Scammers use SMS and WhatsApp to steal money with fake job

Economic crises are fertile ground for the proliferation of scams. And the technological advance ends up being an ally of international criminals who steal money with already known schemes, but who gain new clothes to attract more victims. An “old scam” that is once again becoming successful is the fake job – which promises big gains, but ends up taking resources from the “employees”.

And the means by which the amazing offers arrive has been the cell phone, through SMS messages or applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram.

Criminals, who most of the time are not in Brazil, get millions of phone numbers in packages that are sold on the internet and send messages with offers.

The texts that circulate usually use the name of large companies, such as Amazon or Mercado Livre, and offer part-time jobs with salaries that can reach R$ 5,000 a day. And all to work from home, using only the cell phone.

It sounds too good to be true – and it is. It also seems too fake to fool anyone, but it’s enough to attract “a sea of ​​victims,” ​​according to cybercrime expert Wanderson Castilho, whose job it is to help those who fall for this type of scam.

“People who are experiencing great economic difficulties are limited in their ability to reason. Criminals target these fragile people and end up succeeding because they act massively. If 1% of those who receive the message fall, the profit is already huge, because they try with literally millions of potential victims, knowing that some will fall”, says the researcher, in an interview with metropolises.

See messages that offer these fake jobs with supposed high salaries:


how the scam works

The fake part-time job scam is so widespread that it becomes a joke on social media and motivates experts to “fall” on purpose to see how the engineering of this crime works.

Security intelligence firm AllowMe, for example, clicked on links like the ones in the images above to see what would happen. According to the report, after clicking, the person talks to a scammer who pretends to be a recruiter and is encouraged to pass on some personal data, such as full name, RG and CPF.

It is the first risk of the scam, as this data is valuable in the hands of the crooks and can be sold or used to apply other scams or open companies or ghost accounts.

Then the victim is registered in a kind of shopping platform and wins a mission. It’s like a little game, in which the person needs to achieve goals to reach the goals and, thus, have the promised gains.

On sales sites, the victim makes purchases, but usually pays via Pix to individual accounts, an indication that nothing is even purchased. In the profile of the person who was deceived, however, each purchase turns into credits, usually with an increase of 30% or 50%.

But that balance doesn’t exist. If the person tries to withdraw, the system warns that missions or purchases are still missing. And each has a greater value than the last, until the “mission” becomes impossible… and the victim realizes he’s fallen for a scam.

Online translation

Editor of the User Manual website, specialized in technology, journalist Rodrigo Ghedin also reported what happens when you click on one of these malicious links. His experience made it clear that the crime is carried out by scammers who don’t even speak Portuguese and use online translation services to send unintelligible instructions to victims.

The report, published in April of this year, was successful. After perceiving themselves as victims of a coup, people tend to research about it, and more than 300 users commented on the post, adding up to more than BRL 200,000 in losses just for those who spoke there.

Other ways to lose money in this type of scam, in addition to making fake purchases, is to be encouraged to pay application fees or buy preparatory courses to take on them. It’s all fake.

Number of victims is unknown

Official statistics on the number of victims of virtual scams in Brazil are lacking. A projection made by the company PSafe based on the population of Android users in Brazil, about 131 million people, estimated that more than 6.5 million of them fell into scams involving false job promises between January and November 2021.

According to expert in digital crimes Wanderson Castilho, the State is unable to curb this type of crime, which encourages criminals to increasingly invest in these techniques.

“Criminals are getting more and more audacious, because they are not punished, they are not identified. The success rate of cybercrime investigations is very low, so much so that the authorities do not even disclose them, because it would be embarrassing,” says Castilho, who believes in information as the most effective means of preventing the advance of scams.

“The government should carry out major campaigns explaining how the coups work and educating the population. Massive campaigns on the methods of cyber criminals. With information, people would be better prepared not to be deceived”, emphasizes the expert.

Castilho uses his social networks to spread information about scams and coordinates a kind of victims’ association, with the aim of filing collective lawsuits to try to recover the losses.

“People need to react. Perhaps, in the face of many legal actions, the State is forced to take more restrictive reactions in relation to these crimes”, bets the expert.

“But it is hard. Most victims lose amounts not so high, say, about R$ 300. If that person registers a police report, it is obvious that the case will go to the end of a line that prioritizes violent crimes, robberies with greater losses”, evaluates Castillo.

Socio-economic context

Unemployment and the drop in average income are the factors that make Brazilians more susceptible to scams such as false employment. Despite having dropped to 9.3% this month, the unemployment rate in Brazil is still high and corresponds to 10.1 million people.

Furthermore, even those who are employed have seen their income plummet in a context of high inflation. In 2021, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the average income of Brazilians fell by 6% compared to the previous year.

About Yadunandan Singh

Born in 1992, Yadunandan approaches the world of video games thanks to two sacred monsters like Diablo and above all Sonic, strictly in the Sega Saturn version. Ranging between consoles and PCs, he is particularly fond of platform titles and RPGs, not disdaining all other genres and moving in the constant search for the perfect balance between narration and interactivity.

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