I got two job offers out of the blue from companies I’ve never been in contact with

A reader writes:

A few days ago, I got a job offer via email out of nowhere for a personal assistant job from someone claiming to be a realtor. He told me it was a home-based job and that I could be in any location to be able to work for him. He seemed enthusiastic.

A second home-based job offer came in yesterday from a payroll company asking me to be a payroll specialist of some kind.

I certainly didn’t apply for the two jobs and I have no idea how they found me. It was kind of like I opened my inbox with two job offers waiting for me. I asked them in an email but they did not clear me on the matter.

While grateful for the two offers, both of them kind of sprang out at me, both via email without any prior conversation, making me somewhat skeptical. It’s just right now I really need the money but I can feel my suspicions taking over. Should I accept them? What should I specifically be careful about?

Yeah, I’d suspect scams. Companies don’t typically reach out to random strangers and often them jobs. Even if they found your resume online or saw your LinkedIn profile and thought you’d be a strong potential candidate, typically there’s an interview process — people don’t just reach out cold, with no prior contact, and make job offers. (Exception: Unless you have an incredible reputation and they reference that in their message, but that’s fairly unusual, and even then they’d still generally want to interview you first. And it’s not generally realty or payroll specialist jobs where that happens.)

You can certainly write back and ask for more information — no harm is going to come of that — but I’d stay alert for all the usual signs of scams. For instance, if they want your social security number or other personal information, if they want you to pay for a credit check or background report, or if they want money or personal information for any reason, those are all signs to cease contact.

But I’d be shocked if these weren’t scams.

{ 64 comments… read them below }

  1. FormerBankTeller*

    Yeah, I’d be super suspicious—do not give out any personal info. In a previous job as a bank teller, it wasn’t uncommon to come across fraudulent checks that our customers had received from fake job offers online or via email. It’s always bad news if the person/company paying you asks you to wire them money back because they “overpaid” you!

  2. JoAnna*

    Yes, it’s a scam. See here for another example of one. I get these occasionally (directed to my personal e-mail address, one that I never use for job searching) and move them straight into my spam folder.

    You can certainly write back and ask for more information — no harm is going to come of that

    Well, replying will tell the scammer that your e-mail address is active and checked frequently, which may get your e-mail put on a list of “known active e-mails” and sold to other spammers. But it’s not a huge concern if your e-mail client has good spam detection and redirects most spam into a separate folder, where you never have to see it.

    Or, if you want to have some fun and don’t mind corresponding with the scammer a bit, you can engage in some scambaiting. :)

    1. Nikki T*

      I get these on my WORK account. They stopped and started up again..One sentence, no company listed. Such a scam.

  3. Anonymous*

    I would also be extremely cautious about giving out any information. I would not be surprised to hear that as soon as you wrote back with any questioning information they just sort of stopped.

    I’m also going to say that the fact that they are both home based raises a flag. (Not that all home based businesses do or all jobs you can do from home should, but these specifically do.)

    I would not give out any information, I would ask how they heard about you, and say that you’d like an opportunity to interview them.

    I’d also google some quotes from the emails and the email addresses + the word “scam” and see what you get.

  4. Annie The Mouse*

    Almost certainly a scam. In fact, since you read the email messages, it might not be a bad idea to scan your computer for viruses and malware.

  5. LinkedIn scams?*

    I’ve gotten similar questions when job searching…even on LinkedIn. Recruiters reach out to me and I send them my info but never hear back…they’ll typically apply for companies that would likely use a staffing agency. I’ve always looked online at the company’s website to see if the job was actually posted and if it was then I asked more questions before applying. I’ve almost always googled the company name and scam.

  6. MrSparkles*

    I’ve received a few of those as of late and, yes, it’s more certainly a scamerific opportunity.

    Proceed with caution.

  7. Sascha*

    Reminds me of those signs posted on the side of the road that say “Work from home make $6k/month $$$$$ call for details.”

    1. Felicia*

      I think this is the Internet equivalent to those signs. Legit jobs don’t appear out of the blue, and the fact that they’re work from home and few details makes them even more suspicious sounding

  8. Tony in HR*

    I find this is more common for selling insurance and other products. It’s very possible it’s a scam. It’s possible it’s not, but it’s definitely this person blasting everyone they can find on Careerbuilder, Monster, LinkedIn, hoping someone sticks.

    Scam or not, not worth your time.

    1. MLHD*

      It can be a few things…getting you to send personal information like your SS# for identity theft; or the “job” will involve you cashing (fake) money orders and sending the money back to the scammer Western Union. They may also ask you to pay for a background check/credit report and send you a link to enter your payment info (again, identity theft). Etc. etc.

      1. Allison (not AAM)*

        The last bulleted item, “Unknowing involvement in criminal activity” is likely what I posted below…

    2. Tony in HR*

      My guess is that it’d be either identity theft or “Okay, your first paycheck is going to be $700, but we’ll write the check for $1700. Just cash it and mail us the remainder.”

      Thankfully, most bank tellers are trained to recognize the latter and save the person from the pain/embarrassment.

    3. blue dog*

      You just need to take this training course for $500. Or get this certification for $250. Or pass this screening for $100.

      Anytime you have to pay anyone to get a job, run.

    4. nyxalinth*

      One I used to see a lot is sometimes they’d contact me saying they found my resume on Monster, etc. and insist on me signing up for a credit report before letting me interview. the other version was sending in my resume to an ad that looked legit, then getting an email back about the same credit report scam.

      Also, anyone remember those “Sign up for 8 zillion offers and get a free laptop/designer handbag/cellphone”? A few years after the economy tanked, I started seeing the same deal with job ads and supposed job message boards. How scummy can you get?

    1. HAnon*

      When you’re new to the job search/in a desperate place and trying to find a new job, it’s easy to want to see everything as a potential opportunity to better your situation. Besides, people who haven’t encountered a lot of deception to be experienced enough to recognize when something’s a scam. OP’s not unintelligent for wondering, she just hasn’t encountered this before. I learned about this the hard way when I was laid off and desperate to find a job a year and a half ago…ran into all sort of opportunities that looked and seemed legitimate on the surface. Scammers are smart, too — almost hooked me.

      1. HAnon*

        “people who haven’t encountered a lot of deception to be experienced enough to recognize when something’s a scam” should be “people who haven’t encountered a lot of deception aren’t yet experienced enough to recognize when something’s a scam”

        …grammar :)

    2. Anon for once*

      I had never heard of apartment rental scams until I had to try to find an apartment on Craigslist.

      1. nyxalinth*

        I had one of those two years ago. Something smelled fishy, since it was for an apartment in a trendy area of Denver for only 500.00 a month. Out of curiosity, I emailed them and sure enough, it was that scam. I reported them to Craigslist immediately.

  9. Corby Ziesman*

    I got a job offer recently from a Nigerian prince via email to be a royal accountant. I was suspicious at first because I never applied for the job and have no background in accounting. I sent him my resume and my bank account details, and he said I was a top contender for the position, so I was pretty optimistic and quit my current job already. (Before I got the offer in writing, yes I know that could potentially be a mistake here.) I haven’t heard back for over a week now. What does this mean? Did someone else get the job? Should I follow-up via email or will that just look too desperate?

    1. Felicia*

      Did he also ask you to send money to complete your necessary background test? Were genital enlargements involved in any way?
      – not from a Nigerian Prince, but I did get one of these that asked for a fee so they could complete a background check. No company name or job description

      1. MrSparkles*

        I think it may be wise to book a plane to Abuja or Lagos to speak to the Prince face to face. You know, to show just how serious you are to get this job.
        I mean, that’s just common sense, no? :)

        1. NutellaNutterson*

          Bring a cake, a plant, and a framed picture of you, and you’re sure to snag the gig!

    2. DMP123*

      Corby Ziesman…are you serious right now? Watch your bank account very carefully in case they don’t clear it out just start making small purchases over time. I hope this is a joke because everything you said is how to accept a job incorrectly.

    3. Lisa*

      I have a friend who works in the diplomatic corps. When he was stationed in Abuja one of his jobs was to help track down the Nigerian scammers. #seriouslycooljob

  10. WWWONKA*

    I get these from time to time. You will notice they do not give a company name. I get the ones that wants me to be a package receiver and forwarder all the time.

    1. Anlyn*

      I’m reminded of a Boy Meets World episode where Shawn inadvertently starts working for the mob, and is standing in a dark alley with a “mysterious package”.

  11. brightstar*

    I get those emails when I apply to certain job postings on Craigslist. I’ve learned, if it’s not a Craigslist email, to google it before replying. It’s definitely a scam.

    Speaking of scams, yesterday I went to a job interview that was almost definitely one. I’d asked specifically if it was a sales job, they stated it wasn’t, only to arrive at the interview and get a sales pitch on how much money can be made if we just get a license that cost $250.

    1. Felicia*

      I’ve applied to what appears to be a job on Craigslist before, then get an email like an hour later saying that my qualifications are good but I need to send them 200$ so they could improve my resume and then hire me.

      If you google the scam email you get it’ll probably come up since the person has probably done the scam thousands of times.

    2. NewToThis*

      I dodged a scam similar to that one. I applied for a customer service rep position at a company I’ve never heard of but the website and everything seemed so professional. I even Google mapped the address and it was in a nice area, nice glass building.

      Next day I get an email asking me to come in for an interview with a different address. I Google map it and it was some office over an old donut place in a beat up area. I then decide to Google the company, the amount of negative reviews from previous workers .. complete scam. I would’ve ended up doing door to door sales and the owners of the company were facing over 50 charges and a hefty fine. I didn’t show up for the interview.

      Last time I apply somewhere without “Googling” the company first.

      1. nyxalinth*

        Scary! I’ve not had one lie to me that badly, yet. I always google, if for no other reason that interview research. Mind, several years ago I found a telesales job that was pretty dodgy. They claimed to be from police department, fire department, raising money for charities. I found out lat later that not only were they super dodgy (just barely legal and not very ethical), they never hired females because they thought we didn’t sound ‘authoritative’ enough. So we can add sexism to the rest of it. Place was called Xentel.

  12. Allison (not AAM)*

    Well, here’s the one I got this morning. Basically they want me to sign for and re-ship packages – who knows what would be in them. It could be counterfeit goods, or other contraband. The HR manager’s name is a Chinese sounding name. There is a huge problem with illegal import and export of goods to China. It sounds like they just want someone to do the dirty work, which could pose a myriad of legal problems for anyone that would attempt to do this:

    Dear Applicant: (not even my name!)

    We are happy to inform that you have successfully passed the preliminary selection among the applicants on careerbuilder.com.

    Global Logistics, Inc. has reviewed your resume and would like to offer you a position with our company as a Logistics Manager. We strongly believe that your knowledge, skills and experience will be an asset to our company.

    Global Logistics, Inc. searching for responsible people for a position of a Logistics Manager.

    Job Title: Logistics Manager
    Company: Global Logistics, Inc.
    Salary: $2600/Month
    Location: United States

    – Manage incoming and outgoing shipments;
    – Manage regular correspondence with company’s representatives;
    – Manage online tracking program.

    If you are interested in this position, please respond to our email as an acceptance to our offer.

    Yours truly,

    Gary Leung
    HR Coordinator

    1. AB*

      ” which could pose a myriad of legal problems ”

      Change that to WOULD pose a myriad of legal problems — including high likelihood in ending in imprisonment for serving as conduit to exporting to embargoed countries and more.

      1. Allison (not AAM)*

        Yep, you are correct. Thank you, no. Not just no, but H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS NO.

    2. Natalie*

      Honestly, you would be lucky if it was just counterfeit goods – this scam is also commonly used to move stolen goods out of the country.

    3. Anonymous*

      , yeah, I think I remember someone a few years back relabeling packages at home for a Chinese “company”. She had opened and checked the first few shipments, which had whatever it said on the pack list, but subsequent shipments contained goods which required an export license — and she got hit with export violations, which can be civil or criminal charges — or both.

    4. RGC*

      I work for a company called Global Logistics, Inc. and we are getting flooded with emails and calls because of this ad. It’s not ours and it’s become a real pain in the rear to deal with.

    5. Diane*

      I just got the same email this morning form Kelli Dolan HR Coordinator. Same responsibilites and the same title “Logistics Manager” – Lucrative Opportunity – every wording is the same except they are offering $3600/month

  13. Bea W*

    I get crap like this in my spam box all the time. Scam scam scam! People don’t just read resumes they find online and offer people jobs site unseen.

  14. Liane*

    For those who are wondering about what the hiring process for a *legitimate* work-at-home job looks like, here’s how I got the one I had a few years back. I was an editor for a medical transcription company, which is one of the few fields where you can find legit home-based employment.
    First, I was pointed to the opening by a friend who worked at the company and knew I was both looking for a job and had the science background (being a transcriptionist wasn’t required!) After warning me that it was monotonous work and learning that this wasn’t going to be a problem for me, she got her boss, one of the owners to call me in to fill out an application and have an interview.
    Being a small, family-owned business and having a recommendation from a current employee, this was relatively casual. Once the offer was made and accepted, I provided my driver’s license and Social Security card to be copied, then IT issued a computer with all the transcription & FTP software installed to take home. I was also told what hours I needed to be online–this was very strict as these are very time-sensitive documents–and told how to contact my supervisor via IM and email for questions and to document my hours.
    So, pretty much the same as for any job you commute to: I learned of the opening through a trustworthy route. I and the company both provided enough information beforehand to find out it was likely a good fit. I had at least one interview, and provided ID after accepting the job. I was an employee of the company not self-employed. I also was told the job requirements and rules at the beginning. I consider these last 2 important as I have heard many scam work-at-home employers will use “This wasn’t up to our standards, so we can’t pay for it” as an excuse to keep your wages.

    FYI, an editor listens to the dictation while reading the finished transcription, checking for grammatical errors and correct identifying information and medical terminology, and trying to “fill in” words the transcriptionist couldn’t make out, then sends it to the client medical provider, if correct, or Quality Assurance if not. As I mentioned above, I was lucky that being able to transcribe wasn’t a necessary skill! I’m not a fast typist and being able to do so while listening to a dictation is a talent in my opinion, and not one I possess)

  15. Anonymous*

    Uh…. Everytime I click on this page – askamanager.org – I keep getting scary warnings for security breaches! IDK what’s going on!

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I’ve recently sometimes gotten that automatically when I click on the current blue archive links. I remove the s from the https and it works. I figured it might be me, an older browser, because otherwise everyone would be complaining. But it comes and goes, gives errors one day, doesn’t the next.

        1. Rayner*

          Idk… Strange. Nothing comes up on my iPad, but it was after the most recent story updated when i was on my borrowed laptop. Fine all day and then boom.

          How bizarre….

          Thanks for the help though!

        1. Rayner*

          That was me up there. And given that I usually sleep in underwear, maybe it’ll scare them off!

          Also, they’d ave a job finding me over here….

  16. AB*

    A good rule of thumb never to be victim of scams:

    If it looks too good to be true, 99% of the time it is.

    Getting a job offer without having at least a phone interview in which the position is discussed and questions about your qualifications are asked and answered = too good to be true.

  17. Audiophile*

    The sad thing is people ARE falling for these scams. That’s why the scammers are still out there. How many times has 20/20, Dateline, etc run an episode featuring these scams??

  18. Jessa*

    And I think it’s a bit insensitive to say that when it’s a known issue to people who have medical problems of a mental health nature.

  19. Kevin*

    This happened to me once, in 2006. I was using a resume program and had posted my resume on “AmericasJobBank.com website (Not around any more.). A person, viewing my resume, had given me a call. I to was surprised and thought to myself, “This kind of stuff doesn’t happen”. I thought it was a scam, but it turned out to be a real job offer. I set up an interview and a couple of days later I got the job.

    The job was for a grease manufacturing company, Tomlin Scientific, located in Santa Ana, CA.

    In all my years, looking for work, this is the only time I was contacted like this. To this day, I am surprised how I got that call.

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