Employment scams are a variety of criminal activity perpetrated by individuals or organizations posing as recruiters, hiring agencies or staffing services.
Employment scams, also known as job scams, are a form of criminal activity perpetrated by individuals or organizations posing as recruiters with personnel needs and/or hiring agencies that offer or promise attractive jobs and big money to people seeking for employment opportunities or interested in working in a concrete sector.
In this case, the cruise industry, the merchant marine and the oil companies engaged in offshore exploratory and production activities aboard rigs and support vessels; although the content of this section is perfectly applicable to any other employment sector.
The truth is that there have always been many scams and traps around employment supply and demand: fake job offers in order to acquire personal information, “inside” or exclusive” information about the location of job opportunities, or how to get hired in a determined sector, supposed services with upfront payment to find a job, and other come-ons worthy of study and analysis.
In fact, any person looking for a job may be targeted by this sort of scam. And to be more precise, by individuals or organizations with a complete lack of honesty and integrity, seeking to track down these same people and preying on them when they are at their most vulnerable to take their money or sensitive information by the implementation of more or less sophisticated fraudulent schemes.
At Wind Rose Network, we take these matters very seriously, and consider as necessary to share our knowledge on employment scams to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair practices in the marketplace by providing information to help job seekers spot and avoid them.
Before getting carried away with promises of appealing employment opportunities with maritime companies, it must be made sure that all of the aspects of such offers, and especially its source, have been thoroughly considered. Although there are a good number of legitimate opportunities to find a job through the Internett, there are also many bogus and completely illegal services operated by cunning fraudsters seeking for the best way to exploit people’s desperation for employment and economic improvement.
This is one of the simplest forms of employment scamming, and focuses on a placement service by which job applications would be supposedly forwarded to "thousands" of companies and recruiting agencies, within a fixed time period and in return for an upfront fee, including expressions such as "instant job", "satisfaction 100 % guaranteed", "no risk at all", etc.
A thorough study of such proposals will show a series of suspicious aspects and inconsistencies that should raise our awareness levels.
Sometimes, they provide a link to the referred list of companies, which, when clicked on, a small pop-up window will be launched providing a simple number asking for an act of faith on our part; or a real list that amounts nowhere near the promised number.
A more rigorous investigation, including a detailed examination of some of the websites the job applications are supposedly sent to, will show the lack of email addresses to send anything. Thus, many websites include diverse varieties of forms, which must be carefully filled in to have the job application properly submitted. Moreover, they specifically warn that any job application submitted by a different resource will not be considered, as a way to avoid spam, which leads to the question of how can these employment agencies forward such applications to them.
Perhaps by filling hundreds of forms for each customer who hires their services?
An efficient use of a calculator will prove the lack of profitability of such ventures.
Recruiters offer a certain number of jobs on which no employment agency has any influence. Their work (if it really exists) finishes when they send the job applications.
No employment service can guarantee a job.
The reality is quite simple, with two possibilities after the payment is completed:
A more sophisticated job scam with three interesting variations (so far) designed to obtain:
Money or Financial Information: Advertisements offering well-paid jobs and interesting working conditions with real companies, with the fraudsters purporting to be recruiting agents or human resources representatives. If you reply to such advertisements, a bogus telephone interview may take place and, after some time, discussion and exchange of information, you are informed that you have been selected to fill the position. Nevertheless, and to secure the job, you are required to pay an upfront fee to cover the cost of work visa, travel to the workplace, paperwork, "indispensable" medical examination certificates and processing of the application, etc.
Financial Information: Advertisements are posted on Internet job boards or newspapers to attrack the attention of anybody interested in a job meeting the described criteria. This way, the scammer takes advantage of those who finally decide to contact them, by asking for credit card and bank account details or visa on the pretext of a supposed personnel selection process, or to deliver paychecks by direct bank deposit or money transfer.
Personal Information: More experienced scammers, knowing that asking for money or collecting financial information to steal money from bank accounts always attract more attention from the police and other authorities dedicated to investigate and prevent these activities, profit from people seeking for employment opportunities by harvesting personal information during supposed application processes. Job seekers naïvely fill out and submit forms with their full names, photos, physical and e-mail addresses, identity card and social security numbers, driving licences numbers, passport details etc., which are easy to sold to other fraudsters and criminals interested in committing bolder scams or identity theft.
In all these cases, these scam artists often make use of sophisticated resources for scamming their victims, including fabricated websites mirroring the real Internet sites of companies or recruiting agencies, or websites representing fake companies and organizations supposedly registered in their country.
Sometimes, scammers carry out a more active campaign by scanning personal web pages and resumes on employment sites in Internet.
They send out e-mail messages to prospective candidates to pose as companies and hiring agencies, presenting themselves with official-looking websites and documentation, and making use of all sorts of phoney resources and carefully rehearsed pitches on the phone or in person – likely in a rented office, hotel room or similar environment – to gain the job applicant's confidence.
After a series of promises and affirmations supposedly made on behalf of legitimate companies, the victim is pressured to sign a contract and asked to provide personal information and an upfront fee.
Once the job applicatant has made the payment, the “agency” either declines the employment offer due to supposed bad references from a previous employer, or adducing any other more or less elaborate lie or invention. Or just ceases operating and disappears.
Some employment and human resources services offer job seekers the opportunity to input their resumes into databases or listings, for the companies and hiring agencies to access these systems to identify and select the appropriate candidates to fill their job vacancies. Sometimes, these services provide the adequate candidate or candidates for a certain position in reply to a request from the human resources department of a company. Typically, selling employers access to candidates or databases is the main source of revenue for these sites.
Nevertheless, this business structure has been exploited by employment scammers to create professional-like websites to steal money and personal information.
You will be requested to pay a processing fee up to several hundred dollars before signing a contract to become “part of a computerized database”, supposedly serving diverse companies belonging to the maritime sector. After a complete evaluation of your training, skills and work experience, they will match your application with the jobs available with such companies, forwarding it directly to the proper human resources department, including full cooperation and assistance in finding the candidate a suitable position on board.
So far, the descriptions of a quite common scam.
Job seekers will receive no job offer at all. Because there is none. Nothing more than repeated excuses and requests for patience, before the “agency” disappears, leaving them alone with their contracts.
Advertisements instructing job seekers to call a “900” number for more information on requirements to participate in a hiring process to fill different (and non-specified) vacancies on cruise ships or oil rigs.
“900” numbers usually charge a per-call or per-minute rate. As a result, many national regulations require that operators of “900” numbers provide information on their cost up front.
Nevertheless, artful fraudsters find their way to avoid it, failing to disclosure the cost of the call, or even creating delays to increase the final fee. Generally, victims daring to ask for such information are immediately subject to a torrent of verbal diarrhoea and well-rehearsed pseudo-commercial spiel about the many advantages of working aboard a cruise ship or an oil rig intended to confuse them and make them lose the time sense.
If the victim does not become aware of what is happening, and after an indeterminate period of time (never inferior to 20 – 30 minutes), the operator instructs her/him to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to have her/his job application mailed out. Once completed, the procedure results in the customer receiving a generic job application.
Nothing that you cannot find on the Internet for free.
Sometime later, a phone bill arrives for $30-$40.
There are serious, competent and renowned private agencies and public academies that offer valuable training programs to those interested in working at sea.
And there are also opportunistic individuals and organizations with absolutely nothing to do with the maritime sector and no principles or ethics, or just a scammer trying to take advantage of those willing to pay for specialized training services leading to a promising career with a cruise or offshore oil company.
Job hunters may be required to pay from several hundreds to several thousands dollars to receive an online or mail training course, which supposedly open the gates to an employment paradise aboard cruise ships or oil rigs.
You receive the typical package containing a folder with several hundred pages in it, and perhaps some CD, describing the ins and outs of working aboard a cruise ship or oil rig, including e-mail and telephone support service throughout the course to reply to your questions and doubts.
Sometimes, the offer includes the existence of a supposed job listing for those who finish the course and get a pass in the examination.
If you are a dedicated student, you will be able to take a test in a few weeks, obtaining a diploma that certifies your participation to the course and a level of knowledge that meets the professional standards in the industry.
Then, you are told to be patient until a company shows interest in your profile, or encouraged to seek for a job in the sector.
The problem is that, in the most cases, maritime companies and recruiting agencies recognize neither such courses nor the resulting diploma.
Needless to say that there is no job listing either.
Nothing more than smoke and illusion. Just a trick to fool people into paying a quantity of money and, worse, wasting a part of their lives in the study of a course that is worth no more than the cost of the paper on which it is printed.
Often you will be offered the kind possibility to pay half of the cost (1,000 or 1,500 dollars), or a percentage of it upfront, leaving the rest of the total amount to be paid after the signing of the work contract with a maritime company or with your first payroll after a successful probation period working on board.
Leaving aside the fact that this kind of agreement is illegal according to most national legal systems and international instruments on labour rights and standards, the final objective of the scheme is quite simple and easy to understand.
They just want your 1,000 or 1,500 dollars.
The idea is to lure potential victims into thinking that they are dealing with a legitimate hiring agency or a trusted human resources representative working for a maritime company.
The scammer contacts job seekers with the purpose of offering a listing of vacancies that includes fake references and photocopied of classified job ads taken from newspapers and boards from across the world.
Typically, such ads are weeks or months old, and the promised vacancies were filled long ago.
In other cases, ads may be from companies located in countries with strict employment quotas and regulations that discourage the hiring of foreigners or citizens not from certain areas or international organizations (USA and Canada, the European Union, etc.) .
There are also fraudulent agencies pretending to have special list of companies and verified recruiters just waiting for your application to offer you the job that best matches your background and preferences aboard a cruise or oil rig. Instead, they provide nothing more than a listing of companies with not a single position available to apply for, which are not accepting applications or resumes, and that, of course, have never heard of such agencies.
In fact, any job seeker can get a good number of addresses of maritime companies on the Internet. It is just a problem of spending some days of weeks in front of the computer screen.
Anybody who does proclaim her/himself as the owner of such an informative privilege is at least a spammer and, probably, a job scammer.
You have to be on the alert about certain suspicious points and misleading information that must raise your mistrust about false claims and probable employment scams:
If you believe you have encountered a fraudulent job scheme, or you are the victim of an employment scam, report it immediately to your local police authorities, and follow these steps to lessen the damage to you and others:
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