Australians lose $20 million this year on job scams

Australians are being urged to be on the lookout for employment scams amid a sharp rise in workers being tricked with dodgy job opportunities.

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones said on Monday that Australians have lost $20 million to employment scams this year alone, with Instagram, TikTok and WhatsApp emerging as platforms for illegal activity.

“They often help victims set up accounts on cryptocurrency platforms and get them to undertake training and tasks, before asking for a financial deposit with the promise of commissions or bonuses,” Jones said.

“In some instances, they entice victims to engage with schemes by offering small ‘cash backs’ to begin.”

Tales of job scams

One Australian lost $40,000 after responding to a job advertisement for a hotel booking platform on Facebook.

The worker was tasked with generating hotel ratings and was told they’d need to deposit money with the company first so that they would later be repaid with an additional commission for their work.

After completing an initial block of 35 bookings, the company sent the worker back their deposit, plus a small commission.

“I committed to continue as I thought it will be the same as the first one,” the worker said.

“But this time the investment was getting so high. I continued to finish 35 bookings and asked to withdraw my fund, plus commission.

“The customer service officer said I had to pay the insurance for money transfer as the funds were so high. I realised it was a scam and the loss was about $40,000 via Binance in USD.”

In another case cited by the government, an Australian lost $12,000 after responding to a fake job ad on Facebook from criminals impersonating a representative from Kmart.

“Someone messaged me on WhatsApp saying that she was assigned as my agent, and she explained the flow of the job to me,” the victim said.

“She sent me a website to register where I would ‘grab’ items.”

From there the person registered and undertook 40 tasks for the scammers, with a purported commission of 0.5 per cent for each piece of clothing they “priced”.

“I put all my savings to this online job,” the victim said.

“They used a different retail company logo like Kmart and Woolworths.”

Advice for avoiding job scams

Australians are being urged to be on the lookout for dodgy job opportunities, with a few “tell-tale signs”:

  • Be sceptical of unsolicited job ads on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, TikTok or Instagram
  • The scammer may be impersonating a legitimate recruitment agency and will often offer part-time remote work opportunities
  • Scammers will often use terms like “guaranteed income” with rates of pay that probably sound too good to be true (because they are)
  • Scammers are impersonating online shopping websites such as Kmart, Myer, Kogan, Amazon and hotel chains
  • They will ask for payments directly to Australian bank accounts with PayID as the preferred method.

Australians who suspect they have fallen victim to a job scam are advised to contact their bank immediately and report the criminals to the National Anti-Scam Centre.

Topics: Fraud, scams
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