Freelance job scams are on the rise in Canada amid increasing unemployment and a growing threat of cybercrimes targeting Canadians.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre issued an alert on Aug. 25, warning people of an increase in job opportunity fraud that could take advantage of those looking for work.
Scammers send an email or text offering freelance jobs to “boost” products, apps or videos, with the promise of payment in cheque, bank transfer or cryptocurrency, the CAFC said.
The offer will prompt victims to install software that enables fraudsters to send instructions on so-called tasks to complete.
“Victims might receive a small payment or commission in order to convince them that the job is legitimate,” the centre said in its alert.
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Several variations of this type of fraud have been reported to the CAFC.
In one instance, victims are offered $300 to $500 per week to wrap their vehicles with a company logo.
Those who fall into this trap could end up with a counterfeit cheque that could end in the recipient losing money.
Scammers also target people who post their resumes online and offer different positions, including caregiver, data entry clerk, quality control officer, personal assistant, mystery shopper and financial agent.
Besides incurring financial losses, these scams also pose a risk of arrest for money laundering, the CAFC warned.
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Last year, more than $530 million in financial losses were reported to the centre for various types of cybercrime and fraud, according to the RCMP.
The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security released a report Monday, saying that cybercrime activity “will very likely increase” in Canada over the next two years.
In particular, the agency categorized ransomware — in which digital files are held hostage or encrypted until a fee is paid — as the “most disruptive” form of cybercrime facing Canada.
How to protect yourself from job scams
The CAFC is urging anyone who has become a victim of job opportunity fraud to report it to local police as well as the centre.
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“Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is,” the CAFC says.
The centre offers some helpful dos and don’ts on its website for individuals and businesses on how to protect themselves from scams and frauds.
As a rule of thumb, never give out your personal information on unsolicited calls.
Protecting yourself from online frauds and scams
Sometimes, it can be hard to differentiate between a scam and a legitimate offer, but there are a number of red flags. For instance, an upfront fee in advance of receiving services is among them.
Caller ID, email and website spoofing lets criminals appear to be a legitimate source, which is why extra caution is needed.
The CAFC advises calling the company or agency in question directly if you have received a text or email from them.
Also, you should refrain from clicking on any links received via text or email, the centre says.
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