I Was Scammed: A Message for Young Professionals

Hello, everyone! Hope you are all doing very well. I have a very different post for you guys today. I’ve been posting a ton of outfits lately, (which I love) but I thought I’d change it up. Recently, something crazy happened to me and I want to talk about it in order to warn other young professionals. I had no idea this could happen, but I want to spread awareness so any of you can avoid the same thing. I’ll be starting with some background information as well that can also help those of you straight out of college!

What You Should Know

I’ve mentioned this a couple times on my Instagram stories, but I’ve currently been job searching while simultaneously trying to move out. Job searching has not been as easy compared to the first time around. With my last job, I found it within a month or two after I got back from my Europe trip last summer. It was very quick and I was excited about that. However, it’s been very different this time around and honestly a bit discouraging if I’m being honest. Basic tip: some of the best websites for job searching are Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. These are the three main ones that I (and thousands of others) use. They are great places to make connections with potential companies! So, for the past few months I’ve been sending in my resume, cover letter, recommendation letter, portfolio, and blog to countless companies in hopes of landing something great!

This seems to be the normal, safe way to find a job, right? Somewhat wrong.

Second basic tip: DO YOUR RESEARCH! Before applying to any job, be sure to do a thorough search of the website to check for sketchy information. While I always check the websites of jobs I apply to, I simply didn’t dig deep enough in this situation and I’ll admit that.

I Was Scammed Into a Fake Interview

So this whole situation started when I was away on a blogger trip in Santa Barbara. I was having a great time taking photos and collaborating with so many of my awesome friends I found through Instagram. While right in the middle of taking photos, I receive a notification from my Gmail account. It was FINALLY an interview request from an amazing media company! I was ecstatic and felt I was (at last) getting somewhere with my job search. Searching for a new place of employment can be extremely tedious and test your patience, so getting an email like this fills you with a bit of hope and excitement!

A little foreshadow for you: this hope was unfortunately short lived in this specific situation.

I will not mention the name of the media company and will provide fake names in this scenario, out of respect for the actual media company. The email was sent from the company by a man named Caleb, saying they were conducting the interviews “today, tomorrow, and Monday” and gave me another email to contact through Google Hangouts. To be honest with you all, I had never used (or heard of) Google Hangouts before. To sum it up, it’s an extension of Google where you can instant message and video chat with other users. I figured this was a way for the company to weed out applicants, since normally there are many layers to the interview process.

I sent a message right away through Google Hangouts to a man named…let’s just call him Jack. I did not hear back from him that day, the next, or on Monday when they said they were holding “interviews.” I was a bit surprised and quite honestly bummed that I hadn’t heard anything back. I had even sent an email back to Caleb explaining that I had replied and wanted to plan an interview. Tuesday rolls around and I finally get a response back from Jack saying we can have the interview THAT HOUR.

Yep, without any notice ahead of time, we were to have an interview on the spot.

How Everything Played Out

Naturally, I assumed this would be a face to face chat over Google Hangout. Because…who in their right mind conducts an interview through a chat? Well, Jack did. Being the optimist that I am (sometimes) I went along with this and with some hesitation agreed to do the interview over chat. We began the interview, starting with surface level questions and gradually getting into more detailed, professional topics. If I’m being honest, they asked many similar questions that I’ve had in face to face interviews, which made it seem all the more believable. I answered thoughtfully since I assumed this was my chance to make a first impression with a great media company!

The interview went on for 10-15 minutes and was about to wrap up. They let me know that I seemed like a great fit for this graphic design position and they’d send the interview to the hiring board, which would take about half an hour.

A Side Note:

I was currently in my parents house as I was doing this interview. My mom had an appointment and was out of the house when she abruptly turned back around and came home due to a migraine. Her being present during this interview is a vital point to this story.

Realizing I Was Being Scammed

While my mom was chatting with my dad during this interview, he ended up checking out the company’s website out of curiosity. I told them how excited I was about this company and how the location was perfect. Wanting to know more, he searched around and came upon something very interesting on one of the pages. It was a paragraph that read (and I paraphrase):

Beware of scammers impersonating employees of the company. They will contact you and conduct fake interviews through Google Hangouts. They are not associated with the company and should be reported to us. 

The only thing I felt was shock. I was not talking to this media company at all. This had never happened to me before, but I had been completely duped. When you’re as active on social media as I am, you get fake messages on a daily basis. Whether that be for pyramid schemes, sugar baby requests (the worst ones), or endless people trying to sell you hair care products or become a “product tester” for them. I’ve become very quick to notice empty opportunities and sketchy messages. So this came as such a surprise to me and I’m not lying when I say: this all looked incredibly real and was thought out to every small detail. They had seen my resume, knew exactly what I was looking for in a job, and knew exactly how to manipulate me into what they wanted.

Right after we had found this warning on the ACTUAL company site, Jack messages me saying I got the job! The timing was impeccable. I found out the truth right before something scary could’ve happened. Knowing myself, I would’ve never accepted a position from such a quick interview and not even meeting anyone from the company. However, there are people out there who don’t know any better and would’ve accepted the “position” right on the spot and given these scammers access to all their personal information.

Immediately when I figured out what was happening, I stopped replying and deleted the Google Hangouts app. You never know what these kinds of people are capable of, so it’s better to delete everything just to be safe and avoid being hacked. There was a number that you could call to report the situation to the real company, which I ended up doing. When speaking to them, they confirmed it was a scam and they were never interviewing me for this position.

How to Avoid Situations Like This When Job Searching

I’ll be honest, I was pretty bummed out by all of this. I’ve spent months job searching and I thought I finally had a hit. It ended up being completely fake but that doesn’t mean all your interviews will be like that. Here are some simple steps to take that will eliminate anything like this happening to you:

  1. If you find the seemingly perfect job, research their social media in a very detailed manner. While I always checked the websites of jobs I applied to, I now know I need to do a much more thorough search. Be very picky when it comes to working for a company. What their website looks like matters, as well as the content on it. Do they seem legit and professional? Go for it! Seem a bit off? Ditch it.
  2. This is an obvious one. DON’T AGREE TO INTERVIEWS OVER TEXT. While I knew in my heart it seemed like a sketchy situation, I tried to keep positive but ended up naive. No professional company will EVER hire you over text. It simply doesn’t work that way and there are usually multiple interview levels before you get a professional job.
  3. Be patient. Don’t automatically jump to the first job that gives you a great offer. Talk to the employees if possible and see how happy they are at work. The right opportunity will come at the perfect moment. And sometimes that has nothing to do with when YOU want something to happen, but everything to do with God’s timing and perfect plan.
  4. Trust your gut. Needs no further explanation.

While this whole situation was overall very disappointing, it taught me a lot. I know exactly what to be aware of now and what I shouldn’t be applying for. Although Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are great resources to find a job, still be wary about possible scammers out there. If this experience can help any other young professional out there, then it was worth it. Let me know in the comments below if this has ever happened to you. I’d love to know your story and how you avoided this in the future! Talk to you all soon and happy job hunting! xx

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21 Comments

  1. May 28, 2019 / 12:17 pm

    It’s crazy how companies will scam you into an interview to get your info! Glad you’re bringing this up for other people to see!

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      May 28, 2019 / 12:20 pm

      It really was crazy! I feel horrible for the actual company that they have to deal with these scammers! Hopefully I can help someone in the same situation!

  2. May 28, 2019 / 12:39 pm

    Wow. I’m sorry you were scammed, but it’s good your parents were there when you were doing the text interview. Your experience will definitely help many others who are searching for a job!

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      May 28, 2019 / 1:19 pm

      I genuinely hope it helps other professionals! Thanks so much for reading and sending well wishes! xx

  3. Jeni
    May 28, 2019 / 1:27 pm

    This is so crazy! Thank you for sharing this! Glad nothing horrible happened….

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      May 28, 2019 / 6:00 pm

      Thank you so much! Just hope my experience can be a good warning for people my age!

  4. May 28, 2019 / 4:19 pm

    I work at a bank and we hear scams all the time. It’s crazy what some of these people are doing to get you to give out your personal info. And it’s not just older people who get scammed. Anyone can be scammed!

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      May 28, 2019 / 6:01 pm

      Yes I totally agree! These scams are becoming more and more real seeming and it’s so sad and frustrating!

  5. May 28, 2019 / 8:01 pm

    This is so crazy, and something I’ve never heard of happening before- thank you for the heads up! It’s scary how those type of people are so good at lying and scamming.

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      May 30, 2019 / 10:05 am

      I had never heard of it before either! It really is terrifying how elaborate these scams are becoming!

  6. May 29, 2019 / 3:01 am

    I feel for you but thank goodness you caught onto them pretty quick! I hadn’t heard of this happening before and you really do have to be so careful. Fingers crossed you find a new job soon 🙂

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      May 30, 2019 / 10:05 am

      Right?? I was definitely very lucky! I’ve never heard of something like this before either. Thank you so so much!!

  7. June 3, 2019 / 4:39 pm

    Wow ! Thank you so much for sharing! I never thought people could do that!

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      June 3, 2019 / 9:39 pm

      Right?? I was so confused too!

  8. June 12, 2019 / 6:17 pm

    Yikes! I was talking with a friend about a fishy situation that involved a company that sounded so shady recently. The emails didn’t say anything about the position, they just had dates and time slots where interviews were available. The person applying said they would do a phone interview first because it seemed really strange to them and the company insisted it be in person and then when they got no reply they sent multiple “follow up” emails, called, AND texted. Well we looked up the company out of curiosity and all the Google reviews said it was a scam! Thank goodness nothing bad happened to either of you! It’s crazy out there and it really sucks that people actually looking for opportunities are being scammed.

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      June 12, 2019 / 8:46 pm

      Wow yeah that is a huge scam!! I recently watched a video about that and the person actually called to prank the scammer😂 was so hilarious to see how the scammer didn’t even have any answers to their valid questions. Such a waste of everyone’s time!

  9. June 19, 2019 / 10:57 am

    I am so upset that this happened to you because I know how excited you must have gotten for the job. Thank you for sharing your story because honestly, sometimes I barely research the companies I am applying to, so I will use this as a caution tale. It is so hard to believe that people will use potential job interviews to scam you!!! Hopefully your perfect job will come around shortly. xx

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      June 23, 2019 / 3:37 pm

      Aw thank you for all the love. Yes, definitely be careful when applying! Luckily I’ve been in a new social media job for a couple weeks and I’m LOVING it!

    • sagepetersen
      Author
      June 23, 2019 / 3:34 pm

      Right?? Luckily it’s over for me but it’s still going on everywhere in the world!

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