Spotting Job Scams

Spotting Job Scams

It is taking ever longer to produce the Jobs Abroad Bulletin because we have to keep stopping to check out whether particular advertisers are genuine or low down dirty scammers. Distance and the internet leave those job searching abroad open to abuse. Recently nanny jobs have been the main culprit.

We have become quite experienced in catching these people out but we are certainly not infallible and some of the other sites that you may use to look for jobs abroad often do not have a human intermediary to weed out bad ads. Craigslist for example, an otherwise excellent and useful website, often carries advertisements that we have rejected. So what is it that should start the alarm bells ringing in our heads?


Poor grammar and spelling by those that should know better:

Do the words used match the claims made? Though genuine advertisers do sometimes write irritatingly bad copy, full of spelling mistakes (hardly anyone can spell accommodation), this is often just the result of writing in a foreign language, being in a rush or just simple laziness in expecting me to spend the time touching up their poorly written advert.

I do not claim to be the greatest writer – despite passing my English language ‘O’ level with flying colours and doing well at English Lit ‘A’ level (and writing for a living) I couldn’t tell you with great accuracy what a noun or an adverb are, confuse ‘are’ and ‘is’ and can get in a dreadful mess with belonging words.

However, it should be expected of teachers, bank managers and other professionals to write reasonably well in their native language. For example, some of the mistakes in the following text can be put down as genuine but those that I’ve highlighted in bold italics are generally to do with tense and do not add up for an educated person:

“We are the Murphy’s family from North london Borough,My Wife work as a Bank Manager,I’m a retired military Personnel but presently running my own company,I work on mechanical production and repairs.We are out going,approachable and need someone to be a big sister to our little darlings.I will be very interested leaving my children to a good Caregiver for infants and am very interested in leaving our children in your care.We have two children the eldest is 5 she has mild Autistic traits but she is a fun loving Energetic child, and loves Arty things.She attends a Mainstream School a mile up the road from where we live.Our son is 4 he is noisy,lively loves playing games and in general is a typical boy!! He attends Nursery every day from 9 – 11:30 which is situated next to the school where we lived.We are urgently seeking for a Caregiver and i will like to put my children in your care.My children are just lovers of computer games,not allergic and free to people espec ially to strangers.I’m willing to pay 450 pounds weekly,I would like to know if you would be care giver of my children,Kindly reply me via my private email below if you are sure to care for them from Monday – Friday.”

Over politeness and religious terminology:

We can’t speak a word of Nigerian but assume it must be a very polite language because “blessed” is commonly used. Who, other than a vicar, says that in Britain. Read some of the spam emails from the relatives of dead African dictators that undoubtedly reach your inbox to study the language use of scammers.

If you, reading this, are from Africa, please know we Brits do not speak like this. We only say ‘bless you’ when sneezing. The only time we mention God is to take his name in vain. We do not reference God in written correspondence. Ever.

No such place:

The Murphy’s (sic) family say they are from North london Borough, rather than “a” north London borough.

Capital letters:


High wages:

Too good to be true? Then perhaps it is. If the wage seems high for the position ask yourself why they can’t fill the job locally. Most of the jobs on our website are low paid – we consider ourselves a travel website and working for a living as a means to this end.

Yahoo Email address:

Though in common use by individuals and small businesses advertising in JAB, would a big hotel or multi national company use a yahoo, hotmail, gmail or other such free email address?

A 70 phone number:

Numbers beginning +4470xx are redirected to a foreign country. Scammers can obtain these numbers on the internet.

Too many positions offered:

Can they really need so many different staff at one time? Or are they just casting a wide net?

Same name, same but different:

The made up Murphys were found out because a Google search showed they were advertising the same job but this time pretending to be Canadian. Mr Larry Godson (see below) used the same name but looked different in his photo and had renamed his kids.

Close but not close enough:

Scammers, particularly for TEFL jobs, are increasingly hiding behind real schools. We have received several adverts recently where the school was genuine, with the correct website address, but the email given for applications was slightly different from the website url. Most likely the advert text came from a real advert originally placed by the school who are unaware it is now being used for fraudulent purposes.

Why can’t the employer just pay it?

Sooner or later you will have to pay some money to land the job. In 2019, a reader from abroad inquired about a job advert he had seen on another website posted by a Mr Larry Godson. We recognised the name straight away as ‘Larry’ had tried to advertise on our site years before but had been rejected. While we knew Larry wasn’t legitimate, we didn’t know the actual scam until we read the correspondence between advertiser and applicant. Despite offering a salary of £1000pw (plus another £120pw allowance, flights, feedings and accommodation in two bedrooms with a hifi sound system and good toilet), the employer was only prepared to pay half of the £1000 needed for a UK visa and work permit. The remaining £500 would be paid by the applicant. What? It’s half a week’s wages. Why can’t the employer just pay it?

(We posted Larry’s advert to our Facebook page saying it was a fake. Despite this, more than one person tried to apply for the job. We’re in the wrong business).


Never send money to someone offering a job. Au pair and nanny agencies (not individuals) are legally able to charge a small fee but these days hardly any do. Reputable student work placement organisations, like BUNAC, and gap year companies do charge, sometimes hefty, fees. If you have never heard of a gap year organisation in which you are interested check them out. The jobs posted on this site are sent to us from all around the world and every country will have different employment laws but generally, if anyone asks for cash to find you a job then there is a good chance it is a scam.


If a job offer looks suspicious run the organisation or person (or both) through Google. If nothing comes up try the same but add the word “scam” to the search. Another option is to search the email address and see if and where it has been used before. Again, try adding “scam” to the search. If a phone number is given, search that too.


Action Fraud –
Scam-O-matic –