FBI warns of fake remote work ads being used for cryptocurrency fraud

Today, the FBI issued a warning about scammers using fake remote job postings to steal cryptocurrency from job seekers in the United States while posing as recruiters for legitimate companies.

These work-from-home scams aim to lure potential victims with easy-to-complete tasks, such as reviewing different companies online or ‘optimizing’ a service.

“The scammers pose as a legitimate business, such as a staffing or recruitment agency, and may contact victims through an unsolicited phone call or message,” the FBI warned.

“Scammers design the fake job to have a confusing compensation structure, requiring victims to make cryptocurrency payments to earn more money or ‘unlock’ work, and the payments go directly to the scammer.”

To make their fraudulent schemes more convincing, the scammers will also ask their victims to use a fake portal showing how much money they have made, although they cannot cash out.

The FBI says warning signs that should alert those targeted by these scams that they are dealing with fraudsters coming for their money include: being asked to make cryptocurrency payments to the employer as part of a job task, job descriptions with simple duties, and not being asked to provide references from previous jobs during the hiring process.

To defend against such scam attempts, the FBI advises unemployed Americans looking for a job:

  • Be careful with unsolicited job postings and avoid clicking links, downloading files, or opening attachments in these messages.
  • Never send money to a supposed employer.
  • Do not pay for services that claim to be able to recover lost cryptocurrency funds.
  • Don’t send financial or personally identifiable information to people who make unsolicited job offers.

The FBI has asked victims to report to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) if they have been the target of fraudulent or suspicious activity and provide transaction information associated with the scam, including cryptocurrency addresses, quantity and type cryptocurrency, the date and time and the transaction ID (hash).

This August 2023 public announcement provides additional reporting guidance for those who may have fallen victim to cryptocurrency scams.

Since the beginning of the year, the FBI has also warned that the use of unlicensed cryptocurrency transfer services could lead to financial losses if these platforms are taken down by law enforcement.

FBI’s IC3 also released its 2023 Internet Crime Report, which shows a 22% increase in reported losses from 2022, representing a record $12.5 billion in losses due to online crime in one year.