Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fake photography job.

Somehow, a photography position came to my attention. It was discovered long enough ago to forget how it came to my attention. It was interesting enough to turn up to find out about though there were reservations about it. The office turned out to be one of the shoebox offices that seem to be rented by the hour. There are a lot of these in Columbia. While there may well be some genuine businesses there taking full advantage of the low rent, these are also the realm of the scammer. It's not really fair to say not to visit such places ever because that would harm the genuine businesses. Perhaps it's more a case of just taking extra caution.

The modus operandi is the same for pretty well all of the scam businesses. The office is rented and furnished with ready-provided Ikea furnishings. The lights are seldom switched on. Frequently advertisements for positions are listed via notices and flyers or online. Sometimes they are even posted on government employment agency websites. Usually the scam involves parting fools from their money or from personal information.

Two men in their 20s and 30s were involved. One was hiding behind a pair of women's sunglasses (in an office that had no lighting switched on). The other was sitting behind a desk, conducting the "interview". Neither had any interview or management skills. They advised that in order to work with them, it was important to pay $15 cash to join their "organisation" and then another $15 to obtain a permit of some kind that I'd never heard of before. It would be a total of $30 which had to be paid in cash, there and then. To cap all that off the two demonstrated some very fake looking permits.

Clearly that was a scam. It was not a well organized scam either. The scammers were opportunists and not professionals. It was also quite likely their very first scam. It had me in mind of a scam a few weeks ago where a "company" had broken into a disused bar after advertising on a jobs website. The phone had run early one morning with an invitation to an interview that afternoon. Turning up, the door lock on the bar had clearly been broken. Inside were a pair of men who did not look at all businesslike. There were no lights on and only plastic picnic tables and chairs set up to use. The application forms required to be completed were badly photocopied generic forms with no company name. Quickly finding an excuse that crime scene was quickly left behind. There was clearly no real job there.

Similarly, two more positions on jobs websites. Both were with a company that I did find a bad reports about online. That company did not actually appear to have anything more than a website and did not appear to be anything more than a trading name. Entering the office, the lights were on. The whole place had the feel of temporality. During the "interviews" I had a feeling that everything could be thrown into the trunk of a small car and gone within moments. Both were promises of management positions as long as a "trial" period was carried out. The first position turned out to be flogging cosmetics, door-to-door and the second was flogging car care products door-to-door.

The comment generally is that there are so many fake adverts out there, particularly on general jobs websites that it makes job applications very fraught. It doesn't matter whether it's a photographer looking for a position or anybody else. The chances of finding a scam are greater than the chances of finding a real position advertised. As I said a few days ago, avoiding the general jobs websites is the smart thing to do. I don't continue with an application if a 3rd party website is involved.

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