It may be hard to spot a job post from a labor trafficker because on the surface it can look like any other, but there are 6 red flags to avoid when job hunting so you don’t become a victim of human labor trafficking – it can happen to anyone.
You’re probably not the type of person to fall for the bandit signs on the side of the road that promise travel, a fancy car, clothing budgets, and high pay, but no experience is required (and all you have is a phone number to call). What all of these signs have in common is that they offer a lure but no details. These signs or shady online ads often use female names to appear more trustworthy, and require you to text them (you won’t hear their voice because it’s not a polished receptionist, it’s a labor trafficker).
If you can’t get any details in advance of inadvertently giving someone your phone number by texting or calling, it may not be safe – don’t call/text. It’s not worth it. If they tell you to check out their Instagram account and it’s just pictures of someone’s unidentifiable hands holding wads of cash, that’s a common method to appear legitimate (“But look how much money they made!”) but it’s a common ingredient in scams of all sorts, including trafficking.
🚩 They Don’t Ask Question (or Give Answers)
All legitimate cannabis businesses will want to review your professional experience, even if you’re applying for entry level work. They’ll care if you’re in their industry or interested in their industry. If there is no way to apply online, or nowhere to email your resume, and they get angry with you for asking, it’s not a legitimate opportunity (labor trafficking or otherwise).
If they jump immediately to an interview after you text “I’m interested,” that’s not how normal businesses operate. Legitimate businesses can’t interview everyone that is interested, it’s not logistically possible. Also, If you’re in a state where a marijuana handlers card is required to work in the industry, but they don’t seem to care? That’s a big red flag.
🚩 Interview in a Weird Place or On Location
Small businesses will often interview you in a Starbucks, and that’s totally legitimate. But if you have ignored the first two red flags and found yourself lining up an interview, look at Google Maps before you head that way. Some online advertisers will say that you’re such an interesting candidate that the boss wants to meet you personally at his home. That is not normal. You should never go, even if the boss is well known.
But in the case of labor trafficking, you won’t have the real name of a person, and if the interview location is a run down, dilapidated house, you’re going to end up in the back of a truck. Sometimes it will even be in a decent looking house, but that’s still not normal and they could be renting it online for the day to appear more upstanding. If you look on Google Maps and it’s in an abandoned strip mall that you know hasn’t had any open companies in a decade, that’s another terrible sign of danger.
All interviews should be at a company’s offices, or in a very public place like a Starbucks. And even if the interview goes well and the interviewer wants you to immediately go to a private location, never ever ever do that. If you have a WeWork or coworking space in your city, if you aren’t totally sure about a lone interviewer or their chosen location, tell them you cowork there and you’d be happy to meet there in public, in the bright lights (you can buy a day pass if they say yes). If they’re unwilling to meet in a public space, run.
Lastly on this red flag, if you end up meeting at Starbucks and it doesn’t go well, your gut says you’re in danger, or you rejected their offer to immediately go to their house to continue the interview, don’t leave first. Stay put, lie, say you have another meeting there in a few minutes, and let them leave first so they can’t follow you to your car. Watch them drive away. And if your gut still says you’re in danger, tell an employee that you’re going to your car and ask if they’d make sure you got there and the creepy interviewer doesn’t get you (that’ll get their attention). Safety first.
🚩 Weird or No Contracts
Let’s say you’ve found yourself answering a shady ad that you didn’t know was shady. They say it’s all remote, so you don’t have to meet anyone in person. So far, so good. Maybe they promised that you’ll do a ton of fancy international travel, and their headquarters are in another nation, so the contract is in another language, but they tell you what it says so you sign anyways.
Wrong. If an employment contract is in another language, you truly have no idea what you’re signing to – don’t do it. But that’s not the only part of this red flag. In this scenario, labor traffickers will have you take the contract to a local who will translate it for you, answer all of your questions, and help you through the process by holding your hand.
They’re remote too, so you’ll have to go to their house, but they assure you the person is your same gender, and you’re not in any danger, they’ve helped hundreds of people and just want to help you.
If you go to that house for “help,” you’ll likely end up victimized.
🚩 Weird Money Flow
This red flag is applicable to a number of scams, not just labor trafficking. If you are required to pay money up front before getting a job (for tools, training, or inventory), you’re either joining a scam, a MLM scheme, or being stolen from. That’s not normal for a traditional full time opportunity. On the other end of the spectrum, traffickers that are promisers try to gain your trust, so without meeting you, they may mail you a check as a sign on bonus (you were smart enough to reject giving them your bank account information for direct deposit which is a common way to scam people out of money).
You’ll put the check in the bank, it’ll sit there for a few days while it clears, but meanwhile they’ve gained your trust and start working toward meeting you in person and fast forwarding the trafficking process. The check isn’t going to clear, but now they have your home address, likely your phone number, name, and if you were tricked into filling out an application, they have your Social Security Number.
Your identity could be stolen and sold, or worse, it could be used to track you down and find you in person, knowing how vulnerable you are since you missed all of the previous red flags.
🚩 Trust Your Gut
Although it should be number one, the final red flag is that if your gut tells you any part of the process is off, trust your intuition.