FBI warns about employment scams


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Employment scams are on the rise and the FBI wants El Pasoans to beware of bogus employment opportunities.

“The biggest issue is that scammers advertise jobs the same way that legitimate employers do,” Special Agent Terrance Gass with the FBI El Paso Division told KTSM 9 News.

Cyber criminals pose as legitimate employers by spoofing company websites and posting fake jobs to lure an applicant into giving them money or their personally identifiable information (PII). 

Scammers will go as far as to conduct sham interviews with unsuspecting victims.

According to the FBI, Texas reported 1,720 victims reported $4.5 million in losses in 2020. In El Paso, there were 69 victims, totaling $721,600 in losses. 

As of March 5, 2,349 victims had already reported $5 million in losses nationwide, with 244 victims in the state of Texas with a loss of $1.5 million. In El Paso, there were eight victims reporting $31,928 in losses.

The FBI says that interview style is an indicator of whether a job listing is an opportunity or a farce.

“If it’s not in person and they don’t want to do it through a secure video call, that’s a red flag right there,” said Gass. 

Cyber criminals will impersonate personnel from various departments or pose as job recruiters, talent acquisition or human resources. 

The FBI warns job seekers to look out for whether:

  • Interviews are not conducted in-person or through a secure video call
  • Interviews are conducted via teleconference applications that use email addresses instead of phone numbers
  • Potential employers contact victims through non-company email domains and teleconference applications
  • Potential employers require employees to purchase start-up equipment from the company
  • Potential employers require employees to pay upfront for background investigations or screenings
  • Potential employers request credit card information
  • Potential employers send an employment contract to physically sign asking for PII
  • Job postings appear on job boards, but not on the company’s websites
  • Recruiters or managers do not have profiles on the job board or the profiles do not seem to fit their roles

Additionally, the FBI has provided methods of protection:

  • Conduct a web search of the hiring company using the company name only. Results that return multiple websites for the same company (abccompany.com and abccompanyllc.com) may indicate fraudulent job listings
  • Legitimate companies will ask for PII and bank account information for payroll purposes after hiring employees. This information is safer to give in person. If in-person contact is not possible, a video call with the potential employer can confirm identity, especially if the company has a directory against which to compare employee photos
  • Never send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer
  • Never provide credit card information to an employer
  • Never provide bank account information to employers without verifying their identity
  • Do not accept any job offers that ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. A legitimate company will not ask you to do this
  • Never share your Social Security number or other PII that can be used to access your accounts with someone who does not need to know this information
  • Before entering PII online, make sure the website is secure by looking at the address bar. The address should begin with “https://”, not “http://”. Criminals can also use “https://” to give victims a false sense of security. A decision to proceed should not be based solely upon the use of “https://”

If you are a victim of an employment scam, the FBI recommends taking the following actions:

  • Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or the FBI El Paso Office at (915) 832-5000
  • Report the activity to the website in which the job posting was listed
  • Report the activity to the company the cyber criminals impersonated
  • Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions
  • Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent

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