Dubai – Searching for a job is tough, more so if you are doing it while the world deals with the repercussions of a pandemic. But if you are tempted to pounce on the first decent-looking job offer you receive, think twice. It is important to do your due diligence as job scams can also increase during times of financial crisis.
UAE’s authorities have warned people to protect themselves against fake job advertisements, especially online, which are posted by fraudulent employers impersonating famous companies.
Abu Dhabi Police issued a warning last month, educating job seekers of the UAE’s laws and regulations and urging them to contact police authorities if they fall victim to job scams. However, how can you conduct your due diligence when considering a job offer you may have received? These are some of the telltale signs of a fake job offer.
1. You have been asked to pay a fee
The biggest red flag that a job offer is a scam is when money gets involved. According to Jerry Selayro, a human resources professional working with a Dubai-based digital media company, any recruitment company asking you to make a payment in the guise of ‘administration fees’ or ‘interview fees’ is fake.
“If it involves money, it is definitely a fake job. Even according to UAE’s laws recruitment service providers are not allowed to ask for any payment from a job seeker, whether for offering the job or for visa or administration costs,” Selayro said.
If it involves money, it is definitely a fake job. Even according to UAE’s laws recruitment service providers are not allowed to ask for any payment from a job seeker, whether for offering the job or for visa or administration costs.
UAE Labour Law, Chapter 2, Article 18:
Licensed labour mediator or supplier may not request or accept from any worker, whether prior or subsequent to his admission to employment, any commission or material reward in return for the acquisition of the work by the worker, or to charge the worker for any expenses unless as it is provided for or approved by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
Even if you are receiving a job offer from outside the UAE, it is important to remember that any request for upfront payment is highly suspcipous.
Anastasia El-Hage, Founder and CEO of HUBB Global Group, which operates job search website Hubb Careers, spoke about how scams have also become a global operation.
“We are focusing on the employment market in 45 countries and we see inter-country activities of fake job recruitment companies that are asking for upfront payment. For example, recently, we had a company claiming to be registered in the UK, advertising for different jobs in India, Kenya, Nigeria and the UAE. They asked for upfront payment which was a four-digit amount. However, our moderators are always alert and they identified the scam and reported it to the relevant online bodies,” El-Hage said.
According to El-Hage, no legitimate recruitment agency would ask a job applicant for any payment, as their contract is with the potential employer.
We see inter-country activities of fake job recruitment companies that are asking for upfront payment. For example, recently, we had a company claiming to be registered in the UK, advertising for different jobs in India, Kenya, Nigeria and the UAE. They asked for upfront payment which was a four-digit amount.
2. It has negative reviews online
One of the first steps in due diligence advised by UAE-based HR experts is to do an online search based on the company’s name as well as the name of any recruitment agency that may have contacted you.
“Use the internet and look at the background of the company. I know people might be feeling desperate but it is important to do your research – make maximum use of the internet, ask people and find out if the job offer is legitimate. There are a lot of scams going around right now, especially with regards to jobs,” Selayro said.
There are online companies like Glassdoor.com, where current and former employees anonymously review companies.
According to El-Hage, online reviews can be the most honest feedback a jobseeker can get of whether a company is legitimate or fake.
Searching the name of the company or recruitment agency online, and typing the word ‘review’ after it, can throw up comments on discussion forums, where people share their good and bad experiences.
3. It looks too good to be true
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is, according to Selayro.
“It is a red flag if the offers being made are beyond what the market situation is like at the moment,” Selayro said.
4. The company is not reachable
A simple way to check the legitimacy of a job offer that you find appealing is to write to the company claiming to hire for the position. Do not follow links sent on emails. Instead, do a separate online search on the company, find their contact details and write to them, enquiring whether they truly have such a job opening.
“Some scam artists try to hide behind well-known brand. Drop a small email to the HR department to find out if they are really looking for a person to fill that position. They would have a contract with the recruitment agency, which has contacted you. There is no breach of confidentiality just to ask the company whether they are really recruiting,” El-Hage said.
Some scam artists try to hide behind well-known brand. Drop a small email to the HR department to find out if they are really looking for a person to fill that position.
5. Asking for confidential information
If you are ever asked for your passport or Emirates ID details, bank account details or any online account passwords, this should immediately be a cause for concern. Employers would only need your passport and Emirates ID copies at a later stage of the employment process. By this time you would have gone through a few stages of interview, received an offer letter as well as the employment contract.
“These documents would be asked for only if a contract has to be signed. No personal details should be shared whatsoever in the initial stages. The information you share should be strictly career-based, like details education, your name and email address,” El-Hage said.
How to report a job scam
As a job seeker, if you find out about fraudulent activities, it is crucial to inform specific internet bodies, which have the authority to block Internet Protocol address (IP address) of fraudulent companies. These websites track suspicious online activity, coordinate with law enforcement authorities in specific countries to investigate fraud and inform online users of potential threats. Swiss-based website, spamhaus.org, for example, is an international non-profit organisation that tracks spam and related cyber threats such as phishing, malware and botnets, provides threat intelligence to the Internet's major networks, corporations and security vendors, and works with law enforcement agencies to identify and pursue spam and malware sources worldwide.
According to El-Hage, some of the organisations that you can report job scams to are:
If you have fallen victim to a job scam in the UAE, you can report the fraud to your nearest police station or by calling 901. In Abu Dhabi, you can call the toll free number 800 2626 (800 AMAN), send a text message to 2828, or an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avoiding a job scam - checklist
1. Do not pay anything upfront.
2. Look for online reviews
3. Research the company independently and reach out to the potential employer with basic enquiries.
4. If you are unsure of an international organisation, reach out to the economic department in the city where the company is based.
5. Do not provide confidential details like your bank account, identity document copies or access to social networks.