Impersonating Star Squared PR: Cybercriminals Target Job Seekers on Social Platforms

Star Squared PR, a leading PR services company headquartered in Bengaluru, recently identified a work-from-home employment scam, where cybercriminals were using the company’s brand image to perpetrate job fraud by collecting money and personal details from job seekers. Employment scams on social media platforms are widespread in India and it constitutes the highest reported cybercrime in the country.

Cybercriminals were using Telegram and other social media platforms to share fake job postings, by leveraging Star Squared PR’s brand identity. 

Employment scams are becoming more sophisticated as threat actors are constantly on the lookout for well-established brands. They are leveraging the brand identities of well-known companies to perpetuate scams.

This particular spear-phishing attack leveraging Star Squared PR’s logo, was designed to convince unsuspecting job seekers from tier-2 and tier-3 markets, promising them work-from-home jobs with high compensation. The scammers aimed to con people into paying money for a job. To make the scam seem believable, the attackers created sophisticated posters and used contact details of employees of Star Squared PR in spear-phishing messages. These bad actors have created multiple private Telegram groups and are extracting a sum of Rs 11,000, perhaps even more, for candidates to join the group and attend a demo. The scammers are sharing QR codes for UPI payments.

Star Squared PR identified the scam two weeks ago, after a deluge of phone calls from prospective candidates, seeking a job. Additionally, industry peers reached out to SSPR to flag the issue. The company filed a complaint with the Bengaluru City Cyber Crime Police and a case was registered against suspects who are yet to be identified. Star Squared PR hasn’t been able to determine how many people have fallen victim to the scam. However, the company will await the police investigation for more details.

“Star Squared PR is not responsible for the job postings that are circulating on Telegram and other social media platforms. Employment fraud is a pressing concern in India and we urge people to be wary of sharing their personal information or paying money to secure job interviews. Any job postings from our end are listed on our official website and social handles. We have set up a separate team to field calls from candidates seeking a job and educate them about the scam,” said Priyan DC, CEO, Star Squared PR.

How do work-from-home employment scams work?

To perpetrate such attacks, scammers pose as an employer or recruiter, and offer attractive employment opportunities that require job seekers to pay money in advance. They use social media platforms like Telegram to offer high-paying, remote or part-time jobs with the goal of siphoning off victims’ money and their personal information.

In many cases, scammers send people messages saying, “Your resume has been selected”, “Accept this job and earn a daily salary”. The message is generally sent through a message header that is made to look credible. Often, these messages include a link that’s used for the WhatsApp’s “click to chat” feature and allows users to begin a chat with anybody without having their phone number being saved.

Scammers then offer the victims links to a malicious website for the “registration process”. When the victim enters their personal details on the provided registration link, the sensitive personal data is compromised. Scammers also ask victims to pay money to verify their accounts.

Staying a step ahead of scammers

Always look for jobs on legitimate websites: It’s always important to look for jobs on legitimate websites. It benefits to maintain a certain level of skepticism towards job offers on Telegram, WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

Research the company and ensure the job posting is authentic: Always check the company’s website and official social media accounts to verify if the job posting is valid. Companies usually put up job postings on their website’s careers section.

Authentic job postings always have video/face-to-face interviews: Often, scammers promise email or telephonic interviews to avoid detection. This is a red flag as legitimate companies do not hire candidates without a face-to-face or video interview. Additionally, authentic job postings don’t demand money from candidates for an interview.

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