Some job seekers are getting caught up in scams that look like real job offers, and authorities say people need to be wary.

March is Fraud Prevention Month, a significant fact for some Calgarians who have run into job offer scams. Jodi Golliath thought a sales job offer she got from PepsiCo was so good, it seemed too good to be true… and it was.

“I’ve had telephone interviews in the past and she was very, very sharp, she asked very valid questions that you would get for a job interview, how much salary are you looking for, your strengths, your weaknesses, have you ever sent out reports to managers, thanked me in the end and wished me good luck,” she said. “The money was good, the offer was good, but there were things that just weren’t adding up, and I started questioning a lot of things.”

First among those things was a cheque for $12,225 that she received before she had even done a single day of work. She said she was told the cheque was to cover training and incidental expenses, but instead of trying to cash the cheque, she phoned PepsiCo and was told the whole thing was a scam.

The same thing happened to Matthew Smith, who was offered a bogus logistics job at PepsiCo and a suspicious-looking cheque. Even his bank was fooled by the cheque, saying it was authentic, but it wasn’t.

“The funds would be frozen for a minimum of five days, and I received an email this morning saying please pay for your training, and that was another thing that set off an alarm bell because most companies when they do your training, they don’t charge you for it.”

CTV asked PepsiCo Canada about these two cases, and in an emailed statement the company stated that it does not conduct job searches this way, and even posted an employment scam alert on it’s website.

Police say these kinds of complex scams are becoming common.

“We are seeing an uptick in the kinds of online crimes around the city, across the nation and I think internationally,” said S.Sgt. Cory Dayley, Cyber Forensics Unit, Calgary Police Service. “In legitimate job platforms across the internet we can find fraudulent ads that are looking for people to do jobs, those too-good-to-be-true jobs, work from home, you make a lot of cash although you don’t have the experience for that particular role, the secret shopper-type scams, the mystery shoppers, we see that quite prevalent online.”

Calgary's unemployment rate is still sitting at more than 10 per cent, a 24-year high which is making many job seekers ripe targets for these scams.

“The red flags are it’s too good to be true, they are going to want you to pay for something, that’s a big red flag,” said S.Sgt. Dayley. “If you are not able to meet them in person to have a visual conversation with someone who might be interviewing you, another red flag, you have to take into account where you are seeing the ad, I think that’s another one.”

A little education goes a long way in avoiding job scams, starting with asking some tough questions.

“Do some research, that’s your first and last line of defense, do some due diligence online, look into the company which has the ad, maybe contact them directly through a website or phone number you know to be true and reputable for that company and verify that they have jobs,” said Dayley.

There are many resources job seekers can use to protect themselves. You can look at the Competition Bureau’s Fraud Prevention Month website for some ideas.