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Fake recruitment ads used to target job seekers for identity theft and possible money laundering: SSO Alert Priority Hig

28 March 2014

Scammers are targeting job seekers for identity theft and possibly also as ‘money mules’ (a form of money laundering) by posting employment ads online pretending to be from legitimate Australian recruitment agencies.

The fake ads have been posted on a number of Australian job boards, recruiting for a variety of entry-level positions such as part-time retail, clerical or financial roles.

The scam takes advantage of a job seeker’s willingness to ignore their suspicions about disclosing personal information because there is a chance of employment, and the fact that any job application involves providing personal information as a matter of course.

The ads include links to legitimate looking (but fake) recruitment websites and applicants who respond to the ad are led through a series of steps via email which eventually includes requests for their bank account details, personal information and copies of identity documents such as passports and driver’s licence.

Some victims have also reported a deposit (or payment) made into their bank account which they were instructed to redirect onto other specified banks accounts, which suggests the scam also involves attempts at money laundering or using the applicant as a ‘money mule’ to shift suspicious or illegally acquired money via the victim to a safe account—typically in another country.

How the scam works

Once an applicant clicks on the job ad they are directed to a fake recruitment website. The legitimate recruitment agency (hrnational.com.au) first reported the scam when its website was mimicked by scammers using a fake hrnational.net address.

While the fake HR National website has been taken down, similar scams impersonating other Australian companies are still believed to be taking place.

People who enquire about the position or submit their resume in response to the bogus ad or fake website receive an email, such as the example below, pretending to have come from the recruitment agency. The email includes a bogus application form which the candidate is asked to complete in order to apply for the position.

From: "Angelina Sheppard, HR National"

Subject: Available vacancies!

Date: 11 March 2014 1:09:36 PM AEDT

To: [Removed]

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Dear ,

Now we are ready to assist you in finding a job. Your resume seemed to us very interesting.

In order for us to move ahead in our selection process, could you please complete Application Form attached and return it to us.

Job Title: Part-Time Retail Sales Assistant
Employer: Realty Solution

Our staffing team will carefully assess your qualifications for the role(s) you selected and others that may be a fit.

All information about our agency and services you can see at our website.

Best Regards,
Angelina Sheppard

HR national has grown to become one of the most respected Recruitment, HR Consulting & Career Management providers in Australia.We contribute substantially to the success of our clients by working with them to: recruit top talent; discover the full potential of each employee and realise the collective strength of a highly engaged workforce.

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Once a candidate submits the application, a further response is received, advising them that the application was received successfully and has been passed along to the prospective employer for evaluation. It also includes other possible jobs of interest.

Another example is below:

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Dear !

We have sent your details to our employers. If your application is approved, they will contact you.

Employer: Realty Solution
Job Title: Part-Time Retail Sales Assistant (Training provided)
Salary: $2300/month
Job Type: Part Time
Location: Melbourne, VIC

More jobs available:

1. Employer: The Sopreto LLC
Job Title: Assistant Clerk (Training is not required)
Salary: $2900/month
Job Type: Part Time/Temporary/Internet-office
Location: Toorak, VIC

2. Employer: Travelodge Melbourne
Job Title: Hotel Clerk Supervisor (Training is not required)
Salary: 14$ /hour
Job Type: Part Time/Temporary
Location: Melbourne, VIC

We sent your resume and apply for the above position. If you do not receive a response within 48 hours, your request has been declined.

Best Regards,
Angelina Sheppard

HR national has grown to become one of the most respected Recruitment, HR Consulting & Career Management providers in Australia.
We contribute substantially to the success of our clients by working with them to: recruit top talent; discover the full potential of each employee and realise the collective strength of a highly engaged workforce.

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Finally, the candidate receives an offer for the position via a third email, this time from the so-called prospective employer. The most recent example was from a fake company called, ‘The Sopreto LLC’.

This e-mail also comes with a series of attached documents that the ‘employer’ requests be completed and returned, including ID document information and possibly also bank account details for payment purposes.

The scammers may then attempt to execute the money mule/laundering phase of the scam, setting up payments to be made into the candidate’s bank account, which are then expected to be transferred onwards to the scammer’s destination account.

This is often done under assertions that the position is financially or transactionally related, so it is part of the job or how payment for the job is managed. A small ‘commission’ may be offered for handling the transactions, usually pitched as part of the payment.

This is a scam and participating in such activities is illegal.

What should you do?

Be suspicious of any overt or unsolicited requests for your personal information or your bank account information via email—even from a potential employer.

A recruiter should require nothing more than a CV during the initial stages of a job application.

No employer or recruiter should ask for excessive personal or banking details upfront. This would include asking for copies of documents such as your driver’s licence and passport, or for your banking details.

You can provide the necessary banking details for salary payments later in the process—usually after you have been offered the position and negotiated your employment with your new employer.

Any recruiter should be upfront about how this will work and be clear about how your personal information will be handled.

You should also be able to verify the address, contact information, website and general business undertaken by any organisation you are dealing with—independently of the information you are sent via email.

As part of applying for any employment position you should research the employer and the recruiter by independently checking their website and other online presence.

You should also try to meet and evaluate your potential employer before you provide personal or financial information.

A reputable recruiter should be able to discuss an employment opportunity with you at length and in detail. They should be able to satisfy any questions you might have about the position and the company before you would be expected to offer any personal information.

Be suspicious of any advertised positions that look too good to be true, in particular advertisements or messages that have poor English or lack the appropriate detail.

If you suspect you might have encountered this type of scam, you can report the scam to SCAMwatch. You should also report the incident to your local police.

If you have provided any financial details in a suspected scam, contact your bank immediately and monitor your account for suspicious activity.

More information

Similar types of scams, such as the recent overseas loan scam, which operate in a similar way, have been discussed previously on Stay Smart Online. These differ mainly in that they try to fool you in to making a payment to the scammer, rather than laundering their money for them.

Information provided by HR National and CERT Australia.

Feedback

Thank you to those subscribers who have provided feedback to our Alerts and Newsletters. We are very interested in your feedback and where possible take on board your suggestions or requests.

Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

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