Porn job advertised on government website

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Iain Duncan SmithPhoto/Alastair Grant

The government has been left red-faced, after it emerged that the Universal Jobsmatch site had featured fake jobs, such as one for a hitman, and real jobs in inappropriate industries - including pornography.

So what's going on, and is there a real risk here?


Fake and porn jobs

According to The Guardian, the website has so far cost £17 million to develop. It is still in the pilot stage, but it allows employers to upload jobs available, and individuals to search for specific types of jobs - or ones requiring particular skills. The aim is that eventually 80% of all jobseekers will use the site.

The Universal Jobsmatch site first started causing headlines over the weekend, when a job advertising for a female presenter of 'internet babe chat' appeared on the site, and a social media campaign led to the job being taken down.

Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) told the House of Commons that the site had rigorous screening procedures that had meant that 6,000 jobs submitted to the website had not been put up, there have also been 60 employer accounts that have been blocked for posting inappropriate or false job adverts. He defended the site, saying: "Over 5 million average daily job searches are working on this. This system will be a massive improvement and a benefit to job seekers."

The Guardian also reported that a number of fake job adverts had been on the site, including an MI6 "target elimination specialist" and "international couriers" for CosaNostra Holdings.

The risk

It also raised the question of whether the site could be exploited by criminals to get hold of personal data of applicants. Channel Four News reported last week that a group of hackers had used the site to get passport and national insurance details from 70 job hunters - in an operation designed to draw attention to the potential risks in the site.

The Public and Commercial Services Union said in a statement: "On the security issues, management acknowledged that there had been 'teething issues' but that these were being resolved. PCS has put pressure on management to ensure a human rather than an automated IT check for the placing of vacancies by employers, to avoid the embarrassment of the bogus MI6 vacancy being repeated."

The DWP told the Guardian that in this part of the development process, manual checks were being carried out before jobs were advertised.

Protect yourself

The DWP also told Channel Four that if any job seeker is asked for details such as passport scans, national insurance numbers, or your date of birth, they should not provide them, as they could be abused.

The channel added: "Ads looking for James Bond-like skills, offering unusually high levels of pay or asking you to sell goods on eBay, should be taken with a pinch of salt."

CrimeStoppers has issued advice to anyone applying for work online. It offers five tips.

1. Check that the organisation offering you the job actually exists. If it does, then contact the organisation directly through officially listed contact details in order to confirm that the job offer is valid.
2. Notice if poor grammar is used or there are any spelling mistakes in the e-mails or documents you've received as this is common when fraudsters are at work.
3. Contact the embassy of where you've been told the job is and ask them how to obtain a visa and how much it costs (as often bogus job offers are followed by requests for payment for a visa).
4. Tell the 'employer' or 'recruitment agent' that you will make your own travel and accommodation arrangements. Beware if they try to pressurise you into making these arrangements through a recommended 'agency' – this is a sign that this is likely to be a scam.
5. A further sign that fraudsters are at work is if they provide contact details that include a Yahoo or Hotmail e-mail address.