How to Avoid Personal Assistant Job Scams

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A position as a personal assistant is highly sought after employment. Most jobs offer a great deal of flexibility, the potential to work completely from home, and they often pay quite well. But because so many people would love a career as a personal assistant, unscrupulous people have launched scams preying on job seekers who are exploring virtual assistant career opportunities.

Find out about the different kinds of job scams and how to avoid becoming a victim.


Types of Personal Assistant Scams

Typical personal assistant scams offer generous payment for helping them transfer money to businessmen at other companies. In reality, these scams are veiled attempts at money-laundering. When they succeed, it is the unwitting “personal assistant” who ends up holding the bag during federal investigations.

The scammers who post these “personal assistant” ads frequently list a number of work responsibilities that seem to be legitimate – these responsibilities can include duties like “purchasing gifts,” “running personal errands,” and “setting appointments.” However, they will always also include an emphasis on sending and/or receiving money or packages.

For instance, the ad might say that the employer will send you a check or money order, asking you to forward some of the money while keeping a percentage for yourself. What is happening is that this money, “cleaned” through your bank account, is being “forwarded” right back to the scammer as funds that you have unwittingly made untraceable.

The check will prove to be fraudulent, and you will be forced to pay back your bank.

Other scams ask for a personal assistant who will receive and ship various packages. While the scammer will claim these packages are related to his company, they will, in fact, be illegal goods. The scammer might even send you a fraudulent check to pay for shipping costs.

Not only will you have to pay your bank for the fraudulent check, but you could also be charged with mailing illegal goods.

How to Avoid Personal Assistant Scams

To avoid these scams, thoroughly research an employer before applying for a job. Some listings for personal assistants are extremely vague, simply stating that the employee works from home. You have every right to ask for information regarding the company with which your potential employer is affiliated. If a job advertisement does not contain the specific name of the employer, this is always a red flag that you should investigate the position further before signing the dotted line.

In some cases, ads may create a fictional “persona” for the “employer.” For example, the employer may provide a fictional name and say that he is a lawyer working from home. He may offer fake credentials to try to help him sound legitimate. In cases like these, make sure that the employer has actually worked on cases or belonged to a real firm. A simple Google search can help you find out if their career is legitimate or if they do not seem to exist. 

Additionally, most scam jobs will accept anyone, right away.

If after submitting your application you get an immediate answer or have an interview with just a question or two before being offered the job, proceed with caution.

Scammers are looking for any quick and gullible target, so will have a minimal screening process. By asking questions, you identify yourself as informed, and they will move on to other targets. 

What to Look For in a Real Personal Assistant Job

Real personal assistant jobs have rigorous application processes. Because you will be working closely for someone, often having access to their personal information, financial and other sensitive data, a true personal assistant job can take weeks if not months to fill.

Beyond submitting a resume and cover letter, you likely will need to submit several professional or personal references, agree to a background check and drug test, and go through several interviews, either over the phone, via webcam, or in person.

The entire hiring process will take some time for them to find the right person.

Do not be discouraged; it's just a sign that they're doing their due diligence and that the position is a legitimate one. 

More About Job Scams: Common Scams and How to Avoid Them | Examples of Fake Job Scams