It only took 48 hours for John to lose his money. Photo / 7 News
A Sydney dad has had his family’s savings cheated after he fell victim to an elaborate hiring scam.
The man, who thought he was starting a new job remotely after clicking on a fake job posting on Facebook, was scammed out of $80,000 in just 48 hours.
The father-of-two was introduced to a fake employer and added to a WhatsApp group full of fake employees, all working together on the complex scam.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said these types of scams were common, with 300 reports of similar scams this year alone.
The family is so embarrassed by the incident that they want to hide their identity, 7 News reported.
John – alias – owns an oil franchise that went bankrupt due to the impacts of the pandemic and a new highway diverting traffic. He was looking for extra money while trying to sell his business.
With two children Nick, 19, and Kathleen, 21, both studying full time, and his wife Carol not working, John was under pressure to find a new way to pay the bills.
“We had no income, we needed a way to get the money in, so we were kind of desperate,” Nick told 7 News.
The job posting had appeared on Facebook on August 24 with the option to work online.
Desperate, John, 48, did not hesitate to click on the link.
Venus, a fake e-marketing company, manipulated John into creating an online wallet for his commission-based clicks role, in which he would artificially inflate online traffic statistics.
With the wallet quickly emptied, Venus treated it like a computer problem.
John was transferred to a “customer service contact” who instructed him to deposit his own money into the wallet.
They claimed he could later withdraw it and his commission.
Provided various account numbers to transfer his funds in the thousands, he saw his online wallet appear to be “recharging”.
In the “colleagues” WhatsApp group chat, the scammers started posting fake receipts of their own deposits and withdrawals, claiming that the “technical difficulty” was normal and had been resolved.
Two days later, when the job was done, John’s online wallet appeared to contain the $86,000 he had deposited, plus his earnings, but when he went to withdraw it, he refused.
The family moved from India to Australia 15 years ago. English is John and Carol’s second language.
The scams “disproportionately affected members of culturally and linguistically diverse communities,” the ACCC reported.
“Overall, more than 13% of losses ($9.6 million) from investment scams came from people who spoke English as a second language,” the ACCC said.
Nick said his family were “vulnerable” and had been exploited.
“(Dad) didn’t know how vulnerable people could be on the internet, how people could manipulate you or emotionally control you to give away all your savings,” he said.
After his father’s withdrawal request was denied and told to upgrade his service for an additional $30,000 if he wanted to access his money, Nick said his sister thought it was “incomplete”.
John, however, had drained his own family savings and borrowed $30,000 from a friend as a work-related loan.
“Since moving to Australia… no matter what financial hardship I have faced, I have never asked for a single dollar from anyone. This is my first time borrowing money from my friends,” John told 7 News.
“It’s a big burden on my heart.
The family, all of whom are looking for work, have launched a GoFundMe page to try to cover their losses.