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Scam recruiters dupe vulnerable jobseekers out of $20m


Financial losses from job and employment scams increased by over 740 per cent this year, the government says.

By Christine Chen 13 minute read

Scammers posting fake job offers and impersonating recruiters duped jobseekers out of $20 million this year, an “alarming” 740 per cent increase on last year, the government says.

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones said scammers targeted vulnerable groups such as students looking for part-time work, people seeking side jobs and those from different cultural or linguistic backgrounds.

“The Albanese government is urging Australians to be alert to an alarming rise in employment scams,” he said.


“We’ve seen a significant increase in scammers impersonating genuine organisations and recruiters – contacting victims through job offers via WhatsApp or promoting job ads on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Tik Tok and Instagram.”

Scams were conducted on platforms like Binance, a crypto exchange, he said. Scammers would ask unsuspecting jobseekers to undertake training and tasks before asking for a financial deposit on the cryptocurrency platform with the false promise of a commission or bonus.

Mr Jones said unsolicited job ads on social media or jobs promising a “guaranteed income” for simple online task-based work were “telltale” signs of employment scams.

Other giveaways included online jobs with game-like models and requests for direct payments to Australian bank accounts, he said.

Scammers also impersonated legitimate recruitment agencies, offering part-time, work-from-home arrangements or freelance employment, or pretended to hire on behalf of legitimate online shopping platforms, hotel chains, travel-booking companies and marketing agencies.

One jobseeker who lost $40,000 to a scam said they were lured by the promise of part-time, flexible work by a Facebook advertisement.

“I saw a post offering part-time/work from home on a Facebook page. I was interested to earn some extra income so I responded. She said a person would call me via WhatsApp,” they said.

“She introduced me to an online hotel booking platform and I had to generate the rating of the hotels. At first, she let me use her account to learn how the platform worked. I had to deposit my own money in order to do the first 35 bookings. I was told when I finish 35 bookings, I will get the invested money back plus commission. The first transaction was a small volume of tasks and I completed it easily. I got all my small investment back plus commission.”

However, when they completed the set task, the scammer informed them they had to pay “insurance” for the money transfer. They realised it was a scam but lost about $US40,000 via Binance.

Another jobseeker reportedly lost $12,000 to a scammer impersonating a retail company.

“I responded to a job posted on Facebook named ‘Fashion clothes’. A woman replied asking my name, mobile number and age which I gave. Then after that she said someone in our HR department will contact you in an hour.”

They were then told to “invest money” in order to complete a similar set of tasks.

“I put all my savings to this online job. [The scammer] used a different retail company logo like Kmart and Woolworths,” they said.

Financial losses from job and employment scams increased by over 740 per cent in 2023, according to the National Anti-Scam Centre.

The government said scams should be reported to the National Anti-Scam Centre and people who suspect they might have fallen for a scam should contact their bank immediately.

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Christine Chen

Christine Chen


Christine Chen is a graduate journalist at Accountants Daily and Accounting Times, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting sector.

Previously, Christine has written for City Hub, the South Sydney Herald and Honi Soit. She has also produced online content for LegalVision and completed internships at EY and Deloitte.

Christine has a commerce degree from the University of Western Australia and is studying a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Sydney. 

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