New employment scams on the rise
The Calgary Police Service Economic Crimes Unit is warning citizens of a new employment scam.
Since the beginning of the year, police have received reports from at least five victims who have lost approximately $12,000 after falling victim to a fake online job posting.
The ads posted online offer a clerk position with a local company. Once the victim applies for the position they are contacted and told that the company will hire them for a job with more responsibilities than what was initially advertised. The fraudulent employer will then either send a cheque or e-transfer the victim money with instructions to withdraw the money, keep a small percentage and use the money to get bitcoins from an ATM machine. The bitcoins are purchased and sent to the offenders. A short time later the e-transfer or cheque is deemed fraudulent and the victim is out of the money used to purchase the bitcoins.
As part of their ‘contract,’ the victims provide the scammers their personal information, including their Social Insurance Number and banking information.
This particular fraud was using the company name Pausa Finance, Pausa Financial, and Pausa Finance Limited. However, police caution that these ads can appear under many different names and job descriptions.
Since November 2015, the CPS has received more than 89 calls about various employment scams in which victims have lost more than $150,000.
Due to the recent increase in the unemployment rate, police are warning job seekers to be cautious when applying for companies they are unfamiliar with. Secret shopper scams also increase during times of economic downturn.
During the secret, or mystery, shopper scams, victims who have answered job ads advertised online receive correspondence indicating that a cheque and instructions have been sent by courier. The victim is asked to cash the cheque and use a money transfer company to wire a portion of the funds to a specific person or place. The cheques are counterfeit, leaving the victim on the hook for the money wired.
The focus of week three in Fraud Prevention Month is Cyber Crime. Here are some helpful tips on how to protect yourself from online employment scams:
- Exercise extreme due diligence with any company offering employment that does not have a physical address where they reside.
- Legitimate companies will not provide up-front payment to employees without services rendered.
- Ensure you meet potential employers in person before providing any personal information.
- Do not do transactions via e-transfer with anyone that you do not know personally, or that you haven’t confirmed is a legitimate business.
- Never provide your personal information or identification, including Social Insurance Number, and personal banking information to anyone online.
- Look for online posts about the legitimacy of these companies. Often they are reported via the “report as a scam” buttons on an ad.
If you have been a victim of fraud, report online at www.calgarypolice.ca, or call the non-emergency number 403-266-1234. Frauds where money has not been lost can also be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca.