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Filipino domestic workers: the struggle for justice and survival

By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

(Increase in trafficking and abuse demands stronger labor protection’)

Maria (not her real name) was limping when she arrived at the airport of Manila from Saudi Arabia. She is one of the 80 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who was repatriated in August 2009 by the
Philippine government from the Middle East. All of them were women who worked as domestic helpers and fell victim to various kinds of abuses from their employer or the agency that recruited them.

Maria’s leg was fractured after her employer’s son pushed her from the stairs for not following his order. She also said she was made to sleep under the stairs and fed only once a day. But the worst part was when her male employer raped her. “He was touching me, kissing me and forced me to have sex with him. I couldn’t fight back” she said.

Her troubles started when she was illegally recruited by an agency in Riyadh last year. She was promised a salary of 400 dollars a month, but ended up getting paid only half of this. She was also forced to work long hours for multiple tasks. “We were treated like animals, we barely got enough sleep” Maria said.

The Visayan Forum Foundation (VFFI) is a non-government organization that promotes the welfare of OFWs. According to VFFI President Cecilia Flores Oebanda, there has been a 20% increase in the incidence of persons trafficked for domestic work: from 539 in 2008 to 697 in 2009. “If we talk about human trafficking, we have to think that it comes in many forms, like forced labour, organ donor trafficking, child trafficking but what alarms us most now is that this year there is an increase in forced labour among domestic workers” she said.

“Many of our domestic workers were promised good salaries but when they arrive at their destination, they only receive half, which means there is contract substitution. Many of them are fooled, the employer confiscates their documents, passports, and they are not allowed to go out. Most of the time they are locked up in the house and they really experience different kinds of abuse” Oebanda added.

In 2003 the Philippines enacted the Republic Act (RA) 9208, also known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. The law foresees measures aimed at preventing the trafficking of persons including the rehabilitation and integration of the trafficked individuals. Trafficking means recruiting, transporting, transfering and receiving people across national borders by means of threat, coercion, abduction and deception for exploitative aims such as prostitution, forced labour and the removal or sale of organs.

The International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, has called the attention of the Philippines on forced labor. The ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations has made a direct request to the Philippine government to provide information on the application of RA 9208 in practice, such as the information on the prevention and protection measures, including copies of reports, studies and inquiries, as well as available statistics.

To coordinate and monitor the anti-trafficking law, the government created an Inter-Agency Council which has already submitted its report to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). “The report will be submitted to the ILO”, said DOLE Director Jay Julian.

Senior State Prosecutor Deana Perez said there have been 16 convictions since 2005. From 577 anti-trafficking cases that were filed in court since the law was created in 2003, only 242 cases are now pending trial while the rest are dismissed, archived or acquitted. “Many of the cases were dismissed after the victim had decided to settle, because they had been offered money or because they had gone back to work abroad instead of waiting on their cases. It ‘s really sad but it’s a matter of economic necessity. Between justice and survival, they choose survival,” said Perez.

In the Philippines there is also an Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) that holds orientation seminars in partnership with local government units as an effective preventive measure against illegal recruitment. “Human trafficking starts with illegal recruitment, people don’t get trafficked if they are not recruited illegally,” said POEA deputy administrator Hans Cacdac.

During the seminar, trained personnel educate the public on the good and bad aspects of overseas employment, the risks involved and the types of vulnerable jobs and cases encountered by OFWs in these jobs. “We advise them to be careful especially if the job being offered is dirty, dangerous and demeaning like domestic work abroad. They have to check if the recruiter is legal and licensed with the POEA. Likewise the employer abroad should also be registered” said Cacdac.

Domestic work has been a long-standing concern of the ILO. In 1948, it adopted a resolution concerning the conditions of employment of domestic workers. In 1965, it adopted a resolution calling for normative action in the area, and in 1970, the first survey ever published on the status of domestic workers worldwide. In March 2008, the ILO Governing Body agreed to place an item on decent work for domestic workers on the agenda of the 99th session of the International Labour Conference in 2010 with a view to a double discussion procedure to the setting of labour standards.

The ILO supports the Philippine Campaign on Decent Work for Domestic Helpers, which aims to craft a unified position to the Conference, and to continuously lobby for the passage of the domestic workers national law.

Part of the 10-point agenda on decent work for Filipino domestic workers is the immediate passage of the Batas Kasambahay bill, a law with the aim of uplifting and giving decency to the standards that will protect domestic workers’ labour rights. “Kasambahay” means “part of the household” in Filipino and this is how domestic workers are called. The job is not professionalized and workers are often, if not always, underpaid. With a minimum wage of 8,000 pesos a month, maids get only from 2,000 to 3,000 pesos, about 42 to 63 USD. The employers claim that they already provide for workers ‘ food and lodging. Also, maids do not have government insurance cards nor health cards, as required in regular jobs. Most of them also have to multitask. They cook, do the laundry, clean the house and take care of the kids. They also do not have a regular 8-hour working schedule but are on-call any time of the day. There is no minimum age requirement and many of the maids are minors who usually come from rural areas. Instead of going to school, they work as maids and send a bulk of their wages to their families. Maids come cheap and even members of the lower middle class can employ them. If they are lucky enough to work for a good employer, they are treated as part of the family. Some maids or their children are even sent to school by the employer. Sometimes the employer also shoulders their medical expenses or other emergency needs. But the master-servant relationship still exists. Some choose to stay because at least they have food and shelter there.

And yet, overseas domestic workers contribute much to the country ‘s economy. Official statistics show that the total remittances of unskilled labourers in 2008 amounted to 19.8 billion pesos (about 430 million USD) and nearly 80% came from working women.

According to Oebanda, while domestic workers are the Philippines biggest export, the local market is still their biggest employer. Based on the VFFI’s data, there are more than 1 million Filipino domestic workers deployed all over the world and 1.7 million working inside the Philippines. She says the Philippines needs to clean up it’s own backyard if it wants other countries to address the situation of Filipino domestic workers. The VFFI, however, is hopeful once international standards are set, countries like the Philippines will be pressured to comply.

In the meantime, people like Maria, continue to suffer the consequences of human trafficking and forced labor. She said she would never go back to working overseas, “I left with hopes of giving my children a better future, but I came back with nothing. Worse, I have lost my dignity and self-respect. I will carry this for the rest of my life.” Maria hopes that the millions of other OFWs won’t have to go through what she went through.


via: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/-depth/06/22/10/filipino-domestic-workers-struggle-justice-and-survival

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Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, ,

Trafficking in humans hits worrisome level, says Ople

“The growing number of victims of human trafficking and contract substitution throughout the world pose a major challenge to the next administration. Increasing poverty has driven many Filipinos to clutch at empty promises of bogus recruiters and human traffickers,” said Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center.

Ople, who recently received the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Achievement Award for advocacy, noted that the overwhelming support bestowed by overseas Filipino voters to president-elect Benigno Aquino Jr. comes with high hopes and expectations that the labor sector would receive the priority it deserves.

“The increasing trend towards contractual work has become a major push factor for migration as more Filipinos consider migration as the first option for economic advancement,” Ople said.

According to the Ople Center , the incoming administration should immediate embark on institutional and legislative reforms that would

1. Grant additional seats in the Board of Trustees to strengthen OFW representation in the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration while providing additional benefits to its members;

2. Allocate budgets for the immediate deployment of legal and social welfare attaches particularly to countries with a high incidence of human trafficking and other welfare cases, such as in destination points in the Middle East. Philippine Embassies and Consulates must be prepared to file cases against abusive foreign employers and agents, especially in cases involving contract substitution, rape and maltreatment of workers, rather than just repatriate the workers involved.

3. Establish one-stop inter-agency OFW assistance centers in provincial capitols to cut red tape and facilitate immediate services to OFW families particularly in the areas of repatriation, reintegration and legal assistance.

Ople noted that the early lead bestowed by overseas absentee voters to the soon-to-be-proclaimed president Noynoy Aquino has raised high expectations among leaders of various Filipino communities worldwide.

The youngest daughter of the late Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople lost her first senatorial bid under the Nacionalista Party but vowed to continue her work as a labor advocate through the Blas F. Ople Policy Center.

“Even as we honor our modern-day heroes today, we all know that as their number rises, the more difficult it is for government to reach them at a time of personal or collective crisis. The solution remains here at home, where job creation is imperative and the quality of jobs must improve,” Ople said.

The OFW advocate also flagged increasing concern over rising tensions in the Korean peninsula where over 80,000 Filipino workers are based. “We need to keep an eye out and be more vocal about the need to defuse this ticking bomb in our backyard,” she stressed.

Source: http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNation.htm?f=2010/june/8/nation3.isx&d=2010/june/8

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Overseas Jobs, ,

Pinoys warned vs direct hiring scam in Italy

By Jocelyn Ruiz, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

ROME – Filipinos looking for employment in Italy are warned against illegal recruitment agencies that are reportedly using the direct hiring system to entice OFWs to apply as seasonal workers in the country.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) said some agencies are charging OFWs exorbitant fees when they apply as direct hire seasonal workers.

“May reports na nakarating sa amin na may mga tao na nagha-hire sa Pilipinas at pinagbabayad ng P500,000 to P600,000 para pumupunta dito. Walang ganun dito at dini-discourage po natin at nagbigay na tayo ng advisory sa POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration),” said Labor Attache Chona Mantilla.

According to POLO, the Direct Hiring 2010 in Italy is only for domestic helpers and caregivers.

Earlier news reports said the Italian government will open an entry quota on direct hiring or decreto flussi 2010 for migrant workers in Italy. This is also the chance for many Filipinos to bring their families or relatives to work in Italy.

However, the Italian government has no open quota for direct hiring for seasonal workers or decreto flussi per lavoro stagionale 2010 for Filipino migrants.

“Ang Pilipinas ay hindi kasama sa mga countries na may bilateral agreement for seasonal workers. Totoo na may 80,000 na seasonal workers na ang Italian government ngayon na binibigyan ng flussi but sad to say hindi tayo kasama doon,” said Mantilla.

POLO estimates that around 140,000 Filipinos are living in Italy, compared to the 100,924 data from the Ministero Dell Interno last July 31, 2009. This number does not include undocumented workers.

Meanwhile, data gathered by the Isituto Nazionale Di Statistica (ISTAT) or Institute on National Statistics revealed that there are 113,686 documented Filipinos living in Italy in 2008, as compared to the 105, 675 data ISTAT estimated in 2007.

The data gathered makes Filipinos the 6th largest foreign population group in Italy, behind Romania (796,477); Albania (441, 396); Morocco (403, 592); China (170,265); and Ukraine (153,998).

The seasonal worker is a short-term contract employment like farm jobs or more on agriculture, and summer job vacancies like working in hotels, restaurants and resorts.

 

Source: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/global-filipino/06/05/10/pinoys-warned-vs-direct-hiring-scam-italy

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Overseas Jobs, POEA-Advisory,

Ban on foreign illegal recruiter sought

By JUN RAMIREZ

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recently recommended to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to ban a foreigner allegedly engaged in illegal recruitment and deployment of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to Hong Kong without the necessary clearance from the government, it was learned Wednesday.

In his letter to BI Commissioner Marcelino Libanan, DFA Assistant Secretary Jaime Ledda sought the bureau’s assistance in putting the foreigner’s name in the blacklist after receiving reports from the Philippine embassy in Guangzhou, China.

Libanan immediately issued an order placing the foreigner in its blacklist, thus preventing the alien from entering the Philippines and from victimizing prospective OFWs.

The BI chief also ordered immigration supervisors and officers in all international airports to strictly enforce the blacklist order to put a stop on the illegal activities of the foreigner.

Quoting a report from the DFA, Libanan said the foreigner has been illegally recruiting Filipinos to work in Hong Kong without the proper documentation.

The recruits, who are all women, are allegedly sent to the former British colony without the required processing and permits from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

According to the DFA, the foreiner’s activities were discovered by Chinese authorities when members of the Fujian police raided his recruitment agency.

Filed under: OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Overseas Jobs, POEA-Advisory,

Singapore job seekers warned

Filipino women intending to work as domestic helpers in Singapore were warned Saturday against dubious travel agency operators moonlighting as employment agents.

An advisory issued by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) based on the report of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Singapore said 99 percent of Filipino domestic helpers who escaped from their employers had been deployed by travel agents without valid overseas employment documents issued by the POEA.

“Applicants should really be wary of these travel agencies sending domestic helpers to Singapore,’’ said POEA administrator Jennifer Manalili.

“They should use the legal process of overseas employment and not rely on the services of travel agency operators who are moonlighting as employment agents,’’ she added.

Citing Philippine labor attaché to Singapore, Rodolfo Subalao, Manalili said a syndicate composed of certain travel agencies in the Philippines is behind the illegal recruitment scheme in connivance with placement agencies in Singapore that are not accredited by the Philippine embassy.

According to her, the scammers usually ask applicants to initially sign a one-page contract indicating their salaries ranging from $250 to $350 per month with no day off.

Once the papers are processed and workers are already in the jobsite, Manalili said the workers are only paid $20 per month as subsistence allowance since the Singapore agency has to deduct from their salary the placement fee equivalent to seven months salary.


Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Overseas Jobs,

DFA issues warning on dubious offers for Caribbean jobs

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) warned Wednesday Filipinos seeking jobs in South America to be wary of unscrupulous individuals or companies that require a huge amount of money in exchange for high-paying salaries in the Caribbean.

The warning was issued after the Philippine Embassy in Venezuela revealed that unscrupulous companies that ask for a certain amount of money as well as a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Skills Certification prior to the processing of job applications in Trinidad and Tobago.

“CARICOM Skills Certificate is meant for the free movement of citizens of CARICOM member-countries, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat (UK), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, to work in the Caribbean states. It is not for Filipinos and other foreigners,” the Philippine Embassy in Venezuela said.

“The companies’ profile, company’s registration, and prospective employment contract should be examined carefully. These documents should all be notarized and authenticated by the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” it said.

“It is also advisable to verify the existence of such companies with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) or the Embassy before further transacting with them,” it added.

The Philippine Embassy in Venezuela expressed alarm following an email from a Filipino fire engineer in a Saudi Arabian company, who sought assistance on the CARICOM. The Filipino was reportedly given a job as a maintenance and fire safety engineer in Trinidad and Tobago provided that he apply for a CARICOM Skills Certificate and pay US$765 (approximately P34,425) for notarial and legal service fees for his documents.

The DFA has been warning OFWs to be vigilant against illegal recruitment agencies as well as text and e-mail scams.

Just like the internet scam, the text scams required OFWs to transmit money prior to receiving their so-called prizes supposedly to pay for taxes, remittance charges, or donations.

By MADEL R. SABATER
May 5, 2010, 4:46pm

Filed under: OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Overseas Jobs, POEA-Advisory,

DFA warns vs illegal recruitment scam in Spain

Manila (17 February) — THE Philippine Embassy in Spain reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs an illegal recruitment operation that is currently being perpetrated by a syndicate using Spain as a destination for Filipino workers.

The embassy named the company allegedly recruiting Filipino workers under this scheme as Previsto Ferrocariel Guiscoanagin, with address at Calle Placentinos 18B, 32005, Barcelona, Spain.

The syndicate is using the email address espanolconsulate@europe.com to communicate with Filipino workers and lead them to believe that this is the email address of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid.

The Philippine Consulate-General in Barcelona has verified that there is no such address in Barcelona. There is a Calle de los Placentinos in the province of Salamanca, while the zip code 32005 corresponds to the province of Ourense, not Catalonia.

The public is advised to be wary of job offers from this company and to first check the veracity of any job offer and company with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in the country concerned, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), or the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

 

Courtesy: PIA-BOHOL

 

 

Filed under: DFA-advisory, OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, POEA-Advisory,

MPD warns anew vs. illegal recruiters as 1 suspect falls

Fresh warning against sweet-talking illegal recruiters operating in the provinces has been raised by the Manila Police District (MPD) following the arrest of a recruiter in Ermita, Manila, who allegedly duped four people with their money totaling P500,000 in exchange for non-existent jobs in Italy.

Superintendent Jose Hidalgo, head of Manila Police District-Station 5 (Ermita), made the alarm as he told Tempo that cases of illegal recruitment for jobs abroad are once again on the rise, so, job applicants should be wary.

“These illegal recruiters pose as representatives of employers abroad and tell their prospects they can facilitate their deployment for high-paying jobs abroad through their connections with the government and embassies,” he said.

Hidalgo identified the arrested suspect as EP Carmona, owner of the EP Carmona Consultancy at Room 603 in Gamito Building, Arquiza corner Alhambra Streets.

He was arrested following the complaint of Helen De Chavez, 35; Vernice Canta, 34; Jay Hayag, 23; and Resentacion Nuestro, 53, all natives of Quezon province.

Authorities also launched a hunt against a certain Divina Gumbol, recruitment officer of the recruitment agency, the official said.

Based on the report of Senior Police Officer 4 Cenon Parungao, of MPD-Station 5, the suspect was arrested at 7:15 p.m. on Friday inside the recruitment agency.

The complainants said Gumbol allegedly promised them highpaying jobs in Italy if they could pay a processing fee to the recruitment agency.

Parungao said the fee ranges from P55,000 to P150,000 depending on what job the complainants want to have in Italy.

They claimed that the agency has collected a total of P525,467 from them, but the company has yet to fulfill its promise.

Their failure to leave for abroad despite paying the processing fee had prompted the four complainants to go to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and found that recruitment agency is not accredited to send people abroad.

“It was already too late when they verified from the POEA that the agency is not authorized to recruit workers from abroad,” Parungao said.

Parungao said they are set to file four counts of large-scale estafa and illegal recruitment against Carmona and Gumbol.

Source: Leonard D. Postrado

http://www.tempo.com.ph/news.php?aid=52804

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter,

Philippines – RP Embassy in London Issues Warning on Dubious Online Job Offers

The Philippine Embassy in London issued an advisory for Filipino online jobseekers looking for employment in the United Kingdom, advising them to be more cautious in view of the rampant cases of bogus internet job offers.

They should be wary of attractive jobs offered by the employers or their agents who would ask applicants to remit a certain amount of money purportedly to pay for the processing of their visas or work permits and other travel-related expenses.

The Embassy, through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), urges all Filipino jobseekers to be more discerning as these internet job offers come in various schemes to defraud them of their hard-earned money.

Among the UK jobs which have been offered to Filipino applicants lately include positions like nannies, au pair, hotel staff, store managers, salespersons and engineers.

The following information/advisory should serve as a guide to UK-bound Filipino jobseekers:

o To ascertain the authenticity of job orders, employment contracts as well as the legitimacy of UK employers, Filipino jobseekers are advised to check with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). They may also send their email-request for verification by POLO London at polo.london@yahoo.co.uk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . It is not enough to know if the employers really exist or that the jobs are available. Filipino jobseekers should also verify for themselves by using internet search engines like Google or contacting the UK employers directly through their official websites;

o Filipino jobseekers who have been ‘offered’ positions through the Internet should advise their prospective UK employers to submit the original copies of their employment documents to the POLO Office, Philippine Embassy in London for verification and authentication. For their part, they should not rely on scanned documents sent to them by emails such as employment contract, appointment letters and the like, as most of these are found to be forged or fabricated;

o Job offers requiring applicants to pay or remit money are highly suspicious. Charging of fees, including payment for visa and ‘work permit’ expenses are generally prohibited under the UK employment regulations;

o The new UK Points-Based Immigration System has done away with the work permit requirement, and is now replaced by the certificate of sponsorship. To be able to issue a certificate of sponsorship in favor of a candidate or applicant, the prospective UK employer should be duly licensed as a sponsor by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Filipino jobseekers should verify the status of their prospective employers in the list of sponsors which can be found at the UKBA website: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk. Payment for the certificate of sponsorship is also shouldered by the UK employer;

o Application for UK visa is done in the country of origin (i.e., at the British Embassy in Manila), and not in the UK. Visas are issued based on the points criteria for qualifications, prospective earnings, maintenance funds and English language proficiency. Since the visas are applied at and issued by the British Embassy in Manila, applicants should not give credence to the scanned copies of visas purportedly applied in their behalf by their employer’s agents, including immigration consultants, solicitors or travel agents;

o As to the hiring of nannies or domestic workers, it is an important requirement for purposes of domestic worker visa application that the candidate must have worked with the sponsoring employer for at least one year prior to the date of application. Hence, to qualify to come to the UK to work as a nanny or domestic worker, the Filipino applicant must be an established member of the employer’s household. The visa is also applied at the British Embassy in Manila;

o On hiring of au pair, it is advised that no au pair visas will be issued by the British Embassy to Filipino nationals, since the Philippines had never been included in the UK’s list of au pair countries. In addition, the au pair visa scheme was abolished effective on November 26, 2008 and has been replaced by the Youth Mobility Scheme under the new UK Points-Based System.

source: http://www.isria.com/pages/5_February_2010_81.php

Filed under: OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Overseas Jobs,

FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS HACKED

Facebook accounts hacked

By: Channel NewsAsia – Saturday, December 12

1305952534-facebook-accounts-hacked.jpg?x=213&y=177&sig=cd5LvXCsN1cHAvkx4wb8.Q--

SINGAPORE: Right before her eyes, Julie Chiang watched the computer screen as someone used her Facebook account — pretending to be her, asking her friend for money and claiming she had been mugged in London.

“It was surreal to watch the conversation happen right in front of me,” said Ms Chiang, who had been woken up in Singapore by her friend’s phone call on Friday morning.

“He told me he was on Facebook now, talking to ’me’, and I was saying I needed money to go home.”

The hacker even used Ms Chiang’s husband’s name, which could be found on her Facebook profile, in the conversation.

Even as the unfolding scam began to dawn on her, a second friend living in New Zealand messaged her to say she was having the same conversation.

Reports of such incidents — known as a 419 scam — though few, are on the rise among Facebook users.

Fraudulent individuals collect log—in information through phishing sites and access Facebook accounts to send inbox or chat messages or to update the person’s profile. And they claim to be stranded in a foreign country and ask friends to send money, usually through a money transfer service.

“While the total number of people who have been impacted is small, we take any threat to security seriously and are redoubling our efforts to combat the scam,” said Facebook in a blog post in September.

The scam had previously been perpetrated through emails.

But more cyber criminals are leveraging on social engineering as a means of deceiving users, said systems engineering manager Ronnie Ng from Symantec Singapore.

“Social engineering takes advantage of our natural tendency to trust one another, rather than relying solely on technological means to steal information,” he said.

Indeed, Ms Leong Su—Lin, who was chatting with “Julie” yesterday morning, said the scam seemed believable because it was a “live” conversation.

“Someone was actually responding to the questions I was asking; it wasn’t an automated thing, which is why I went along with it,” Ms Leong, 32, told MediaCorp from New Zealand.

“They were also hitting on a ’soft spot’ by saying she was hurt. I was very concerned, so although she sounded a bit strange, I thought maybe it’s because she was still traumatised.”

But something felt amiss. “I thought it was strange she was on Facebook and not at the police station or at an embassy,” she said.

Mr Ng said people need to be more aware of where they post personal information and who they allow on their social networks. In addition, online users should be careful of clicking on links from unknown senders and use up—to—date security software, he advised.

“They should also be on their guard if they receive suspicious messages from friends, such as requests for money,” he said. “Users should always double—check with their friend. When in doubt, do a search on the Internet to see if it’s a known scam.”

Thankfully for Ms Chiang’s friends, they did just that, and she has since reported the incident to Facebook. “I’ve not heard of this happening, so it’ll be good for more people to know about it,” she said.

The online conversation

(5:17:46 PM) Julie Chiang: Terence and I are stuck in London at the moment

(5:17:55 PM) Derrick Lim: are u there for a holiday?

(5:18:16 PM) Julie Chiang: Vacation

(5:18:27 PM) Julie Chiang: Got mugged at gun point last night …

(5:19:00 PM) Julie Chiang: All cash,credit card and cell were stolen off me

(5:19:11 PM) Julie Chiang: I also got injured

(5:19:19 PM) Derrick Lim: oh no ….

(5:19:45 PM) Derrick Lim: what injury?

(5:20:01 PM) Julie Chiang: Little bruises all over my neck

(5:21:45 PM) Julie Chiang: I need your help to get back home?

(5:21:57 PM) Derrick Lim: my help? ….

(5:22:38 PM) Julie Chiang: Our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now and we’re having problem settling hotel bills

(5:23:02 PM) Julie Chiang: I need you to loan me few bucks to settle the bills and get a cab to he Airport

(5:23:59 PM) Derrick Lim: ok

(5:24:42 PM) Julie Chiang: You can have it wired to my name and Location through western union ….

(5:27:27 PM) Derrick Lim: can u email me the details?

(5:27:45 PM) Julie Chiang: sure

(5:27:52 PM) Julie Chiang: Name Julie Chiang

(5:28:19 PM) Julie Chiang: Location — London, United Kingdom

(5:28:28 PM) Julie Chiang: You can try it online right now

(5:30:18 PM) Julie Chiang: Visit www.westernunion.com

(5:30:58 PM) Derrick Lim: ok

(5:31:18 PM) Julie Chiang: You will have to do it with your credit card

(5:31:22 PM) Derrick Lim: yes

— TODAY/so

Filed under: Computer Matters, OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Scam, Social Network, Sorsogon News Updates, What's Happening Here?,

Overseas Employment Scams Awareness

Overseas Employment Scams

Source : www.poea.gov.ph

Job seekers, interested in overseas employment that promises high pay, good benefits, free traveled adventure, should be aware that there are unscrupulous operators who have devised elaborate and very convincing scams to bilk unwitting, and often desperate applicants.

Before getting swept away with promises of exotic job opportunities, make sure you have thoroughly investigated the matter and know the potential risks involved in obtaining overseas employment.

Typical Overseas Employment Scams

Unlike legitimate employment firms that have permanent addresses, many unscrupulous operators run their so-called job placement firms from out-of-state, and may provide only a post office or mail drop address. Although there are legitimate firms with post office or mail drop addresses, job applicants should be aware that this practice, when used by unscrupulous operators, makes it easier for the operators to avoid scrutiny by their clients.

In many instances, law enforcement officials investigating a suspicious firm have found a “fly-by-night” operation. The scam headquarters, with little more than a desk and a telephone, may be based in one state, but operate out of other states, making it more difficult for the officials to track the operation.

Typical overseas job scams, include:

  • Firms that charge advance fees. These operations usually advertise in newspapers and magazines. The ads most frequently offer construction jobs, one of the industries hardest hit by a weak economy. Consumers who call the number, provided in the ad, are generally told that there are immediate openings available for which they are perfectly suited. But to lock in the job, they are told, they must pay a placement fee in advance.These up-front charges can range from $50 to several thousand dollars. Firms that charge these advance fees often are so eager to get the money in their hands and avoid using the U.S. mail service that they may send a courier to pick up the deposit, or require that it be sent via overnight delivery, at the applicant’s expense.However, more often than not, these firms actually have little, or no, contacts with employers and can offer minimal assistance, despite their service charges.Job seekers should not be duped by a firm’s promise of a refund, if no job or lead materializes. Most of these firms that require payment in advance do not stay around long enough for dissatisfied customers to get their money back.
  • Firms that charge a fee once they provide a job lead. A disreputable firm may fabricate job leads, or bring in a third-party to impersonate a potential employer, in order to get an applicant’s fee.
  • “900” number operators. A “900” number connected with employment opportunities may charge a high flat fee, or per-minute rate. In some instances,”900″ number operators may fail to disclose the cost of each call or, if printed, display it in fine print. As a result, callers may not be aware of how much they are spending. Some unscrupulous operators may even increase their fees by creating delays while the caller is on the line.In one case, for example, a consumer answered an advertisement instructing job applicants to call an”800″ toll-free number for more information. The message on that number directed the caller to dial a”900″ number to find out about job openings. The”900″ number, however, merely directed the caller to send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to have a job application mailed out. The consumer complied; received only a one-page generic job application, and was billed $39 for the phone call.The FTC now requires, among other things, that operators of “900” numbers provide information on the cost of the call up front. When calling a “900” number, be sure you understand the charges before continuing with the call.
  • Job listing services. There are many firms that make no promises to place you in a job. They merely sell a list of job opportunities, providing little assurance about the accuracy of the information.For instance, the information may be sold via a newsletter that features photocopied help-wanted ads from newspapers around the world. Many of the ads may be months old, soliciting jobs that already have been filled. In addition, the ads may not have been verified to ensure that the jobs actually exist.Some ads may be from countries with strict quotas that discourage the hiring of foreign citizens. Other publications may promise access to information on job opportunities, but provide nothing more than a listing of employers in various regions.

How to Avoid Employment Scams

Many job seekers have lost money to disreputable advance-fee placement firms. If you decide to use an overseas job placement firm, the best way to avoid being scammed is to learn as much as you can about the operation:

  • Ask for references. Request both names of employers and employees the company has actually found jobs for. Scam artists will typically defend their refusal to provide the information, claiming it is a” trade secret.” Or, they frequently claim that if they told you where the openings are, you would circumvent their services. These schemers may also cite privacy concerns as the reason for refusing to provide the names of people they have placed.
  • Check out reliability. Contact the local Better Business Bureau, as well as the state’s consumer protection agency, to find out if any complaints have been filed against the firm.
  • Avoid firms that operate solely via telephone or mail. Any reputable placement firm will almost certainly need to meet you before it can market you effectively to an employer. Be suspicious of any operation that claims it can place you with an employer, without meeting and interviewing you.Be particularly wary of firms that operate outside of the state where they advertise. In many instances, unscrupulous operators purposefully seek to distance themselves from their clients in order to avoid closer scrutiny. If they are ultimately challenged, the distance complicates an investigation by law enforcement authorities.
  • Find out how long the employment company has been in business. Also, ask what is the firm’s present financial condition. Compare the company, and the services offered, with other similar firms before you pay a fee.
  • Get  all promises in writing. Before you pay for anything, request and obtain a written contract that describes the services the firm intends to provide. Determine whether the firm is simply going to forward your resume to a company that publicly advertised a listing, or if it will actually seek to place you with an employer. Make sure that any promise you receive in writing is the same as what was stated in the initial sales pitch.
  • Research any information the firm provides to you before you make a commitment. Make certain the job actually exists before you pay a firm to “hold” a slot for you, and definitely before you make plans to relocate.Some unfortunate job seekers have been instructed to meet at a particular place to fly to their new jobs, only to find no airline tickets, no job, and often, no more company.
  • Check with the embassy of the country where the job is supposed to be located. Make certain that, as a citizen of another country, you are eligible to work there.
  • Ask if you will be eligible for a refund, if the leads the firm provides you are unacceptable, or do not work out for any other reason. If the firm has a refund policy, ask for specific written details that spell out whether you can expect a full refund, and if there are any time limits for receiving your refund.Even if you are promised a refund in a written agreement, read the fine print. A disreputable firm may include “red tape” that protects its interests, not yours.For example, one common scam is to include a requirement that job seekers check in regularly with the firm, at their own expense. Clients who unwittingly fail to make the required contact may forfeit their opportunity for a refund. However, they are not told this until they ask for the refund.

If You Are Scammed

If you have been victimized by an employment scam, you can help prevent these types of incidents from recurring by reporting it to the proper law enforcement authorities. They may be able to put the unscrupulous operator out of business and, in extreme cases, fine them heavily or even put them in jail.

Tips To Remember

  • Be very skeptical of overseas employment opportunities that sound “too good to be true.”
  • Never send cash in the mail, and be extremely cautious with firms that require a money order. This could indicate that the firm is attempting to avoid a traceable record of its transactions.
  • Do not be fooled by official-sounding names. Many scam artists operate under names that sound like those of long-standing, reputable firms.
  • Avoid working with firms that require payment in advance.
  • Do not give your credit card or bank account number to telephone solicitors.
  • Read the contract very carefully. Have an attorney look over any documents you are asked to sign.
  • Beware of an agency that is unwilling to give you a written contract.
  • Do not hesitate to ask questions. You have a right to know what services to expect and the costs involved.
  • Do not make a hasty decision. Instead, take time to weigh all the pros and cons of the situation. Be wary of demands that “you must act now.”
  • Keep a copy of all agreements you sign, as well as copies of checks you forward to the company.

G84.12/95

Overseas Job Scams © 1995

Copyright 1995 by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

Sample email job scams

Top 10 Internet Scams

Filed under: OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter, Overseas Jobs

DFA warns OFWs of re-emerging Internet scam

The infamous and prolific Nigerian scam, also known as the “419 Scam,” has re-emerged and is targeting unwitting overseas Filipino workers, the Department of Foreign Affairs warned on Wednesday.

In the scam, an OFW’s hacked e-mail account will send several mails to his/her contact list soliciting money from unsuspecting friends and relatives. The e-mails, purportedly from the victim claiming he/she was robbed while in Nigeria, asks to remit US$2,500 in order for her to return to Manila.

“The public is advised not to send any money or divulge personal information, particularly bank accounts or credit card number if they receive similar e-mails,” the DFA said.

According to the DFA, a Filipino national was the latest victim of the Internet-based modus operandi that has been ranked by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency as the top Internet scam of 2007. [See: Detailed list of the top 10 Internet scams preying on OFWs]

This current 418 scam is a variant of the previous Nigerian modus operandi, where a woman in Africa who claimed that her husband had died, offers to leave millions of dollars of his estate to a good business.

“In every variation, the scammer is promising obscenely large payments for small unskilled tasks. This scam, like most scams, is too good to be true. Yet people still fall for this money transfer con game,” the POEA said.

Meanwhile, the DFA reiterates its warning to OFWs and their families who might be lured to remit money just to ‘save’ their loved ones. [See: Primer on Internet Scams]

“The public is advised not to send any money or divulge personal information, particularly bank accounts or credit card number if they receive similar e-mails,” the DFA said. – Joseph Holandes Ubalde, GMANews.TV

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, OFW Scam, Illegal Recruiter

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