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Addressing the Evolution of Job Scams in Malaysia


In recent years, Asia has experienced a steep increase in online fraud, and Malaysia is no exception - especially when it comes to job scams. Unfortunately, scammers are likely to view jobseekers as vulnerable targets, as many struggle to secure a source of income. For example, a part-time job scam syndicate in Malaysia caused losses of over RM1.23 million between January to June this year, according to police statistics. 

As job scams continue to become more sophisticated, Malaysians can play a collective role in helping others identify red flags and avoid falling prey to the tactics of bad actors. In the past, scammers relied on fear tactics to get people to act impulsively - but today they’re focused on building trust online to ensnare their victims. Some job scams are meticulously crafted to mimic authentic hiring procedures, creating a convincing illusion of a legitimate opportunity. 

In conjunction with International Fraud Awareness Week, here are the top 10 signs that a job offer could be a scam:

1. Unnecessary, repetitive phone calls

Bad actors frequently make repeated calls, attempting to coerce you into accepting their offer. They often assert that you could miss out on a job opportunity if you do not respond or agree immediately to their terms.

2. Requests for sensitive information 

Bad actors seeking to obtain your information will often demand your personal details right away. They may ask for documents like proof of residence or financial statements, promising immediate access to job opportunities. However, reputable companies typically do not ask for such documentation until the interview or onboarding process. 

3. Sketchy software or fake websites 

A reputable employer will use standard and well-known software for online interviews. If they ask you to install something you've never heard of, it might be a sign that something's off.

Virtually anyone can create and manage a website, so scammers frequently establish online platforms posing as fictional employers, or fabricate channels for legitimate companies. A clear red flag with these accounts is their lack of substantial information or if the company is untraceable and has no online presence.

4. Unrealistic promises or job offers  

If a job listing promises sky-high salaries or benefits that sound too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often use these enticing offers to lure in unsuspecting victims, especially those in desperate financial situations. 

5. Unprofessional communication  

Pay attention to the language, grammar, and overall tone of the communication. Legitimate employers typically maintain professional and polished communications, so if you notice numerous spelling errors, sloppy language, or inconsistent communication, it may be a red flag.

6. No interview is required

Have you ever gotten a job without at least one job interview? If the hiring process excludes a job interview, and if the employer displays little interest in you, this could be a sign they are more interested in your wallet and scamming you. Best case scenario, it’s an employer that doesn’t place importance on your personality or how well you align with their company culture, in which case, would you want to work there anyway? 

7. Provides malicious links

Be careful when clicking on links during the job application process, as they may lead to fraudulent applications designed solely to extract your bank account or credit card information. Bad actors can go to great lengths to deceive their targets, designing websites and mobile apps that appear professional and legitimate. If you’re urged to only register as an applicant via a strange link, it could be a red flag. 

8. Vague or incomplete job requirements and descriptions 

Real job offers provide clear and detailed job responsibilities and requirements that closely match the position described. Conversely, fake job offers and dubious recruiters tend to present ambiguous, vague, and overly generalised job roles, duties, and requirements, making it possible for almost anyone to qualify.

9. Requests for payment of placement or work equipment

Be wary if someone is asking for money right out the gate. Ethical employers will never request an upfront fee for job placement, work equipment, or training. Moreover, reputable recruiters, headhunters, and recruitment agencies generally do not impose charges on potential job seekers. 

10. Accepting work abroad without an employment visa

If you are considering a job abroad and the employer insists on you entering the country on a visitor visa instead of a valid employment visa, consider it a big warning sign. It is not advisable to proceed with the trip under these circumstances, even if the employer promises to cover your flight expenses. Do not get on that flight! 

To address the increase and sophistication of job scams, employment marketplaces need to tap on technology to combat them, including expanding the use of AI and machine learning to enhance fraud detection and prevention capabilities.

JobStreet has put in place robust systems and processes to verify the legitimacy of job ads on its platforms. Between July 2022 and June 2023, JobStreet’s parent company, SEEK, automatically scanned 7.8 million direct job ads on all its platforms across Asia Pacific (APAC). Approximately 10% of job ads were escalated for manual review (780,000 job ads), more than 1,900 hirers were excluded during onboarding, 350 hirer accounts were closed due to fraud/scam, and more than 2,800 job ads were removed.