London

‘Hundreds’ of jobseekers victims of 'recruitment scam'

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Media caption'Hundreds' of jobseekers victims of 'recruitment scam'

Hundreds of vulnerable jobseekers may have been conned out of money as part of a recruitment scam, a BBC investigation has uncovered.

A man using the name John Phillips is alleged to have offered non-existent jobs and charged applicants up to £480 in "accreditation fees".

The BBC found many victims went on to unwittingly recruit further applicants.

Safer Jobs, an agency which fights fraud, said it was the "biggest scam of its kind".

"It's exploitation of vulnerable job seekers," said Keith Rosser from the agency, which was set up with the help of the Metropolitan Police in 2008.

"The fact they'd have to be asked to pay money is terrible in its own right. The fact the job doesn't exist is even worse."

Mr Rosser added it was "the biggest scam we have seen of this kind, where unsuspecting jobseekers are used to perpetuate this fraud further."

The BBC's Inside Out London programme found Mr Phillips - who is believed to have used a number of names - created at least 10 bogus companies which had realistic-looking websites to orchestrate the scam.

Many of the victims described how they were offered positions as human resources assistants at various "companies" after being interviewed in cafes or hotels.

Employment scams reported to Safer Jobs

£500,000

Amount of fraud reported in 12 months to September 2016

1,240

Reports of scams received in 12 months to September 2016

  • £50,000 Amount of fraud reported in 12 months to September 2015

  • 250 Reports of scams received in 12 months to September 2015

PA

They were told they had to pay the "accreditation fee" before they could start work and the money would be reimbursed in their salaries.

Some were never given employment start dates, while others worked for months without ever being paid.

Image caption When confronted by the BBC, Mr Phillips said he did not know what the reporter was talking about

Some of those who did start work helped recruit other alleged victims.

Scores of reports

Mr Phillips is alleged to have been carrying out the scam since at least 2012.

The BBC believes there may be hundreds of victims, with scores of reports on the Scamradar website and online message boards devoted to trying to catch him.

One victim, Lucille, said she worked for Mr Phillips for two months, taking about £2,000 in payments from other applicants.

As well as losing out on potential earnings, she was asked to pay for renting office space and for business cards. She said she was not reimbursed.

Atiya Ahmed resigned from another job to work for Mr Phillips.

"I'm very sad and disappointed in myself for falling for something like this, but when you're desperate for a job you have no choice but to believe what someone promised," she said.

When confronted by the BBC, Mr Phillips said he had no knowledge of the claims and refused to comment further.

The Met Police said it was not aware of any investigation being carried out into the dealings of Mr Phillips.

Watch the full report on BBC Inside Out London on Friday 21 October at 19:30 on BBC One.

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