The rising trend of working online from home has led to more opportunities to people, but it also posed new challenges to job aspirants as many find it hard to discern actual offers from fraudulent schemes.
Online calls and data entry jobs are among the simplest remote work opportunities but these are are also the favorites for scammers who trap unsuspecting victims and vanish after duping them of money.
Unemployment and fraudulent schemers
The unemployment rate in India rose to 8.30 per cent in December 2022, the highest in 16 months, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).
As of January 13, 2023, the average unemployment rate in India is 7.85 per cent while it stands at 9.44 per cent in the urban areas, as per CMIE.
The schemeers trap desperate and innocent job-seekers with lucrative monthly salaries. They ask aspirants to make a security deposit to cover the cost of the services provided and then dupe them of their money before the start of their work or within a month or two of joining. The victims are duped of their money either before the assignment starts or after a month or two of working.
Multiple police investigations have revealed that fraudsters are not restricted to India, as per media reports. There have been reports of people falling prey to scams from people based in the Middle East. Often, the 'employers' or 'recruiters' are well-spoken professionals with fake websites and profiles that seem legitimate to a common person, thus adding credibility to their traps.
Ruchit Tudu (first name changed on request) shares that he followed a job posted on Telegram in October 2021 for the profile of personal manager of VR Company and spoke with someone posing as the recruiter on WhatsApp. He was 24 at the time and lived in Ranchi, Jharkhand.
He told Outlook, "I was asked to log into their website and fill in my personal details like name, age, mail; etc."
Ruchit added that the recruiter told him he could withdraw his earnings daily, but he would first have to make a deposit of Rs. 3,000 using an online payment gateway on a UPI ID.
"I found our entire conversation shady and opted not to join them," said Ruchit.
The website link shared by Ruchit was found to be non-functional when checked by Outlook. Notably, such payment gateway services are also non-traceable or difficult to trace. The Telegram group was also blocked after the incident, Rachit said.
It has also come to notice that fraudsters are now aiming to dupe multiple people of modest amounts than deceive a few of large sums.
Easy money can make you lose money!
Earlier in January, a Vizag-based woman was scammed of Rs. 5.4 lakhs, according to Vizag Cybercrime Police.
As per media reports, the Visalakshi Nagar resident received a call from an unknown number promising her a work-from-home job with an attractive salary. After initially declining the offer, her bank account was credited Rs 100 by the alleged fraudsters in order to win her trust. Following this, she agreed to work and was given Rs. 400 in her account after she was asked to like and share some videos on YouTube.
A few assignments later, the woman was redirected to another page and asked to pay Rs 54,000. She was told she will receive a 30 per cent commission by paying the asked amount, thus earning a total of Rs. 70,200. Similarly, she shelled out Rs. 88,000, Rs. 2,50,000, and Rs. 1,50,000 in the name of commissions.
The victim after all the payments was further asked to make another payment in order to withdraw the amount she had deposited. Realisation dawned on her and she registered a complaint with the Vizag Cybercrime Police Station. Further investigation is underway in the case.
Dreams and money stolen
A 27-year-old Thane resident was duped by two men operating a recruitment agency on the pretext of a job in Azerbaijan in December, police said on Saturday, as per
The complaint was registered at the Kapurbawdi police station, said an official. The accused allegedly promised to get him a job as a mobile crane operator in Azerbaijan and asked him to pay Rs 95,000 towards various charges.
After payments, his job offer letter and flight ticket were found to be fake. Following the payment, the accused allegedly shuttered the office and fled. A police probe revealed that they had cheated around 25 job aspirants similarly of a total of Rs 22 lakh, according to officials.
In another story, the Visakhapatnam police busted a fraudulent gang involved in duping people in the name of online part-time jobs on December 29. The police arrested six persons in the case, identified as Suman Sah, Subham Singh, Deepak Sargra, Ranveer Chouhan, Mittu la Jat, Vikas basitha, ANI reported. Youths from Rajasthan's Bilwa gang allegedly played a leading role in the gang.
The police revealed that the gang had robbed 78 people of Rs. 2.5 crores in total. They also seized 30 mobile phones, 20 SIM cards, 26 ATM cards 37, Bank cheques, 56 fake stamps, and eight fake enterprise name flexies were seized from their possession.
"They were making SIM cards based on the fingerprints of people coming for Aadhar and cheating them", the police revealed.
The curious case of a fake government website
Fraudsters created a fake Jharkhand government website advertising job applications for those eligible for Jharkhand State Public Services Commission (JPSC).
Applicants were asked to apply for the 7,756 vacant seats on the website between December 13, 2022 to January 2023.
After identifying the website as fake, the Jharkhand government said the victims will have to take responsibility for themselves in case of getting duped.