Remote Job Scams: Exercising Diligence Is Key

From VoIP services to shell companies, cyber criminals come up with innovative techniques to lure victims with high paying job offers


In September 2022, Callie Hiem went viral for sharing a series of videos on Tik Tok recounting her distressing experience of applying for a job that turned out to be fake. 

She is not alone. Cyber frauds in the form of fake job scams were already a common feature in the pre pandemic world. Covid 19 and the consequent transition to the new normal gave a breeding ground for cyber criminals to exploit the pain point of a large part of the abruptly laid off workforce. And even if people are enjoying a stable life courtesy a plush job, the prospect of making a quick buck on the sidelines can be enticing for anyone.

Take the case of Rajan, a Hyderabad based Software Engineer, who got an offer for a lucrative side gig from a company based out of Pune. Everything appeared proper. The hiring company website had all the necessary information one could ask for. Articles on tech topics proved to be a bonus in creating perception. 

Rajan agreed to come on board for the assignment for an agreed remuneration of Rs 50000 per project. He was paid Rs 5000 to start his work too. In his zeal, he submitted the project in one go. A few calls and clicks later, he realised he had made a big mistake. 

Sharing the anecdote with BW People, tech and cyber expert Dr Sai Sushanth Samudrala tells us that the cyber criminals made use  of a non- functional Company's name and email. Although the website appeared operative with old articles and company information, a common man does not go as far as checking the company records with the Registrar of Companies under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Failing to check the incorporation status of the company was a crucial step missed in the instant case. 

In another case, a cyber criminal offered a remote work to a person claiming that the job opportunity is from an International Company offering to pay in $ dollars per work. 

The modus operandi for the cyber fraud was simple. The criminals made the naive graphic designer that the company was based out of Dallas. International phone number was used to communicate between the parties. 

In a world where getting remote jobs through online forums is just a click away, one can easily fall prey to such tactics. As Samudrala points out VoIP apps are used widely today to mask the location of the caller. The Internet has made geography, history today, therefore one should think twice before getting misled by such job calls.

Coming to the legal safeguards available, the Information Technology Act 2000 has provisions to protect victims of remote job scams in specific cases.

One may also approach the cyber cell and other relevant authorities with their grievance but exercising diligence is the first step against such job scams. Not to mention that tracing the cyber criminals in such case is a difficult and time consuming proposition for the cyber cell and other authorities involved.  Raising your cyber awareness quotient, therefore, becomes the key.

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