Tis the season to beware of employment scams
Amid a surge in false job ads and financial losses for victims, a warning from police to be vigilant and never to give out person information is timely
The digital age may have revolutionised deception, making people more vulnerable to tech-savvy predators from different corners of the world. But perennial old scams still work. The vulnerability and gullibility of the victims seems to know no boundaries except the limits of imagination and nerve of the con artist.
A case in point in Hong Kong is a surge in employment scams which can be expected to continue as the school holiday season sparks increased demand for permanent and temporary jobs.
In the first four months this year 16 victims aged from 20 to 49 reported losses to the police. The combined total loss of nearly HK$1.2 million is nearly as much as 37 victims lost in all of last year. Admittedly, this is mainly because of one case in which a man, 47, lost nearly HK$1 million after answering a newspaper job advertisement for someone to buy mobile phones and register service plans for a company.
The Commercial Crime Bureau says the swindlers are using social media as well as newspaper job vacancy columns to advertise high returns for jobs that require no academic qualifications or experience. After the victims are lured to a meeting, typically somewhere like a coffee shop, the scammers persuade them to hand over identity cards and passports, and use the personal credentials to apply for loans and credit cards. They also convinced the 47-year-old to apply for more credit cards on which they made transactions. Not only are there no jobs for the victims but they are legally liable for losses.
There is nothing new about these scams. They prey equally on the vulnerability of genuine jobseekers and people seeking quick money. The police are to be commended for drawing attention to them at this time and issuing reminders to be vigilant in safeguarding personal documents and credentials and never to apply for credit cards at someone else’s behest, and that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Sadly, scammers will always find victims, but if the warning alerts potential victims it could save some from financial disaster.