‘I’m on the verge of losing my house’: Man’s attempt to earn extra income leads to financial ruin

A man hoping to earn some extra cash ends up losing big money. He’s not alone as similar job scams are sweeping across Canada. Pat Taney reports.

By Pat Taney

A Brampton, Ont., man answered a job ad that he hoped would earn him some extra cash. Instead, he ended up losing nearly $20,000.

He’s the latest victim of suspected job scams sweeping across Canada right now.

“Times are tough and I was looking for some part-time work to earn some extra cash on the side,” said the man who asked only to be identified as “Peter.”

It all started after he received a WhatsApp message from a person offering part-time work.

“The person said I could earn thousands of dollars per week,” Peter says.

He responded and was put in touch with a team member who explained the process.

“The man explained everything, had me download an app and provided training on the work I would be doing.”

That work involved so-called tasks where Peter would be rating hotels using a phone software application set up by this company.

But to get started, he had to deposit funds in the form of cryptocurrency into a wallet.

“You had to have a balance of crypto deposited before you could start rating these hotels. I was told that money went to the merchants I was rating,” he said. “You deposit crypto, you perform the tasks and then you earn small commissions that you can withdraw, along with the initial funds you deposited.”

Peter spent a few hours rating hotels. It was easy work, with a few clicks he would rate each hotel five stars.

After one day, he was able to successfully withdraw some of his earnings.

“I thought, this is perfect and exactly what I was looking for.”

So he then deposited more cryptocurrency to keep going and perform more tasks. After three days of doing multiple tasks, he tried to withdraw his earnings, which according to the app amounted to more than $42,000 — along with the crypto he deposited to do the work.

“They said, ‘Sorry sir, it doesn’t work that way.’ They said I had to give more crypto and do more tasks to get to a level to withdraw any money.”

He borrowed an additional $9,000 to deposit hoping that would be enough to get back all the crypto he deposited and the earnings he was owed.

It didn’t happen.

“There’s a customer service messaging system in the app and they kept telling me, deposit more crypto, do more tasks and you’ll eventually get all of it back plus the commissions.”

He knew at this point that he was not dealing with a legitimate company and stopped giving them money.

“I was begging them, please just give me some of the funds I gave back — but they wouldn’t budge.”

In total, he’s out $17,000.

The suspected job scam involved so-called tasks where “Peter” would be rating hotels using a phone software application set up by this company. CITYNEWS

Job scams on the rise

Peter is the latest victim in a scam claiming hundreds of victims across Canada. The problem is increasing as more and more people are looking for part-time work to boost their bottom lines in a tough economy.

It forced the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to issue an alert in late August.

“The fraudsters are offering victims freelance job opportunities to ‘boost’ products, apps or videos using software created by the fraudsters,” the alert says. “After the victim installs the software and creates an account, they receive ‘orders’ or ‘tasks’ they have to complete. Victims might receive a small payment or commission in order to convince them that the job is legitimate.”

But after that first payment, victims never see another dime.

“Victims deposit their funds into crypto accounts or wallets. Victims will see funds in their crypto account, but will not have the ability to withdraw the funds they have deposited and earned.”

Robert Falzon, with Check Point Software in Canada, tracks all sorts of internet scams, including this one. He says those tasks of rating hotels are meaningless.

“They have to make it look like you’re doing something to earn this money, so it’s likely these ratings aren’t even legitimate, it’s just work to make it seem like you are actually earning money for tasks you’re performing,” Falzon says.

He says first and foremost if you get an unsolicited job offer, do your research.

“I can tell you if someone is messaging you out of the blue about a job offer, it’s likely not legitimate. Before you respond, go online and search for the company claiming to offer you this work. Do not engage otherwise.”

Also, paying to do work is a big alarm bell.

If anybody is looking to hire you, They’re going to pay you, not you, them,” Falzon says.

It’s a lesson Peter found out the hard way. He’s speaking out to warn others as he tries to recover from a huge financial setback.

“I am in trouble,” he says. “I’m on the verge of losing my house, my marriage. Everything is very precarious right now.”

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