One scam that circulates via SMS uses the name of Amazon and other large companies to trick users who are looking for a job. The message that reaches victims claims to be an opportunity to get quick money, part-time or full-time, but ends up taking those interested into a WhatsApp conversation that can end in a phishing page or induce participation in pyramid scheme.
It’s important to say that there are some variations of the same move — generally speaking, they follow the same pattern. modus operandi, changing the name of the “bait company”: Amazon, Mercado Livre, Sebrae and so on.
Below, you can see an “x-ray” of the process, as well as tips to avoid it and guidelines from the National Consumer Secretariat (Senacon), if you have already been a victim.
1st step: short-codes for greater credibility
It all starts with a tempting SMS that promises part-time or full-time work for “900+ days”. The sender may seem trustworthy at first glance: short-codes, created to make it easier for companies to communicate with their customers, are exploited by criminals to try to sell the idea of credibility.
These five or six digit numbers can confuse victims, as they are generally used by operators, banks and other large companies.
But make no mistake — in scam messages, they are often accompanied by several typos, spelling or grammar errors. Furthermore, what we generally notice is that criminals do not specifically address a victim by name.
Unlike past scams, where criminals simply share a direct link to a phishing page, the approach to the action in question is more… patient.
The impression it gives is that the scammers are so sure that the practice will work — and that people will take the next step to get the job on offer — that they are not afraid of losing victims in a two-step scam process. (or more than that). And the reports on social networks corroborate this thesis.
“I thought it could be a coup,” he says. a twitter user. “But for some reason I wanted to hope that something would finally work out,” he explains. The student also claims that because she was short of money to pay college tuition, she accepted the remote work offer “without thinking twice”.
2nd stage: “interview” hair WhatsApp
The second stage of the job scam depends on the victim. If she is interested in the offer made via SMS and click on the link for a chat via WhatsApp with a supposed recruiter. There are several fake profiles of recruiters — I talked to Mayanna Brandão, but there is Anna, Davi Silva, Larissa and many others.
In some cases, they use cliché photos, those made for LinkedIn, in others, it looks like a photo taken with the front camera, but always keeping the more traditional professional tone — with a dress shirt, tie or blazer, for example.
Fake recruiters use numbers from Brazil (+55) but have disjointed answers, often lacking consistency. In a first contact, the impression is that you are receiving automated messages, however, it is possible that this is also a operation carried out by foreign persons, which translate the responses with software such as Google Translate.
The scammer then asks what your name is, your age and your occupation. I gave a false name, with another profession and age — and, as expected, we proceeded.
It is worth emphasizing that the person on the other side insists that you agree to the job in question.
The phrase “Are you here to learn how to make money online?”, in the screenshot above, was one of the attempts. Another message sent later took a similar approach: “We have many projects, one after the other, each of which will bring you profits, and you have to do what I say. Will you be able to accept it? (sic)”.
Upon agreeing, the alleged recruiter gives more details about the operation:
“Let me give a brief introduction to this work. SKY MALL is an online commission discount platform. You just need a cell phone to complete the task. After completing the order placed by the system, you can receive a commission for the task. It takes 2-3 minutes to complete an order. It’s like shopping online. Now I’m going to take you to earn R$20 in less than 10 minutes. Make sure you follow my instructions, are you ready to start?”
Step 3: Registering on an Affiliate Platform
The scam continues with the sending of a link — the victim is induced to click and register to create the “work account”. Still on WhatsApp, the scammer claims it is a “registration for an Amazon merchant account”, but fate has nothing to do with the big tech website.
In a note to technoblog, Amazon denies involvement with the alleged recruitment:
“Amazon only uses official contact channels on social networks, such as Facebook @Amazon.com.br, Instagram @amazonbrasil and Twitter @amazonBR to communicate with customers, and we encourage any contact with Amazon to be made through Fale Conosco, on the Amazon.com.br website. Amazon partner sellers have an official communication and support channel at amazon.com.br/venda. In addition, the company never requests access information, such as login and password, from any consumer or contacts via WhatsApp to advertise vacancies and extra income opportunities on Amazon.”
In some cases, we saw the change the name of Amazon to Sebrae, who also commented on the coup:
“Many people are receiving SMS with the false promise of hiring teams to work for Sebrae and with a link that redirects to a WhatsApp number. The message is fake and possibly part of a scam scheme. The institution does not send SMS offering vacancies and opportunities of this type and warns everyone that if they have received this message, do not click on any links and do not add the number to your contacts.”
But the technoblog went further to see where all this was going. By following the link provided by the fake recruiters, we ended up on an unknown platform, in the sky557.com domain. There is a welcome message at the top of the screen and a attempted safety attestation on behalf of Flipkart and Indiamart — both Indian e-commerce companies, which gives a clue as to the nationality of the originators of the whole action.
You must register on this page to continue. And that’s when things heat up. 🔥
4th stage: the investment
After confirming the registration on the platform (the alleged recruiter asks for the screen print or username to confirm the procedure), new instructions arrive — yes, they are confusing and the transcript below is in full.
“Your job is to take orders on our company’s platform, which is to help Amazon increase sales through the panic buying model. After completing the task, the merchant will give you a commission and you can withdraw the money.
To get an order, I need to order an order from the merchant, and you need to deposit to your own user account.”
This is where the scammer starts to negotiate their “investment”. In my case, I was given three options.
“VIP1: Deposit BRL 20 to win BRL 20 and withdraw BRL 40.
VIP2: Deposit BRL 50 to win BRL 15 and withdraw BRL 65.
VIP3: Deposit BRL 100 to win BRL 30 and withdraw BRL 130.”
I chose the first option, and then I got a walkthrough — in pictures! — to deposit correctly. The “investment” can be made via Pix. It is important to be aware and not fill in any of the requested data — through this page criminals ask for victims’ full name and CPF.
To persuade the user, the recruiter sends several prints of other alleged employees who had their money back after the deposit.
5th stage: the first comeback and the final blow
You may be asking yourself: “But how did the person not suspect anything?”. There is an explanation — this investment has an initial return, which ends up deceiving the victims.
looking in Complain here by the name of the company that claims to have a partnership with Amazon (Skymall), it is possible to find reports of very similar situations. In one of them, the victim lost about R$ 12 thousand.
The user in question says that he received the commission and the amount initially deposited back. However, after that, the scammer starts sending more difficult tasks, which require much larger investments — until it becomes practically impossible to recover the deposited amount.
“They gave me a starting amount and then asked to deposit BRL 20.00, at this point, I received back BRL 20.00 + commission amount. Everything seems to be perfect, so they asked to deposit once again, they started to send me the tasks inside the site, according to them with Amazon partnership. Then, the amount deposited is not enough for the tasks, we need to deposit more to guarantee the completion of the tasks and be able to redeem the investment.
According to them, my job is to take orders on the platform, in partnership with Amazon, to increase sales through the panic buying model. The tasks have absurd values, I invested about R$ 12 thousand in this business.
They say they have to complete the tasks to redeem the investment plus commission, however, due to the high values we cannot finish.”
Senacon asks victims to report
wanted by technoblog, the National Consumer Secretariat (Senacon) reinforces that financial pyramids, those that involve promises of high and short-term gains, are prohibited in Brazil.
“It is important that the consumer is aware of promises of high returns in a short period, outside the normality of the market, as well as offers with little risk detail. And if the consumer has been harmed, it is recommended that he immediately seek consumer protection agencies. to receive the necessary guidance, so that these abusive practices can be monitored, including for forwarding the demand to Organs investigative bodies.”
The entity also says that it is constantly promoting discussions on regulatory improvements that can help combat this type of fraud — among the actions taken recently are the establishment, within the scope of the National Consumer Defense Council (CNDC), of the Special Commission on Financial Pyramids. , in September 2020, and the Electronic Fraud Commission, in November 2021.
To escape online scams, you can also follow these tips:
- Do not click on links sent by strangers via SMS or WhatsApp;
- In the case of “unmissable” promotions or opportunities, confirm the authenticity on an official channel of the company that is supposedly behind the action;
- Be wary of messages with typos or Portuguese errors;
- Do not send (or avoid providing) data such as full name, CPF, telephone number and banking/financial information via WhatsApp, SMS or other websites, even if you believe that a friend or acquaintance is on the other side.
Find out more ways to prevent cybercriminal actions in this article. technoblog.