I- Spy


With companies now recruiting in decent numbers, fraudulent recruitment cases have become quite commonplace in recent times. In an endeavour to keep this menace at bay, Sheetal Srivastava provides a few quick tips that could help you distinguish a fake job offer from a real one.

Mahadevan had a diploma in Hotel Management from a renowned institute in Delhi. This 24-year-old native of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, had completed two years as a receptionist in the front office department of a mid-range Delhi hotel catering to overnight business travelers. The young man was restless because he worked in a 14- hour shift and had no savings. He was unable to get into any of the Five Star establishments where the pay was better and the opportunities for promotion were far greater than where he was. On checking his email one fine day, he saw a job offer from a well-known three-star English hotel chain. The email contained a list of jobs including Front Office Assistants. This was just up Mahadevan’s street! His own qualifications and job experience matched the requirements. Not just that, the salary was in British pounds. Calculating the exchange rate he found the amount to be far above anything he had ever imagined. Two meals and accommodation were also on offer. Excitedly, he completed the attached application form and sent it back, along with his resume. The very next day he received another mail telling him that he had been selected for the position he had applied for.The mail contained a two year contract letter on the Hotel Group’s letterhead laying out the terms and conditions.

The contract was to be printed out, signed and returned. The mail also asked him to make a Western Union wire transfer of Rs 66,000 to a UK account. The money was required to pay for the processing fee, air ticket, work permit and visa fees. The mail also informed him that the vacancy had to be filled urgently, and therefore he had to make the transfer within the next six days or else the job would go to another candidate.

Mahadevan then borrowed money from one of his hotel colleagues. Two lengthy phone calls to his father and an uncle ensured that the balance money was in his bank account. Withdrawing the whole amount the young man hopeful visited the nearest Western Union branch where he transferred the money to the account number mentioned in the email. Along with the money went Mahadevan’s hopes and dreams of a bright future. Two months of frantic phone calls to the UK numbers given in the emails (which did not exist anyway); visits and calls to the British High Commission in New Delhi and unanswered emails finally brought to him the fact that he had been conned. He also had a debt to repay. Keeping the present economic scenario in mind, companies in every sector are once again open to recruiting candidates. Taking advantage of this opportunity, fraudsters have created a sudden burst in the number of fake job offers.

Unemployed youngsters who are in dire need of work have become extremely vulnerable to such fraudulent mails. Several organisations have fallen prey to daring attempts by swindlers who cheat the youth. Perpetrators generally misrepresent themselves as acting on behalf of companies to offer fictitious employment opportunities. Although the affected companies are trying to control the situation through various measures, it is very difficult to detect and intervene in every such case.

“Fake job offers are a worrying occurrence. With major changes in the current economic environment, there are primarily three reasons contributing to the rise of such offers. First, the slowdown prevented many young graduates from bagging job offers. Second, a lot of people also lost jobs during this period of economic volatility. And third, companies in all sectors which were earlier extremely conservative in their recruitment, have now announced their hiring plans which are eagerly awaited and anticipated. Against this backdrop, fraudsters have found an opportunity to exploit,” says Ravi Shankar B, senior VP & HR head, India operations, HCL Technologies.

Ajay Trehan, CEO, AuthBridge, a background screening company elucidates, “Now that businesses have begun to hire again, many organisations are scouting for talent and some of them are hiring in large numbers. These two factors have given fraudsters an ideal opportunity to make some quick bucks out of unsuspecting job seekers, particularly in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.”

“Today, candidates looking for white collar jobs come from varied backgrounds. Unlike graduates from Tier-1 colleges, they are unaware of the recruitment processes and easily fall prey to fake job offers. Such fake jobs are most common in overseas job offerings,” opines Anu Parthasarthy, founder & CEO, Global Executive Talent. Verifying the authenticity of such mails can help in curbing such crimes. To top it all, often at times, the offer looks extremely promising and prompts an immediate response from the victim. In such cases, what role can HR play in curbing this menace? “HR managers who are in touch with students and teachers in academic institutions must actively spread the word. Students must also be alert and should check the authenticity of offers; and share information only if they are convinced about the veracity of the company,” adds Shankar.

“The mode of recruitment should be clearly mentioned on the company portal and HR managers should make sure that the company uses authentic mediums for recruitment. They can ask candidates to post their resumes on the company portal and should preferably conduct interviews at the company premises. In addition, for the recruitment process, they should hire only reputed HR consultants,” says Sunil Goel, director, GlobalHunt India. Today, there are no stringent laws for cyber criminals in place in India yet. Hence, the general approach is to set up a special section on the company’s website warning about the recruitment fraud, how to detect it and report it. Whatever the route, it is imperative for organisations to intervene in such cases and ensure their reputation is not maligned by such fraudulent practices.


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