Scammers and cybercriminals typically prey on the vulnerable and those under a lot of stress, such as people in urgent need of a job. As such, there are a number of job scams that are floating about, unfortunately. We'll be taking a look at a specific job scam in this article: The 'spend money to earn money' job scam.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.


What exactly are these 'spend money to earn money' job scams?

As the name on the (metaphorical) tin suggests, these scams involve a scammer contacting the victim and asking for an upfront payment (usually in the form of "expenses") and/or personal details in order to gain access to a really lucrative job opportunity. There are slight variants to this scam, such as job opportunities claiming to involve very little effort for high returns, and supposed "guaranteed" ways to make money very quickly.

Warning signs of these 'spend money to earn money' scams include:

  • The 'job ad' or message may claim lots of money can be made with little effort using your personal computer, or guarantee large returns.

  • The 'job ad' or message is not addressed to you personally.

  • The 'job ad' or message is riddled with typos and other errors.

  • The 'job ad' or message asks you to provide personal details or a monetary fee for more information about the job or start-up materials.

  • The 'job ad' or message asks you to transfer money on behalf of someone else, which may be money laundering.

  • The 'job ad' or message does not have a street address, only a post office box or an email address.

  • The "job" description and requirements are vague.

  • The 'job ad' or message wants to hire you immediately - same-day hiring processes almost never happen.

  • The company's online presence is non-existent or minimal at best.

The common thread with these scams is that the supposed job "offer" is always too good to be true - and it always is as it's just a way for scammers to swindle money out of unsuspecting victims who urgently need employment.

What can I do to stay safe?

It's important to stay vigilant in order to protect yourself from scammers trying to scam you with a fake job ad. Some ways of protecting yourself include:

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited 'WFH' opportunities or job offers, particularly those that offer a 'guaranteed income' or require you to pay an upfront fee.

  • If the job involves making or selling a certain type of product or service, find out if there is really a market for it and research around.

  • Ask for references from other people who have done the work or used the product, and make the effort to speak to these people.

  • Do not deal with an employer or company that does not have a street address, they can be difficult to contact or trace later on

  • Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency. It is almost impossible to recover money sent through these channels.

  • Never agree to transfer money for someone else - this is money laundering and it is a criminal offence.

What to do if you spot one of these job scams?

If you spot one of these fake job ads or received a phishing email or text about a bogus job ad, the first thing is to avoid opening any links or attachments in the message and report it to Scamwatch.

If you've accidentally clicked on the link in these fake ads, do not enter any information in the site you're directed to.

If you've shared personal or financial details with the scammers, you need to:

  • Contact your bank immediately to let them know what happened and ask what they can do to help.

  • Change the passwords for any online accounts that might be at risk. Make sure to enable two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security.

  • If you've shared personally sensitive information, such as your driver's licence, passport details, or contact details, visit IDCare for assistance on how to address potential identity theft.

  • File a report with the Australian Cyber Security Centre here.


If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: CommBank, IDCare, and Scamwatch

Image credit: Futurama

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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