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Scammers target SA job seekers

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South Australian job seekers are being targeted by scammers, who are using legitimate websites to prey on the unemployed through social media platforms amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Scammers posted fake job advertisements on social media platforms and online marketplaces, which aimed to connect out of work South Australians with employment opportunities.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website, con artists have been attempting to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak, with scammers phishing for personal information such as bank and superannuation details.

Job seeker Amila Basnayake told InDaily he had been directed to set up a profile for various businesses after responding to what he thought was a legitimate data entry position at an Adelaide-based recruitment company.

He said he found the position through a popular South Australian jobs group on Facebook.

The fake position asked for people with “strong analytical skills and excellent organisational skills” who were “able to work to deadlines and use their own initiative.” It offered successful applicants $20 per hour for their work.

Interested job seekers were advised to contact the person who had posted the advertisement for further information.

Basnayake said when he contacted the scammer he was sent a link to a website to follow. The former software engineer said he became suspicious and stopped interacting with the fraudster.

Another Adelaide job seeker, who wished to remain anonymous, said they were approached through Gumtree by a scammer who was based in London.

He said when he questioned the scammer on their location he was told the company was looking to start an Australian offering.

He said the scammer asked for a copy of his passport, address and bank details, at which point he grew suspicious and stopped responding.

According to the ACCC website since the COVID-19 outbreak hit Australia the agency has received more than 1000 coronavirus-related scam reports.

However, data from the ACCC website in March showed the consumer protection agency received more than 11,011 scam reports in 2020, compared to 14,238 the same time last year.

While the number of scams reported in March 2020 were down across Australia, financial loss due to the scams had increased with losses totalling more than $14.7 million compared to the $10.6 million which was lost in the same month in 2019.

Of this month’s total, South Australians lost $404,164 to scams and made 730 reports.

Jobs and employment scams made up 225 of the reports with the amount lost reaching $104,797.

The majority of scams target victims through email, phone and text messages.

The ACCC advised people who had been scammed or seen a scam to report it to the agency’s Scamwatch website.

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