Australian jobseekers lost more than $8.7 million to scammers posing as recruiters in 2022 but the real number is believed to be much higher.
Employment scams increased noticeably in the last three months of the year as many people considered a career change or finished studying, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Many criminals posed as legitimate recruiters and sought out victims via social media, promising a job at a real company if they handed over money.
Australians aged 25-44 reported the biggest losses, believed to be because people in this demographic frequently change jobs.
The consumer advocacy group's deputy chair Delia Rickard said only about 13 per cent of scam victims come forward so the total amount lost could be in the many tens of millions.
"I've seen reports of people who've lost $40,000 to these sorts of scams," Ms Rickard told AAP.
Scammers pretended to work for high-profile companies or online shopping platforms and contacted victims through targeted online advertisements or messaging forums.
Some schemes involved asking jobseekers to purchase large amounts of particular products through certain websites or submitting reviews.
Ms Rickard said criminals also frequently approached those wising to immigrate to Australia and would ask them to pay travel costs or fake migration fees.
"They're taking advantage of encrypted apps like WhatsApp,Telegram, Signal, where it's harder for them to be detected," she added.
"They are very, very clever at manipulating people to believe what they've been told."
Recruitment scam red flags include having to act quickly to secure a role, being offered a job without an interview, handing over personal details like bank account numbers or being asked to transfer to a third party.
Ms Rickard asked anyone who thinks they are caught up in a recruitment scam to contact Scamwatch and said they could seek help from cyber support charity IDCARE.