Dubai: I am a dim-witted moron - a good-for-nothing lousy fellow with a horrendous track record, suggests my CV in big, bold letters. And yet I am flooded with job offers. There are so many companies wanting to solicit my services that I am spoilt for choice.
On September 18, I registered different versions of my inglorious CV with two UAE-based placement agencies - Dubai Gate and Al Aidy Al Mahirah. And voilà, 24 hours later, I was hired.
My employer, who has offered me a Dh18,000 basic salary plus accommodation, Dubai Free Zone visa and a slew of benefits for a sales position in Jebel Ali, doesn't baulk at my credentials. My CV, "forwarded" to him by Dubai Gate, states: "I bring about a steady erosion of values and company ethics... and have hastened the doom of many companies in the past." But he has no qualms. Similarly, the fact that I make "perilous graphics and inconsistent logos" hasn't put off a British company from taking me on board as graphic designer with an equally attractive pay package. "They [the client] are very happy with your CV. Actually we forwarded them seven candidates but out of seven they shortlisted your CV," [sic] I was told by an Al Aidy Al Mahirah staff.
The conversation is on tape with XPRESS.
Welcome to the world of job scams where employment agencies are duping unsuspecting job seekers in the UAE by the minute and, by a conservative estimate, making up to Dh25,000 per day.
Last fortnight, I randomly approached two placement agencies as a job aspirant after responding to situations vacant advertisements in a newspaper's classified section. As part of the sting operation, I made sure I had the worst CV in the city.
My first stop was Dubai Gate Management Consultancy & Employment Services, operating from apartment No 210 in Sharjah's Al Mawarid Tower Offices which also houses a popular supermarket.
After waiting at the reception for a few minutes, I was directed to a room where several young Asian women in abayas sat behind rows of desks. There were around five cellphones on each table. On the desk where I was asked to register my papers, I saw eight cellphones and a landline. The phones rang incessantly.
Shabana, the lady manning the desk, went through my CV and smiled appreciatively. "Nice, very nice. We will land you a good job with Dh15,000-Dh16,000 salary, but you have to first pay Dh300 as urgent registration fee," she said.
"But doesn't your advertisement clearly say there will be no charge from the candidate?" I protested.
"It does, but if you don't hear from us by tomorrow, you can get a full refund," she replied, fishing out a company business card and writing "Paid Dh300" on it along with a reference number. "Consider the job as confirmed, wait for our call tomorrow," she added as I stepped out.
After walking out of Dubai Gate, I headed to Al Aidy Al Mahirah Employment & Management Consult Services who had advertised for the post of a sales executive. "We're conducting walk-in-interviews right now so you better hurry," they told me over the phone as I drove down to their office in apartment No 301, Dubai Islamic Bank building on Sharjah's King Abdul Aziz Road. Here, I was ushered into a room with a similar set-up as in Dubai Gate - several Asian women and lots of cellphones.
A woman who identified herself as Bushra went through my outrageous CV without so much as batting an eyelid.
"Impressive, you're just the kind of candidate our client is looking for," she said, nodding approvingly before asking me to pay Dh100 as registration fee. "You will get an interview call by tomorrow," she promised.
I played along and handed her the money just as countless others have in the past.
Dentist S. Agarwal gave Dubai Gate Dh400 for a job with Royal Hospital, which never had a vacancy in the first place; Aishwarya paid Al Aidy Dh400 for a non-existent Emaar opening; Fatima Ali paid Dubai Gate Dh500 for a customer service job, as did Ruchil Maknava for a position in the finance sector. The list is endless. None of these people heard from these agencies again. Phone calls went unanswered and efforts to contact the representatives of these agencies in person were rebuffed - in some cases with grave threats.
Just as I was promised, the following day I was called by both Dubai Gate and Al Aidy, informing me that I had been selected for the job and that I should come along with a copy of my passport, four pictures and deposit Dh500 as processing fee.
Show me the money
I went to Dubai Gate and was escorted into the cabin of Rana who introduced himself as the company's HR Manager. After pleasantries, Rana said: "Congratulations, you've been hired by a British company. Your appointment letter will be ready soon. You'll be getting Dh18,000 salary plus family accommodation, travel allowance and even a BlackBerry. Have you brought the processing fee?" he enquired. When I asked him how a dumbed down CV like mine was considered, he lost his cool. As did his boss of Middle Eastern origin who arrived at the scene following the commotion. Perturbed at my persistent questioning about fraud recruitments, they asked me to get out.
Outside their office I met Vijay Kumar 35, Zarina, 27, Ryan, 30, and Mini 35, all of whom alleged they had been conned by Dubai Gate.
Around 7pm the same day, Imran from Al Aidy Al Mahirah called me saying there was "some confirmation related to my job" and I should come to their office to negotiate the salary with the employer.
"Have they seen my CV?" I asked.
"Yes... and they are very happy with it. Actually we forwarded them seven candidates but out of seven they shortlisted your CV," Imran told me.
The following day, I rang up Sami Makaram, believed to be the owner of Al Aidy Al Mahirah. I asked him the same questions I asked at Dubai Gate, but instead received a barrage of abuse and threats of physical assault.
At the Buhairah Police Station, a senior policeman said: "Not a day passes when somebody doesn't come up with a complaint about recruitment frauds."
He's not exaggerating. XPRESS met with three victims who have contacted Buhairah Police in this regard recently.
String of complaints
Aishwarya lodged a complaint with them on September 17, Hamid Raza on September 19 and Akbar Pirani on September 21.
They were all told to file a case at the Sharjah court.
"We cannot do anything as this is not a criminal case," a Sharjah policeman said on condition of anonymity.
According to the Ministry of Labour, it's illegal for recruitment firms to charge candidates a fee. Yet the racket continues unabated.
And because action has rarely been taken against the cheating recruiters, their numbers have increased in a frighteningly grotesque proportion. XPRESS investigations reveal that there are at least five such agencies in Sharjah, two in Dubai and one in Ajman.
An insider who works for one such agency said that it is just one family that runs many of these companies. "We are given a minimum target of Dh25,000 each day," he said.
It appears that the economic downturn and subsequent job cuts have come as a windfall for these unscrupulous firms.
Not surprisingly, internet forums are full of complaints by victims of recruitment scams in the country. One website, www.complaintsboard.com, lists scores of comments from people who claim they have been duped by Dubai Gate, Al Aidy, Foreigners Employment, New Future, Waseela and a few others.
I did not register with Foreigners, New Future and Waseela but made enquiries for some ridiculous job positions.
At Foreigners Employment Management & Consultancy near Buhairah Corniche my query for a position of Hotel Manager cum Outdoor Salesman was met with an affirmative response from Valerie. At New Future in Al Ghusais, Samantha confirmed she had an opening for Dentist cum Accountant.
And at Waseela near Sharjah City Centre, I asked Asma: "I am a qualified elephant trainer from Ching Pong institute in Thailand, but since there are no elephants in the UAE could you help me get a job as an elephant trainer abroad?
Asma's response was quick: "My dear.. if you want me to send you to our company's branch office outside the UAE then you have to make a visa payment of Dh300. We do have our company branch in Canada. We have a whole veterinary hospital there and institute... including zoo... there we have more than 300-400 elephants... and not just elephants but other animals also... we have many trainers but we are looking for more trainers. If you pay us Dh300 we can send you to Canada within 15 to 20 days and also give you a one-way ticket." Asma's jumbo offer is also on tape with XPRESS.
Be wary of employment agencies which ask for money to register your CV. In all probability, they will dupe you. According to the Ministry of Labour, it’s illegal for recruitment firms to charge candidates a fee.
These companies grow due to the exposure they get through classified advertising. I urge all publishing houses not to post any advertisement from them. Two weeks ago I used to see their advertisements in well-known newspapers. However, they are not seen anymore. Hope they are banned online too.
Added 08:05 October 3, 2010
The same thing has happened with me in regards to Core Elements recruitment company. They called me for an interview at Sheraton Hotel, Shaikh Zayed Road, Dubai. They asked me to pay Dh100 for registration and job training. But one year is over and there is still no response from them. So please don't attend any interview calls from this company. I am telling this from my personnel experience.
Rajesh, Abu Dhabi
Added 02:06 October 3, 2010
Hats off to whatever has been attempted although I don’t understand why no one has taken any legal action against them to date. I only suspect that while two may fall, ten others would rise.
Added 02:03 October 3, 2010
Here is an excerpt from a report I had compiled much earlier. Viewers are aware of this article as it is already online...
By now most job seekers have already noticed that the local dailies (for a while) have been flooded with supposed ‘easy to strike’ vacancies being provided by recruitment agencies with the similar content and agency name spread throughout the segment pages.
The funniest and most 'fishy' part would be the last line which states “no charges from candidates”.
Ironically, most of these companies are strategically situated in Sharjah. I could even give you their exact locations but all you need to do first is flip a few pages and give a call to end up being in the presence of abysmal Asian-sounding staff with the poorest communication skills ever. All of them instantaneously asking to visit their office premises today itself as they’re holding a ‘special’ all-day walk-in interview.
Once you go there, it’s another frightening experience. Starting from the building watchman who would warn us of being aware (if you know their local tongue), to the poor souls who step outside stating they have been assured of an interview after they were convinced to pay a fee (under some unscrupulous reason).
Most of them never get a call. And if someone does, it’s a ‘set-up’ interview for which the so-called ‘hiring company’ declines your application, or says they’ll call-back and never does. Rarely do these agencies conduct a real-time offer and place job-seekers in existing companies (which is true in some cases, but less in number in comparison to the proportion of those who get conned).
So keep your delete button ready if any consultancy in the list below asks you to pay Dh100-Dh500 for a job. I’ve got enough witness reports and other online forums to prove my point right.
1. Dubai Gate Management Consultancy
2. Foreigners Employment Management & Consultancy
3. Al Amana Management Consulting and Human Resources
4. Al Aidy Al Mahirah Management Consultancy
5. Al Nejoom
6. New Future
Such anti-social elements wreck the image of our society and convey a very hypocritical image of our nation.
We hope the word spreads around so that poor people get saved. Wish you all the luck in your future endeavours.
A concerned resident
Added 23:27 October 2, 2010
What is the reaction of the government authorities? Such businesses are flourishing in Sharjah and they are expanding till Rolla Square. Where will the poor unemployed youth go for justice?
Sudhakar K Menon, Mumbai
Added 22:24 October 2, 2010
Excellent report but do newspapers accept any advertisements from these fake agencies? Even I went through difficulties – took a taxi to the interview venue, paid Dh500 and still no response. Whenever I called the company, they transferred the line to Mr Ahmad / Asma and made stories. There are many other consultancies firms like Foreign Employment, Dubai Gate, National Employment, Al Waseela Recruitments And Management Consultancy etc... in Um Al Quien etc where people spend almost Dh3,000 and waste their time and effort. Excellent report... shouldn't have happened here in Dubai.
Added 13:12 October 2, 2010
I made a call to Al Amana Management Consulting and Human Resources -- contact numbers 04-2995944 / 050-2971500. I asked a lady there if there was any vacancy for the position of logistics supervisor. She immediately asked me to visit her for an interview to be held in Deira Dubai. There was no such vacancy announcement in the newspaper. When I questioned her about the existence of the vacancy, she confidently said ‘yes’. But when I asked her as to why they have not announced the vacancy in newspapers, she understood that someone is checking on them. So she hung up my phone. When I called her again from my number, no one picked up the call . But when I dialled from another number, they picked up the call. This seems to me a complete fraud.... Someone should take immediate action against them.
Govind, Abu Dhabi
Added 12:12 October 2, 2010
Great job.. I admire your guts! And very well written.. the absurdity just magnifies.. with the elephants!! Brilliant. Amazing. This is the way to catch crooks.. with wit and guts.
Added 11:49 October 2, 2010
When I first saw all their advertisements in VARIOUS jobs I had a minor tingling sensation that something was wrong and well, I decided to Google the company and the first result turned out to be a complaint against it. Even this warning couldn't provoke any sense in me. On reaching the building, I thought the complaint might be of someone who didn't comply with the procedure and now he was just sour. I couldn't doubt a company who have their office over Dubai Islamic Bank right?? ... Nonetheless, They took a Hundred Bucks for my CV and after a few days I got a call for an interview at the same office. After the interview they told me you have a salary package of Dhs. 4000 + Commission at a Canadian Company and asked me to pay 400 as a processing fee. That tingling sensation was even greater than last time. I had to pay the 400 Dhs. plus I also had to sing a receipt with Non-Refundable written on it! ... I am supposed to have some orientation tomorrow morning with the company who has hired me. I dunno what's gonna happen ... My father's 500 Bucks have gone ... and theres not a single chance to get it back. I just wish this turns out to be an awful dream.
Rajkumar Sharma, Dubai
Added 11:15 October 2, 2010
Excellent report but are the local newspapers ready to take the challenge of not accepting any advertisement from these fake agencies?
Added 11:02 October 2, 2010
I went to one of these fraudsters, anyways they lack the creditability as they don't have a clue about the business, thereby providing misleading information. I think it's time for government interference as they are generating money out of people's pockets.
Added 10:03 October 2, 2010
Being the fourth pillar of democracy, the media is doing its best to unearth the filthy/ greedy/ unethical business practices. Investigative journalism at its best... Keep up the good work and guide the people. Thanks a lot and you saved millions being stolen from people.
Added 21:40 October 1, 2010
I was one of these unsuspecting job-hunters. I went to Waseela. However, when I saw the sleezy operation and of course the fact that she was so persistent about the money, I walked out. This article confirms my gut feeling that day. Thank you for a job well done!
Added 15:55 October 1, 2010
I was one of the victims who was duped by Dubai Gate and Aidy Al Mahirah...Both of them promised me a job, made me pay them a registration fee and never got back to me....__Dubai Gate paid me half my refund back...__But Aidy Al Mahirah, said they will not pay me and i went and almost filed a court case in their name...just then they paid me back half of my refund...Aidy Al Mahirah is run by two absolute CONS named Sami and Mustafa (055 9261044)...Not only did they treat me like dirt when i went to fight for my refund, but they asked me to go ahead and file a case...When i actually did that, they were scard as a mouse and paid me back most of my money...I am glad this scam has been brought to light...Such Companies should not be allowed to function..I wonder as to how they have lasted this long!!
Added 15:39 October 1, 2010
I called their office in sharjah. I was shocked as they told me to meet them even if it was late and yes they did have a few vacancies. A lot of people are desperate to get a job so they are cheated by them. They should be charged and punished...police should not let them go free, thereby fooling innocent job seekers... Their offices should be closed and owners and employees who are involved MUST BE PUNISHED....
Ameerah , Dubai
Added 12:50 September 30, 2010
Thankz that you have entioned all the names of these culprits..... Just to add these guys cannot even speak English and claim that they are MBA in HR.....
Added 12:34 September 30, 2010
Good job. This the lesson for the people who eager to pay the money to the fraud agencies, really appreciated.
Added 12:32 September 30, 2010
Great report, it may save thousands of unwary, gullible job-hunters from being duped in future. It is to be seen how the authorities in the country take up from here. Media had done their job and now it is up to the law makers to take action against the defaulters and stop this menace from growing.
Added 12:28 September 30, 2010
As a recruitment consultant I have come across a number of candidates who asked me about upfront payment they should be making. Most of them were unaware that it is actually illegal to charge the candidate and surprised when I told them.
I hope the reputable recruiters out there can do their bit to spread the message - recruitment is ALWAYS free of charge for the candidate as the consultancies/agencies are ALWAYS paid by the client.
It does make me wonder though why anyone would accept a position and pay money without ever having met a company representative or without having any official documentation. Would they hire anyone without meeting them?
I hope that the authorities are finally getting to the source of the problem - there are no repercussions! Not by the police, not by the MoL and not by the licensing authorities who should prevent all this in the first place.
Added 12:28 September 30, 2010
Well done and keep it up with your good work. I am surprised that authorities cannot take actions against these cheats. Imagine the people who have lost their jobs and they have to go through the cheating recruting agencies.
Roy Pinto, Dubai
Added 12:15 September 30, 2010
XPRESS has done a good job by doing this sting operation. These guys really need a slap on their face and more. I had same experience when i responded to a similar ad given by Dubai gate for a post of lecturer. They dont even know the basic qualification required to be a teacher/lecturer. When I started questioning about the 'process' the so called manager(neatly dressed up) showed his face. I made him sweat as well and came out cursing myself (for making a visit) and the system in which we are living in.
Satheesh Kumar, Dubai
Added 12:13 September 30, 2010
Mr Mazar farooqi is the hero of the day. This is a day light robbery. I am supprised at Buhairah police response to this issue. This should be stopped. There are genuine companies which are under fire now and thanks to the loopholes in our laws, these thieves make fortunes. I hope our government should stop this quickly.
Added 12:10 September 30, 2010
I love this article... I have lived in the UAE for 10 years you cannot imagine the amount of money I paid in first six month for recruiting agencies. It was a complete rip off...
Job well done and hank you for raising the awareness....
Added 12:07 September 30, 2010
Great Job Done.
I am also looking for a job now and I had similar experiences in Dubai and Sharjah. I am really happy that Gulf News took the initiative to bring it to the authorities. Hope I can search for real jobs from now.
Thank You so much.
RR, Sharjah, UAE
Added 11:52 September 30, 2010
I was waiting for this to come out, as it happened to me 4-5 years ago when I was looking for a job. A few agencies confirmed that I'm selected for a position and asked me to pay money. But the moment they asked for money I knew it was scam, cos it doesn't make sense. But this article will be helpful for a lot of candidates who are looking for jobs Also there should be a way to check which agency is genuine or we just have to see for how many years they are in business. Thanks to gulf news.
Added 10:54 September 30, 2010
Shocking how people can fall in this trap.
If you can read an online ad you can post your CV for free online also right?
I guess a lot of lowly educated people are desperate to find jobs these days and will eagerly listen to someone bringing them good news.
Added 10:44 September 30, 2010
I am so glad this came into light finally. These guys really threaten you when you question their company. They have deceived me and three more people I know. I had complained with the labour ministry but nothing happened.
Added 10:41 September 30, 2010
Yes these companies duped lot of people and even they threated many people like me i would like govt to take action on this
THANKS to Reporter who exposed the racket.
Added 10:36 September 30, 2010
Great job done, i have heard of this but even my cousin went thru the same tragedy. Atleast some voice raised the awareness against it, so that those who are unaware got the right call. Thanks Gulf News
Added 09:03 September 30, 2010
Well Done and Kudos to the reporter!!
Added 08:59 September 30, 2010
Brilliant work...I just hope all the job seekers out there read this article. It could save lots of helpless & sometimes senseless people. Newspapers should ban ads of agencies against whom complains are registered. But the question remains-can nothing be done against such agencies????
Added 08:58 September 30, 2010
Nice Article - Very true indeed that most of these agencies exploit people - I would kindly request the UAE Goverment to blacklist such agencies across the 7 emirates and deal with them strictly..
Finally, thanks Gulf news & team for this article
Added 08:30 September 30, 2010
Excellent, hats-off to this gr8 person who had bought this bogus recruitment companies' strategy. There are so many people who waste time/money running around such bogus firms. Thanks again.
Added 08:22 September 30, 2010
Excellent work, Mazhar....Hats off....
Added 08:21 September 30, 2010
Thanks XPRESS and Mazhar Farooqui, for a great job excellently done! Dentist-cum-Account ... Vow!! Dentist-cum-Account-cum-Elephant-trainer ...! That's the work of a genius!!
"I bring about a steady erosion of values and company ethics... and have hastened the doom of many companies in the past."
What a CV!!
Well, the deal seems so attractive. At Dhs 300 or 400, who would turn down this opportunity of getting a job in a British firm that is ready to employ someone who can "bring about a steady erosion of values and company ethics" ... and could hasten "the doom of many companies" along with this one.
Mazhar and XPRESS, keep up the good work!!
Shakeel Ahmad, Dubai
Added 03:23 September 30, 2010
Elephants in Canada?!
Royston D'Souza, Boston
Added 00:25 September 30, 2010
Let me start of by saying how HILARIOUS the CVs are!
It is amazing that this is happening in a place like Dubai. If it isn't a criminal case, than it should be made one based on grounds of fraud.
There are hundreds of job seekers out there, me being one of them and people desperate enough for a job are likely to even pay them despite ads saying they would not charge the candidates.
I was shocked when I heard how quickly she replied to the elephant trainer query!
This must really be stopped. Like looking for a job isn't difficult enough!
Maude Rego, Dubai
Added 23:22 September 29, 2010
At least we have xpress to help us ban this kind of fraud agencies!! Salute to u xpress!