If it is too good to be true, it probably is

In the South East Division, the total number of online job fraud cases is 260 from January 1, 2023, to date

Updated - June 02, 2023 12:24 pm IST

Published - June 02, 2023 10:28 am IST - Bengaluru

Fraudsters approach potential victims through popular online platforms, job portals, or social media channels.

Fraudsters approach potential victims through popular online platforms, job portals, or social media channels.

Online job frauds in Bengaluru predominantly target IT professionals seeking remote work options. Fraudsters pose as legitimate employers or recruitment agencies, offering attractive job opportunities with promises of high salaries, flexible working hours, and the convenience of working from home. The other tactic is using social media groups to solve problems and make money. These scams exploit the aspirations and vulnerabilities of individuals looking for better career prospects. These scams predominantly target 20 to 40-year-olds.

In the South East Division, the total number of online job fraud cases is 260 from January 1, 2023, to date. In all these cases, the victims are qualified BTech/BE engineers. The perpetrators use social media like Telegram (167 cases), WhatsApp (52 cases), Instagram and YouTube links (41 cases). The victims have lost ₹11.1 crore (from the registered 260 cases). Individually, the average is ₹ 5 to 10 lakh loss. This statistic is only from the South East division of Bengaluru and reported cases, hence only the tip of the iceberg.

The Modus Operandi

Fraudsters approach potential victims through popular online platforms, job portals, or social media channels. They employ various tactics to gain the trust of their targets, such as fake company profiles, fabricated testimonials, and persuasive job descriptions. The scammers may also leverage messaging apps like Telegram to communicate with the victims and conduct interviews, further adding an air of authenticity. They lure individual IT professionals to make some quick money by providing solutions or solving problems/tasks.

First, they offer smaller rewards like ₹1,000 for solving easy problems. Once the bank details are shared, and the smaller denomination rewards are shared, the task becomes difficult, and award money increases. The perpetrators (disguised as fellow group members) show evidence in the group of having received higher denomination rewards like ₹ 1 lakh. This ploy makes it believable and becomes an incentive for others to get similar or higher amounts. The gullible get spurred, and when they solve the next level problem, for example, ₹1 lakh reward amount, the criminal gang asks them to deposit a fee.

Also read: Online part-time job scam cases on the rise in Bengaluru

Similarly, if a victim expresses interest in a job offer, the scammers proceed to request an initial payment or deposit, usually disguised as a transaction fee. To establish credibility, the fraudsters may even provide a small amount of money as an advance or “return on investment” to convince the victim of the legitimacy of the job. Encouraged by these initial returns, victims often fall deeper into the trap, depositing more money as the scammers continue to demand additional funds for various reasons, such as processing fees, training costs, or tax obligations.

Impact on innocent victims

The lure of easy money in a seemingly legitimate way makes professionals fall victim to these frauds. They face severe consequences, including loss of money, emotional distress, and damage to their professional reputation. Additionally, victims may have shared personal information during the recruitment process, putting them at risk of identity theft and further financial exploitation.

Awareness of the modus operandi of these frauds is crucial to safeguard innocent victims from falling into the traps set by cybercriminals. By staying informed, exercising caution, and reporting fraudulent activities, citizens can play an active role in protecting themselves and their peers from the devastating consequences of online job scams.

Tactics used by fraudsters to trap victims

1. Fake job postings: Scammers post fraudulent job advertisements on various online platforms that appear genuine, with detailed job descriptions and convincing company profiles.

2. Impersonation: Fraudsters assume false identities, masquerading as H.R. managers, recruiters, or senior executives of well-known companies. They communicate with victims through emails, phone calls, or instant messaging platforms, gaining their trust and establishing credibility. They even stage interviews to make it look and sound authentic.

3. Upfront payment requests: Once victims express interest in the job, scammers demand payment for various purposes and convince victims that these payments are necessary to secure jobs or get rewards.

4. Money returns and trapping: Fraudsters may initially provide small returns on the victim’s investment to build trust, and as victims invest more money, scammers gradually increase their demands. Eventually, the scammers vanish or make excuses for non-payment, leaving victims financially devastated.

How to prevent online job frauds
1. Research and verify: The legitimacy of the employer by checking their website, social media presence, and contact information.
2. Avoid upfront payments: Legitimate employers rarely ask for upfront payments or fees.
3. Report incident: Contact local law enforcement agencies, providing them with all relevant details and evidence. Reporting can help raise awareness and prevent others from falling into the same trap.

(The writer is DCP, South East Division)

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