Beware summer job scams, police tell students
Number of cases may be falling but victims are getting younger as fraudsters stalk internet
As the school holidays draw near, police are warning youngsters to be vigilant when looking for summer jobs, especially when using the internet.
Officers said that while the number of internet job scams fell from 13 cases with 17 victims in 2012 to just five cases with four victims last year, the popularity of social media among young people made them more susceptible.
In 2012, the victims were aged from 18 to 64; while last year, they were aged from 13 to 25.
The total number of job scam cases in the city fell from 21 in 2012 to 15 last year.
Senior inspector Otto Wong Yue-to, of the technology crime division, warned job seekers to be cautious when arranging to go to interviews.
Scammers were able to distribute recruitment notices via various online platforms to lure potential victims. They may then try to arrange a face-to-face meeting in order to extract money, credit cards or sensitive information from people under the guise of filling out employment applications.
"If anyone requests you provide personal information or if they want to take away your identity card, you have to be wary and clearly consider whether the request is reasonable," Wong said.
In one case last year, a girl aged 18 answered an online advertisement and agreed to a meeting at a fast-food restaurant. There, she was asked to complete an "application form" that asked for sensitive information in order to be considered for a job in a large firm. The victim, who became suspicious, checked with the firm after the meeting and reported the incident to the police after realising that it was a scam.
Internet scams can also function without any face-to-face contact between the culprit and the victim, police added.
For example, last year, a 13-year-old girl lost HK$9,000 after she was persuaded purchasing virtual currency at a convenience store would get her part-time employment.
"Because the reach of the internet is very wide and people's ability to hide their identity is relatively high, I believe scammers will continue to use the internet to search for victims," Wong said.
In the first four months of this year, there were three cases of employment fraud, one of which was related to the internet. In each case, the victims ended up losing between HK$16,000 and HK$25,000.
Other types of job scams involve persuading victims to take out loans with the promise of employment or a percentage cut from the loan.
Other scammers have stolen money from victims by posing as modelling agencies offering training courses and promising employment opportunities.