Jonathan Milne

Jonathan Milne is a former reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Warning of fake job ads

TradeMe and Seek sites being used to steal identities and bank account details.

Jobseekers are being targeted by an identity theft scam. Photo / Michael Craig
Jobseekers are being targeted by an identity theft scam. Photo / Michael Craig

Thousands of Kiwi jobseekers are being targeted by an alarming new identity theft scam in which fake job ads are placed on the TradeMe and Seek websites.

It is the latest trick of the identity scammers, who use the personal details they collect from job applicants to lure them into parting with their bank account details and cash.

The Herald on Sunday can reveal scammers are posing as legitimate Kiwi companies when posting the ads. Auckland-based biotechnology importer and distributor Norrie Biotech is one of the latest businesses to be targeted.

Company boss Helen Norrie discovered this week that someone in the US had cloned her website and posted the fake ads on TradeMe and Seek in her company's name.

In the two hours the ad was live on TradeMe, seven people applied. More applied via Seek, but it did not confirm numbers.

Several applicants contacted Norrie after getting no response to their applications.

"They were as flabbergasted, as I was," she said.

Read more here: "Job seekers' IDs stolen"

Netsafe digital project manager Chris Hails said the scammers' first move was usually to ask applicants to email their CV, meaning they got a person's name, address, education and work history, and a list of referees.

"That gives them a profile of the person, and then they'll come back to you asking for identity documents, like a scan of your passport or driving licence. That gives them a photo and information they can used to apply for a loan. "If they have your passport details they can apply for another passport. That's the scary part of it."

That information was worth between $5 and $20 on the black market, he said.

If the scammer, or person who bought that information on the black market, believed the victim was especially gullible, they would go further, Hails said.

"It's called a money mule. They'll say 'this job's gone, but we'd like you to become a claims handler or transfer agent', and we want your bank details. Then they've got a full profile of you."

Hails was contacted by a 17-year-old Auckland man on Monday who lost $6000 after becoming a "claims handler".

The man, who had responded to a fake job ad, gave the scammer his bank details and agreed to transfer the $6000 deposited by the scammer into an overseas bank account.

"He took the money out of his account, walked down the road to Western Union and transferred the money. Later, he found out the $6000 payment from the scammer had bounced, and he owed his bank the $6000.

"He was told he'd get $350 commission, and he thought 'that's fine, I can do this a couple of times a week'."

The man would not tell Hails his name because he was afraid he had committed a crime.

Jobseekers must use caution when responding to ads. Emailing a curriculum vitae was fine, but requests for copies of driver licences, passports or bank details should raise alarm bells, Hails said.

It took only a few minutes to check. "If you're suspicious, look for a New Zealand phone number and call to confirm. It's hard as a jobseeker, especially if you're under financial pressure, but just think carefully."

TradeMe said it detected 91 attempts to fake post job ads in the past year - 17 made it on to the site but were removed as soon as they were detected.

Job seekers' IDs stolen, p12-13

- Herald on Sunday

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