FBI warns of fake remote work ads used for cryptocurrency fraud

FBI warns of fake remote work ads used for cryptocurrency fraud

The FBI issued a warning about scammers using fake remote job ads to steal cryptocurrency from job seekers across the United States while posing as recruiters for legitimate companies.

These work-from-home scams are designed to lure potential victims with easy-to-accomplish tasks like rating various businesses online or “optimizing” a service.

“The scammers pose as a legitimate business, such as a staffing or recruiting agency, and may contact victims via an unsolicited call or message,” the FBI warned.

“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.”

To make their fraudulent schemes more persuasive, the scammers will also ask victims to use a fake portal showing how much money they’ve earned, although they can’t cash out any funds.

The FBI says that red flags that should warn those targeted by these scams that they’re dealing with fraudsters coming for their money include being asked to make cryptocurrency payments to the employer as part of a work task, job descriptions involving simple tasks, and not being asked to provide references from previous jobs during the hiring process.

To defend against such scam attempts, the FBI advises unemployed Americans looking for a job to:

  • Be cautious of unsolicited job offer messages and avoid clicking on links, downloading files, or opening attachments in these messages.
  • Never send money to an alleged employer.
  • Do not pay for services that claim to be able to recover any lost cryptocurrency funds.
  • Do not send financial or personally identifiable information to people making unsolicited job offers.

The FBI asked victims to report if they’ve been targeted by fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and provide transaction details associated with the scam, including cryptocurrency addresses, the amount and type of cryptocurrency, the date and time, and the transaction ID (hash).

This August 2023 public service announcement provides additional reporting guidance for those who may have fallen victim to a cryptocurrency scam.

Since the start of the year, the FBI has also warned that using unlicensed cryptocurrency transfer services can result in financial loss if these platforms are taken down by law enforcement.

The FBI’s IC3 also released its 2023 Internet Crime Report, revealing a 22% increase in reported losses compared to 2022, amounting to a record $12.5 billion lost to online crime in a single year.

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