ABU DHABI Conmen are targeting teachers from all over the world by offering them jobs in a non-existent school in Abu Dhabi, XPRESS can reveal.
The fraudsters have created a fake website for the bogus Howard International School by stealing pictures and content from another school in the UAE.
The website first stated the school was located in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi, but later changed the address to Al Wathba. Neither of this is true.
A screen grab of the supposed Howard International School in Abu Dhabi. Compare the building in this photo with the Dubai International School, pictured below -- it's the same building.
“Howard International School Abu Dhabi serves over 1,600 students, Kindergarten through Grade 12, and 281 faculty and staff. An independent, not for profit, HISA in a unique and diverse international setting... HISA offers the best American education to provide learning experiences designed to promote the maximum potential of its students,” reads the school profile.
The charade is so convincing, even the most diligent jobseeker could fall for it. Not just detailed sections of the school’s facilities, objectives, principles and admission procedures, the website even has a video tour of the campus.
The school has posted a number of vacancies for teaching and administrative jobs, and candidates are invited to apply online and pay $1,250 (Dh4,587) upfront towards the visa processing fee.
Picture this: The Dubai International School in Garhoud that was depicted as Abu Dhabi's Howard International School in the fake website. Credit: Abhishek Sengupta
The ploy works like this: Once the online application is submitted, the bogus school’s “HR manager” Adolph Carlson contacts the candidates who are asked to fill in a questionnaire.
A little magic: The same image appears on a portal claiming to be the official Dubai International School website. The school's board member and principal are pictured by with wrong names and designation
Within a day or two, an offer of appointment is emailed, asking them to contact a cellphone number purportedly belonging to Arabian Travel and Tours to process their work visa. At the travel agency, job aspirants are asked to pay $1,250. They are told it would be reimbursed upon reaching Abu Dhabi.
The picture: Dubai International School (DIS) board member Sami Obeid felicitating students at a school function. He has been pictured as "Shaikh Khalid Mohammad" by the fake DIS website
Conmen dangling lucrative job offers have used dummy travel agencies as fronts in the past too.
Doubts about the credibility of the school were first raised by some teachers on the Which School Advisor (WSA) website - whichschooladvisor.com.
The website has posted a list of all the schools in Abu Dhabi. Howard International School was missing.
“I received a job offer from Howard International School in Abu Dhabi. But this institution is not listed here. Please advise,” Nitin Mhaskar posted on the website’s comment section on May 14.
The red flag was raised by other teachers in the following days asking WSF and ADEC to verify the authenticity of the job offers.
“I was asked to pay $1,250 to the account number 3381041338 in the name of Mr. Hinoto Yeptho in Dimapur Central Bank of India,” wrote another teacher.
Nigerian Nassiba Charcharia told XPRESS she got a job offer via email from Dr. Adolph Carlson who identified himself as the school’s HR manager although she had never applied for a job there. “I was asked to contact Arabian Travel and Tours based in Abu Dhabi and make the payment,” Charcharia recalled.
XPRESS tried contacting Dr Adolph Carlson on the mobile number listed on the website but there was no response.
A call made to the cellphone number supposedly belonging to the Abu Dhabi-based Arabian Tours and Travels was answered by a man who spoke with an African accent and identified himself as Abdul Mohammad.
He dodged questions about the travel agency’s office location but said he has processed work permits for several teachers recruited by Howard school.
“We have been working with Howard for the last seven to eight months. We have already processed visas for 16 teachers. I cannot give our office address as we are relocating to JLT in Dubai,” he said. A job aspirant said he suspected the travel agency was part of the racket.
“We received queries directly from teachers who had been scammed. We had no record of the school and none of our consultants had ever heard of it, so we began our own investigation which revealed significant issues which we reported directly to the regulator, ADEC.”
A comment from ADEC was not immediately available.
People offered jobs by the fake school recount their experience:
Deidre Swano, South Africa
“The HR Manager told me I had to pay for my work visa, saying they have had many cases in the past where employees had used their work visas to stay in Abu Dhabi but never come to work at the school”
Shah Mehmood, India
“They offered me a salary of Dh5,500 and suggested I contact Arabian Travel and Tours in Abu Dhabi. The travel agency said they will mail me an electronic visa and asked for $1,250 to process my papers”
Sonya Anjum Saba, India
“I was searching for jobs in the UAE and I found their advertisement on Dubizzle. The school asked me to apply directly on their website for the position of High School Administrator. But I instantly sensed something was wrong as some pages of their website were last updated in 2010 and 2012”
“I got a job offer letter from Howard International School, Abu Dhabi. The email said I needed to pay $1,250 to Arabian Travel and Tours towards my work visa. I was asked to transfer the money into the bank account of a certain Mr Hinoto Yeptho in India. They gave me the account along with the IFSC code”