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Flexible Work Scam

People seeking jobs with flexible work conditions, such as working from home, have fallen foul of an employment scam.

In just three months, WA ScamNet received 20 reports of this type of employment scam with financial losses totalling around $510,000.

The largest individual loss reported to WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection was $194,151 with the lowest being $350.

How the scam works:

  • Victims are usually contacted on social media or encrypted message platforms like WhatsApp or Telegram, with offers of easy employment online, no experience needed and the added benefit of working from home. Victims targeted by this type of scam include international students new to Australia.
  • The fake job promises to pay requires victims to perform various tasks for commission, such as clicking on links to place reviews, or shopping online on various websites to bolster a business’ position online.
  • They are then added to WhatsApp or similar chat group or a fake online platform with scammers posing as other excited employees encouraging the newcomers to invest in this ‘wonderful opportunity.’
  • To secure the job, victims are asked to ‘invest’ a substantial amount of money in crypto currency, with the promise of high returns.
  • During this process, victims are often asked to provide forms of identification and invest a fee in order to set up their account, before realising there won’t be any payment or promised return.
  • The scammers then begin a harassment campaign for further payments.

How to protect yourself:

  • Be suspicious of job opportunities offered by unknown people who contact you on social media, message platforms or email.
  • Do adequate research on a business before engaging, including checking if there is a physical street address
  • Never provide payment upfront, especially by crypto currency which is not reversible.
  • Remember, you should never have to pay a fee to secure employment or provide a service.
  • Protect your personal information – don’t hand over your personal identification to anyone you meet online.
  • If you fall victim to an employment scam, report it to your financial institution, Australian Cyber Security Centre and IDCARE.
Last updated 6 July 2023