Sunday, November 08, 2009

Job hunters in United Arab Emirates fall prey to recruitment racket

The current job market is still sluggish and more expatriates have lost jobs in the UAE since September 2008. Even the unemployment rate is USA is climbing to a new record high.

Lot of fraudsters and swindlers are taking hopeful job seekers for a ride. Be careful on the online advertisements that flourish with career opportunities. Please make a bit of study, analysis and inquiries to avoid becoming another victim of frauds.

The simple basic rules in identifying the crooks at work,
  • no payment required for genuine employment offers or process from the UAE companiesor agencies
  • and the emails should not be gmails, yahoos or hotmails or other free emails.

By VM Sathish

A major recruitment racket run by swindlers, who falsely claim to represent leading UAE business groups and companies, is defrauding job hunters from around the world.

Jobseekers have been told to beware unsolicited job offers supposedly made on behalf of large businesses or government establishments.

Many have been duped by fraudsters, who offer jobs without carrying out interviews. Some of the fraudsters even claim to be acting on behalf of Dubai Municipality. The latest cases involve a bogus oil and gas company and recruiters who falsely say they represent the Emirates Group.

The fake company, Ajman Petroleum, claims to own the Upper Zakum oilfield, the largest in Abu Dhabi. It tricks jobseekers into paying processing fees that are collected by a travel agent linked to the fraud.

The company has an attractive website and has allegedly duped overseas candidates seeking openings in the UAE energy sector.

An Indian engineer, who was recently laid off by a company in a GCC country, said he saw job advertisements placed by Ajman Petroleum, which said it was looking for professionals to work in the company's major oilfields in Abu Dhabi.

The company claims it operates from Ajman Free Zone and says on its website: "Ajman Petroleum LLC was established in 1977 to operate the Upper Zakum field, one of the largest oilfields in the world."

The Zakum oilfield is, in fact, owned by Zakum Development Company (Zadco), which is based at the Sheikh Khalifa Energy Complex. Ajman Petroleum's website carries text and images copied from Zadco's site.

The conned engineer said: "After I contacted the company via e-mail, they accepted all my demands and promised me a job as an oilfield manager.

"They told me to contact a travel agent in Ajman to obtain a visa and other documents. When I contacted the travel agency, they asked me to send Dh1,270 as processing fees. I became suspicious and checked with my friends in the UAE to find out whether Ajman Petroleum was the country's leading oil and gas company. They said there was no big oil company in the UAE with such a name." While the engineer has not lost any money, other candidates have paid the processing fees and are still waiting for their dream jobs in the oil sector. They are told their expenses, including airfare and residency permit fees, will be reimbursed by the company when their first salary is paid.

In a number of cases, jobseekers have received unsolicited e-mails from Ajman Petroleum. The messages say: "Dear applicant, this is to acknowledge we have received all your documents and CV and affirm that your qualification and experience are found suitable to work with Ajman Petroleum LLC.

"If you are not a resident of the UAE, you will undergo a month's training programme with us upon your arrival. The programme shall enlighten you more on the main services required from you for Ajman Petroleum LLC, UAE for the position offered, and your salary will be paid during the training programme."

The e-mail tells the prospective employees to contact Ajman Tourism Group to obtain a visa and other documents as the company has a special agreement with the agency.

The company places job advertisements in the classified sections of newspapers and on internet recruitment sites to lure overseas candidates. It advertises job openings in the oil and gas field and writes to candidates responding to advertisements.

Visitors to the Ajman Petroleum LLC website at www.ajman-petroleum.eu.pn are likely to be astonished by the claims made in it.

The company says it is a prominent oil producer in the region and was formed by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1977 to develop and operate the Zakum field. There are, in fact, no major oil companies based at Ajman Free Zone.

Upper Zakum is a major contributor to Abu Dhabi's oil output and has the potential for substantial increases in production.

Meanwhile, some jobseekers have been approached by swindlers claiming to represent Emirates, and the group's human resources department has issued a statement stressing it never asks for money to process job applications.

"Emirates and Dnata have become aware that members of the public are receiving e-mails which contain fraudulent employment opportunities with Emirates Group," says the statement.

"These e-mails often contain fake offers of employment requesting personal information or payment to process a job application or payment to process visas. Please note that Emirates Group never requests payment or fees for processing of job applications."

The group's HR department says its personnel never send job offers using their personal yahoo.com, gmail or hotmail accounts.

"The company advertises all job openings on its official website and always conducts a face-to-face interview before determining a suitable candidate," the statement adds. "Offers of employment without any form of interview are most likely to be fraudulent.

"Emirates Group never requests payment or fees for job applications. If you have never applied for a job with Emirates Group or a reputable recruitment agency, you should be cautious of random offers of employment."

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), too, has sent regular alerts about a "fraudulent investment scheme", which is using a fake letter in the name of the authority to lure investors to a dubious scheme.

An alert from DFSA said: "The Dubai Financial Services Authority alerts the community to a fraudulent investment scheme which is using a fake DFSA letter. The scheme consists of a communication to individuals stating they have won several hundred thousands of US dollars in the 'Middle East-Asia Promotion' sponsored by the 'Emirates Foundation'.

"In order to claim the prize, individuals are advised by the fake letter to transfer a sum of money to DFSA for registration of funds meant for international remittance before such funds could be approved for release. A person purporting to be the head of operations, international swift remittance/transfer department of a UAE Bank provides the individual instructions on how to make the transfer," the market regulator said earlier.

"The fake DFSA letter is unauthorised use of the name, logo and letterhead of DFSA and is fraudulent. The DFSA strongly advises people not to respond to such communication and report such cases to the authority's complaint section."

Such frauds are occasionally reported by the DFSA.

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