Fake Job Scam TKRS

Fake Job Scam: Google Hangout


If you’re already aware of this fake job scam, good. For everyone else, please read on. I actually fell for one of these a few years ago. For a computer guy, that’s a tough one to admit, but so be it. I’m human. I’m receiving on average one to three of these per day lately.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT for return email addresses that are Gmail addresses rather than a corporate email address. In all likelihood, they’re spoofing a real person. I will reach out on LinkedIn to the real people and send them a message to let them know they have impersonators out there. This is generally appreciated, and who knows, that act in and of itself could land you a job. Just saying.

The less obvious and more ambiguous aspect to be on the lookout for in this fake job scam is overall tone of voice used in the email. Note the second paragraph starts with “You are to immediately contact…” This sort of language is rarely if ever used in an authentic recruiter response. Add to that the last sentence of the first paragraph: “The window for this screening test/interview is Monday 12/04/2021 and Tuesday 13/04/2021 from 10 am (EDT) each day.”

A couple of things here:

First, the date format is a clear indicator that this originated from outside the United States, as it’s expressed as day/month/year rather than our standard month/day/year.

Second, odds are you never agreed to any specific dates and times previously. You might not even recall sending an application in for this job/company. I myself don’t keep track of each and every job application I submit online. It’s simply not practical.

DEAD GIVEAWAY (at least for now):

“This virtual screening test/interview is online through Email correspondence and Google Hangout.”

This is always the kicker. That’s how I got suckered. For now, they’re still using this method of contact, but be forewarned that Google Hangouts is going away eventually, according to Google. That was supposed to happen a while back, but Google has been slow to actually get rid of it.


Note the odd indentation of the greeting (“Dear Keith Ratner…”). This in and of itself is not necessarily a red flag, but it’s an easy thing to spot. For me, that does set off alarms. The vast majority of emails don’t look like that, so this is a quick visual cue if you happen to be scanning tons of emails.


I’m speaking from personal experience here. Your mileage may vary and there might be other processes which ensue should you be inclined to actually follow up on one of these. I did, and this is what happened, in a nutshell:

I began to engage via Google Hangout (chat only; there was NO VIDEO) with what was clearly an actual human being. (This is another thing that will inevitably become less obvious thanks to better Artificial Intelligence and automated tools – but these people are rather slow to update their methods. Don’t count on them not getting smarter, possibly much smarter, possibly overnight.)

After chatting back and forth for a short while, it was agreed that I would be sent a check to purchase the computer equipment I would need to perform this work-from-home job. Sure enough, a couple of days later, a FedEx package arrived containing a $2,500 check. I was instructed to deposit the check, go to Wal-Mart, purchase said equipment, then reimburse the sender directly for the difference, which would be roughly $1,000.

The check was suspicious, but I was in a bind. This was on a Friday, and I wasn’t going to be able to get to the bank until Monday. So, I deposited the check via my mobile device, and the amount showed up promptly in my bank.

By the time Sunday rolled around, I needed to pay rent, and I could not access any funds. I finally got customer service on the line on Monday. They informed me the check was fraudulent. I spent the next couple of days explaining to a chain of bank agents what had happened. They very politely told me they were severing their relationship with me and would be sending me a certified check for the remaining balance in my bank account (minus the fraudulent $2,500, obviously).

Needless to say, this was highly inconvenient. I still feel like I got off easy, and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who end up facing considerably more hardship due to this particular scam.


If anyone has any ideas on how to foil these people, I’m all ears. At the very least, I can provide this as a cautionary tale. This problem is likely to only get worse during this time of high unemployment. There are tons more people who are not technically savvy being forced to go through the online job application process. The last thing anyone needs is this type of nonsense.

Here is a screenshot of the email, followed by the actual unedited text:

20210412_1415 FAKE JOB SCAM EMAIL

Actual text of the email (UNEDITED):

Dear Keith Ratner,

Thank you for your application for the Creative Director  position at Shangri-La Construction. After reviewing your application, our online recruitment team has recommended you for the open position and you’re among the candidates shortlisted for a virtual screening test/interview session with a Senior Recruiter at Shangri-La Construction.This virtual screening test/interview is online through Email correspondence and Google Hangout. The window for this screening test/interview is Monday 12/04/2021 and Tuesday 13/04/2021 from 10 am (EDT) each day.

You are to immediately contact the Senior Recruiter Ms.Kristi Hogan at her email (kristihogan.hr.shangrila@gmail.com) to acknowledge the receipt of this email and to confirm your availability and to schedule your interview. You should also add her on  Google Hangouts with the same email address.
The goal of this interview is for us to get to know you better, and for you to ask any questions you may have. We want to make sure that your skills, goals and ambitions match our company’s culture and the position.

It is important that you send email to the Senior Recruiter Ms.Kristi Hogan to proceed with the screening process. The email again for the interview is (kristihogan.hr.shangrila@gmail.com)

Please do stay safe during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Best Regards

Alex Silber
Project Director
Shangri-La Construction

Thank you for reading, and PLEASE BE CAREFUL!

Now, PLEASE go visit my podcast! Video versions are on my YouTube channel here: THE KEITH RATNER SHOW ON YOUTUBE

Audio version of the podcast available on Anchor here: ANCHOR.FM and on Google Podcasts here: GOOGLE PODCASTS

VISIT MY HOME PAGE for more links and additional information.


Portfolio and Interactive Samples

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Print Collateral Samples

InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat
View some of my motion graphics and Promotional Video.
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Exploit Prediction Scoring System (EPSS) Data Visualizations

React, TypeScript, D3, Bootstrap, SCSS

React Video Streaming Application Prototype

Current Features:

  • Geolocation
  • Front- and rear-facing cameras on mobile
  • Live drawing canvas overlay with colored swatches in the left sidebar. Swipe the screen or click-and-drag to see it in action. The trash icon clears the canvas.

Feature Pipeline:

  • Map overlay. This is a work in progress. Click the map icon to pull up the overlay. Map has not been fully implemented yet.
  • User profile setup
  • Sharing of geolocation (available on mobile devices), azimuth, and streaming status
  • Stream recording and data storage
  • Stream sharing

Mobile Screenshot:

vHyve Video Streaming App UX and UI

The concept is a live video streaming with a drawing interface and map overlay. HTML5 capabilities are used to track GeoLocation and device orientation. On the development roadmap are the following features:

  • Toggle full-screen mode
  • Logging in as new or existing user
  • User profile setup
  • Tracking of user activity, i.e., user’s logged-in status, whether the user is streaming live video, user’s location (if logged in)
  • Map overlay should display logged in users along with their streaming status, device orientations and camera facing directions; icons should appear on map, color-coded by streaming status, with icons rotated to reflect real direction based on compass’ true north
  • Functionality should be accomplished entirely through HTML5
  • Native application development (iOS, Android, etc.)
  • Recording of user’s drawing activity as SVG, possibly with configurable frame rate
  • Screen recording functionality; this should include recording of live media stream as well as user’s drawing activity on separate recorded tracks
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View the live work-in-progress here:


A sampling of my design and development work over the years

User Interface Design and Implementation

Screenshots of browser-based Metadata Analytics application User Interface; Django/Python back end, UX and UI front end powered by D3, HTML5, CSS3, raw JavaScript (2015 version):

Metadata Analytics Dashboard UX and UI

Metadata Analytics Tag Analysis UI

Primary User Interface for a complex Excel application powered by VBA (2019 version):

Excel VBA Application UI

Web Design

California Biotech CEO Conference 2013

California Biotech CEO Conference 2013

Bio-Community.org Website 2012

Bio-Community.org 2012

BayBio.org Website 2011

BayBio.org 2011

Sample Trifold

Banner Advertisements

Pantheon 2012 Banner Ad

Pantheon 2012 Home Page Slider

Beyond Benefits Promo Slide

Innovation Promo Slide

Gateway to Northern California Promo Slide

Pantheon 2011 Banner

Pantheon 2010 Banner

BayBio 2010 Annual Report Design

BayBio Annual Report 2010

View and Download a PDF of the Entire Report Here or View the Full Layout Here

CALBIO 2012 Program Design

CALBIO 2012 Program

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California Biomedical Industry Report

California Biomedical Industry Report

California Biomedical Industry Report or View the Full Layout Here

BayBio Whitepaper Report Design

BayBio Whitepaper Report

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Supplemental Background

Visit my Behance profile for a sampling of visual and user interface design work over the years.

Digital Prints Collection 1

Digital Prints Collection 2