Koushik Kumar had answered a Maruti Suzuki job advertisement, depositing money for the application fee. And, he waited for the interview call. What he got was an email from the company's vigilance department, stating he'd been the victim of a fake ad, put in by a scamster.
India Inc is having to respond to an increasing incidence of fraud, with job seekers being asked to pay a processing fee or deposit security money in a bank account, the ad put in by a faker. Pharma major Ranbaxy Laboratories is perhaps the most recent case in point. Last Thursday, it issued a public notice in the newspapers, stating it does not ask or accept any money or security deposit from job seekers during a selection process. The notice says fraudsters were using its name to do so and that it had filed a police complaint.
Earlier this year, Bangalore-based Toyoto Kirsloskar Motor (TKM) went through a similar experience. In January, the personnel department got a complaint from a victim and both filed a police complaint. The police nabbed a job offer scam network run by a Nigerian national in Delhi. "For every complaint that comes up, there could be hundreds of such cases which go unreported," says Shekar Vishwanathan, deputy managing director, TKM. It has put out public notices in national newspapers and on its website; staffers have also been urged to spread the word.
Human resource executives and head hunters say the typical method is to lure through advertisements and emails, followed by a telephone interaction to build confidence. The reaching out is especially in tier-II and tier-III cities and towns. "Advertisements in English newspapers are used to give credibility to the offer," says an executive. Once job seekers apply, they are generally asked for a processing fee or to deposit an amount, usually in an account with a leading bank. Only after weeks - in some cases, months - do the victims realise they have been duped.
In one instance last year, of Maruti, those "selected" for an interview were asked to pay a refundable security deposit of around Rs 16,000 in a State Bank of India account. There have been brazen instances to build credibility by issuing a fake interview call letter using the company's logo, seemingly signed by the managing director. Fake offer letters purportedly signed by Maruti Suzuki India's managing director, Shinzo Nakanishi, surfaced in late 2010; the upshot was the arrest of three foreign nationals.
In fact, Maruti's vigilance department has been pro-actively working for the past two years with Delhi Police on such cases. It happened again when Maruti's Manesar plant was shut in July this year, following labour unrest. Many fly-by-night-operators raised their heads to lure job seekers.
HR professionals say many information technology companies have been at the receiving end of such fraudsters for years. A head hunter recalls a Hyderabad-based multinational IT company facing agitated job seekers with signed offer letters that were never issued by it.
"It is only in the last two-three years that manufacturing companies such as those from the automobile and pharma sectors have become the target of such job frauds," says Sunil Goel, chief executive, Global Hunt India.
Head hunters says in most cases, companies react only after complaints by victims. They need to take the initiative in spreading information to seekers about selection procedures. Else, unsuspecting ones such as Koushik Kumar would continue to fall prey.