Edmonton police seize internet domain names in fake job scam

Edmonton police have seized three Canadian internet domain names as part of an ongoing investigation involving fake job ads posted on Indeed.com.

In a "typical employment scam" victims are led to believe they are applying for real jobs, police said Thursday in a news release.

The hiring process appears legitimate, complete with professional-looking correspondence, including email signatures linking to websites that appear to be authentic.

After being "hired" the victims are often given a fake cheque or money order and instructed to transfer all or some of the money into bitcoin or another account, police said.

Edmonton Police Service
Edmonton Police Service

"In this particular scam, the suspects had copied a legitimate business' website, replaced phone numbers with their own and were hosting these sites under dot.ca domains," Det. Phil Hawkins with the Cyber Crimes Unit said in the release.

During the first half of 2019, police received 93 reports of online employment scams that cost victims a total of $240,925.

This is the second time the unit has seized web domains, which police said helps encourage complainants to come forward and prevent future victimization.

"Within hours of the seized domain notice appearing, we had already received a call from someone who was in the process of being scammed," Hawkins said. "The complainant visited the website to check that the job offer he was pursuing was linked to a real company, and saw our notice there."

Employment scams are becoming increasingly common, police said.

Some have been known to use real local companies as a front without the knowledge of the company.

One such scam came to light when Yardstick Technologies, a local IT company, discovered its logo and email address were being used in a job posting for an administrative assistant, police said.

"Because the scammer was extremely aggressive and persistent, attempting to push applicants through the process as quickly as possible, many applicants felt it was out of character coming from a company like ours," Nicole Hewson, corporate services manager for Yardstick Technologies Inc., said in the release.

Edmonton Police Service
Edmonton Police Service