The FBI warned last week that people are interviewing for tech jobs using stolen identities — and even deepfake videos.
Specifically, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) on June 28 reported an increase in complaints about the use of stolen personal information — and even real-time deepfake video technology during Zoom interviews — by some tech job candidates to misrepresent their job experience or lie about who is actually applying for the job.
The FBI said that the rise in fake applicants is happening mainly in software development, database, and other software-related job openings.
The good news is that the deepfake technology used for live interviews isn’t working, according to the FBI. (Video tends to lag audio, and other anomalies can reveal the fake identity for what it is.)
The bad news is that while the technology for live deepfake video isn’t mature — yet — in the not-so-distant future, remote hiring might be fraught with the use of digital AI-enabled fakery.
In the past, deepfakes were less sophisticated, and all-remote job interviews were rare.
But in this post-COVID-19 world, remote interviews have become mainstream, and deepfakes continue to improve yearly.
Remote workers, digital nomads, remote consultants, and far-flung gig workers will increasingly interview, get hired, and interact remotely via text, audio, and video.
All of which can be spoofed, faked, and automated by AI in ways that enable bad actors to work at companies and receive pay as imposters.
In fact, more than half of all US employees hired since the early days of the pandemic in March 2020 have never met any of their coworkers in person, according to a survey by Green Building Elements.
Fake job applications have also recently become a technique for state-sponsored cyberattacks. For example, in May, the US State and Treasury departments and the FBI released a joint statement warning that American companies were hiring North Korean IT workers.
Sometimes, the employees were inside North Korea and lying about their location. In others, they lied about their identity.
Either way, according to the FBI, hiring North Koreans is a violation of US sanctions, which comes with a penalty of about $330,000 per violation.
In general, the remote-work, remote-hiring reality means extra precautions must be taken by hiring managers so you know exactly who you’re hiring.
Fraud cuts both ways
While fake job candidates are rising, so are fake companies pretending to hire.
And the Great Resignation means millions of employees are seeking out remote positions. Job scams increased during the pandemic, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Scammers post as recruiters and try to con job candidates into paying fees for processing applications or trying to steal their personal information.
(Indeed.com offers a good guide for avoiding job scams.)
Advice going forward: Apply yourself!
The bottom line is that the future of work will entail a lot more hiring of remote employees, which means the risk of fraud is greatly enhanced.
The best advice for companies is to verify the identity and claims made by job candidates actively. In addition, make sure you know whom you’re hiring.
The same goes for job seekers. Watch out for scams for remote work tech positions. Use the advice from Indeed to identify those job ads that are nothing but scams.
Remote hiring and remote work can help companies and employees alike. But with those benefits comes increased risk and a new imperative to check and double-check exactly who is on the other side of the job application process.