Dubai: Amid rising unemployment and economic uncertainty all over the world, who would turn down a Dh25,000 job offer for a school teacher’s position at a diversified business group in Abu Dhabi, which employs 85,000 people across the region?
Besides education, the Hiba EP Group of companies has stakes in a wide range of sectors, according to its website. These include construction and infrastructure, real estate, hospitality, health care, education, IT and retail.
The company’s mission statement is to enhance the prosperity of the various communities that it operates in.
“At Hiba EP Group of companies we believe that our businesses must touch the lives of people meaningfully… Our real strength comes from our commitment to the society. We believe in growing our business while enhancing the lives of people, everywhere we operate,” says chairman Dr Elham Iesha Khadija in his message on the company’s website. “We want to change people’s lives for the better by providing them opportunities and by creating an environment that drives efficiency and productivity,” adds the chairman.
People appear to be at the heart of all of Dr Khadija's businesses. It’s just that neither he nor his company exists. The only place where they have a presence is the internet.
Gulf News investigations show that Hiba EP Group’s website was created just three months ago and it serves a single purpose -- dupe people on the pretext of giving them jobs. The content of its website has been stolen from the website of Dubai-based RP Group, which has since filed a police complaint.
The bogus Hiba EP Group, with a purported Abu Dhabi address, has meanwhile shot off scores of fake job offer-letters to aspirants worldwide, promising attractive salaries, free accommodation and a raft of monthly allowances.
Adeel Khan and S. Kamath from India, Shamim Ahmad from Pakistan and M. Ramos from the Philippines are among many of those who have received such job offers for various positions. But there’s a catch: In order to clinch these jobs, the candidates have to first contact Hiba Group’s purported Abu Dhabi-based immigration attorney (sic) Mayara Dos on WhatsApp and remit thousands of dirhams towards visa processing and other charges, including something described as ‘affidavit of guarantee’.
Pakistani Ahmad, 34, who was offered Dh35,000 for an IT manager’s post in Dubai, said he realised he had been cheated when his dream job didn’t materialise even after paying Dh4,000 to the so-called attorney.
“Much later I came across Gulf News reports about similar scams and decided to get in touch with the newspaper,” he said.
Mayara Dos’ website was created less than three weeks ago and like Hiba, all its content is plagiarised - in this case, from the website of a legitimate law firm.
Adeel Khan, who received an appointment letter from Hiba Group on June 14, said he was offered a salary of Dh17,300 -- besides Dh8,000 towards allowances -- for a chemistry teacher’s position at a school. Other benefits included a furnished three-bedroom accommodation, free education for children and a car.
Filipino Ramos said he almost fell for the bait. “Any doubts about the company were dispelled when I looked up their website. It was quite impressive. Who would have thought that everything was a sham. Luckily, I changed my mind at the last minute and didn’t pay,” said Ramos. “The biggest red flag was the unusually high salary,” he said.
Fraudulent job offe rs are rampant in the UAE with conmen using the names of entities, both real and fictitious,to lure jobseekers.
Etihad, Emirates, Adnoc, ADEC, Icare Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Awazen Hospital, Thumbay and New York University Abu Dhabi are among several UAE-based establishments in whose names fake offer letters have been sent out worldwide.
According to UAE labour laws, it is illegal for recruitment agents and companies to charge job candidates and employees any fee for any part of the recruitment process or residence visa and work permit applications.