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Desperate job seekers targeted by scammers

By Hannah Patchett , Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Aug 07,2016 - Last updated at Aug 07,2016

Source: MCT

AMMAN — Like many young Jordanians lured by lucrative salaries and career opportunities, college graduate Omar Obeidat hoped to secure his future by finding a job in the Gulf. 

When he received an unsolicited e-mail offering vacancies at Dubai Petroleum (DP), the 23-year-old mechanical-engineering graduate applied for an engineering position. 

Having filled in a detailed online questionnaire and submitted his CV, Obeidat was thrilled to receive a job offer with a six-page contract attached, detailing a generous salary and allowances including an apartment, a car and health insurance, as well as the employee’s responsibilities.

Obeidat was instructed to secure his residence and work permits for Dubai through Emirates Travels Tourism LLC. and to start one month later.

But the generous terms of the contract were suspicious, given Obeidat’s lack of professional experience. 

Contacted by phone, the human resources manager listed in the contract, Robert Williams, introduced himself and responded to simple questions. 

However, as the conversation progressed, Williams started to repeat the same phrases and appeared to be some sort of interactive voice machine (IVR). 

Likewise, the website for DP listed on the contract initially seemed to be legitimate, but on closer inspection, was a clone of DP’s official website with a slightly different address.

The cloned site replicated every page of DP’s website, but did not list the fraud alert on DP’s homepage and the contact details were different. 

The website for Emirates Travels Tourism LLC. was also found to be a clone of another travel agency, which was registered years earlier by an e-mail address that was also linked to scams, according to a search on allwhois.com, a domain-name database search engine.

Khaled Dunel, listed as a processing officer at Emirates Travels Tourism LLC., also repeated himself and appeared to be an IVR when contacted by phone.

The Jordan Times e-mailed the company, posing as a person who had been offered a job at DP. 

In a swift reply, Dunel responded with detailed instructions, a copy of the UAE visa application and a request for $1,500 to process a single “residence work permit” or $2,650 for a family, to be wired to a Western Union branch in Dubai. 

The company refused a request to transfer the money through a bank, insisting that a Western Union transfer was “the easiest and the most effective way” to transfer the money, “especially with the urgency attached to the processing of your application”.

The cloned DP and Emirates Travels Tourism LLC. websites were both created on July 7, but the e-mail addresses used to register the sites are linked to clones of multiple oil companies in the Gulf, including Rak Petroleum, Crescent Petroleum, Barclays Oil and Gas and United Engineering Construction Co. LLC.

The use of fake copies of websites and IVRs creates a veneer of legitimacy that could reassure job seekers, especially if English is not their first language.

Obeidat, after seeking the advice of friends, did not send any money. Nonetheless, he had already provided detailed personal information, including his nationality, date of birth, marital status and address, which could be used for identity fraud. 

Many job seekers rely on the Internet to find and apply for work, particularly for opportunities abroad, and the scam preys on those who seek lucrative employment in the Gulf.

The Cyber Crime Combatting Unit within the Criminal Investigation Department is responsible for dealing with recruitment scams in Jordan, Public Security Department (PSD)Spokesperson Lt. Col. Amer Sartawi told The Jordan Times recently, acknowledging that the department had never dealt with fraud using IVR technology.   

Sartawi urged the public to protect themselves by restricting their job searches to internationally known employment websites and warned people against transferring money during the recruitment process. 

The Dubai police media department did not respond to The Jordan Times’ requests for comment on its work to combat online recruitment fraud.

The PSD on Wednesday warned Jordanians to beware of job scams, as increasingly sophisticated employment frauds target job seekers online.

 

Obeidat may have survived, but no official data were available to see how many other desperate job seekers have been scammed, and whether they went all the way to pay their families’ savings, or loans, to professional frauds who might be anywhere in the world. 

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