Posted by Kristine Jacobson

From small businesses to large corporations, hiring is top-of-mind in the era of “The Great Resignation.” Virtual interviews for both in-office and remote workers are becoming the norm – which unfortunately opens opportunities for scammers to take advantage of desperate employers looking to hire in an incredibly competitive landscape.

The cost of hiring a scam remote worker: they fake it, they make it, YOU pay the price

As a marketing agency we greedily consume the latest news and trends, and this topic caught our attention: companies realizing the person they hired through a virtual hiring process turns out to be a fake.

We rely on the convenience and necessity of remote work just like everyone else. Ladders research shows 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022, and remote opportunities will continue to increase through 2023. From early 2020 until today, the geographic makeup of the Conveyance team went from 100% in our DC-metro office to 50% of our staff stretching coast-to-coast.

Great news for those who prefer the work-from-home environment – and unfortunately, for scammers aiming at easy targets.

It’s not just resume fraud

To be clear: we aren’t just talking about the 78% of applicants who lie on their resumes or have someone copy-edit their pre-hire correspondence. We’re talking about individuals who intentionally set out to deceive hiring managers for unearned gains.

The result can be costly in many ways. A standard mis-hire can be devastating for company morale, losing valuable time and productivity, and taking a hit financially. The cost of hiring a scammer can be worse.

What do they have to gain?

Again, we aren’t talking about people who are eager to get a foot in the door and lie about their credentials. These are bad agents who take advantage of lax security and hiring process loopholes for their own gain.

In many of the online anecdotes on this topic, companies share how candidates appeared well-versed and competent in their field, were a great culture match and passed through all pre-hire screenings with flying colors. Come to find out, the person who appeared on-camera for virtual interviews was NOT the person who logged in to work on their first day. Were they paid actors or partners in crime?

And the one question that always comes up – how did they think they were going to get away with it? We theorize they simply aim to fake it and make it just long enough to pull off their scam and walk away. Many of them do walk away, because companies are too bewildered, need to scramble to hire yet again, or are too ashamed to pursue the matter any further.

To prevent loss, you must think about what they could be after and have stopgaps in place. What do they have to gain from doing this? Money. Material goods. Valuable data. Insider Information. Trade secrets.

Prevention is key – it can happen to you

These scammers are brazen liars – and they are not stupid. They take the time to learn the part enough to pass through the hiring process. There are ample online courses or tutorials to learn the field’s jargon, understand the scope of what someone does in the role, and know the technology used in the day-to-day job responsibilities.

Having a consistent, comprehensive hiring process in place is critical, according to hiring expert and President of Topgrading, Chris Mursau. Rushed and inconsistent practices can lead to bad actors slipping through the cracks.

Pre-hire tips to prevent fraudulent hires:

  • Perform a government ID to facial recognition match at the beginning of interviews
  • Ask candidates not to wear earbuds during technical questioning to avoid third parties from feeding answers during interviews
  • Call references
  • Do credit checks if roles have anything to do with company finances
  • Perform specific skills tests for the role, then have them present them to your team
  • Embed unique phrases in communications to refer to later. “Our office celebrates an annual purple-people-eater day.” Ask the candidate what they thought about that line in a future communication to see if they recall the information. If they don’t, it’s a red flag that someone else was corresponding
  • Have a dedicated hiring team to follow through – someone who will remember the candidate’s voice, look and mannerisms upon hiring

Secure the hiring process

It’s important to have hiring managers, IT, HR, and legal teams secure the hiring process to prevent loss or security breaches upon hiring. This should be continuously evaluated and adapted to keep up with ever-evolving technology threats, according to Ray Steen, Chief Strategy Officer for MainSpring, Inc.

Financially: Sign-on bonuses are easy to take advantage of if there aren’t stipulations in place, such as needing to work so many hours before receiving or passing specific competencies before money is distributed.

Materials: Free equipment, such as computers, phones or other devices can be a lucrative re-sell for a scammer. Ensure clauses are included in hiring contracts that protect those assets – and consider installing tracking devices or software where legally allowable.

Trade Secrets and Personal Data: Have your IT and security teams evaluate the protection of any patent-work in progress or other valuable trade secrets that bad agents would benefit from selling. This includes securing cloud access, passwords, customer or employee data, policies and procedures, and confidential documents.

They faked it and they made it – now what?

It’s better to have plans in place before a crisis. Pull your team together and discuss what steps would need to be taken to prevent loss, recoup valuable information or technology, and prepare messaging to share with stakeholders should a breach occur. Consider partnering with experts in hiring or security to ensure your security posture, policies and procedures are adequate and updated.

It’s worth it to be prepared in case someone tries to fake it ‘til they make it as your new remote employee.

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Conveyance Marketing Group is a team of bright, innovative and talented veteran marketers dedicated to big ideas, fresh insights and measurable results. We pride ourselves on taking challenging marketing issues and turning them into opportunities for our clients, on pointing brands in the right direction, and on getting our customers noticed both online and off. From branding to websites to digital marketing, and public relations, we handle all your marketing communication needs!  | Brand Strategy | Inbound Marketing | Social Media | SEO | PR


Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson has more than 25 years of marketing and communications experience with notable corporate leaders as well as emerging market contenders. She offers expert marketing strategy with a touch of creative flair. Her extensive knowledge of strategic marketing, marketing plan execution, and branding illuminate the big picture without losing sight of the details.