Job Hunting vs. Labor Trafficking

Samantha Inesta
Human Rights Fellow

Millions of people all over the world are engaging in the job hunting market for various reasons. They may not be happy in their current position, they’re looking for more money or they are in desperate need of a job and haven’t found one yet. Whatever the case may be, looking for a job in today’s market coupled with fraudulent cyber imposters trying to get you to sign onto a position that doesn’t exist, can be risky business. But there is a more insidious plot happening here. Most fake job postings are usually by scammers who just want you to lose money. You know, the ones that automatically think you’re a perfect fit and it just happens to be a work from home position but you must purchase the equipment you need for your home office. The “company” will send you a check instructing you to cash it and buy the office essentials. After you’ve purchased what you need, lo and behold the check bounces and you are left paying for printers and computers you will never use and your potential boss is nowhere to be found. So now your out thousand of dollars and no job.

As horrible as that seems, that’s actually the lighter side of it. Within all of these charlatan recruiters, HR people and non-existent corporations there are also traffickers who are interwoven in the scheming process to find people they can exploit. Small to large scale recruitment agencies play a huge role in abusive recruitment practices that lead to trafficking in persons. There many deceptive mechanisms that are used when luring an unsuspecting job seeker. The job is not what was originally described, the pay is much lower and the hours longer etc. Forcing someone to sign a contract that binds them to the employer and creates a sort of debt bondage relationship. Individual brokers hired by these recruiters to facilitate the hiring process are also part of the deception offering people well paying jobs while the agency refuses to pay the broker fees. Most of these recruitment agencies will ask for exorbitant amount of money as their fee and will continue to charge more as the employment process moves forward. According a study done by the UNDOC low skilled workers are most vulnerable to these recruitment fees. They tend to pay a higher percentage of job-matching fees than higher skilled workers. Thus makes it harder for them to bargain for better wages and working conditions.

Summer or part time jobs are popular with teens looking to make some money over the break or to save money for a car or some other personal necessity. Help wanted ads posted on poles, trees, or billboards with little to no information trying to persuade people with just a very brief job description, a high salary and a phone number. These are linked to both forms of human trafficking, sex and labor. These jobs are looking to attract young people and adults to force them into trafficking rings with no real job opportunity in sight. These signs are everywhere all over the country and it’s not just foreign nationals responding to them, it’s US born citizens as well. Part of the reason for this problem is that the job market in the US has become so tight and at times unattainable that people have become desperate and are willing to do anything to be able to pay rent, a mortgage, food and outstanding student loans, hospital bills and credit card debt. Our capitalist society has caused some people to have a PTSD reaction to not becoming homeless and wanting to be able to take care of their children without the fear of being unemployed. This is a breeding ground for traffickers of all kinds. They are the ones that are really capitalizing off of this economy.

These scammers have also taken over online job search engines such as : Indeed, Ziprecruiter, Monster and even Linkedin. Once you put your profile out there a barrage of fake jobs and recruiters begin contacting you with positions that don’t even match your resume while telling you how perfect you are for the job. Techincal recruiters find your email and begin sending you job postings for high paying contract tech jobs. These positions are usually 6-12 months at a time. This can be very daunting for people who really need a job and have their time wasted by these imposters. Some recruiters will even go so far as to use a big name corporation to make you think they are legit. Fortunately some of the big companies will catch on and post on their website about these deceptive hiring practices but not all of them. It’s ultimately is up to the job seeker to be smart and know what they are looking at and do as much research as possible to make sure what they are applying to is real and legal.

Being employed in the US is becoming more of a privilege and not a right as with everything else. Even if you are not that privileged make sure your rights are not violated and your life isn’t at risk. Labor trafficking is a very real issue and it can ensnare anyone if they don’t know the signs. Before you look for that dream job, educate yourself on the nightmare you can have happen before you get there.

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Women And Revolution is a blog designed to raise the issues that are affecting women all over the world while giving it journalistic value. W.A.R is a division of BeaSister2aSister a 501(c)3 non profit that helps survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, exploitation and abuse break the cycle of inter-dependency and become self sustainable. If you would like to learn more you can visit our website at or you can email us at If you are interested in seeing women and girls everywhere break free from inter-dependency, please consider donating online as a one time or sustainable donor. We are committed to seeing every woman walk in total freedom.


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