Dubbed ‘work-from-home’ or ‘money-for-task’, online job scams are on the rise in Mumbai. With people seeking additional income amid high inflation, it has become easier for scammers to lure people into so-called part-time or full-time jobs in the form of simple tasks such as content creation or even liking YouTube videos.
According to a report published in Times of India, the Mumbai cyber crime report shows that such scams have multiplied in the first 10 months of 2023 with 362 such cases. This number was 119 and 106 in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
The report stated that police have only managed to solve 51 out of these 362 cases this year. The problem also lies in the fact that the detection rate for this category of cybercrime – it was 10.9 percent in 2021, which dropped to 5.7 percent in 2022. The report further stated that between 2021 and 2023, a total of 170 accused have been, including 99 this year.
Police said the most common method by which job scams operate is offering the victim a sum of money per task and then persuading them to invest in the company by promising them that they will earn more. People are typically contacted through email, or messaging platforms like WhatsApp or Telegram with the promise of earning money per task, they said.
Police further said people are mostly offered a work-from-home option and flexible hours. Such jobs also demand little to no experience to begin while scammers also gain access to applications or biodata on job portals, they added.
According to experts, these are elaborate scams designed to first earn trust by giving small payouts and, later, asking for an investment of a substantial sum. Scammers mostly cease all communication once the victim comes through and makes a big payment, they said.
Scammers do not stop at asking for money but also ask victims to reveal sensitive personal information, such as Aadhar and PAN details, police said. The only way to be safe from such scams is to never pay heed to such offers of small jobs online or on messages and over phone calls, they added.
The ToI report said that in September, MIDC police arrested six persons from Palghar district in a task or part-time job fraud in which a 27-year-old account manager was cheated of Rs 32,000. They recovered at least 14 mobile phones, nine SIM cards and details of 12 bank accounts, which revealed that the accused were part of an online job racket masterminded from Dubai.
In July, a 19-year-old final-year BCom student lost Rs 2.7 lakh to online fraud after he received a message on his WhatsApp number saying: “I am from HR of a Media Company. You can earn Rs3000 to Rs30000 per day”. Police said he was first asked to complete a simple task of obtaining a photograph for which he was paid Rs 150.
“The victim is initially assigned simple tasks such as liking YouTube videos, rating them, or giving reviews for a small commission. Next, the fraudster encourages the victim to do bigger tasks and invest to earn higher returns,” a senior IPS officer told ToI.