In India, nearly 30 percent of teenagers active on the internet have been victims of ‘social engineering’ scams. The part-time job scam is where people are fooled into paying to start a business, which never happens, or being tricked into completing work for which they are not paid. Scammers have also used phishing techniques to trap many educated housewives and students, along with unemployed people looking for additional income.
Keywords such as “earn online,” “part time job,” “easy second earnings” etc. are used by fraudsters and criminals to match their advertisements with the terms people are searching for. Most of these sites either redirect to a messaging platform or have an embedded messaging platform link that, upon clicking, again redirects to a chat.
Victims are often prompted to pay a processing, joining, or one-time registration fee to gain large sums of money from scammers those pretending to be officials from reputed investment and corporate trading companies, who additionally steal the money by way of social engineering crimes (i.e., penalty clauses) and in the name of “errors” done by victims while performing their part-time jobs.
Modus operandi of task-based part-time jobs:
a) Victims are lured through part-time job offers and other advertisements on the Social Media/Messaging platforms, etc., and are promised high returns, such as doubling their money in a short span of time. The social media advertisements, SMS, and WhatsApp messages usually contain a link that directly prompts them to join a Telegram or WhatsApp group.
b) Further, they are advised to download an application by clicking on .APK (Android) and .DMZ (iOS) i.e., these applications do not exist in the Play Store or App Store.
c) The victims get influenced by viewing a lot of videos and screen shots made by the social media influencers, bloggers, and tutors who claim to have benefited greatly from these apps, in the groups.
d) The investment link that is sent over chat has a referral code (i.e., the referral incentive goes to the respective social media influencers, bloggers, and tutors).)
e) The scammers claim that they are benefited by these apps as part of their “multi-level marketing” strategy and to generate incentives by performing tasks like purchasing goods, etc. with an X amount and then get a X+200% benefit.
f) Once the money is paid by the victim, his account gets activated and a task is assigned. To gain the confidence of the victim, they usually promise a 200% return in their first investments and allow them to withdraw the earned money as shown in the dashboard/wallet.
g) Once the victim has made the first profit, he is enticed to perform additional tasks that involve loading more money and performing more tasks, and he earns similar returns and those show up in the dashboard/wallet.
h) The victim is unable to withdraw the money shown in the dashboard/wallet and is requested to load more money and perform more tasks in order to be able to withdraw his earnings, The process continues in a loop, and once a large amount is invested by the victim, the fraudster stops responding over the chat and the victim loses all earnings, including his actual investments as shown in the dashboard/wallet.
Important “keywords” to be considered:
The following options can be indicative of an app-based part-time job scam.
- Work-from-home jobs for free
- Quick money
- Unlimited earning potential
- Multi-level marketing models (money stuck in wallets)
- Investment opportunity seminars used by fake social media influencers on YouTube, Instagram, and Telegram.
- Part-time jobs with full-time pay via SMS and WhatsApp messages
Precautions to Take When Applying for App-Based Part-Time Jobs:
a) A few common signs to avoid getting caught in a trap
- Promising abnormally high guaranteed returns
- Requesting a high initial investment, i.e., joining fee or processing fee, etc.
- A complicated and unsustainable business model, i.e., Multi-Level Marketing based Pyramid Models
- Promising to pay back losses
- Investing in apps not listed in the App Store or Play Store
b) Do a little due diligence, instead of blindly believing investment advisors.
- Ask for proper regulatory or compliance approval.
- Do not issue cheques in advance.
- Regularly check the account statements
- Watch the performance “Promised vs. Actual.”
- Don’t do financial transactions on apps except on the apps that are downloaded from the App Store or Play Store only.
- Do not conduct financial transactions over the phone or during screen sharing sessions.
- These companies are not registered with Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA)
What to do when you are scammed :
The reason for the fraud happening is because of lack of digital literacy, Report the scam to your local Cyber Crime Police authorities or register a complaint on https://www.cybercrime.gov.in or alternatively dial the toll free number 1930 immediately and it is operated by Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System, Gov’t of India.