University advertises scam vacancy

Imants Latkovskis

The University of Glasgow Careers Service recently issued a warning for a vacancy listed in their databases which turned out to be a scam.

A work opportunity for a company called Lane Villers Realty was posted on the Careers Service database. The post was for an office assistant who would be responsible for standard office duties.

Promising a wage of £13 per hour, the vacancy required to contact a person named Chelsea Michener, who would later request of applicants to purchase certain items on her behalf as she was out of the country. A reimbursement in the form of a cheque was promised, as a beginning of a professional relationship.

However, no reimbursements were forthcoming, and applicants would be left jobless as well as losing the money used to cover the items.

Lesley McKay, the manager of the Business Relations team in the Careers Service, and Linda Murdoch, the deputy director, emphasised that their office takes the issue of scam vacancies very seriously. “We do everything we can to vet vacancies, but because of the large volume of posts added every day, some undesirable ones can sometimes get through,” Lesley McKay added.

When students started contacting the Careers Service about the suspicious nature of the employer’s request, their office immediately took down the vacancy, notified campus security and the police. A mass e-mail was also sent out to students and alumni to ensure there would be no further correspondence with the scammer.

Fourteen students got in touch with the Careers Service about the vacancy after suspecting it might not be legitimate; however, no students fell for the scam.

This is not the first scam targeting students and recent graduates of the University. In November 2011, a Glasgow based company A1 Outsource falsely advertised management training schemes, while actually getting graduates to do door-to-door sales. Hinting towards an average wage of £15,000-£20,000 per annum, the company actually paid based on commission only, leaving some full-time employees making £100 in a month.

Similarly, earlier this year students were warned about “money mule scams” – jobs promising easy money that required students to transfer large amounts of money to offshore bank accounts, leaving them a cut for commission. A form of money laundering, this left students vulnerable to being charged for criminal behaviour and having their bank accounts frozen.

The Careers Service website contains essential signs for spotting potential scam jobs. For example, if the employer asks for some kind of a money transfer or payment upfront, it is most likely a scam.

The Careers Service advise all students to research potential employers before an interview or any commitment.

If you are unsure about an employer or suspect you might be the victim of a scam, students are encouraged to get in touch with the University Careers Service or the SRC Advice Centre.