Scams involving offers of work in the UK, UK work permits, and accommodation
22 July 2009
There has been a continuing increase in activity by fraudsters who promise individuals from overseas well paid work in the UK, then extract payments from them on the basis of work permit fees, accommodation charges, and other bogus expenses.
The standard modus operandi is as follows:
1. The Fraudsters place bogus advertisements for jobs in the UK in the press overseas or in foreign recruitment websites.
2. Applicants are selected very quickly and “approved” for the position, with little or nothing in the way of an interview or reference checks. The applicant is usually offered an unrealistically high salary / pay level for the work involved.
3. The applicant is referred on to a “visa / work permit agency” (part of the same organisation), and told that this agency / advisor must be paid an amount of money in order to organise the work permit. This payment will usually be requested via Western Union (or other similar) money transfer service.
4. The applicant may also be referred onto an “accommodation / lettings agent” (part of the same organisation of fraudsters or perhaps the same person with a pseudonym). The applicant will then be asked to make a payment for accommodation (their first months deposit). This payment (and any others) will also usually be requested via Western Union (or other similar) money transfer service.
5. The applicant may be milked further for things like criminal record checks. As long as the applicant is willing to continue paying, the fraudsters will try to find new ways to extract their money.
6. The work permit, and the job, will never materialise.
Most or all of the communication in these cases takes place via the internet. The Fraudsters quickly and easily set up websites and email addresses for their bogus employers, bogus work permit agents, and bogus lettings agents.
The above scenario is being acted out on innocent individuals with alarming frequency. As a private immigration consultancy (a commercial organisation), UK Work Permits Ltd cannot invest resources in helping individuals to investigate, track down, or pursue a claim against anyone they believe may have defrauded them. Anybody in this situation however is welcome to contact the OISC, and make a complaint to them. The OISC’s role is to police those claiming or promising to provide UK immigration related advice. Victims may also wish to contact the police in the area of the UK in which the fraudsters are believed to operate.
The following may be signs that a job offer / offer of a work permit is not genuine:
- The job offer may be issued without any significant effort on the part of the applicant, without interview, without the checking of references.
- The salary offered for the position may be far higher than average (individuals can use UK job boards to check the normal salaries offered for the position in question).
- When searching the internet it may be hard to find any record of the relevant employer at the address given.
- The email address given for the employer may be a webmail address, rather than an email address at the domain name of the company (e.g. “@therelevantcompany.com”). If the employer is supposed to be a well established or large organisation then they will most likely have their own domain name and the email addresses will be “@thatdomain.com” rather than @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com etc.
- The telephone number for the employer may begin “00 44 7” indicating that it is only a mobile number. These are used by the fraudsters usually, but some are starting to use landline numbers.
- The precise name of the company / organisation (work permit visa agency) will not be listed as a registered organisation by the OISC (or any other appropriate regulator such as the Law Society). The fraudsters will often claim to be registered with the OISC, but they are of course not actually registered.
- The explanation given of what visa is being applied for, the process and the costs, may appear inconsistent / jumbled. It is worth checking the UKWP site, or other reputable site to familiarise yourself with the current relevant schemes and processes, and making sure that the advice given falls in line with that.
- The telephone number given will be a mobile number in the UK (It will begin 00 44 7) and / or where a landline number (beginning 00 44 1 or 00 44 2) you will reach an automated service and you will be unable to speak to a staff member.
- The applicant will probably be asked to make payment by Western Union (or other similar) money transfer service.
If any of the above apply to an individual who has been offered a position and / or work permit in the UK, we would only advise that you exercise extreme caution before making any payment or any further payment. Ultimately however, individuals must make their own checks and make their own decisions. The presence of one or more of the indicators above does not mean that a job offer, or an immigraiton advisor, is not genuine. SImilarly the absence of any of the above indicators does not mean that a job offer, or the immigration advisor is genuine.
We repeat that we are not able to offer help or guidance to people wishing to investigate or retrieve funds from anyone who they believe has defrauded them.