The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States has issued a warning against fake job advertisements that lure people to Southeast Asia and force them to commit international crypto scams on unsuspecting victims. These scam mills usually put up ads on social media and lure their victims by promising well-paid jobs. However, upon arrival, victims have their passports taken away and are forced to work by scamming innocent people. If workers were unsuccessful, they would reportedly face torture, abuse, murder, or be sold to another gang.
The FBI warned US citizens and individuals living or traveling abroad to be cautious of false job advertisements linked to labor trafficking. The intelligence service said that threat actors target victims, primarily in Asia, in employment fraud schemes by posting false job advertisements on social media and online employment sites. The fake jobs could range from tech support, call center customer service, and beauty salon technicians, the FBI stated. Lucrative benefits, salaries, and accommodation are offered to lure victims.
According to the FBI, throughout the process, the location for the position is shifted from the advertised location. Upon job seekers’ arrival in the foreign country, criminal actors use multiple means to coerce them to commit cryptocurrency investment schemes, such as confiscation of passports and travel documents, the threat of violence, and use of violence. The victims are then forced to pay off mounting debt – travel fees, room, and board. When the debt gets worse, they are often sold to other criminal groups.
The FBI has detailed a few steps to avoid falling into such traps. This includes researching the advertised company before accepting a job offer, as well as keeping an eye out for “vague language” about the company or limited employment details. Job-seekers should also be wary of advertisements with unusually high salaries and many perks.
The latest warning comes amidst numerous reports of crypto scam rings using enslaved individuals. In November last year, the Cambodian government was accused of turning a blind eye to Chinese crime rings that human trafficked almost 100,000 migrant workers and forced them to run online scams, including fraudulent crypto ICOs. More recently, Philippine National Police (PNP) rescued 1,000 human trafficking victims who were forced to work up to 18 hours a day for cryptocurrency scams earlier this month. After busting the scam ring, the authorities arrested 12 suspected ringleaders.
It is crucial to be aware of these illegal activities and take necessary precautions before accepting job offers. The FBI’s warning serves as a reminder to be cautious when applying for jobs abroad and to carry out thorough research on the employer before accepting any offers. It is important to avoid falling prey to lucrative job offers that could lead to a lifetime of misery.