Trading Standards is warning young people to be wary of fake job adverts on social media that at first glance might appear to be the answer to their financial worries.
The pandemic has hit the pockets of many financially, but none more so than young people, many of which are students who rely on jobs in the tourist and hospitality sectors.
However, as a consequence of lockdown and jobs not being available, many are struggling to make ends meet.
Some fake job adverts on social media have the sole aim of harvesting personal details, which are later used to commit identity theft.
Fake jobs advertised have included roles such as COVID testers or admin support.
Action Fraud has been alerted to 4,540 COVID-19 related fraud and cybercrimes, resulting in total losses of £21.8m since the start of the pandemic.
But other jobs are posted with the intention of duping young people into laundering money.
Often, criminals who want to move money through accounts but want to avoid the scrutiny of banks, employ ‘mules’ who allow their account to be used.
According to fraud prevention experts Cifas, more than four in 10 cases of money mules involved victims aged 21 to 30.
There were 17,157 cases of suspected money muling involving 21 to 30-year-olds in 2020, a 5 per cent increase on the previous year.
Janet Quinn from Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards said: “If you see an advert for a job on social media that would appear to be the answer to your financial woes and it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
“By responding to some of these adverts, at best you could be giving away your personal details and at worst you could be duped into committing a criminal offence.
“Anyone who has been offered a job through social media and thinks it might be a scam should contact the organisation directly using officially listed contact details to confirm if the offer is genuine.”
For more advice or to report an incident go to the Safer Jobs website.