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FBI: Human Trafficking Rings Force Job Seekers Into Cryptojacking Schemes

Victims of the cybercrime schemes are coerced to participate through violence and having their belongings taken away.

The FBI is warning US citizens that are traveling to or living abroad in Southeast Asia of false advertisements leading to labor trafficking, where individuals are intimidated and forced to involve themselves in international cryptocurrency investment fraud schemes.

Criminal actors, primarily belonging to Chinese crime groups, post fake job advertisements on employment sites and social media, offering jobs such as call center customer service representatives and beauty salon technicians. These fake advertisements reach potential victims on a global scale, including those from countries like Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Russia, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, as well as the US.

By reeling in their victims' interest with promises of competitive salaries and a wide range of supposed benefits, criminal actors manage to convince these individuals to travel to the "job location" where they are ultimately coerced to commit criminal cryptocurrency acts, by confiscating their personal items and threatening them with violence.

"This activity continues to expand at an alarming rate, with thousands of new victims trafficked every month, while industrial sized scam and money laundering operations expand far beyond the pace of any response," Jason Tower, Myanmar country director at the United States Institute of Peace and cyber trafficking expert, said in a column.

The FBI is encouraging people to do their research on any company and job opportunity before accepting a position, to be careful when the benefits and salary do not align with a job offer, and to share their contact information and employment details with those close to them.

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Jeffrey Schwartz, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading