Online Job Scams & Overpayment Fraud

Online job scams have rapidly proliferated in recent years due to several key factors. The advent of technology has enabled a massive shift towards online job-seeking and recruitment platforms. While this shift has presented vast opportunities for genuine employers and job seekers, it has also paved the way for fraudsters to exploit unsuspecting individuals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation as many people have turned to online platforms for remote work, thereby becoming potential targets for these scams.

Online job scams take many forms but commonly involve fake job postings, counterfeit recruiting emails, and employment opportunities that ask for payment or personal information upfront. The fraudsters aim to extract money, sensitive information, or both, often resulting in devastating financial loss or identity theft for the victims.

Understanding the prevalence of online job scams is critical as it highlights the importance of awareness and caution when searching for jobs online. Information and vigilance are key defenses against such scams in the ever-evolving digital age. Job seekers must be proactive in learning how to distinguish legitimate job opportunities from scams, such as identifying red flags, checking the credibility of the hiring company, and not sharing sensitive information without proper verification.

By fostering a heightened sense of digital literacy and security consciousness, individuals can protect themselves while taking advantage of the convenience and vast opportunities that online job hunting offers. Awareness, education, and constant vigilance can greatly reduce the chances of falling prey to these scams and ensure a safe and productive job search.

Online Job Scams

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Understanding Online Job Scams

Fake job scams are a type of fraud in which scammers create false job listings, impersonate legitimate companies or recruiters, or create convincing but fictitious job opportunities to defraud job seekers. These scams may appear incredibly convincing, often featuring professional-looking websites or emails, detailed job descriptions, and seemingly high-paying roles.

The key characteristics of fake job scams often include too-good-to-be-true job offers, high salaries for minimal work, lack of an interview process, requests for payment or personal information, and poor grammar or spelling mistakes in job descriptions or emails. The job roles advertised in these scams can range widely, from entry-level positions to high-level executive roles, across a broad array of industries.

Scammers use several common tactics to deceive job seekers:

Fake Job Postings and Websites

These involve creating fraudulent job advertisements on legitimate job search platforms or constructing convincing but fake websites.

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    The job descriptions often appear very detailed and professional, offering high pay for minimal work or skills.

    Impersonation of Legitimate Companies or Recruiters

    Scammers often impersonate reputable companies or recruiting agents.

    They may use company logos, email addresses that closely resemble the company’s actual email, or names of actual employees to make their scam appear legitimate.

    Requests for Personal Information

    Many fake job scams involve requests for sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, or copies of official identification documents.

    Scammers might justify this by saying it’s for background checks or to set up direct deposit for paychecks.

    Unusual Payment Requirements or Promises

    This can take several forms, such as asking job seekers to pay upfront for training, equipment, or background checks.

    Alternatively, scammers may promise unusually high returns for investment in a business venture as part of the job.

    It’s important to remember that legitimate employers rarely ask for money from prospective employees, and promising guaranteed returns on investment is a common tactic in many types of financial fraud.

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    The Overpayment Scam Connection

    Overpayment scams are specific fraudulent schemes often intertwined with fake job scams.

    In these scenarios, a scammer, posing as an employer, sends a counterfeit check to a job seeker as their first payment. The check is typically for an amount significantly larger than what was agreed upon for the job, and the “employer” claims it was an error. They then request that the excess money be returned through a non-traceable method such as a wire transfer or gift card.

    The integration of overpayment scams into fake job schemes follows a specific pattern:

    Initial Promise of Payment and the Lure of Excess Funds

    The scam typically begins with the supposed employer promising payment for the job, often before any work has even started.

    The check that they send, however, is for an amount much higher than what was agreed.

    The employer will claim this was an error, but they might also suggest that the excess can be used for necessary job-related expenses, such as software or equipment.

    Tactics Employed to Convince Victims to Return the Overpayment

    Once the job seeker receives the overpayment, the scammer often uses various tactics to convince them to return the excess money quickly.

    They may express panic or urgency or appeal to the job seeker’s sense of honesty and fairness.

    The preferred methods for returning the money are usually untraceable and non-reversible, such as wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or gift cards.

    Consequences of Falling Victim to the Overpayment Scam

    If a job seeker falls victim to this scam, the consequences can be severe.

    In most cases, the original check or money transfer will eventually be found fraudulent by the bank, but this can take several days or even weeks.

    The job seeker, however, is responsible for the funds as soon as they are withdrawn. This means they may send real money back to the scammer before discovering their payment was fake.

    When the bank reverses the original deposit, the job seeker is left to cover the loss, often amounting to hundreds or thousands of dollars.

    Moreover, the scammer now has the job seeker’s sensitive banking information, which could lead to further financial losses or identity theft.

    Red Flags of Online Job Scams

    Here are some indicators that a job offer may be part of a fake job or overpayment scam:

    Unrealistic Job Offers and Payment Terms

    Job offers that seem too good to be true often are. For example, a job that requires little to no experience but promises high pay or flexible hours can be a red flag.

    The same goes for overpayment, which is almost always a sign of a scam.

    Poorly Written or Misleading Job Postings

    Poorly written job descriptions that contain numerous spelling or grammar errors, or lack specific details about the job or employer, may indicate a scam.

    Request for Personal Information or Financial Details Upfront

    Legitimate employers rarely ask for sensitive personal or financial information during the recruitment process.

    Any such requests should be treated with extreme caution.

    Pressure Tactics or Urgency to Act Quickly

    Scammers often create a sense of urgency to get victims to act quickly without thinking things through.

    They might pressure job seekers to deposit checks and return the “overpayment” immediately or rush them into accepting job offers.

    When it comes to researching companies and verifying job offers, here are some steps job seekers can take:

    Verifying the Legitimacy of Companies and Recruiters

    Job seekers should research the company or recruiter before applying for a job.

    This can involve checking if the company has a legitimate website and physical address and whether the recruiter’s email address matches the company’s official domain.

    Contacting the Company Directly to Confirm Job Offers

    If a job offer is received, it is wise to contact the company directly using the contact information from a trusted source (like the company’s official website), not the contact details provided in the potentially suspicious job offer.

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    Checking Online Reviews and Forums for Potential Scams

    Online platforms can be a treasure trove of information. Job seekers can check reviews on websites like Glassdoor or search for the company’s name alongside words like “scam” or “fraud” on forums or social media to see if other people have reported similar experiences.

    It is important to remember that while these steps can help job seekers avoid many scams, they are not foolproof. Scammers are constantly evolving tactics, so maintaining a healthy level of skepticism and vigilance is crucial.

    Protecting Yourself from Fake Job & Overpayment Scams

    Here are some crucial tips to avoid falling victim to job scams:

    Conducting Thorough Research Before Engaging with Job Offers

    Always research companies, job offers, and recruiters thoroughly before applying.

    Look for independent confirmation of the company’s legitimacy, such as a website, physical address, and verified contact information.

    Keeping Personal and Financial Information Secure

    Never provide sensitive personal or financial information during the job application process, such as Social Security numbers or bank account details.

    Legitimate employers will not request this information until a formal job offer has been made, and even then, it should be shared through secure methods.

    Being Cautious of Unusual Payment Requests or Overpayments

    Be wary of any requests for unusual forms of payment, such as wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency.

    Overpayment for work, especially when accompanied by a request to return the excess amount, is a common sign of a scam.

    Trusting Instincts and Being Skeptical of Too-Good-to-Be-True Offers

    If a job offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. High pay for little work, flexible hours with no experience needed, and other seemingly ideal conditions should be viewed skeptically.

    If you suspect you have encountered a scam or fallen victim to one, it’s important to take the following steps:

    Reporting Online Job Scams to Relevant Authorities and Law Enforcement

    Report the scam to your local law enforcement agency and to the Federal Trade Commission in the United States.

    If the scam involves a job listing on a specific website, report it to the administrators of that site.

    Contacting Your Bank or Financial Institution If You Have Been Scammed

    If you’ve given out financial information or sent money to a scammer, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.

    They may be able to stop a transaction or close your account if it has been compromised.

    Utilizing Resources and Organizations That Help Victims of Online Job Scams

    There are many resources available to help victims of scams.

    The Identity Theft Resource Center, for example, offers assistance to victims of identity theft, which can often result from job scams.

    The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, is another resource to report and learn more about Internet crime.

    Online Job Scams – Examples

    Caught in the Web: An Encounter with a $41,000 Fake Job and Overpayment Scam

    On July 10, 2023, we received the following complaint:

    Initially, I was approached to work on Google reviews, and I received a payment of $500. I withdrew the amount, but then they deposited a higher sum and requested a higher withdrawal. However, I couldn’t withdraw the remaining $98 because they stated that I needed a minimum credit of $100 for a withdrawal. They claimed that I had already received $41,000.

    Based on the provided text, it appears to be an “overpayment scam” or a “fake job scam.” Here’s how the scam typically works:

    1. The scammer approaches individuals claiming to offer a job, such as writing Google reviews.
    2. They promise a payment upfront, in this case, $500.
    3. The victim receives the payment and withdraws it.
    4. The scammer then sends more money and requests the victim to return the excess amount.
    5. The victim is asked to deposit the excess amount into a different account or send it via a money transfer service.
    6. The scammer’s initial payment turns out to be fraudulent, and the victim realizes they have been scammed when their bank notifies them of the insufficient funds.
    7. The victim may also be tricked into providing personal information or making additional payments.

    In this case, mentioning a requirement to reach a specific credit amount before withdrawing funds further indicates suspicious behavior. It is important to be cautious when dealing with such offers, particularly if they involve requests for money transfers or personal information.

    WhatsApp Scam Nightmare: A Loss of 160,000PHP [~3000 USD] in a Fake Hotel Review Scheme

    On July 24, 2023, we received the following complaint:

    Someone messaged me on my WhatsApp account, promising extra income and inviting me to participate in a work process. They explained that the task involved reviewing hotels and completing these tasks would lead to payment. I successfully completed several tasks until I made a mistake by choosing BTC instead of BTS. After this error, I was unable to get a refund.

    The scammers then informed me that to receive a refund, I needed to complete another task, and I reluctantly agreed. However, they demanded another payment from me before refunding the initial amount. At this point, I realized that I was being deceived and refused to give them any more money. Despite this, they insisted that I make the “last payment,” but it never seemed to be the end. I ended up paying a total of 160,000PHP. [~3000 USD]

    Caught in a Recruitment Scam: A Desperate Situation with Tiger Recruitment Impersonators

    On August 16, 2023, we received another complaint:

    I was contacted by someone who claimed to work for a recruitment company I had heard of, as I had applied for a job with them. So, when the person mentioned the company’s name, Tiger Recruitment, I automatically fell for it. The person, named ‘Ayla’ (most likely a false name), advised that there was a job opportunity and that they would have the person in charge go through the details with me, as I expressed interest in hearing more.

    Upon speaking with the person in charge, they demonstrated how the process would work and made it seem easy and simple. At that point, I was unaware of what was to come. I registered and created an account with (they are constantly changing their website domain). Through this account, I was to complete ‘tasks’ to earn a profit. However, these tasks had varying costs; the higher the cost, the higher the profit.

    I completed a few tasks and suddenly realized that my tasks were causing my balance to go negative. This meant I had to top up my account with actual money. At this point, I transferred cryptocurrency (specifically USDT) into my account to offset the negative balance. The negative balances resulted from ‘combination tasks,’ meaning you receive 2-3 applications that you must complete; otherwise, there is no chance you can withdraw or do anything.

    I pleaded with customer service for help as my balance plummeted to -35,650 USDT. Still, they repeatedly told me I needed to top up my account by 5,000 USDT for them to speak with the merchant about providing me with an advance for my account—an amount of 5,000 USDT that I don’t have, as they have completely cleaned me out.

    If I don’t top up my account, they have advised that it will be frozen, and all my funds will be given to the merchant as compensation. I have no way out. was registered on August 13, 2023, just 4 days ago, for one year through CNOBIN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY LIMITED. It currently seems to be without hosting, offline, and not indexed on Google. No additional information about it is currently available.

    The real Tiger Recruitment website is

    Additional Complaints We Received

    On September 20, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for $5K:

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    I was approached by someone on WhatsApp who inquired if I was interested in joining a company that conducts reviews and assigns tasks. The process involves buying cryptocurrency to purchase a set of tasks. I must complete three tasks daily, and if I do so consistently over five days, I earn $800.

    However, issues arise during task performance. Sometimes, the system halts and notifies me of a “double payment” error. To resolve this, I am prompted to deposit additional funds. This has occurred multiple times, with increments of $300, $500, and most recently, $3750. If I don’t invest further to resume the task, I risk losing all my investments.

    Throughout this process, I received guidance from someone on WhatsApp who assisted me in buying the necessary digital cryptocurrency. These funds are then forwarded to the company’s customer service to reboot the task. My most recent task halted twice, requiring additional payments each time to proceed.

    They emphasize that I must complete each task to be eligible for withdrawing my initial investments and any additional bonuses. I am now on my final set of tasks, which should grant me an $800 salary upon completion.

    This situation raises several red flags typically associated with scams:

    1. Unsolicited Contact: Being approached by a stranger on a platform like WhatsApp about an “opportunity” is suspicious.
    2. Upfront Payments: Legitimate jobs don’t ask you to buy your way in, especially not with cryptocurrency. The fact that you’re required to purchase tasks or “invest” money upfront to earn is a major red flag.
    3. Cryptocurrency: While cryptocurrency itself isn’t inherently dubious, its anonymous nature makes it a favorite tool for scammers since transactions are irreversible and harder to trace than conventional banking.
    4. Inconsistent Payment Requests: The variable and escalating amounts they were being asked to pay ($300, $500, $3750) under the pretense of “double payment” errors or other excuses are very concerning.
    5. Pressure to Continue: The idea that if you don’t keep paying, you’ll lose everything you’ve invested is a common tactic to pressure victims into sinking more money into the scam.
    6. Vague Job Description: The actual “work” seems ill-defined. Legitimate jobs typically provide clear job roles and expectations.
    7. WhatsApp Guidance: Relying on a person on WhatsApp for guidance rather than having an official channel, website, or customer service number is another warning sign.
    8. Promised Returns: The promise of a fixed return (like $800) after a set of tasks, especially when those tasks are simply buying more cryptocurrency or making more “investments”, is a hallmark of many scams.

    Another complaint we received on the same day:

    Hello, I applied for jobs online, and a company, which I suspect may be involved in scamming, contacted me by email and phone. Please see their message below:

    Dear ,

    First I would like to greet you,

    Congratulations! you have been shortlisted from 2 Multinational companies in Dubai for the Interview Round.

    We appreciate your time and concern that you have conveyed to work,live and earn in Dubai ,as
    organisation we just not only help you to get work permits but also support you with start till end
    process of your job relocation.There are multiple of job opportunities available in accordance to
    your job profile.

    After the selection of your from the employers you don’t have to pay any money like visa, accommodation, travelling allowance, food, lodging, flight tickets, so everything will be taken care of by the Employers only.

    The Employers will conduct interviews by phone, email, Skype.

    As you will be moving to one country to another country so, there will be a security deposit from your end to enlist that you are going to work with the company. We are job portal and giving you a connectivity of more than 900 Companies with the success ratio of 96% to avail a job immediately within 2 months and 4 % will be your talent to crack the interview round by your strength,smartness, experience and personality.

    You would now be required to submit the one time fully refundable registration fee of 99 Canadian Dollars until you accept a job.

    You need to activated your account by mention Link:-

    Once you give a click on the link there is option 1 , click on that fill up all the information required and complete the registration.

    General questions & answers:-

    Q: Do employers pay for relocation
    A: Yes employers pay for relocation

    Q: Do employers pay for housing
    A: Yes employers pay for housing or give a housing allowance

    Q: Who arranges the work visa
    A: The employer arranges the sponsorship and work visa

    Once evaluation is completed your refund of 99 CAD will be credited in the account you paid from and you can also confirm us through the same email.

    It would be highly appreciated if you could send your scanned documents of resume,qualifications,work experience details and passport details for your evaluation process

    We looks forward to continuing a positive working relationship with a talented candidate like you. If you have any questions, please reach out tome directly through same mail.

    Leon Dawson
    Post:- Senior Recruitment Head.

    This indeed appears to be a potential scam. Several red flags are present in the message:

    1. Upfront Payment: Legitimate job opportunities usually do not require candidates to pay a “refundable” fee to be considered. Asking for money upfront, especially with the promise of refunding it later, is a classic scam tactic.
    2. General Information: The email provides vague details, such as being “shortlisted from 2 Multinational companies in Dubai.” A genuine recruiter would typically provide specifics about the companies and the roles you’ve been considered for.
    3. Poor Grammar and Punctuation: The message contains several grammatical errors, which can signify scam emails.
    4. Request for Personal Information: Asking for scanned documents, especially passport details, over email is highly unusual and a significant security risk.
    5. Link to Activate Account: A link for you to click and “activate your account” can be a tactic to collect more of your personal information or potentially introduce malware onto your device.
    6. Too Good to Be True: The promises that employers will cover all costs, including relocation, housing, and visa, while not impossible, are presented in a manner that might be too good to be true, especially in combination with the other red flags.

    On September 22, 2023, we received another complaint:

    They took more than $500 from me, and afterward, they instructed me to contact an employer via WhatsApp. I made a mistake, and the website informed me that I would not receive my funds if I didn’t pay for their mistake. They scammed me.

    On September 23, 2023, one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who reported being scammed for 3700 USDT:

    I invested in Walmart’s global tech task by adding products to my cart. They told me that I could withdraw my funds after completing the task. However, after completing one task, they informed me of another requirement for further investment. It was a scam; they took my money, and I cannot withdraw my funds. I kindly request that if this is indeed a scam, it be stopped, and I also urge others not to invest further. I have evidence in the form of chat records. Initially, they promised I could withdraw after 30 minutes, but even now, after 2 to 3 weeks, I still can’t withdraw my funds. Please put an end to such activities.

    Overpayment & Online Job Scams: Conclusion

    The rapid proliferation of online job scams, amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to remote work, is a potent reminder of the perils lurking in our digital lives.

    As we increasingly turn to online platforms for job seeking and recruitment, it’s clear that our vigilance must rise in proportion. Whether it’s fake job postings, counterfeit recruiting emails, or subtle yet devastatingly effective overpayment scams, fraudsters are continuously evolving their tactics to prey on unsuspecting individuals.

    However, we must remember that the battle against online job scams is not hopeless. Armed with awareness, digital literacy, and a proactive approach, we can discern between genuine opportunities and scams, safeguarding ourselves from potential harm. It’s a matter of recognizing the red flags, conducting rigorous research, securing our personal and financial information, and being skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers.

    Equally important is the response when encountering or falling victim to a scam. Reporting these incidents to relevant authorities increases the chances of stopping fraudsters and contributes to the collective awareness of emerging scam tactics.

    Ultimately, our online safety is a shared responsibility. Let this exploration of online job scams and their impact serve as a clarion call to everyone in the digital space – job seekers, employers, platform providers, and authorities alike. Together, we can create a safer and more trustworthy environment where technology continues to open doors to genuine opportunities rather than expose us to deceit and fraud. In the digital age, being conscious of our digital security is not just a skill but a necessity. Our financial well-being, personal identity, and trust in the digital world depend on it.

    If you have fallen victim to online scams, please comment below. If you have suffered a substantial financial loss, do not despair. We are here to assist you in recovering your funds!

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