Last week a couple of my friends got offers for jobs abroad. One got his offer from a leading UK hotel and the other from a leading Oil company in Nigeria. Calls for celebrations, doesn’t it? Read on to find out why we are yet to uncork the bubbly…
(Click on the pictures to see larger image)
Case # 1: Hotel Marriott
Last Friday, X got the following email from the id: email@example.com with the subject line “JOBS IN UK”:
Excited at getting a chance to realize his foreign job dream, X checked the Marriott hotel site and suitably satisfied, mailed back with his resume – almost instantly received the following email reply from the id firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “MARRIOT INTERVIEW LETTER”:
The email had the following questionnaire attached:
One look at the document and he smelt a rat… well for starters it was signed by a "Sir Powel C" - and some of the questions were already answered - and those were really lousy answers too! Needless to add he didn’t pursue the matter further...
Case # 2: Oando PLC
Last Sunday, Y, another friend of mine also received a similar email from the id: email@example.com with the subject line as “JOB OPENING AT OANDO GROUP PLC.”
This friend was not as internet savvy as X and did not check the Oando site at all. He straightaway replied with his CV and got the following email as a reply from the id: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “ONLINE INTERVIEW/QUESTIONNAIRE – OANDO GROUP PLC”
The email had the following questionnaire attached:
When he came to me for help with the questionnaire, I recalled having spoken to X about his “offer”. I immediately asked X to forward his mails to me and wasn’t surprised to find that both questionnaires were almost identical – word for word…
Continuing my post mortem, I had a look at the ids from which the mails were sent – as you can see, all these mails were sent from public email domains such as live.com – no recruiter worth his salt would send emails from such ids!
Moreover, I found it incredible that the last paragraph of the Oando questionnaire read: “Please note, there might not be any verbal Interview as this may serve as the final assessment based on the acclaimed qualifications and position on your resume.” – wow!
It broke my heart to break the news to Y that his offer was a hoax. The poor soul had even found out about the weather in Lagos…
Anyway, to convince Y and to find out more about this scam, I googled up “Oando” to see whether the company existed in the first place. I found their website carried the following ominous words on its homepage – “SCAM ALERT”
The cautionary note read: (click on the above picture to read the entire note)
“We have recently been inundated with emails, seeking confirmation of business propositions made to individuals within and outside Nigeria by some people claiming to work for, or to be affiliated with the Oando Group of Companies. These emails often offer the recipients "jobs" which involve the use of the recipients' bank accounts for the payment of money owed to the Oando Group of Companies by its customers. These emails promise to permit the recipient to deduct a percentage of such payments as commission. In order to be "employed", the authors of these emails usually request that the recipients send them personal information such as the recipients' names, addresses, bank details etc.”
Aleast, Oando had been kind enough to alert the general public… but the harm to its brand equity is irrevocable. I tried calling up the company on the numbers given on its site – sadly I was greeted by an IVR…
I also wondered how many more people were being hoaxed like X & Y. The answer was easy enough to get - Upon googling with the search criteria “Bankole Edwards” (the “Sender” of the email received by Y), I found my friends were not the only ones conned…
A South African national complained: “I was made a false job offer (scam) in order to collect money for so-called visa and travel documents as well as bank details.” – Read the complete text at http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/oando-nigeria-plc-c246142.html
Another person, a Pakistani, also complained: “I had received a mail saying that I have been selected for a post in the OANDO PLC Nigeria . They are willing to pay $14, 320 per month on hand. I think this is not true and the mail is fake. When I contacted the immigation office for the same, they asked $950 in advance. Please investigate the same and inform as soon as possible.” – Read the complete text at http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/oando-plc-nigeria-c158050.html
Another guy replying to this post was actually cheated out of $1250 (that’s over fifty six thousand rupees!) – he wrote: “I am ... who was also hired by the Oando Group Plc and was referred to Bestway Travells Consultants who instructed me to pay USD $650 and after the payments he again instructed me to pay USD $1100 and negotiated me just to pay USD $ 600 . This is scam and onething i requested the travel consultant (Bestway) to please return the payments.”
My sympathies are with this guy and others like him - this scam seems to be of global proportions and reeks of similarities of the more infamous Lottery Scam… my friends were lucky!
There are more such stories at: http://www.fraudwatchers.org/forums/showthread.php?t=23739
Who is not on the lookout for a “change” today? I am sure most of those who read this post will have uploaded their resume on a job site… the greener pastures abroad have been the fantasy of young Indians for decades. Cases of human trafficking and passport scams make news with alarming regularity. (Remember the news about Daler Mehendi and his brother in one such case a few years back?) Now with professional networking sites like Linkedin gaining popularity, con-artists have it much easier to find their target group.
And of course there's more than money to lose here... Identity Theft is a very real threat too.
So next time before you send out your resume, do follow this little checklist:
1. Check the email id of the sender
2. Google up the name of the company - especially if it an offer abroad
3. Try finding the sender on a site like Linkedin.com
4. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!
All I can say is, beware… and pass on the message to your contacts!