Corporate scam - Criminals placing ads to lure job seekers
Police investigators are being kept busy by scammers who are using the names of well-established local entities to lure unsuspecting persons into possible danger with the worrying undertone of a possible attempt at human trafficking.
The scammers are putting out advertisements offering employment opportunities at major entities and using fraudulent email addresses to deceive desperate jobseekers.
When persons express interest in these advertisements via the email address provided, they are asked to send photos and are provided with an address they should visit for interviews or training.
GraceKennedy's corporate office was last week inundated with email and phone calls as persons sought to verify the validity of an advertisement which came out stating that Grace Foods was seeking persons to fill the positions of merchandiser, sales promoters and office assistant.
The advertisements encouraged persons to respond by email to an address that is not one the company uses.
"Unscrupulous persons have been making unauthorised use of the name Grace Foods to place classified ads offering jobs and asking persons to contact them via the fake email address email@example.com. We urge caution and for any contact by such persons to be reported to the police," said Angeline Gillings, managing director at Grace Foods Limited.
Late last week, head of the police Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC), Assistant Commissioner Fitz Bailey, confirmed that the police have launched an investigation into the scam.
"We have received a report and the matter will be investigated," said Bailey, who refused to confirm that human trafficking is being looked into as a possible motive behind the elaborate scheme.
"We are doing an investigation and we don't want people to get any idea of the direction we are heading. I have actually given some tasks already," added Bailey, as he urged persons to be diligent in ensuring authenticity before sending out personal information, paying over money or meeting persons when seeking employment.
"They just need to be diligent in what they do, and if they have doubts they can call the police, and we can make the checks," said Bailey.
"A quick check that they can make is to take the directory - as most companies are listed - and instead of just depending on the advertisement, use the telephone numbers that are listed and call to find out if these advertisements were actually placed by the company.
"And if the jobs are advertised through an agency, they should check to ensure that the agency is registered, while for those jobs that call for some form of payment before you get the job, I think you should be wary of those," added Bailey.
INSTRUCTED TO PURCHASE ITEMS
It is not known if persons have already fallen prey to the scheme, but The Sunday Gleaner has seen some of the emailed replies received by some persons who responded to the ad.
One woman, who had sent her rÈsumÈ to be considered for the post of sales representative, was told, "Thank you for your application, congratulations and welcome to our team."
She was instructed to go to a named store in North Parade, downtown Kingston, and purchase a specific item before sending a copy of the receipt, along with photo identification, "so we can schedule interview, training and payroll for Monday 8:55 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. Starting salary will be $47,895 with travelling".
Another jobseeker, who had applied for the post of office assistant, was told that the organisation manufactures and distributes Jamaican souvenirs to help raise funds to set up a special-needs school, while assisting many less fortunate and orphans.
She was also given the instruction to go to a named establishment and purchase a specific item before emailing the receipt along with a photo for identification purposes.