An Indian national, living and working in Dubai, saved his 44-year-old uncle from becoming a victim of an elaborate and well-planned job recruitment scam.
Twenty-nine-year-old Syed Ghani has been working as an electronics engineer in Al Shamsi Group of Companies and he recently saved his uncle from losing a lot of money is a well-organised job recruitment scam that is operating out of the UAE.
Speaking about the series of events that unfolded a few weeks ago, Ghani said his uncle Syed Bakash gave him a casual call and asked him to check up on the status of ‘Shell Petroleum Company’ that offered him a job with a Dh16,500 monthly salary. Bakash said he found the job vacancy on a reputed newspaper in India and applied for a vacancy in the oil engineering sector. Within a week, he had a high-paying job in US oil company Shell Petroleum.
An excited Bakash luckily called his nephew and asked him to verify certain mobile numbers, and a physical location after he got his ‘offer letter’.
Ghani said: “My uncle has been looking for a better job for some time, and he wanted to surprise the rest of family about the new job’s offer letter. He was indeed very happy and excited about the new prospect. Since he used to work in Saudi Arabia, he felt the new experience would be good for him.”
The ‘company’ had given Bakash an offer letter in a day or two after completing a small online test. He said: “I found it strange that there were no phone interviews of any kind of video conferencing. Instead, everything happened over e-mails.” Bakash was shortlisted and within three days, he got an offer letter. The letter also stated that he was required to pay Dh2,700 for visa processing and other formalities.
The letter also gave details of a travel agency called ‘Seaman Columbus Travel and Tourism’ to which the amount needed to be sent. Luckily, Ghani found the entire affair a bit odd and made a few verification calls and checked on the numbers provided in the offer letter.
Ghani said: “I spoke to the ‘HR recruitment officer’, who sounded extremely convincing and professional and encouraged me to send the money directly to the account mentioned in the offer letter.” He said he was almost convinced of the job’s legitimacy.
Case lodged with cyber unit
Luckily for Ghani, he made a last-minute call to the travel agency mentioned in the offer letter. The officials at the centre clearly informed him they have no affiliation whatsoever with Shell Petroleum. Abhinav Mohan, the manager Seaman Columbus Travel and Tourism told Khaleej Times that they have been receiving calls about job offers at Shell Petroleum for two months.
“For the past two months, we have been receiving 3-4 calls every day asking us about this company’s job vacancies and money transfer procedures. However, our company has no relation to Shell Petroleum whatsoever.” After officials at the 26-year-old travel company realised that the fraudsters have been using their address, number, and marketing material, they filed a complaint with the cyber unit of the Dubai Police.
“When I saw that they are even using my name, I was a bit shaken. We took the case to the cyber unit. Only people who ran an online search for our company found out that this is a fraud,” added Abhinav. The company also has offices in Bangalore, India, where innocent victims have been going too as well.
After escaping unscathed from the terrible experience, Bakash and Ghani said they consider themselves lucky. “What about the innocent people who get caught in this trap. The ones who don’t think they need to cross-verify. These crooks must be exposed, and victims must come forward and speak their stories,” said Ghani.
Verify the offer letter with IWRC
Meanwhile, the Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) said there has been a steep rise in the number of job fraud cases from India. Bindu Suresh Chettur, a lawyer who provides legal counselling at the IWRC said in an earlier interview that the Indian nationals can cross verify the authenticity of the offer letters with the IWRC before taking up the job.
Only a total of 24 out of the 362 jobs offer letters received by the IWRC for verification are genuine, according to Anish Chaudhury, senior manager IWRC. The statistics are from the beginning of this year till May, and the centre receives at least three to four offer letters, visa documents for verification every day. He added: “Almost 95 per cent of the offer letters is coming from India. Since the beginning of this year, only 24 of the offer letters are genuine.”