Seek scam just the latest attempt to recruit mules

Work from anywhere, earn $4000 a month for just six hours a week, no experience required. Sound too good to be true? It probably is, and it could probably land you in jail. An email circulating last week appearing to be from Seek.com.au is yet another money laundering phishing scam.

The email, which purports to be from Seek, claims to be the job board's "job of the month" and offers work from anywhere, no experience required, and flexible hours. For more information, it asks the reader to follow a link to http://www.commbex.net/site/vacancies/.

The link takes you to a site for a "company" named Commdex and offers "employees" earnings of $3800 to $4000 a month, plus five per cent from each transaction for only six to eight hours of a week's "work" transferring money to Western Union. Interested applicants need to have an Australian Commonwealth Bank account.

A 1300 contact number at the bottom of the email for Seek Customer service is actually the number for a carpet cleaning service. A spokesperson from All Seasons Carpet Cleaning said she had received quite "a number" of misinformed callers for Seek.

Auscert Security analyst Chris Horsley said that Auscert probably deals with up to 10 email scams like this a week, and people are still being tricked by them. He said that using job boards for these scams targets unemployed people who may be more vulnerable to being tricked.

"These types of scams are set up by phishers who have illegally obtained money and they need what we call 'mules' to transfer money offshore via Western Union. So your 'job' is to accept money into your account, and take a 'cut' of say five per cent, and then transfer the money to wherever the criminal is based," Horsley said.

The Web sites can be copies of legitimate businesses. The only give-away might be in the careers section of the site where there will be a job called "Financial Transfer Manager" or something along those lines.

In this instance, the domain name for the Web site that the fake seek email links to has been set up only last month, which is another give-away, according to Horsley.

There are a number of ways that the public can be on guard for these types of scams, said Horsley. Having suspicion of any job offer that sounds too good to be true is a good start. Watch out for anything that requires you to have an Australian bank account and the opportunity that you can earn a lot of money for very little work.

"Also, if it looks like a legitimate site you can copy one of the phrases and put it through Google, where you will often get the original legitimate site to come up," he said.

"The phishers have also sometimes written their own stuff -- so the grammar might be very poor which is a dead give-away. But we saw one case where they did a full copy of the Danish art gallery -- including all the pictures -- it was a huge site and it looked just like the legitimate site. The only thing they added was this careers section where they had their money transfer job description," he said.

"On the face of it, these emails can seem very legitimate -- sometimes they will have other selection criteria listed that has nothing to do with the 'job' just to give it legitimacy, so I can understand how people still fall for these scams, but it is definitely illegal. It is money laundering, and finding people involved in this type of work is a key focus for the Australian High Tech Crime Centre."

Seek.com.au CIO, Tam Vu, said that this is about the fourth instance this year where he has seen a scam targeting Seek.com.au users, and the company, which has around two million unique users, take such scams very seriously.

"We would like to think our job seekers are not fooled by these types of scams, but there will be the occasional job seeker that is not too familiar with the internet that may get tricked," he said.

"We live on the web and we want to make sure that people who interact online can do so in a way that is safe and secure."

Vu said he was currently looking at further ways to protect Seek customers from scams like this, and is looking at a number of service providers that may be able to help.

Seek has notified the Australian High Tech Crime Centre about the scam and the site has been shut down.

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