executive search firms (sometimes known as headhunters), or if one comes looking for you, remember these tips to avoid losing money:

- Research the firm. Search the name of the firm online with the words “complaint,” “scam,” or “reviews.” If there are lots of negative comments, do not work with that firm.

- Get recommendations on executive placement firms from people you know and trust inside your industry.

- Check out the email address. Though some legitimate individual recruiters use their personal accounts, it may be a safer bet if the email address is linked to an actual company. But run that company name by someone you know and trust.

- Many legitimate job placement firms get their money from the hiring company, not the applicant. But if you decide to hire your own headhunter, check out the firm before you pay.


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