New scams target accounting job seekers

September 4, 2017

By Samiha Khanna at Journal of Accountancy on August 30, 2017

Recruiters are always hunting for the next cadre of bright, eager young graduates. Unfortunately, so are scammers.

Executives at UHY Advisors are sounding the alarm about online scammers who have been impersonating recruiters at accounting firms, offering enthusiastic young job seekers new career opportunities and internships. All the applicant must do, scammers tell them, is sign an acceptance letter and provide personal and banking information, and in some cases, a cash payment so they can be reimbursed for materials associated with starting their new job.

Rick David, CPA, CGMA, the COO for UHY Advisors, recently took news of the scam to a meeting of fellow CPA firm leaders in Michigan, where he previously served on the state Board of Accountancy. He also alerted the AICPA and other accounting firm leaders about the scam.

Earlier this summer, David and other leaders at UHY learned several students or recent graduates had been contacted online by someone impersonating a UHY recruiter. Candidates were contacted via Google Hangouts and received documents with a distorted UHY letterhead, poor grammar, and inconsistent fonts. The offer letters listed a real UHY consultant as the hiring manager, but the contact phone number went to a seemingly dead-end Google voicemail account.

When one of the applicants reported for their first day of work, they arrived at a UHY office to learn the job offer was bogus, David said. One applicant reported sharing personal and banking information and an advance payment to receive a $3,000 refund check for job preparation materials, only to have it bounce, said David, who declined to share additional information to protect the applicants’ privacy.

“You feel sorry for the students who are out there who are all struggling to find a spot so they can learn about the business of the profession and put their education to work,” 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.”

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.

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