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Man reveals he was hired for a fake job at a fake company as job seeker scams continue to rise

Scammers pose as recruiters before stealing money from job-seekers

Andrew Griffin
Friday 23 December 2022 18:04 GMT
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The biggest cyber risk for businesses is complacency and not hackers, the Information Commissioner said (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The biggest cyber risk for businesses is complacency and not hackers, the Information Commissioner said (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Scammers are hiring people for fake jobs at fake companies – and tricking people into taking on their roles.

Recent years have seen a huge growth in employment scams, which look to take advantage of job seekers by tricking them into applying for fake jobs. They have only grown as more jobs have become remote, and people may never actually meet their colleagues in person even at legitimate jobs.

The scams often involve fake job postings on real websites, that are then used to lure in ambitious job seekers. The scammers will then take them through a detailed and authentic-looking application process, leaving them thinking they are in line for a real job – and, in some cases, that they have really got it.

But the scammers will then let them down, abusing their trust by asking them to send money to buy equipment or through other means. Attackers might ask for money or personal information under the guise of advancing their application.

On LinkedIn, digital marketing manager Gustavo Miller described how he had been taken in by a job that appeared to be at crypto company Coinbase – but did not actually exist.

“A month ago I started a (fake) new job. I did a (fake) onboarding. I met (fake) colleagues,” he wrote on the site.

He went through the entire process of joining the company until he was asked to sign up to buy equipment for his job, he said. He sent the money and has since found that the job was not actually real and that it will not be possible to get it back.

He said that he was sharing the story with the hope that other people would be better placed to spot such a scam. He also said that he had heard from other people who were too embarrassed to share that such a scam had happened to them.

“These scammers know how to target vulnerable people and swindle them,” he wrote. “I felt really stupid and naive when I discovered it, but I know this is not a silly scam. These guys are pro, they know the standard remote first jobs conditions and the tech industry’s hiring culture.”

In the comments on Mr Miller’s post, huge numbers of people reported having been hit by the same scam. Some even indicated that they had actually had fake interviews with the company, powered by AI.

In summer, the FBI warned that the same thing was happening in reverse: that entirely fake people were applying to real companies, and then being interviewed for roles. The agency said that the scammers would use those fake applicants to gain access to companies’ internal systems, though the full details were unclear.

Experts warn those that might be at risk from such a scam to pay attention to the details of the employment process: looking out for generic messages, misspelled email addresses, and offers of jobs that are too good to be true, for instance.

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