How to spot fake job adverts

While this guide focuses on fake job adverts used in cases of human trafficking for labour exploitation, they are also a modus operandi used by cyber scammers to steal money or a victim’s identity

What are they?

Fake job adverts are deceptive schemes where scammers post job listings to lure unsuspecting jobseekers into exploitative situations. They do this by posting attractive job listings from fake companies or by misrepresenting the working conditions. Once jobseekers arrive at the workplace, they find themselves in a completely different job or working under completely different conditions than those in the advert.

Who are the targets?

Fake jobs adverts tend to target anyone in a vulnerable economic situation looking for opportunities to improve their lives financially. Often the advertisements are for jobs abroad, further isolating the victims from possible support networks.


Ads are published on social media platforms, recruitment websites or other digital platforms with promises of high salaries, attractive work hours, a good work environment and other benefits.


Recruiters contact applicants via communication apps or closed chat groups, such as Telegram, WhatsApp, Viber and others. Often the perpetrators appear to be from a legitimate company.


Once job seekers arrive at the workplace, they discover that the job does not live up to its advertisement. Sometimes the recruiter also confiscates identity cards or passports, or withholds access to their finances, in order to make the victim feel trapped in the situation.

How can you protect yourself?

When searching for jobs, beware of advertisements that sound too good to be true – they usually are. Take the following preventative measures:

How to protect yourself

  • Do a background check of the company to ensure it is a legitimate entity and has no reports of violating labour regulations.
  • Do a background check on the alleged recruiter or manager of the company.
  • Critically examine the job advertisement’s details and conditions. Are they too good to be true? For instance, are the promises of the job and salary conditions realistic? Do they correspond to going rates in the market in question?
  • Look for obvious grammar and spelling mistakes in the job advert.

What to do if you or someone you know has become a victim?

If you have become a victim of labour exploitation or suspect that someone you know has become a victim, reach out to your national trafficking in human beings hotline or to the national police authority to report the situation.