THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After completing his MBA in finance, Thiruvananthapuram-based Sharath Kumar (name changed) was looking for a job overseas via a job search site. A decent offer from Canada made him seal the deal. However, no sooner than he realised that it was a scam, but only after he had paid Rs 1 lakh, than he lodged a complaint with the police. Initially, he was asked to deposit Rs 1,000 as part of the registration fee. Later, he was asked to pay more on the pretext of various charges such as visa charges, ticket fare and stay arrangements amounting to Rs 1 lakh. The delay in getting the appointment letter made Sharath suspicious and he withdrew from the job offer and demanded a refund. When he didn’t get his money back, he realised that he was cheated and filed a complaint with the police.
A few months ago, police had arrested a Nigerian national, Kolawole Boboye, who had arrived in India on a student visa and was found to be operating an online job racket. The accused sent emails to various persons offering them placements in various companies in the United States. A city-based woman also fell prey to this fraud and electronically transferred Rs 1.3 lakh to the suspect.
In March, four people were arrested in Ernakulam for duping job aspirants after offering them jobs overseas. During interrogation, the police learnt that the accused persons used to take the job aspirants abroad on visit visas and trap them without even returning their passports to go home. Nearly 30 were duped in this manner.
Sitting ducks before frauds
According to the Cybercrime police, they have received 27 petitions regarding online job fraud and registered four cases in Thiruvananthapuram from January till date. “The recent job scam shows that hackers have started creating look-alike job websites luring aspirants. After taking them into confidence, the fraudsters ask them for money,” said T Shyamlal, DySP, Cybercrime police station, Thiruvananthapuram. Genuine companies may have written exams or interviews before appointing someone to a post -- they never demand money, he said.
The officer added that fraud is also being committed through matrimonial websites. Attempts to defraud people through social media platforms such as Facebook are also on the rise.Thiruvananthapuram City Police Commissioner Balram Kumar Upadhyaya said fake job portals are being created targeting people who have lost jobs due to the pandemic. “The pandemic has resulted in a large number of layoffs. Several job scams are being reported wherein fake appointment letters from companies based abroad are being sent. However, aspirants realise the peril only after a few months. In most cases, they don’t even register a complaint with the police,” said Upadhyaya.
Awareness at all levels
Webinars and awareness programmes are being conducted by the Kerala Police Cyberdome led by ADGP Manoj Abraham, nodal officer of Cyberdome, to create awareness on the same.