Fraudsters offering non-existent work at UAE companies for upfront fees

Job-seekers targeted by jobs scams tell of almost being duped, both online and offline.

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ABU DHABI // People targeted by fraudsters have told of their experience of almost being duped – both online and in person.

The targets are usually asked – illegally – for cash upfront for fees, or for their bank details.

Dr Raghuraj Hegde, an ophthalmologist based in Bangalore, India, last week received an email from a “recruitment firm” claiming to represent Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and offering him a job with a lucrative package.

“I was suspicious since there wasn’t any formal interview – and that almost never happens when recruiting doctors to hospitals, and certainly won’t happen in a reputed hospital like Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi,” Dr Hegde said.

“Then my suspicions were increased by the unbelievable salary being offered.”

The job offer promised a monthly salary of Dh50,000, Dh3,500 a month for car rental, Dh3,200 a month for “entertainment and recreation” and an annual payment of Dh40,550 for housing and furniture.

There was also Dh24,000 as a bonus for the two months of annual leave, Dh17,200 for travel and entertainment on leave, and annual business or first-class air fares.

On further inspection, Dr Hegde found the email address and website were fake.

“I am afraid many people would be quite fooled into believing such scams,” he said.

Waleed Barhaji, head of consumer finance at Noor Bank, said there was a simple rule of thumb to avoid falling prey to such scams.

“If a job sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Mr Barhaji said.

Abu Dhabi resident Muhammed Ijaz, an auditor, said he was almost fooled a year ago when he received a phone call from a company that said they had seen his CV and wanted him to attend an interview.

Despite a check on the internet revealing very little information about the company, Mr Ijaz, 30, went to the address given in Sharjah.

“It was a very shabby sort of place,” he said. “I was asked to wait in a waiting room that was actually a makeshift kitchen. I had my doubts then.”

Mr Ijaz became suspicious when the female interviewer offered him a job on the spot with few questions about his work history – if he paid Dh400 to “secure the position”.

“That was very odd for me,” he said. “She said: ‘No, no, without this we cannot proceed’. I said: ‘Give me the job and you can take it from my first month’s salary but she said this wasn’t the way it worked’.”

When he told her he had no cash on him, Mr Ijaz said he was almost bullied into withdrawing money from a nearby ATM until he threatened to call the police and was allowed to leave.

Hammad Roshan, a chartered accountant who has been in the UAE for four years, said he almost fell foul of a job scam, as had many of his friends.

“A person called me few days back. He said: ‘Are you looking for a job?’. I told him ‘yes’,” Mr Roshan said.

“Then he asked few basic questions – very, very basic – and from his tone I was able to understand that he is not listening carefully.

“Then he said: ‘Great, we have been looking for a candidate like you, can you come to our office in Abu Hail, in Dubai?’.”

When he asked for a specific address, Mr Roshan was told just to phone when he was in the Abu Hail area.

“This is where I got suspicious. Why doesn’t a recruiter want to give his address?”

On further questioning, Mr Roshan found he was expected to hand over Dh350 for “verification paperwork”.

“I know people who got fooled by this fraud and they were very hopeful but nothing came of it, and they had to go back to their home country,” he said.