Conned out of money and tricked into fake jobs – Recruitment scam costing job seekers thousands | UK News

The job opportunity came at just the right time for Theo.

He had been looking for a job for a year, getting part-time time at the event. He was homeless and collapsed on a friend’s sofa.

“I took the first opportunity because I thought, I just need to get out of this situation,” Theo, whose real name was withheld, told Sky News.

From the employer’s point of view, he was perfect: he was desperate and didn’t ask too many questions.

He knew that was the guy they were looking for because that’s the guy he was told to hire when he started the job.

Those who aren’t put off by the paucity of information on the company’s website. People who really need money.

Except they’ll never get paid for their work – and they’ll be scammed out of hundreds of pounds in the process.

deceived become liars

The scam that caught Theo was a multi-pronged attack.

First, he was told by his new “employer” that he would need to pay for his HR qualification and promised reimbursement if he completed the modules.

“They said it would only cost a few hundred pounds, but you’d get a job and pay every month – yes, so I took it.”

He paid £275 to what appeared to be an external training provider and logged in on the first day.

He was told he would be recruiting people. The first thing he needs to do is buy a disposable mobile phone and pay £118 for a CV subscription.

The first people he called were “women looking for work, just as desperate as I was”.

“When the roles were reversed, I read the script, and then I remembered the way I did the interview, and I thought, well, this is exactly the same,” Theo said.

“In my mind, I thought, this is not right. But at the same time, I’ve spent a lot of money and I don’t want to leave without getting my money back.”

Job Scams: JobsAware Advice on What to Look Out for

1. Be wary of generic-sounding jobs that don’t require experience or qualifications

2. Check email addresses – do they look official?

3. Pay attention to how your emails are written – bad grammar, odd wording, and Americanized English can be red flags

4. Beware of unexpected payment requests

5. Be aware of the requirements to get the job, such as training fees you have to pay

6. Be wary of pace and pressure, scammers want to move fast

7. Watch out for procedural inadequacies, such as failure to provide contracts or contracts with wrong terms or currencies

8. People disappearing suddenly is another warning sign that something is wrong

scams on the rise

Theo is one of a growing number of recruitment scammers.

The scams aren’t new, but the trend has picked up as people lost their jobs and hiring moved online during the pandemic — and it’s accelerating as the cost of living crisis deepens.

Cyber ​​Helpline, a charity that helps victims of cybercrime, has seen a 286 per cent increase in job scams in the past nine months compared to the entire previous 12 months.

new Research According to a survey commissioned by Ofcom, 30% of adults in the UK have experienced some sort of employment scam.

Scams come in all shapes and sizes. Some trick people into paying for fake visas, eligibility or security checks, others make people hand over their bank details.

Some find that they have inadvertently been involved in money laundering or perpetuating a scam, or have been duped into doing real work for which they were never paid.

Recruiter or employer with resume in hand conducts online virtual job interview with candidate via video call. Remote remote recruitment meeting chat. Over the shoulder view. Figure: iStock
Theo is tricked into recruiting others to join the scam. Figure: iStock

lie to me twice

Rory Innes, chief executive of The Cyber ​​Helpline, explained that job scams have more than once given criminals the tools to harm their victims.

“Think about what is valuable to criminals – money and personal information.

“Job fraud is perfect because you can get someone to send you a CV and their passport details and pretend to do a DBS check or a criminal records check […] Then you scam them out of their money, so you make money and you get all the data, which you can then use or sell to other scams. “

Mr Innes said you might think scammers would run away once caught, but some would use this as an opportunity to exploit others again.

“They’ll call, pretend to be the police, and say, ‘Look, we know you’ve been scammed by this fake company. If you need to deposit money into a safe account, or if you deposit money with us, we’ll go and help track it down. Get your money back’ – and then they get scammed again.”

Mr Innes said people often lost more in these recovery scams than in the original scam, especially if they were tricked into handing over their bank details.

“I’m a mess”

How many people have lost a lot due to job scams. Some, like Theo, will be scammed out of hundreds of pounds. Others have lost thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds.

But Mr Innes said the impact was not just financial.

“Think of someone who could lose £2,000. It could mean they can’t pay their rent or feed their children.

“The bigger impact on that person is mental health, which is their ability to go online and trust, but also just their day-to-day life.”

Maya, who did not want her real name to be used, quit a job she loved to take a position at the same company as Theo. She was “a mess” when she realized the job she signed up for didn’t exist.

“I cried hysterically when everything fell apart, it wasn’t that I lost the money, they could keep it. It was the fact that I didn’t have a job…you need a job, especially in London”

Portrait of sad woman in blackhead put down, stressed young girl touching head and thinking

How scammers work – and the warning signs

Maya said she was usually lied to, but “everything was perfect”.

She was offered a contract, she was interviewed on Zoom, and the site appeared to be legitimate, with “nothing that strikes me as intuitively weird”, even though she was asked to pay £275 for training.

At first glance, the company’s website seems appropriately outfitted with HR buzzwords and office photos. But look closely, the page is littered with dummy lorem ipsum text, the pictures are stock images, and typos abound.

JobsAware chief executive Keith Rosser said these were classic warning signs of a job scam. His organization helps victims of job scams – they alone have received 10 complaints about the company.

Another red flag is an ordinary-sounding job with a low barrier to entry because scammers want as many applicants as possible.

“Even if they’re fooling 10% of them every day, it’s very profitable for them,” he said.

track the liar

Although JobsAware and The Cyber ​​Helpline have provided evidence for police reports, few are prosecuted in job fraud cases.

But tracking individuals is difficult because police resources are stretched and many crooks are based abroad and operate online.

Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cybercrime Reporting Centre, confirmed it had received four complaints about companies Theo and Maya claiming they had been scammed.

At least one of them is still being assessed by the Metropolitan Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).

life after the scam

Three days later, Theo left the job, £400 less and without the pub shifts he used to rely on.

He is now wary of finding a job, “demoralized”, and only applies to bigger but more competitive companies.

Maya had better luck finding a job, but she still had to seek help with rent for the next few months.

“It definitely affected my trust,” she said.

“It’s hard enough getting a job today. You actually get a job, you go through all the identity checks and everything – because it’s just a scam, it’s a shock to the system.

“One week I’m celebrating. The next week I’m crying.”

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