Photo (c) West End 61 - Getty Images
If you are looking for a job you may be browsing job listings on a regular basis. Businesses that are hiring use those job boards a lot. Unfortunately, so do scammers.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently warned that scammers are using job listing sites, as well as online ads and postings on social media, offering a job that doesn’t exist.
They promise you a job, but what they want is your money and your personal information. Technology experts warn that AI platforms like ChatGPT have just made scammers’ job easier.
“These scams are often given away by poorly written email messages or unconvincing web pages,” Dominic Chorafakis, founder of the cybersecurity firm Akouto, told ConsumerAffairs. “AI makes it easy for scammers to craft very convincing emails and websites that are much more effective at tricking users.”
As an example, Chorafakis copied some of my biographical data readily available at ConsumerAffairs. He pasted it into Open AI's GPT-3 Davinci model, an AI platform like ChatGPT, and asked it to write a letter to me, offering a job writing about consumer issues. He told it to flatter me.
Here’s what GPT-3 Davinci produced:
I'm writing to introduce myself and our company. I recently came across your work on ConsumerAffairs and I was impressed with the level of passion and commitment you have put into your work protecting consumers.
At our company, we strive to publish information that will empower and protect consumers. We believe that the best way to make a real difference is to provide accurate and reliable information. We want to build on the incredible work you have done to date, and thought you might be interested in joining our team.
We have an exciting opening for a consumer affairs correspondent that I thought would be a great fit for you. The position will involve producing content, creating video segments, and conducting interviews – just like you've done in the past.
I've included a link to the job description below, but if you would like to learn more about our company, please feel free to click on our website.
We would be honored to have you join our team.
[Link to fake job description]
“Sophisticated scammers can easily automate the process of scraping information posted by users on social media and using it with AI to create very convincing personalized social engineering and phishing attacks,” Chorafakis said. “This makes it more important than ever for people to be very careful about what information is shared on social media and to control who has access to their profiles.”
Chorafakis said that at Def Con, an annual hacker convention in Las Vegas, a team of researchers conducted an experiment showing that phishing attacks created using AI were much more successful in tricking users into clicking links and opening malicious attachments than those created by humans.
That makes it even more important to be on the lookout for red flags in these unsolicited job offers. Here’s one – in the letter above, the scammer is offering me a job without a job interview. That never happens.
Tips for staying safe
The FTC offers these additional tips for avoiding what are likely to be increasingly sophisticated job scams:
Do an online search. Look up the name of the company or the person who’s hiring you, plus the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” You might find out they’ve scammed other people.
Talk to someone you trust. Describe the offer to them. What do they think? This also helps give you vital time to think about the offer.
Don't pay for the promise of a job. Legitimate employers, including the federal government, will never ask you to pay to get a job. Anyone who does is a scammer.
Never bank on a “cleared” check. No legitimate potential employer will ever send you a check and then tell you to send on part of the money, or buy gift cards with it. That’s a fake check scam. The check will bounce, and the bank will require you to repay the amount of the fake check.