Global scam on WhatsApp and Telegram costs job seekers over $100M

Scammers allegedly linked to China are impersonating thousands of companies to steal money from job seekers.

CloudSEK, a cybersecurity firm, recently revealed a global network of crooks taking advantage of naive job seekers worldwide.

Nicknamed ‘Webwyrm,’ the scam has already affected over 100,000 victims and 1000 companies, causing the loss of possibly over 100 million dollars.

The scammers mainly use WhatsApp and Telegram to reach out to potential victims. While they might be picking random numbers, according to researchers, “certain complaints highlight scammers specifically referring to job search and recruitment portals as the source of victim contacts.”

While the scam has affected victims in more than 50 countries, the most targeted countries are identified as the UK, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and India.

Researchers found evidence that the threat actors behind the scam could be China-linked and shared the information with the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies.

Bank accounts get drained

In the beginning, victims receive a fraudulent message that appears to offer a job with a weekly salary.

The scammer explains that this salary depends on a combination of base pay and commissions, which candidates can potentially earn by completing 80-120 assigned tasks daily.

Admin panel
Admin panel of scam platform | Source: CloudSEK

Victims are asked to deposit money to specific cryptocurrency exchange platforms such as KuCoin or Shakepay. It’s said that the platform will transfer it back, along with the commission, once the task is performed.

After accepting the job offer, victims are directed to create an account on a website related to the organization that the scammers are impersonating. Researchers identified more than 6000 fake websites created for this purpose.

Victims are informed that they can take "combo tasks," which ensure a bigger earn than regular tasks. However, to perform every new combo task, victims need to deposit 2x the amount invested last time.

All the combo tasks have to be performed in a streak, and until all of them are completed, money can’t be withdrawn. Here comes the catch. After a couple of days, the victims are caught in the loop and cannot finish the streak. In an attempt to complete all tasks to withdraw their money, the victims end up draining their bank accounts.

Whatsapp scam
Origin of impersonated companies | Source: CloudSEK

According to the complaints of victims, when they tried to contact the referral person who initially contacted them on WhatsApp, they were intimidated for not finishing the assigned tasks and warned that their account would be frozen if they didn’t deposit more money. Eventually, the victims are locked out of the website, and all their money is gone.

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