White Hat Institute

Fake job postings are being used to extort money and personal information, according to the FBI

Fake job postings
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Scammers are attempting to steal money and personal information from job searchers through phishing tactics including bogus advertising put on job boards. Today, the Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) issued a public service message (PSA) about the warning.

“The FBI advises that scammers continue to exploit security flaws on job portals to create bogus employment advertising in order to mislead applicants into supplying personal information or money,” according to the FBI. “By using authentic information to impersonate companies and threatening reputational harm to the business and financial loss to the job seeker, these scammers provide legitimacy to their scheme.”

Frauds like these have been active since early 2019, with average recorded losses of about $3,000 per victim, not to mention the damage done to victims’ credit scores. In January 2020, the federal law enforcement agency issued a similar warning, stating that cybercriminals had begun impersonating real companies’ websites in order to steal money and personally identifiable information (PII) from job seekers.

Criminals are exploiting the lack of robust security verification standards on recruitment websites to post bogus job openings that look identical to those posted by the companies they’re impersonating. “Fraudulent job listings include links and contact information that send candidates to faked websites, email addresses, and phone numbers controlled by scammers,” the FBI noted.

Possible protection methods from such scams

The FBI urges job seekers to double-check job advertising obtained on social media sites by contacting the company’s HR department or visiting the company’s official website. They should also only submit PII and financial information in person or via video call after confirming their identification.

Fake job fraudsters should be identified by one or more of the following indicators:

  • Interviews do not take place in person or through a secure video connection.
  • Teleconference solutions that employ email addresses instead of phone numbers are used to conduct interviews.
  • Victims are contacted by potential employers using non-company email addresses and teleconference software.
  • Employees may be required to purchase start-up equipment from potential employers.
  • Credit card information is requested by potential employers.
  • Job listings appear on job boards but not on the websites of the companies.
  • Recruiters and managers do not have profiles on the job board, or the profiles do not appear to be appropriate for their positions.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also has information on how these types of job scams work, as well as the warning indicators that job seekers can look for to know if they’re being targeted. “The COVID-19 pandemic has radically affected interview and hiring processes, making it critical for employers and job candidates to verify the authenticity of job advertising and employment offers,” according to the FBI.

“The FBI advises the American people to exercise caution when applying for and accepting jobs through a completely remote procedure with little or no in-person contact, onboarding, or meetings.” If you are a victim of a fraud like this, contact IC3 at www.ic3.gov or your local FBI field office (a list can be found at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices).