Seven out of 10 WhatsApp users hit by fake IT contractor recruitment agents

More than seven in ten WhatsApp users have been contacted by scammers posing as recruiters from agencies which IT contractors depend on for work. 

Seemingly targeted for their personal rather than financial data, 74% of people using the instant messaging app last week said they had received the unsolicited offers of work.

And the offers, like ‘WFH for £5,000 a week,’ were said in the LinkedIn poll to be presented as coming from tech jobs agencies, with Hays, Reed and Randstad each so far named by the victims.

'Don't fall for it'

But the work is non-existent, and all three agencies are being impersonated so “please do not fall for it,” warns James Tuckett, a director at staffing firm Mash Group.

Taking to LinkedIn to expose the ruse, Tuckett clarified: “Good recruiters will pick up the phone and speak to you if your CV/details are on job boards.

“And [then] you will be able to trace them through the contact number and/or email address.

'Pretending to be a recruitment company in Leeds'

But it’s not just on WhatsApp.

“I received a message in Telegram from someone pretending to be a recruitment company in Leeds,” wrote a rail and construction sector professional.

“The image in the message was a fairly bad ‘cut & paste’ of what the company had on their website, so I contacted the [genuine] company directly and they told me they had been made aware of it.

“I did try and play along with the scammers but they got wise [to me cottoning on]”.


However, fake agents seeking to harvest job-seekers’ information aren’t stopping at just the free and popular instant messaging apps.

“Job boards are currently being swamped by fake employment agencies who just copy other people's ads, then use that to collect your data and CV and then sell it on to other companies,” reflected a senior tech-lead candidate.

“I've been around the block a few times in the job market, having been a contractor for many years before my last job so I know about these scams and who the fake companies are…but many people who have recently been made unemployed, don't.”

The tech-lead, Myke Black, named three companies which he alleged are repeat posters of non-existent jobs -- and Google reviews of all three seem to agree.

'Don't just send off your CV blindly'

Fake agents don’t therefore just impersonate household, respected recruitment companies like Hays, they also create their own genuine-sounding agency names (sometimes using words like ‘Consultancy’ or ‘Associates’ to give the impression of authenticity).

“My advice would be, if you are not sure about the recruitment company and have not had contact with them before, don't just send off your CV in an online application blindly,” Black advises.

“Reach out to the recruiter on LinkedIn or email to make contact about the role and find out if it’s legit -- spammers never respond to emails or messages -- and only then part with your personal data.”

In addition to blocking fake agents on WhatsApp or other platforms where the contact can be refused, candidates are encouraged to report the incident to JobsAware and Action Fraud.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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