Recruitment sector subjected to scams

By Beyondo, 22. Sep 2023

Ping! A message from a recruiter with a nice job. But it's a scammer: what happens when you start texting again?

Online scams Recruitment fraud, in which a scammer offers a lucrative job via WhatsApp, is on the rise. Employment agencies are struggling with the misuse of their brand name.


Ping. A message from a foreign number appears on the phone. The sender introduces themselves in English as a recruiter of an established recruitment company. "Our company has several vacancies within the travel industry. Are you interested?"

The offer is very lucrative. A salary of 1500-3000 SEK per day, for which you only have to work half an hour every day. An education is not necessary, you can start right away and even combine it with your current work. It sounds almost too good to be true. But what exactly do you have to do for it? That remains vague in the chat conversation that people had.

Recruitment fraud, or job fraud, is in demand among scammers, it seems to even have reached Sweden now as well. The Fraud Help Desk (in The Netherlands), an organization that keeps track of the types of fraud circulating, received 120 reports from victims between January and August, compared to 70 in the whole of 2022. The financial damage suffered is also much higher than in previous years. It already amounts to almost 90,000 euros, where it used to be a few thousand euros per year. The actual number of victims and damage amount is probably much higher, because not everyone reports to the helpdesk.

16 dollar in bitcoin

Employment agencies in The Netherlands such as Randstad, Octagon Professionals and Young Capital have also warned against this form of fraud in recent months. They received phone calls and emails from victims and people who did not trust the so-called recruiter's app. Randstad, for example, says that it has received around fifty reports, and that is at the head office alone. The police do not keep figures of how many people report this specific type of scam, but say they are familiar with the working methods of the scammers.

Excerpt Whatsapp convsation
with Reuben Laura

Where: 16 Aug 2023

  • Our company is looking for applicants for multiple positions


  • Hi, I'm Reuben Laura. Are you free right now?


  • Can I share some work details?


In the chat conversation, the scammers proceed to seize. A colleague of the 'Randstad recruiter' talks about the generous bonuses that can be earned if you do more work. The task appears to consist of posting reviews for mobile apps. Via a fake site, the link of which is a corruption of marketing platform Funnel, you log in and you will see a screen with app icons and click tasks – which stand for 'reviewing' apps. But before you can supposedly start earning, you first have to transfer 16 dollars in bitcoin. That amount can increase further later, when the fraudsters start asking for ever larger amounts, for example to get your 'salary' paid.

This makes the method different from what job fraud used to look like. In the past, victims were often actually put to work. "Inadvertently, they mainly cooperated in money laundering, trafficking victim data and forwarding packages," a spokesman said. Scammers now also approach people themselves, by sending an app to random phone numbers. Or a job post via Facebook. Previously, victims were more likely to respond to online advertisements themselves.

Notable trend

"Fraudsters are inventive," says Marianne Junger. In recent years, as a professor, she has conducted research on behalf of the University of Twente into the various manifestations of fraud in the Netherlands. "At some point, everyone has been warned about one type of scam, after which they switch to another method."

Junger is particularly aware of examples of job fraud from English-speaking countries, where the scammers have no language barrier. The UK fraud help desk reported to Sky News in April that the number of recruitment fraud cases in the UK has almost tripled since the coronavirus pandemic. In the Netherlands, it was still a relatively rare form of fraud in 2020, according to Junger's research. She does not have more recent figures at her disposal. However, she did see a clear pattern of victims: they usually had a low income.

Jorij Abraham, director of the Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA), also sees that scammers are targeting vulnerable groups. "In developing countries, job fraud is even greater than here. That's because people don't have the knowledge, or see the salary offer as a great opportunity."

Nevertheless, recruitment fraud is currently one of the most common forms of online scams in the Netherlands, according to preliminary results of a GASA survey that Abraham has at his disposal. "For the Dutch, it is more often a conscious gamble with a small amount, because people can afford it." He points to a remarkable trend: although there will be more information about online fraud, the number of victims is not decreasing. "People who are more scam-conscious often take more risks as well. This is based on the idea that they will not be scammed anyway."


Employment agencies are struggling with the scams, in which they are tarnished in their good name. "Especially when the scam is so credible and visually professional that people believe it really came from us," says a Randstad spokesperson. "Victims often contact our employees and this can be accompanied by emotions. That's very frustrating for our people as well." Also, the company feels a responsibility to take action to warn people about scams, which takes "a lot of time and effort." "We have resources to take down mobile numbers, Facebook pages and sites if they are demonstrably part of a fraud attempt. But that's always after the fact."Moreover, the broadcaster notices that the scammers have new phone numbers and sites up and running just as quickly.

Excerpt Whatsapp conversation
with Angela

Where: 16 Aug 2023

  • Hello! I am Angela. I received your phone number from Reuben Laura of Randstad HR recruitment agency. I heard that you are interested in a job opportunity that I am working on


  • Hi Angela, that's correct! Your colleague told me you were going to contact me. Can you tell me more about the job?


  • I am very happy to receive a reply from you, do you have time, so that I can introduce this job to you in detail?


  • Yes you can text me the details


  • Okay, now I'll send you the job description. You can preview


In the past, Randstad still filed a report, but according to the spokesperson this had no result. A police spokesman acknowledges that it is often difficult to tackle this form of online fraud. Only if a pattern arises in reports, for example because the same account number is used each time or the victims come from the same region, can the investigation take action. Otherwise, it's just taking down phone numbers and sites.

The police also see that people are not inclined to report fraud with small amounts. "They often think: stupid, I shouldn't have done it, and move on." According to researcher Junger, this has consequences for the investigation by the police. "There should be a lot more manpower in this area. Perpetrators now feel that they can last a long time, without the danger of being arrested."

"It's an international problem," says GASA director Abraham. "The chance of being caught is now 0.05 percent. Only if parties start working together internationally can this be increased." He thinks that the number of online fraud cases will only increase further. "Just take the better translation tools, which make a scam translatable into 120 languages. It's easy business, you can mass-produce a scam."

The scammer in the inbox turns out to be persistent. Even after the conversation has been cut off with an excuse, the messages keep coming. "Have a nice day!", "Are you still interested in the job? Please tell me!' Only after more than a week it remains quiet. A new victim has been found.

So - be careful with reacting to these kind of "job offers".


We have combined information from this article (view original here.) with some information on our experience of scammers within the recruitment.