Opportunistic scammers have taken advantage of job seekers in Western Australia by establishing a fraudulent recruitment website that impersonates a legitimate site for opportunities in the mining industry.
The Consumer Protection division of the Department of Commerce in Western Australia warned consumers yesterday about “heartless” scammers on the fraudulent website www.miningjobswa.org.
The department believes the scammers are attempting to take advantage of the recent downturn in the WA mining sector, which has left many seeking work.
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The address is similar to a legitimate recruitment website, www.miningjobswa.net.au, but the details on the website don’t match up. The address under the “Contact Us” section if for a residential park, and the ABN displayed appears to have been taken from another Perth-based company.
Upon contacting the number found on the website, SmartCompany spoke to a man who said he was unaware of the entire operation.
The Consumer Protection body has attempted to take down the website without luck, and the Department of Commerce has already received a report of an applicant losing money when applying through the website.
“Already we have received a report of a potential applicant losing a few hundred dollars when asked to pay fees associated with their job application on this site,” acting commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said in the statement.
“These callous scammers are attempting to rip-off job seekers who are likely to be in a vulnerable financial position and can least afford to be losing money.”
Hillyard also warned that potential jobseekers looking for work via this website may also be asked for personal details such as passport scans, which could lead to identity theft in the future.
The Department of Commerce warns that reports of recruitment scams have been increasing, and fake job advertisements were even appearing alongside legitimate ones on websites like Gumtree and Seek.
“We want to make sure that people are aware of the traps and their desire to find a job won’t lead them to become a scam victim,” Hillyard said in a statement.
Consumers and businesses should be check job ads carefully
Director at recruitment service provider Robert Half, Nicole Gorton, told SmartCompany the reports of fraudulent activity don’t surprise her, given that “many aspects of our lives that are computerised”.
Gorton believes that much of the responsibility lies with the consumer when it comes to dealing with fraudulent websites.
“Consumers need to be quite diligent in their research, especially when it comes to offering up passports and asking for money,” Gorton says.
Director at WattsNext HR Ben Watts agrees, advising that a that request for money should be a red flag on recruitment sites.
“Consumers need to be aware that asking for money in these situations is not normal practice, and only very basic contact details are required,” Watts says.
As for what action a business can take, Gorton recommends heightened vigilance and security, but notes “anyone can copy and paste your ad”.
“Businesses should never be under any sort of doubt when posting an ad. Understand how to manage your information and be invested in your business’ security,” she says.
Gorton also says if businesses are working through recruitment companies, always check the reputation of the company before signing up to a deal.
As for dealing with impersonation, Watts says that in most cases, taking action is tough.
“Avoiding people copying your business’ identity or website is very difficult. The best thing to do is to contact the relevant authorities, but it’s much harder to get anything done when it’s a website,” he says.
Gorton agrees but believes the best way to tackle mimicry is with legal action.
“Check with your legal advisors, and calculate the damage they could be causing you. If it’s large enough, go and expose the company or individuals conducting the impersonation.”
SmartCompany was unable to owners of the “www.miningjobswa.org” website.