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Fake Job Racket Thriving

Aarti Aarti
17 Oct 2022
With employment opportunities fluctuating in a post-pandemic world, several individuals seem to be experiencing a financial crisis after losing their jobs.

The pivotal role played by the Ministry of External Affairs in the rescue of several Indian citizens, mostly young “techies” who were in the custody of cyber-criminal syndicates in remote parts of Myanmar is laudable. It was after someone shared a video about their predicament, on 21 September this year, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister requested the Prime Minister for his intervention towards their rescue and safe repatriation. Some 32 people were freed last month, and 13 others reached Chennai on October 5.

The victims had fallen prey to job offers made by scamsters over the social media and private recruitment agencies. Most of them who reached Dubai in mid-July and put up at a hotel for 15 days were asked to take a typing test online. Thereafter, all were issued ID cards, flown to Bangkok, later to a city bordering Myanmar in trucks and finally by boat. The company where they were put to work had almost 1,000 people and all were Chinese -- employees and bosses. They had to communicate their needs through Telegram messenger or Google translator.

According to the victims, they had to identify at least five people. While some of them were forced to lure people (from business tycoons to general public) into investing in fake cryptocurrencies or banking sites, others had to scam women by creating fake profiles on matrimonial sites.  

Those who resisted from indulging in online fraud had to face rigorous punishments ranging from physical assaults, starvation, walk 20 rounds like a frog, work extended hours and even face electric shocks.

In short, as they were trafficked and sold several times to different syndicates, there was no option for them to quit and return home unless one paid their bosses approximately Rs 5 lakh.

In 2021, many citizens in Singapore reportedly lost over 10 million to “pig-butchering scams”.

It is an emerging hybrid of romance and investment scam where victims are groomed for weeks to months before losing their fortune in bogus investment schemes or illegal gambling sites.

Also, many victims of the scam, mainly in the US and Canada, have lost huge amounts after being lured into depositing money on fake platforms.

Most victims initially may find the proposal suspicious, but they would be motivated to start out with a small amount of money. The scammer would let them withdraw the profits a few times to gain their trust and drive their ego. The scammer would urge the victim to invest larger amounts of money but when the victims find they won't be able to withdraw the profits it would be too late as both the scammer and the platform would disappear.

The Central Bureau of Investigation recently launched Operation Chakra in coordination with foreign agencies. Many call centres have been busted and cybercriminals were arrested. But it could just be a tip of the iceberg.

Work primarily provides meaning and purpose besides fulfilment of one’s basic needs. Studies have shown that the work we do can have a huge impact on our mental health and unemployment negatively affects our emotional health. Conversely, the work that we don’t do can have an even greater and more deleterious effect on our mental health.

Research reveals that unemployment and underemployment can cause depression. Losing a job and being unemployed for a long period of time is both a psychological trauma as well a financial trauma, and the two are closely intertwined.  

Although unemployment is a normal part of life for millions of people across the globe, the cause for concern is that the coronavirus pandemic has compounded the situation.

With employment opportunities fluctuating in a post-pandemic world, several individuals seem to be experiencing a financial crisis after losing their jobs. Even as the writing on the wall is clear that we don’t live in a world of permanent, life-long jobs and being unemployed is not a crime or a moral failing, many people, however, feel ashamed of being unemployed. They do not want anyone to know that they are unemployed. 

A neighbour who has lost his job sees it as a personal failure. He wakes up early morning and leaves his home only to spend time in parks or libraries and returns in the evening to avoid embarrassing comments from other neighbours.

True, job hunting poses several challenges. It needs to be understood that bad things happen to good people during difficult times. But social contacts can go a long way in facilitating people getting jobs. The more social contacts that you have, the easier it is to get a job. A 2006 study in the United States found that 44 percent of people were able to get a job through a social contact. 

At a macro level there is an imperative need to crack down on bogus recruitment agencies and bring them to book. 

With growing dependency on digital advertisements and virtual interviews, suffice to say that at an individual level, anyone opting for jobs without proper verification, it is a different story altogether. More so because cyber criminals are at work to exploit the unsuspecting common man.

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