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WA job seekers have fallen victim to an elaborate employment scam and Ponzi scheme that has so far claimed ten victims who have reported losing a total of $130,300.
The largest individual loss reported to WA ScamNet at Consumer Protection was $83,000 with the lowest being $2,400.
The victims are lured into the scam by employment advertisements, or referrals that take them to the scam website. The original scam websites SoBuy.vip and SoBuy.org have been shut down but an identical one, perrank.com, is still operating.
The website tricks the victims into initially paying $300 to $8,000 for “VIP” memberships which allow them to “work” for the business. Payments are made using cryptocurrencies which are unable to be reversed.
The “work” involves daily tasks of making fake purchases and posting false online reviews for the website’s “clients”. The victim achieves a higher status and is paid more when the tasks are completed. Few have reported actually receiving the promised payments.
The scam has elements of a Ponzi scheme as it encourages its victims to pay more in membership fees to achieve a higher status and potentially receive a higher income in return. They are also encouraged to refer family and friends in exchange for bonuses. The scheme appears to be promoted via groups on Facebook and WhatsApp.
Executive Director for Consumer Protection Tim Banfield warns people about getting caught up in these elaborate but illegal schemes.
“Callous scammers target vulnerable people who are looking for work and attract them with promises of easy money for doing little work,” Mr Banfield said.
“After they are hooked, then comes the promise of greater returns once more membership fees are paid and a higher status is achieved. Some victims may receive returns early in the process in order to give them confidence to invest more of their money.
“Avoid getting involved in this devious combination of employment scam and Ponzi scheme, even if it is recommended by a family member or friend who may be innocent victims themselves."
Some tips to combat this scam include:
More information on employment scams is available on the WA ScamNet website where online scam reports can be lodged. Enquiries can be made by calling 1300 30 40 54. Investment advice is available on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / firstname.lastname@example.org