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Edmonton police seize 3 domain names in relation to employment scams

Edmonton police issue warning about online scam targeting job-seekers
WATCH: Anyone on the job hunt might want to be extra careful with where and how they apply. Police are issuing a word of warning after a spike in reported online scams. Chris Chacon explains.

Members of the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Edmonton Police Service have seized several web domains, after learning of fake job ads being posted on a job sharing site that scammed several job-seekers.

According to the EPS, a typical employment scam would lead victims to believe they are applying for a real job. The hiring process appears legitimate with professional-looking correspondence, including links to sites that appear to be authentic.

After a person is “hired,” they usually received a “cash advance” by the suspects and are instructed to transfer all or part of the cash into bitcoin or into another account.

A letter sent to a job seeker in an employment scam.
A letter sent to a job seeker in an employment scam. Supplied: EPS
An example of a "cash advance" job applicants would be given after being "hired" during an employment scam.
An example of a "cash advance" job applicants would be given after being "hired" during an employment scam. Supplied: EPS

In this particular case, the suspects copied the website of a legitimate business, replaced the phone numbers and hosted the site under a “.ca” domain.

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“Once we became aware of this, we seized all three websites,” Det. Phil Hawkins said in a news release.

READ MORE: Online job scams have cost Edmontonians $240K this year

Once a domain is seized, anyone who visits that site won’t see the page as it used to be. Instead, it’s a blue screen with the EPS logo and text informing people the domain has been seized and visitors should call police.

“Within hours of the seized domain notice appearing, we had already received a call from someone who was in the process of being scammed,” Det. Hawkins said.

“The complainant visited the website to check that the job offer he was pursuing was linked to a real company, and saw our notice there.”

Edmonton police have seized three domains as part of an investigation into fraudulent job postings.
Edmonton police have seized three domains as part of an investigation into fraudulent job postings. Supplied: EPS

This is the second time the unit has seized web domains.

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Anyone who thinks they were a victim of this scam is asked to call the EPS at 780-423-4567.

Employment scams becoming more common

In the first half of 2019, EPS received 93 reports of online employment scams with victims losing $240,925.83.

Officers have even seen local companies become a front for an employment scam without their knowledge. Yardstick Technologies discovered their logo and company email address was being used by a scammer earlier this year to post a fake ad for an administrative assistant.

READ MORE: Edmonton police make arrest in Kijiji cellphone scams

“Because the scammer was extremely aggressive and persistent, attempting to push applicants through the process as quickly as possible, many applicants felt it was out of character coming from a company like ours, and reached out to us to see if we were actually hiring for the position,”  Nicole Hewson, corporate services manager for Yardstick Technologies Inc said.

“Thankfully we were able to catch this scam early and report it immediately to EPS, to whom I was able to direct all potential victims.”

According to Edmonton police, online employment websites and social media platforms are working to identify and remove fake profiles and job postings.

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WATCH BELOW: Global News coverage of employment scams

Tips on how to avoid an employment scam are available on the EPS website.

If you suspect a job posting isn’t legitimate but you have not become a victim of the scam, report it to the hosting website and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.