23 October 2023

Australians urged to be alert to rapidly rising employment scams

The Albanese Government is urging Australians to be alert to an alarming rise in employment scams.

According to the National Anti‑Scams Centre (NASC) financial losses to job and employment scams have increased by over 740% in 2023.

Scammers are targeting jobseekers with lucrative offers to complete tasks, tricking unsuspecting victims into handing over their hard‑earned money.

Australians have reported losses of $20 million to employment scams this year alone.

We’ve seen a significant increase in scammers impersonating genuine organisations and recruiters - contacting victims through job offers via WhatsApp or promoting jobs ads on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Tik Tok and Instagram.

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

Scammers are targeting students looking for part‑time work, culturally and linguistically diverse groups, and people seeking to flexibly earn some additional income.

The Albanese Government is urging Australians who are seeking work to be on the lookout for the tell‑tale signs of employment scams which can include:

  • unsolicited job ads or offers via messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, or social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok or Instagram;
  • scammers impersonating a legitimate recruitment agency, often offering part time, work from home, or freelance employment;
  • scammers offering ‘guaranteed income’ or too‑good‑to‑be‑true rates of pay for simple task‑based work online.
  • scammers pretending to hire on behalf of legitimate online shopping platforms like Kmart, Myer, Kogan and Amazon, or hotel chains, travel‑booking companies and marketing agencies;
  • online jobs with game‑like models which encourage people to earn more money by completing tasks, referring friends, and depositing money in an app;
  • asking for payments directly to Australian bank accounts, with PayID as the preferred method in order to earn more income at the end.

What to do if you have been scammed:

  • If you have lost money, contact your bank immediately;
  • Contact IDCare on 1800 595 160 if you have provided identity documents to the scammer;
  • Report scams to the National Anti‑Scam Centre
  • People who experiencing financial hardship can speak with a financial counsellor through the National Debt Helpline: 1800 007 007 or access live chat via their website

Case studies

1. Facebook job ad results in $40,000 loss

I saw a post offering part‑time/work from home on a Facebook page. I was interested to earn some extra income so I responded. She said a person would call me via WhatsApp.

She introduced me to an online hotel booking platform and I had to generate the rating of the hotels. At first, she let me use her account to learn how the platform worked. I had to deposit my own money in order to do the first 35 bookings. I was told when I finish 35 bookings, I will get the invested money back plus commission. The first transaction was a small volume of tasks and I completed it easily. I got all my small investment back plus commission.

I committed to continue as I thought it will be the same as the first one. 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 USDT to their wallets (they change the wallet address every day).

2. Job scam impersonating Australian retail brand results in $12,000 loss

I responded to a job posted on Facebook named *Fashion clothes*. A woman replied asking my name mobile number and age which I gave. Then after that she said someone in our HR department will contact you in an hour.

Someone messaged me on WhatsApp saying that she was assigned as my agent and she explained the flow of the job to me. She sent me a website to register where I would ‘grab’ items. When I registered she said you need to finish 40 tasks (grab 40 items) and you will earn commission 0.5% from each price I was told to invest money to grab the items.

I’ve been receiving big amounts of items and my fund is not enough to grab so I need to deposit money in order to get the order. I’m stuck because I already put 10 000 now they asking me to put more to finish my task.

They said this is your last task you need to finish in order for you to withdraw all your money. But I have no assurance if I will be able to withdraw it or not. I put all my savings to this online job. They used a different retail company logo like Kmart and Woolworths.