Tamil Nadu

Recruitment scams abound in Tamil Nadu

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The economic slowdown has impacted the job market as well. With layoffs becoming the norm and the hiring market staying sluggish, the number of scamsters preying on job-seekers has only gone up in Tamil Nadu. Greater vigilance is necessary to ensure that eager graduates do not end up losing money to such scams, warn police

A few weeks ago, an advertisement did the rounds on social media and WhatApp groups, calling engineering graduates for an interview for openings in IT major Infosys. When this reporter called up the number given in the advertisement, the person at the other end, a woman who claimed to be a director in Infosys, said that she was recruiting over 10,000 candidates. She also put out an immediate rider that if selected, the candidate would have to make a deposit of ₹1.5 lakh to ₹2 lakh, depending on the role being offered.

“This money is just security deposit and will be refunded once you complete your training. During your training, you will be paid a stipend and get free food and accommodation at the campus in Mysuru,” she explained, and added that an offer would be made only if the money was deposited into her account.

On November 16, the same person organised a mega job event at a hotel in Madurai, and based on a tip-off, she was arrested. When the police went to the hotel they found 50 job aspirants attending the event. “Had we not gone there in time, it is quite possible that the youth would have ended up losing several thousands to the fraudster,” said P. Chandran, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crime, Tallakulam.

Soft targets

This case is just the tip of the iceberg in a State where over a lakh youngsters enter the job market every year. Data collated by The Hindu from various parts shows that on an average, over 100 job scam cases are reported a month.

On an average, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) wing that handles job fraud receives around 150 complaints every month. Of this, nearly 60 cases are fake job offers at the airport. “On an average, we arrest over 15 racketeers every month,” an officer said. HR firms pointed out that with a slowdown in the job market, layoffs announced by IT firms and a slump in the auto sector, the number of racketeers is seeing a steady increase.

According to police officials, two kinds of people fall prey to job scams — youngsters who don’t get campus placements and are desperate to land a job. “These youngsters would have huge loans for their undergraduation, with great hopes of getting a campus placement. Once they don’t get a job, that’s when they get ‘aggressive’ to find a job by any means,” a police official said. And, second, retired people. The job racketeers woo retired people by saying that they can earn a few lakh from home if they invest a few thousands. Some even tell the retired people that they can get jobs in Malaysia and Singapore. Once the money is credited, the racketeers switch off their phones.

Small towns

Most of these scams take place in tier 2 and tier 3 towns. The racketeers offer all kinds of jobs — IT, retail and even government jobs. They operate through various means — they either collect numbers from a source and call the target directly, or through emails or through advertisements in neighbourhood newspapers. Some even offer fake jobs through social media platforms. A few go to the extent of visiting colleges in tier 3 towns, claiming that they are HR managers from top IT firms.

Recently, NLC India Limited put out an advertisement cautioning people not to fall prey to scamsters. The company said that all vacancies and recruitments would happen only through its website. In Tiruchi region, there has been an increase in the number of overseas job racket cases this year. As per official statistics, as many as eight cases were registered until October this year. Police officials convened a meeting with agents and cautioned those who are operating without licences and sending people abroad for employment. Another police official said that the number of cases is even higher but unfortunately there are instances of out-of-court settlements between the complainants and racketeers.

Apart from the recent ‘Infosys’ case, Madurai has, in the last two years, witnessed several other job rackets. For instance, in March last year, Madurai Airport Director V.V. Rao had cautioned job aspirants against falling prey to fraudulent advertisements promising jobs in the Airports Authority of India. This warning was necessitated by a slew of incidents in which youth started walking into the AAI office in Madurai with fake appointment letters for which they had coughed up money. “The appointment letters had Airports Authority of India’s name/logo,” he said. He even advised them to look for job opportunities in AAI on its website or on Employment News. In another case, a youth from Namakkal was cheated of ₹19.08 lakh by a friend who promised to get him a job in the Income Tax department. Madurai district has also seen a few cheating cases wherein aspirants were promised jobs in Madurai Kamaraj University.

The police in Madurai have advised people to alert them about any such suspicious people offering jobs. But, the situation is such that even police jobs are being offered to youth by middlemen whenever a recruitment process is initiated by Tamil Nadu State Uniformed Services Board. Two staff members of Madurai rural district police were placed under suspension when they tried to forge recruitment papers to favour a few candidates in 2017.

Recruitment scams abound in Tamil Nadu
 

A senior police officer in Madurai rural district said that even educated people were not aware that government jobs were filled up only through competitive examinations and there was no short-cut to bypass procedures.

An unholy nexus

Unscrupulous elements had formed a network spanning various offices across districts and operated in a stealthy manner, he said. “These people boast of their contacts with higher officials or political bosses. Some of them display photographs that they have taken along with such officials or political leaders to make aspirants or their parents believe that they are connected with the right people,” the officer added.

For most scamsters, their modus operandi involved extracting money in instalments on multiple occasions. “In one of the cases, the job aspirant had flown the fraudster to New Delhi to meet an important official for a job in the Indian Railways,” the officer said. A well-dressed man dressed would walk out of the office and wave to the fraudster, giving the job aspirant the impression that he was an official. The deal would be negotiated outside the office premises and a cash payment would be made, he explained.

Way out

Engineering graduates The Hindu spoke to said that companies were also to blame. K. Nagaraj, an engineering student from Madurai, said that he had called on the board number of an IT firm several times to check whether a particular offer was fake or not and the response he received was cold. “They did even respond well and the HR said that it was not her business to answer such calls,” he said.

Recruitment scams abound in Tamil Nadu
 

G.S. Ramesh, Chairman of the Layam Group, said that scams happened when there was a dip in employment prospects. He suggested that students while in college should be informed that they should not be gullible and fall for job rackets.

“They should be clearly told how to approach the job market and should also be informed about the job racketeers outside. People should understand the fact that no employer would ask them to pay a security deposit for a job,” he stressed.

Infosys in an email response, said, “Infosys recruits employees based only on merit and no service charges, training fees or any other consideration/payment is demanded from the selected persons. If you are unsure about the source of a job offer, please login to the ‘Careers’ section on the Infosys website to validate the job offer letter received.”

The CMD of another IT firm said, “When in doubt call the company directly and check. Also check whether the phone number provided on the letter is working. Companies don’t ask for professional fees. Never ever pay money for a job.” He added that currently, offer letters given by companies have a barcode.

Industry experts pointed out that with digitisation and automation, there would be more such scams in the coming years, and staying vigilant was the only way to fight the menace.

(With inputs from Sundar S. in Madurai, C. Jaisankar in Tiruchi, V. Venkatasubramanian in Thanjavur, Vivek Narayanan and R. Sivaraman in Chennai)

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 12:57:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/recruitment-scams-abound-in-tamil-nadu/article30233872.ece

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