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Money

This tempting work-from-home offer could land you in jail

It’s no exaggeration to say that COVID-19 has totally upended the global economy. According to labor statistics, 20.5 million U.S. jobs were lost in April alone. As of now, the unemployment rate sits at a staggering 14.7% — the worst since the Great Depression.

In spite of this, people aren’t giving up hope just yet. The job market may have dried up, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t employment opportunities for people comfortable working from home. Tap or click here to see what work-from-home jobs are hiring now.

As tempting as some of these remote jobs may seem, scammers and cybercriminals are also taking advantage of the new labor market. They’re offering jobs with extremely high pay rates that actually serve as vehicles for money laundering. And if you make the mistake of signing up, guess what: That makes you an accomplice to a crime!

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Job seekers beware: Cybercriminals are trying to rope you into their illicit activities through deceptive job listings and hiring pitches.

According to cybersecurity firm PhishLab, money laundering operations are taking advantage of jobless Americans by offering paid positions that net up to $5,000 monthly. They’re primarily targeting people via scam emails, but some of these fraudulent job listings have made it to public message boards and social media platforms.

Here’s how it works: The scam arrives as an extremely vague work-from-home job offer with promises of a wildly high paycheck. If you reply, you’ll be asked to perform a series of mundane tasks as part of your “interview.” In reality, this part is about establishing trust with the scammer.

Other versions of the scam go as far as masquerading as a legitimate employer like Wells Fargo Bank. These scam messages tend to go all-in on the deception and are chock full of misleading information designed to get you to cough up personally-identifying data. Tap or click here to see other COVID-19 phishing scams to watch for.

What happens if I take the bait?

Once you sign up, you’re asked to provide your bank account number so money can be moved into it. This is all you do for the job, which sounds like an easy way to make five grand, right?

Well, you’d be right — but it’s also easy to end up in jail through this kind of work. The textbook definition of money laundering is using “legitimate” means to “clean” ill-gotten funds. In this case, your bank account becomes the “laundromat” that these criminals use to make their money useable.

To make matters worse, there’s no telling how these criminals made the money they’re sending you in the first place. Without even knowing it, you could be the accomplice of an illegal drug or gun-running operation. You might even be moving money stolen from other hapless victims like you — and once they’re done, your account could be next!

In any case, you must ignore shady or unfamiliar job offers that come your way. No matter what your financial status is, the last thing you want to do is end up in a jail cell because you helped out someone intending to use and abuse your trust. Tap or click here to see how scammers are draining bank accounts over the phone.

Instead, keep looking for jobs that fit your skillset, and apply to legitimate work-from-home operations that can keep you employed while reducing your risk of infection. As the economy re-opens, the job market will also continue to grow. In the meantime, don’t give up hope — but skip the easy money.

Nobody wants “money mule” on their resume, right?

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