With each passing day, China is is being used more often as “bait” for over 300 known and growing “work abroad” scams. Thousands of desperate unemployed people from westerns economies that are gasping for air, as well as new university graduates with huge student loans to repay are falling for ads like this one…
“English-Speaking Manager Trainee wanted by Fortune 500 Company in Shanghai. Must hold degree in Business Administration, be a team player and wiling to sign a 3-5 year contract. Compensation: $60,000 – $80,000 depending on your talent, experience, and contacts. Send your CV and current photo in confidence to Phillip@C**CAsia.com”
According to the vague requirements of this ad, over 14.5 million people in America alone might qualify, perhaps 60 million qualified candidates world-wide and ultimately about 200,000 people will apply. Unfortunately the ad is a fake – designed to lure people into one of many foreign teacher or internship scams being operated by unscrupulous fraudsters looking to grab all the low-hanging fruit they can for a quick $1,000 to $3,000 profit per snatch. It is a very lucrative business. In fact, Interpol estimates the China “work abroad” scam market exceeds $350 million annually.
Indeed China is the current land of golden opportunity, but those who work here can tell you straight away that all the good-paying jobs with international companies require one of three things; 1) either inside company contacts, 2) government contacts, or 3) an unpaid or low-pay 3-6 month internship with the company doing the hiring, the latter becoming a growing trend where employers can “try before they buy” a candidate. But for every real internship, there are 30 fraudulent ones being peddled online by no less than a dozen companies like CRCCAsia.com and ChinaSolutions.com which spend a fortune on extravagant and flashy web sites, and thousands of dollars on SEO to get hundreds of ads littering the internet. Their clients pay $2999 for an internship with an unnamed company that usually turns out to be an unpleasant surprise like a telemarketing job “professionally matched” to a business finance major. Of course there are no refunds and legitimate companies look for legitimate interns with the intent to hire the best performers are finding it more difficult to make all the pieces fit. Other companies are just glad to get the near slave labor provided by CRCC and China Solutions and had their “international” company names like “Lucky Gold Star 88 Export Company” actually been disclosed to intern applicants, business would quickly evaporate.
These shady operators thrive in a Chinese culture where cheating foreigners has almost become a national hobby and pulling off a successful fraud is thought to be “clever” by the locals. Most scammers operate large telemarketing boiler rooms staffed by low-paid staff working on commissions. They dial for dollars 24/7/365 into a dozen different time zones. This is one scam that never sleeps. This link explains what one fellow found when he visited the Beijing office of “China’s leading intern placement company” http://www.abroadreviews.com/scam-alert-crcc-china-internships-are-fraud. Both CRCCAsia.com and ChinaSolutions.com claim to be “partners” with many American universities but this New York Times article explains what these affiliations really mean; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/opinion/03perlin.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
But by far the more common work abroad frauds are being perpetrated by self-proclaimed “employment recruiters” and “agents” – 95% of which are unregistered and not licensed to do business in China. They mostly focus on recruiting foreign teachers for china or selling worthless TEFL certificates (see our recent post on Online TEFL training scams). They too rely on selling employment dreams in China to desperate people around the world using a pile of lies and smooth talking telesales people. This article sheds some insight into their deceitful methods; http://www.zimbio.com/Exposing+Scams/articles/QXkaFYKZ090/More+Expats+China+Now+Targeted+ID+Theft+20 Many of these sly schemers will use advertisements on Craiglist and even run hundreds of ads in overseas newspapers and on expat forums like Echinacities.com, TheBeijinger.com, ChinaJobs.com, etc. The editors of these publications do not have the time nor resources to properly screen all of these ads, especially when they are paid ads. Two such bogus ads even turned up in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune recently!
There are even companies now charging people serious money just to “volunteer abroad”! Why do people fall for this crap? The reasons are many, but ignorance of overseas employment markets is the primary problem. Now just add a little gullibility, naivete, and an awesome web site of a scammer, and PRESTO – we have another victim! So how to sort the facts from all the fiction? If you are job seeker with hopes of finding a new life in China, we offer the following advice:
1) Do not be fooled by fancy websites, self-generated fake review sites, or the dozens of ads a company posts on line, nor how long they claim to be operating. These are just illusions designed to create false credibility.
2) If you are contacted by someone claiming to be an agent, ask them to email you a color scan of their Chinese ID card, their SAIC license, physical street address, and then do some simple verifications before you send them a dime or any personal ID (like a passport or visa scan) they can sell to ID thieves. Fake agents tend to go by western names like “Tommy” or “Lilly” and use disposable mobile phone numbers and free email addresses that change regularly.
3) Check the blacklslists online at http://www.CleverChinaCheaters.com, http://www.ChinaScamBusters.com, http://www.ChinaScamCentral.com, or send us an inquiry to help@ChinaScamPatrol.org
4) Simply Google the name of the company along with the key words of “scam, problems, complaints, fraud” and see what pops up.
5) Stay away from the below websites which are just fronts to collect contact info for telemarketing scams that are selling either illegal visa services, TEFL certificates, bogus teaching jobs, dead-end internships, travel insurance, overpriced travel packages, etc. Everyone has a right to operate a legitimate business but these folks have a history of greedy and/or unethical exploitation.
workabroad.com (under investigation)
goabroad.com (under investigation)
Remember, there is no Better Business Bureau nor Federal Trade Commission here in China to protect you, and the courts here will not be bothered with petty fraud complaints from foreigners. You are basically on your own, and only the above advice and your own common sense can help you avoid being scammed. 52% of all foreigners who came to work in China in 2012 admit that they were cheated. The average loss was $3,700. But the thieves are not all Chinese. About 20% of them are now foreigners who came to China to ply their con games, almost with impunity. Also, NEVER send copies of your passport nor visas to “agents” nor “recruiters” – only verified direct employers as 20% of all Chinese agents are front for ID thieves. See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18189980. Don’t become another victim. Whether you heed or ignore the above advice is up to you, but when you do stumble upon a fraud like the above, please share it with us so we can warn the 52,000+ expats that receive our newsletter every month. You can report your job, agent, and/or intern fraud to us at scamreport[at]ChinaScamPatrol.org
UPDATE: Please take note that this link has been hacked three times thus far and it will now be monitored daily as it appears someone has hired hackers to conceal this fraud alert.