Spotting Employment Scams

Phishing emails from scammers posing as employers targeting job seekers have become commonplace.

Outlined below are common red flags with examples. Do not hesitate to contact the Center for Career Development and the Information Security Office PhishBowl if you suspect a scam.

Nonstandard grammar, capitalization and spelling

These mistakes may be made intentionally. Someone who catches the obvious errors would be less likely to reply and subsequently fall for the scam.

We simply present oppportunity and you can chose whether or not to partake in the work.


Company wish to notify all Students of princeton and of the ivy-LEAGUE 

to applies to Internship

Delivery instructions have been sent to your address on file with the USPS tracking number 9400xxxx. ups service will deliver to your address today or tomorrow. 

Email address or other information does not match the organization’s website

Messages may appear to be from legitimate organizations, but a few moments of investigation can yield important details alerting you to the scam:

  • A message purported to be from Professor John Doe is sent from jonathan.frazierff[at] rather than john.doe[at] 
  • The description “We offer a range of services for High Net Worth Individuals” in the email, but the organization’s website is clearly not tailored to that clientele.

Organization is unidentifiable

If you are unable to find a webpage, LinkedIn profile, or other robust description of the organization, it may not be legitimate. Note that some scammers will have names that sound or look very similar to established organizations:

  • Appple
  • Airebnb
  • Mirosoft Systems
  • Proctor and Gambel

Requests for personal identification information

The only information a prospective employer would need is your name, email and phone number. After you are hired, you will be asked to provide more information to set up things like reference checks, payroll, and tax withholding. Legitimate employers will only collect this information through formal, secure web portals or physically in person on your first day of work.

Protect Your Information!

Do NOT give anyone your home address, date of birth or social security number over the phone or through email.

Instructions to receive merchandise, buy money orders/gift cards, deposit checks

Legitimate employers will not require you to purchase your own equipment for remote work and await reimbursement, pick up gift cards or deposit a check to make purchases on behalf of the organization.

Your first task is to purchase an Acer travelMate P648-M 14" Laptop and Brother MFC-L6700DW Laser Monochrome Printer. You will use these in your job. Fill the form and send to me. You will receive repayment for supplies if after 30 days you are thought to perform satisfactory service.

Go to Target or Walmart and purchase a $250 Visa Prepaid Card (purchase a physical card). To eliminate vagueness with my research team and given my experience with students who abandon their assigned task for no tangible reason in the middle of an ongoing research, I decided that my hands-on research team members will show some form of commitment by purchasing the card themselves. Reimbursement will be included in your first week paycheck.

I have sent you a check in the amount of $1,995. kindly put it into your account either through an ATM machine or go to your bank and make the deposit, then withdraw the money so you have cash for your purchases. Get back to me for further instructions and remember the nature of our job is to give to the orphanage.

Proposed salary is misaligned with role

Understanding average salaries is an important skill to avoid scammers. An offer of $80,000 a year for 10 hours per week doing data entry may sound enticing, but it warrants further investigation.

Use resources like and to compare your offer to industry averages.

Job offer was unsolicited

It is not uncommon for recruiters to reach out to prospective candidates, but pay careful attention to their messaging. 

Legitimate message

Based on your LinkedIn profile, we think you may be a good match for opportunities at our organization. We encourage you to review the descriptions online and submit an application if interested.

Questionable message

Hi! I read your profile and like what I see. Send me your resume and I can let you know what opportunities may be a good match for you.

Likely scam

Congratulations! You are hereby offered an employment opportunity at our organization. Please send me your resume to add to your human resources file.