“If it is too good to be true….it is probably a fraud”
Job fraud or scam is getting quite common in India. The reason can be a combination of easy accessibility of the Internet and the low-existence of jobs to youth who are desperate to kick-start their corporate journey.
Due to the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic the job search platform has become a breeding ground for misinformation, scams, and fake cures. Employment Scam in the domain of Online Recruitment Frauds has emerged as one of the serious issues in recent times. Fake jobs are booming especially in private as well as public sectors, mostly targeting the hordes of willing students who have just passed out and are in search of jobs. According to the Centre of Monitoring Indian Economy, India’s Unemployment rates in April 2020 were at 7.6 %. Haryana tops the chart of unemployment and stands the highest with a percentile of 33.5 % (CMIE, 2020). With the rise of Career Networking sites and Consulting agencies, unsolicited job offers are becoming more and more common which means that anyone who is searching for a job needs to become savvy at sifting through an offer which appears to be a legitimate but has originated with an intention to defraud. At times it is finding a way directly into your mail account or an aspiring candidate receiving a cold call with a similar intention. Con men, they capitalise on the anxieties of a young unemployed generation.
Case Study 1
In a case that came for investigation, the caller hurried through the call from National Capital Region based Mobile Number, intimating that the candidate profile came up in their search and that the recruiting consultancy firm had homed on to certain Job Profiles including his offering high remuneration. The caller was convincing, further adding up that she will coordinate the candidate’s interview either with her higher ups or with the prospective HR head of the Company for whom they have slated the profile for. For processing the case further, the candidate was to deposit a fee of Rs 7000/-. The money was transferred and the candidate was interviewed. In two days’ time he was intimated by another caller with refined language that he had cleared the interview and was asked to deposit one month salary in an account on receipt of offer letter. The candidate did so after receiving the same. It turned out to be a fake offer letter.
Case Study 2
In another case, a genuine consultancy firm based at Mumbai came up with another brilliant idea. The vacancy was non-existent. The lady caller approached a candidate stating that his resume is being forwarded to a multinational Company as it met all the requirements. A call was arranged with the senior recruiting consultant who was confident of the candidates’ selection. The candidates resume was forwarded to the multinational Company and in a week he was intimated that his resume was rejected. The candidate was left in lurch with a promise by the consultant to improve his resume at a nominal fee of Rs 5000/-. The candidate was hopeful and went in for the improvement of his resume. Thereafter, he stopped receiving the call from the consultants.
Case Study 3
In yet another case, a non-registered Consultancy firm advertised for a multinational giant headquartered at Ahmedabad. The candidate was wise enough to carry out an internet research and call up the HR head at the multinational company to find out regarding the opening. The candidate was intimated that there was no such vacancy. The multinational company later took up the case with the law-enforcement agencies.
Case Study 4
These days, fraudsters are using the name of big organisation which are reputed enough to make their offer appear authentic. In the recent times, many complaints were lodged in the name of a reputed Airlines. Aspirants were receiving emails and text messages attempting to mislead them to pay for online interview. They were asked for a security deposit. The email demanded a refundable fee amount of Rs. 9800 as charges for ‘interview processing, maintenance, courier, accommodation and assurance’. The case came to light when a 23 year-old aviation professional raised an alarm over the email, bringing it to the notice of Airlines officials. It may be noted that a good company follow a formal recruitment process and doesn’t demand for any money deposits. In a case, fraudsters used the same strategy and used the name of a technical Consultancy Services in the process. Many innocent candidates had fallen prey into these frauds.
The Imminent Threat
Talking about the current scenario, this COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a new pernicious and irreparable threat. Fraudsters, prey on vulnerable individuals/organisations and seek to exploit the outrageous humanitarian crises for their own ulterior sake. According to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, an estimated 12.2 crore Indians lost their jobs in April due to lockdown in India. Among various sectors, consumer markets were highly affected due to lockdown impact. The economy was moving at snail’s pace. Diminishing of non-essential articles and products had shrunk down leading to squeezing of the profits with a marginal cash flow in market. Decrease in demands and shutting down of organisations resulted in job loss and salary cuts. And eventually this situation triggered the probable chances of organised criminals to defraud the needy ones quoting the names of reputed organisations. The digital crimes which were expected to surface, say after five years, are being witnessed now due to increase in internet traffic during lockdown and Work From Home compulsions. Spike in such cases is impacting the investment community. Modus operandi in which scammers mostly find their prey are:
Random Emails or Phishing:
Probably the easiest way for racketeers to capture the victims as they can easily get access to their database and confidential information and dupe the job seekers. They mass mails will be sent typically asking for money as the security deposit, interview fees, convenience fees, etc. Fraudsters will then disappear as soon as they get the money. Phishing Scams often invade your inbox, resulting to an opportunity and will be taken advantage with great urgency. These mails will usually include a ‘link’ to click for more info or to ‘collect your reward’. Once clicked scammer will gain access to account and the profile of the user. Someone may even contact you via email, text or social media and ask about your personal information. Once your account number and PIN are given, for sure it will be used for illegal purpose. The main purpose of phishing scam is to con people out of their money.
Duplicate profiles on the name of prestigious organizations or government department is created to make their prey fall into their trap in the similar manner. Fraudsters are very cunning and they pretend to have a beautiful, sorted and convincing websites. One must verify whether the website given is legitimate or not in the following manner:
Always double check the domain name. Usually it won’t be an official site but it will be referred with big brand name.
A Quick and random pop-ups will arise while surfing making consistent distractions.
Usually a well-prepared and planned course of action will be reflected through websites.
Top managing authorities are usually mentioned as a reference person to be contacted with. This person will be most likely to be a part of HR Recruiting team.
How to Avoid Being Victimized
Acquire Authentic Information:
One must rely on the official website rather than the dubious mail. Go to the career page of the company and apply directly.
Most reputable organizations, such as banks or top MNCs, will not ask for any personal related information.
As a caution:
One must not open attachments or access any links that implore you to disclose your personal and authentic information.
Safe, encrypted websites, usually include a symbol that looks like a padlock and their web address starts with ‘https:’ If you do not see any of these , they you must not proceed to the website as the encryption of the website cannot be verified as being a resultant of cipher text.
Frisk out the Red flags:
Stay aware of the indicators. Imagine you have been looking for your dream career opportunity. After a rigorous search, you finally got granted with a great offer. You start preparing to make your best impression on your first day of work, only to be told that the organisation never offered you an opportunity. You have been a victim of job scam. It better to increase our awareness towards the ongoing scamming pattern and highlight the red flags for it:
High salary: beware if the salary offered is unduly high, not commensurate with experience or qualification or is contradicting in the market trends.
Simple Error: spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and poor use of English language are a clear give away that the mail or letter is not authentic.
Payment demand: No company or job portal will ask you to pay to be hired if the mail demands money.
Mismatch of skills: If the position offered doesn’t match your qualification and skills set. It is a due sign that something is fishy and doubtable.
Interview: If the mail promises a job to you without any personal or one-to-one interview, it’s probably a fake exposure.
Name and Sign: if the signature seems vague and not understandable, one must call up the company to cross-check the name and designation of the official person sending the mail. A formal check is must before going beyond for good opportunity.
Company details will be missing: A detailed address and words like hiring for big repute MNC or an international company, will give you a direct giveaway. Often candidates are asked to share their resume on unofficial email ID or contact personal numbers. It is often good to verify the number.
No Fees at any Recruiting Stage:
Asking for payments viz security, interview amount and registration will be a vital indicator for fraudulent purposes. One must be aware and stay away from offers that demand confidential information. Asking for pre-payment is the first rule for avoiding a job scam. The main objective of a scammer is to rip money out of you. Individual should be well-aware that no employee/ company/ consultant is liable to ask money in exchange for jobs. It is an illegal act and law enforcements must be informed if you have been victimized.
Direct Connect with the Firm:
Connecting with the organization and confirming with the job openings for the respective posts. On many occasions, individuals forget to scrutinise their job offer letters in the jubilation and exultation in the moment thus, it is highly recommended that one must go through the official notification and converse with officials in the respective organisation.
High Increment in a Shorter Time:
A doubtful quick remuneration despite going with market trends is another pothole for a prey to fall in the trap.
We hope this write-up will definitely help in educating the aspiring youth and help them not to fall prey to all such recruitment scams.
We at DRASInt Risk Alliance Private Limited aim to engage investigation at the corporate level and try to minimize the threat as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) and thaw the fraudulent activities with coherent and professional approach. Our resources work on a logical basis with a focused objective to help and protect you.
Do share your experiences if you have ever been duped by swindlers along with their modus operandi.
To be continued...
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