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Job offer scams are skyrocketing in France

These scams, which trick people into believing they've been hired by a company in order to steal money or personal information, are skyrocketing. And this might worsen after the hack of France Travail (formerly Pôle Emploi), involving the data of 43 million people.

Reading Time : 4 minut(s) - | Published on 23-04-2024 12:12 

The fake job offer: an average loss of €2,463 per victim

"Dream job: are you ready to earn more than 3000 € per month from home working only a few hours per month?" These offers, which may seem incredible, are flourishing on social media. But they often hide a scam. In the best case scenario, the broadcaster manages to sell his victim a training course as useless and ineffective. But this type of trap, whose strings are starting to become known, is actually just the tip of the iceberg.

Much more subtle and formidable, the job offer scam is on the rise. Contacted by email, messenger or even phone, candidates are offered a well-paid position with certain benefits. The fraudsters then ask for advance payments for supposed training or administration fees and require personal financial data, causing significant damage. In France, the average loss would amount to 2,463 euros per victim, with young adults aged 20 to 35 being the most affected.

Assurance Vie

Fake employers who contact people via email, messaging or phone

Julien*, 23 years old, learned it the hard way. After posting his resume on a job site, he receives an offer via e-mail for a data entry job: "The offer came up just at the right time. The recruiter, a company whose existence I had verified on the Internet, was offering me remote work, with the freedom to set my own schedule and an attractive salary. After a phone interview and some exchanges on WhatsApp, I accepted. The employer quickly sent me a check for 2000 euros so I could buy the necessary computer equipment for my job."

A few days later, the phony employer calls Julien back to inform him that he made a mistake in the amount of the check, and that he needs to refund him 1000 euros. "That's what I did without hesitation, by bank transfer. I hadn't spent all of it anyway, it seemed logical to me to return the overpayment."

Except that a week later, he receives a call from his bank: the check he deposited is a fake. "At this point, I tried to contact my recruiter, but the line was cut off and the emails remained unanswered. I searched for another number. There, I was informed that the company had been a victim of identity theft, and they had never proposed this type of job. It's demoralizing when you're looking for a job, and you end up in financial trouble because of these types of scammers."

An alarming escalation

Job offer scams have reportedly surged in recent years. The bank Revolut, which this month released its first report on financial crime and consumer safety, paints a grim picture of this new mode of extortion. "In the first quarter of 2023, job scams accounted for only 1% of all fraud cases worldwide, as well as 1% of the total value of all money lost to scams. By the fourth quarter of 2023, these figures had risen to 12% of all cases and 21% of the total lost value due to scams, representing a respective increase of 1,200% and 2,100%."

For scammers, there are several ways to trap candidates: fake job offers disseminated on certain internet portals, CV bank consultation, direct contact via LinkedIn... Now, the risk is said to be worsening with the recent data leak from France Travail (formerly Pole Emploi). In March, the agency announced an "unprecedented" theft of personal data. 43 million users were affected, including those who registered years ago with the institution then known as ANPE. Among the sensitive information, the names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, and phone numbers of many individuals could fall into the hands of scammers.

Yet, job offer scams are harshly penalized by French law. Depending on the severity of the cases, different offenses can be held against the authors of such fraud: fraud (Article 313-1 of the penal code) punishable by five years in prison and a fine of 375,000 euros, the collection of personal data by fraudulent, unfair, or illicit means (Article 226-18 of the penal code), punishable by five years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros, and identity theft (Article 226-4-1 of the penal code) punishable by one year imprisonment and a fine of 15,000 euros.

Of course, this requires the victims to file a complaint.

What to do if you are a victim or detect a job scam

If you suspect or identify a scam related to a job offer, it is important to act quickly and effectively to limit the damage. First and foremost, it is essential to immediately cease all communication with the pseudo-recruiter, even if they become threatening. Preserve all evidence of the scam, including written communications (emails, texts, messages...), phone numbers used by the fraudsters, and any other element that could support your case in a potential investigation.

Then notify the entities related to the personal information you shared, such as Social Security or the Unemployment office, especially if you have transmitted sensitive information such as your Social Security number. Also contact your bank to alert them and closely monitor the transactions on your account to prevent any fraudulent use of your financial data. Report the scam to the job site that posted the fraudulent advert, providing them with all the information you have gathered about the fraud.

Finally, file a complaint with law enforcement or directly with the public prosecutor. For online scams, it is possible to file a complaint online through the THESEE site of the Ministry of Interior. This step is crucial to protect your rights and potentially recover financial losses. For further assistance, you can contact the Scam Info platform or seek support from a France Victims association. These measures will help you protect yourself from the consequences of the scam and contribute to the prevention of future fraud.