Online fake job offers have grown to be a new favourite of scammers who prey on Malaysians in need of money and work after those options dried up due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) claims that between 2020 and June 30 of this year, it received 5,802 reports of online fraud and frauds.

It recommended the general public to take precautions against becoming a victim by exercising caution while communicating online and avoiding dubious weblinks, text messages, pop-up windows, email attachments, and requests for personal information or cash.

The MCMC said in a statement to Malay Mail that, “apart from cooperating with other enforcement agencies, it is also necessary for the public to increase self-awareness and take proactive actions on the matter through various advocacy and awareness campaigns like Say No To Scam, Klik Dengan Bijak (KDB), Malaysia ICT Volunteer (MIV), as well as collaboration with law enforcement were taken to protect the consumers.

Malay Mail alerted the MCMC about the rise in scams that pose as unwanted job offers, the most recent of which was perpetrated by con artists posing as representatives of the TikTok social media platform.

The Royal Malaysian Police had earlier estimated that Malaysians would lose RM3.3 billion to internet fraud in 2020, including Macau scams, love scams, and false loan offers.

During the epidemic, when frequent movement control orders (MCO) cost millions of Malaysians their jobs and livelihoods and left many of them vulnerable to attractive promises of part-time gig labour with low starting pay, job offer frauds proliferated.

For this scam, con artists would send unsolicited messages to potential victims proposing payment of between RM600 and RM4,000 a day in return for taking part in inane tasks like watching movies or “liking” products for sale on well-known shopping platforms.

The message would make the claim that it offered employment that was simple, lucrative, and could be done remotely from home at one’s convenience.

When potential victims respond, they are instructed to supply their contact information and pay a processing fee in order to get the job.

Once the scammers are paid, the scheme is finished.

Another form requests that victims provide their financial information, including their internet login, by clicking a web link or downloading an app in order to get payment. Once stolen, this information enables the fraudsters to withdraw money whenever they want from the victims’ accounts.

Some con artists pose as pretty young girls to befriend male targets before persuading them to place bets on sports online.

Some claim to be TikTok representatives, but the firm does not use text messaging or chat apps for recruiting, according to a spokeswoman who talked to Malay Mail.

“We have posted warnings on our owned social media channels and in-app advisories to warn our audience about these phoney text messages with the TikTok logo. We do not communicate with people via text messages; instead, we do it through our official channels, which include TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.

When contacted by Malay Mail, a TikTok spokeswoman said: “All job openings on TikTok are presented on TikTok’s official careers page, as well as LinkedIn.”

Due in part to its popularity among Malaysian consumers, the online shopping portal Shopee was another favourite of fraudsters attempting the job offer scam.

Since the problem was so widespread, Shopee developed a warning page to specifically caution users about these scams.

“Shopee does not hire anyone to conduct employment recruitment on messaging apps in order to “increase the exposure rate of merchants.” Additionally, Shopee would only run promotions like “Lucky Draws,” “Tap and Win,” and “Spin and Win” through its official app, official social media platforms, and official WhatsApp verified business account, all of which will display the “verified” checkmark, a Shopee spokeswoman informed Malay Mail.

“Please contact the nearest police station and make a police report right away if any member of the public finds themselves being given dubious work opportunities or contests, or has been the victim of such scams.”

False employment offers from MyTheo, Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation, Smart Nation, and The Kelu Foundation were also discovered by Malay Mail.

There are additional mails that don’t identify the sender’s business but offer US money in exchange for cooperation.

The public has been urged by MCMC to exercise caution when receiving calls or SMS messages from shady or unknown parties and to report such communications right away to the appropriate authorities.

Additionally, consumers are encouraged to report scams to the Commercial Crime Investigation Department’s Scam Response Center by calling 03-2610-1559 or 03-2610-1599 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

Such scams were so common that ASP Rahmat Fitri, a police officer from the Commercial Crimes Department, started creating awareness videos that were broadcast on TikTok.

In these, he describes the schemes and dissects the techniques used before giving viewers advice on how to spot con artists.

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