Pay to Work? Scammers Impersonating Recruiters Steal Your Crypto Before Denying Your Salary, FBI Says


June 05, 2024

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Pay to Work? Scammers Impersonating Recruiters Steal Your Crypto Before Denying Your Salary, FBI Says

The FBI has issued a public service announcement warning that scammers are targeting citizens with fake job offers designed to steal their money.

Fraudsters are “offering victims fake work-from-home jobs, typically involving a relatively simple task, such as rating restaurants or ‘optimizing’ a service by repeatedly clicking a button,” according to the memo.

Posing as a staffing or recruiting agency, the scammers typically contact victims by text or phone.

Pay before getting ‘paid’

“Scammers design the fake job to have a confusing compensation structure that requires victims to make cryptocurrency payments in order to earn more money or ‘unlock’ work, and the payments go directly to the scammer,” the bureau says.

Victims are directed to a fake interface that displays fake earnings, none of which is available to cash out.

The FBI notice includes a list of “red flags” that citizens should watch out for to avoid falling into the trap. The first thing to watch out for is directions for crypto payments to your alleged new employer, as part of the job.

The notice stops short of including examples or details of this method, but it’s well known that many scams, especially the investment type, use this technique while promising big returns. In reality, the promised returns are fictitious and the scammer always gets the money.

A second red flag to note is the job description using the term “optimization,” and involving relatively simple tasks. A third, the FBI says, is the scammer not requiring references as part of the hiring process.

The notice urges citizens to be cautious of unsolicited job offers and to avoid clicking links, downloading files, or opening attachments in these messages. The agency also advises people to refrain from paying for services that claim to recover lost cryptocurrency funds, and to resist sending financial or personal identifiable information to people making unsolicited job offers.

Scams run rampant

As we reported earlier this week, two US nationals are facing decades in prison after being found guilty of mass-mailing fraud for selling consumer data to fraudsters who then targeted vulnerable citizens with fake prizes.

Americans lost over a billion dollars to scammers impersonating businesses or government agencies in 2023, the FTC said in a report this year.

According to the Bitdefender 2024 Consumer Cybersecurity Assessment Report, few people consider themselves an actual target for cybercriminals.  And those who say they can recognize a scam were more likely to have experienced one (29%) than those who didn’t always (24%) or never (16%) recognized scams – indicating that people who can’t recognize a scam may have sufferedone without knowing.

As we recently reported based on other findings in the survey, scams run rampant worldwide yet consumers still engage in complacent cybersecurity practices, making it imperative to employ dedicated security on our personal devices.

Use a dedicated anti-scam tool

Bitdefender offers Scamio as a way to combat scams targeting consumers worldwide. Scamio is a free scam detector and prevention service for anyone with a Bitdefender account. Suspicious about a certain phone call, email, or SMS? Simply describe the situation to our clever chatbot and let it guide you to safety. You can share with Scamio the exact thing you want to check, such as a screenshot, PDF, QR code, or link. Scamio lets you know in seconds if it’s a sham.

You can access our scam-fighting chatbot on any device or operating system via web browser, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp. You can also help your friends or loved ones abroad stay safe by sharing Scamio with them in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Romania, Australia and the UK.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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