Khawar Latif suspected fraud from the start.
In May, the 25-year-old founder of a domain registration business, who lives in Pakistan, received an invitation to chat about a job with someone claiming to represent the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
“See your website and like to discuss with you about our new job post if you are available,” read the message Mr Latif received on Microsoft’s Skype internet-calling service. The person also sent him a file to download.
Mr Latif contacted the Washington, DC-based Wall Street regulator, which quickly confirmed the person didn’t work for the agency and that Finra had no external Skype accounts.
Hackers attempt to hook tens of thousands of people like Mr Latif through job scams each year, according to US Federal Trade Commission data, aiming to trick them into handing over personal or sensitive information, or to gain access to their corporate networks.
Employment fraud is nothing new, but as more companies shift to entirely digital job application processes, Better Business Bureau’s Katherine Hutt said scams targeting jobseekers pose a growing threat. Job candidates are now routinely invited to fill out applications, complete skill evaluations and interview — all on their smartphones, as employers seek to improve the matchmaking process for entry level hires.
Young people are a frequent target. Of the nearly 3800 complaints the non-profit has received from US consumers on its scam report tracker in the past two years, people under 34 were the most susceptible to such scams, which frequently offer jobs requiring little to no prior experience, Ms Hutt said.
Cybersecurity research firm Dell SecureWorks uncovered a network of dozens of fake LinkedIn profiles, which it suspects were being used by hackers in Iran to build relationships with potential victims around the world. The hackers posed as employment recruiters to deliver fake job applications containing malware.