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I think someone was trying to scam me through LinkedIn

Michael De Abreu
I’m a developer that do web applications by day, and games by night. I work with Typescript every day, using tools like Angular and React. In this post I like to write about my experiences with those.
・4 min read

Happy new year! I hope you are doing ok these days. I want to share a recent experience through LinkedIn, that I think could be a scam.

Last week, on Monday, Alex Queroz contacted me through LinkedIn offering a job position. That's not something that happens to me every time, but one in a while. As I know that this is kind of a contest I just participate and wait, and usually forget about it in a few weeks because nobody calls. The job was about a project with Node, GraphQL, and React, and even included relocation to the city. I reply to him, said that it sounds like an interesting position, and he then sends me a link to a Google Form Document to be filled. One of the questions made me raise my eyebrows: What is your current salary?

I know some companies still have this kind of questions, I don't know why, but I know they do. So, I just provide the amount.

This is the weird part

After I send the Form, Alex then say if I can provide some kind of paystubs or financial proof that I'm earning that amount of money. Because that's very suspicious, I refuse to send him the paystubs by LinkedIn, but he agrees for the paystubs to be sent to an email. The email, by the way, belongs to thoughtmediajobs.com. I check the page, and it did seem legit. So I send him the paystubs. Of course, with all sensitive information removed. I mean, after all, he only needed the amounts, right?

Wrong. He then says they don't have enough information to know if the paystubs were true, and either I provide bank proof or leave blank the salary part. That got way more suspicious than before and because of that, instead of giving him more information, I ask him why is he asking for such information in the first place. As I said, I know companies still questions the salary, but why do I have to prove that I'm earning that?

He replies to me "Because you are claiming your salary to be much higher than what Seniors developers make in " - the current country I'm living - " so we need proof to match it. If that is really your salary, you should have no problems in sending the requested documents". I must admit, I took that as an insult. He was basically saying that I don't have that much value, that I'm a liar, and I'm willing to falsify documents in order to cover up that lie. I already give him my paystubs, what more does he need?

I guess it's a scam then

I question him, how could he know the salary ranges in my country, say that I already give him the paystubs and that I'm offended by the questioning.

That was his response:

I know salaries because [similar positions in the same country] work for us. Salaries are also on many [current country] job sites. If you dont like it, you can find another job but we need proof when we see outrageous salaries like yours. Many foreign developers think no one knows their domestic salary scale. Which is not true. Because all information is now publicly available.

And then, he blocked me. From LinkedIn. Why would you block anyone on LinkedIn? Professionally, only when someone has tried to scam me, they had blocked at the end. The whole situation was really weird.

For Alex (If you happen to read this, and this was a sincere job offering instead of a scam):

This is my response to your last message. Don't say if I don't like it I can find another job, because I wasn't looking for a job, it was your offering. It is your problem if you don't believe what I'm currently earning. I don't really know how you are "Lead" in recruitment with that aptitude. You are a very rude person.

The only thing you prove is why companies shouldn't ask for salary anymore. I really hope you can do better next time.

For recruiters:

I know is your job to ask, and it's a good thing I guess if we want all to be in the same boat. But only asking the salary that each candidate wants, is a grey area. Asking what is the candidate earning already, is very unprofessional. But if your company is going to doubt about that, please, go somewhere else.

Give value to your time, and others.

For everybody:

I don't know if that was a scam or not. He was trying to get my bank information after all, and probably I wouldn't be writing about this if he wouldn't block me, but that is what happens.

I'm writing this in part to vent me, and in part to warn you about this kind of "unrequested super excited job offers" that maybe only scam.

Does something like this has ever happen to you? I really hope not, but if something like that did happen to you, I would glad if you could share your story in the comments so we can be more aware of this situation.

Discussion (3)

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butnotjulia profile image
Julia Nash • Edited

I like this article and how it isn't cookie cutter. Its intriguing and a brave piece because you don't hold back here, you lay it out. Social engineering is all about the play on emotions to render an advantage. Yet, this isn't the normal everyday scam you hear about. Thanks for putting this in writing and making it fun to read. Its good to have the knowledge and understand strategy.

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alintz profile image
Aaron Lintz

I am sorry that this happened to you. LinkedIn allows anyone to claim that they work for any company with any title. There is no verification process on their end. I can confirm Alex does not work for ThoughtWorks and has been reported to LinkedIn for removal.

As Julia mentioned, social engineering is the culprit. Our recruiting process varies from country to country, but we are fairly transparent about the steps. In US, we speak to every person first, then move to a technical screen of our own design with the exception of graduates who are assigned a test of our design using HackerRank.
thoughtworks.com/careers/our-process

It is actually illegal in California and other states to ask your current salary. You can both talk freely about a salary range so expectations are in line.
shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-a...

As a recruiter who respects others and wants to elevate the perception of our industry, this bothers me knowing we can not ever stop all bad actors. Instead I recommend a verify, then trust approach.

The domain that person used was created in November of 2020 and a search engine check comes up with no real footprint. Not to blame anyone, but these are red flags to be suspicious.

Happy to chat with you offline.

Aaron Lintz

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appurist profile image
Paul / Appurist

From my perspective, your current salary is not relevant, to anything. Only your salary expectations, and an employer's ability to meet those expectations.

An employer can -- and should -- ask for your salary expectations, as part of the salary negotiation process, to determine if you are a good match for each other. But if they insist on knowing your actual current salary, it probably only reveals that it is an employer you probably wouldn't want to work, at least not more than briefly. Or a scam artist seeking personal information, as in this case.

On the matter of trust and proof: they do not need to trust your answer even if provided; your salary expectations are for the new position, not the old one, and you get to decide what those expectations should be. They then get to decide how much they will offer you, and if the values overlap, you then get to decide whether to accept. The rest is nonsense, and you should walk away from anyone who strays from that in any significant way.