Firas finished his university studies two years ago, and began searching hard for ways to improve his situation and get a job with an income commensurate with the increasingly difficult living conditions. In job search websites, he found an opportunity to locate a high-paid job.
He never for once even suspected that he would fall prey to individuals and networks, actively defrauding young people by claiming to provide them with jobs in international companies.
Job Opportunity in Shell!
Firas tells Rozana: "While checking my personal E-mal, I found a letter from the Director of Human Resources at Shell Oil Company in Senegal, telling me that there were job opportunities in the company; and that if I wished to join their team, I shoud send my resume to find me the appropriate position."
Firas also says: "I was above the clouds with happiness," adding, "I immediately sent a resume, to be notified after about 30 minutes by the Director of Human Resources that they had found an appropriate position for me; namely in the field of public relations for the Shell-Senegal Department of Expatriates. He sent me the contract, asked me to sign and resend it; to facilitate my visa procedures."
Firas explains: "The contract's conditions were very lucrative: an initial salary of $6,800; not to mention housing, company car, mobile phone and laptop, as well as an entertainment allowance!" Says Firas: "Destiny had finally smiled upon me."
Then, says Firas: "Only 60 minutes later, I receive a phone call from a strange number. It was the company's Human Resources Manager, assuring me—in broken English—that I had successfully landed a job with the company."
The young man tells the remaining details of his story, saying: "All those things reinforced my belief that this was serious. So I agreed to work and sent an E-mail with my approval. The man asked me to transfer $400 as "company health insurance," which I promptly did. It has now been more than one month that I am trying to to communicate with the Manager who corresponded with me—but to no avail. Only then I discovered that I was the victim of a scam."
These scams are professionally performed; whereby the job applicant receives a contract with the logo of international companies that he is asked to sign; then to pay "visa and health insurance" costs that he is informed the company would return to him later. What happens instead is that a scam—the money is transferred to fictitious persons linked to the network managing the entire swindle.
Firas' story is far from being unique: There are many people who have fallen victim to such operations. Some of women from Africa, for example, target young men claiming to be from rich deceased families, withe inheritances in the millions of dollars in European banks; but that they need help to access these amounts.
The Latest Scams: Scholarships!
Scholarships in Western countries have become an obsession of a large portion of Syrian youth, hoping to complete their studies free of charge in a European university. This dream has, on the other hand, become a business opportunity for some. Fake universities or learning institutions send E-mails targeting Syrian youth, advising them that they received a scholarship, and deferred registration fees until after the end of their studies. Later, these dummy institutions request payments only to subsequently disappear into thin air; leaving the dream of a university study drown into a cloud of frustration and sadness.
A Piece of Advice
Technical expert Jalal al-Bashir tells Rozana: "Syrian youth need to be cautious of companies that are active in sending E-mails on behalf of international companies, under the pretext of securing jobs; while actually being fake."
Bashir gives several tips for young Syrians to avoid falling into the trap of these hucksters—including extreme caution of any huge offers that sound too good to be true; as well as any conditional offers to take a quick decision followed by requests to pay partial insurance or university expenses immediately. Noting that large companies or universities never resort to such methods; they set logical deadlines for registration—certainly not within 24 hours from the time of sending an E-mail. "
He also points out that every young person looking for work on jobsearch websites, should communicate with any company via its official E-mail address." He also calls on young people to not post their resumes, phone numbers, and E-mail addresses on unreliable sites; they should, rather, always check jobsearch sites and establish their credibility."