New scams target accounting job seekers

Corporate impersonators are stealing money and information.

UHY Advisors says online scammers are impersonating recruiters at accounting firms, falsely offering jobs and internships in order to collect cash and sensitive information from unsuspecting job applicants.

Recently, one person arrived for a first day of work at UHY, only to discover the job offer was only an internet scammer's lie. Rick David, CPA, CGMA, the COO for UHY Advisors, alerted the AICPA and others about the scam.

UHY leaders learned that several students and recent graduates had been contacted by someone impersonating a UHY recruiter. They received documents with a distorted UHY letterhead, poor grammar, and inconsistent fonts. The offer letters listed a real UHY consultant as the hiring manager.

One applicant sent money to a scammer, expecting to receive a $3,000 refund check for job preparation materials; the check bounced, David said.

"It's a stressful time trying to find a career, and a position with a top firm is hard to find and very meaningful to someone starting their career. They get excited, only to have this emotional letdown. We've got to make sure other young people don't fall prey to this," David said.

Job seekers should thoroughly research any job offer that comes their way, advised Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, the AICPA's executive vice president—Firm Services.

He suggested that job applicants dealing with recruiters:

  • Call potential employers' general phones and ask to speak to the person who contacted them.
  • Check the recruiters' LinkedIn profiles. If they don't have one, "it's probably a scam," Koziel said.

Scams can appear on hiring sites such as CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and Monster.com, Koziel said. Applicants should always cross-check job postings with the companies' career websites, he added.

Employers can fight scammers by saying in their job postings that all recruiters will have company email addresses, and by ensuring that's the case. Firms also can publish explanations of their specific interview practices, such as their use of in-person or video interviews, David said.

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