Monday, April 28, 2008

I got the best job offer ever

Yes I did! No, I wasn't offerred to be the CEO of Microsoft or anything, I was offered to be a senior software engineer (which is my current position by the way), but the offer itself was unbelievable. Well, let me start from the beginning.


Like most people, I have profiles on recruitment sites, like monster and others, where I look at the current openings in the market. There is no harm of knowing where the market is going, and what's your current price in the market. It would also help to find great offers, like the one I got (well, maybe not as great as the one I got).


Since I have a public profile on some recruitment sites (which is not a really very nice thing to do), recruiters and companies can view my profile and cv to contact me directly instead of me having to look for job postings and submitting to them (I'm kind of lazy). Anyway, on February the 21st, I got an email from Renfield Recruitment Agency in London, telling me that Duramex Petrolium PLC (also in London) is looking for all sorts of engineers (petroleum, mechanical, computer, electrical, aerospace, etc.) for an extremely large project. Accepted candidates with more than two years of experience will be given a full time position, while candidates with less than two years of experience will be given a one year contract, which is renewable on satisfactory basis.

Well, all I had to do was to send a copy of my CV to Engineer Peter Wilson on career.renfield@gmail.com, and so I did. I also forwarded the mail to two of my friends whom I thought might be interested of relocating to London. Anyway, on the 26th of February I received another email from Renfield recruitment containing two attachments. The first being the appointment offer and the second being the terms of agreement!

Yup, I was accepted as an employee in Duramex petroleum WITHOUT AN INTERVIEW. The appointment offer said, and I quote "...your placement was based on with out any form of oral interview, from; the RENFIELD RECRUITMENT SERVICES. You should also note that your placement was based on certified information found in your CV/Resume...". I know that my LinkedIn profile is quiet good, but to get me a job offer without an interview? WOW!

OK, here's a summary of the package:
  • Monthly salary of 9945.00 British Pounds (YES, thats Nine Thousand Nine Hundred Fourty Five GBP) TAKE HOME (After Tax). I can ask of taking them in US dollars or in Euros by the way.
  • Full medical insurance for me and my family
  • Family accommodation in company community
  • Local transportation will be fully provided for me and my family
  • A land line and a mobile phone will be provided
  • Security in both work place and housing community
  • Life insurance
  • Complete meals for me and family
  • And the list goes on...
Well, who would be stupid enough to turn down an offer like this one? We are speaking of an income exceeding 237 thousand dollars a year, after tax deductions, plus full housing, medical insurance, life insurance, meals, and even a travel allowance on your vacation complete with airline tickets, plus of course the other benefits. This is like an income of half a million dollars per year (if not more). All I had to do was to contact "International Global Visa Rite Services" before the 10th of March, either by email (employment_visa_rite@mail2consultant.com) or by phone (+447045766361), to apply for the immigration visa. I should have paid the fees, and would have been fully reimbursed after my arrival.

Seems like a good deal, right? Actually, it seems too good to be true, doesn't it? Well, yes, it isn't true. I wasn't lying when I said that I got such an offer, but what I mean is that this was a fraud. There is no Renfield Recruitment, no International Global Visa Rites, and above all, the is no Duramex Petroleum! This was a scam from the very beginning, but it was a well played one.

If you google Duramex Petroleum now, you'll find tons of results on the scam, but this wasn't the case back when I got the email in February. I had to search for the company records in the official UK government register of UK companies, and do a lot of googling to find out that everything was a fake (and to shatter my dreams of wealth too :P).

Well, why didn't I blog about this earlier? Stupidity is a good answer. I thought that by contacting the authorities I would be doing a greater good, so that they can catch the villains when they're not taking care, since no one was blogging on them. I was an idiot. I could have been the number one result in Google for Duramex Petroleum by now, but NO, I didn't do that so that not to grab attention to the scam, so that the authorities could do their job. I got absolutely no response from the Interpol. The Scotland Yard website suggested to either go to the local police station (I'm in Dubai, UAE, not in UK), or to report it to the American Internet Crime Complaint Center, which sent me an automatic respond, and no one contacted me after that.

Anyway, this wasn't the end of it. One of the two friends whom I forwarded the first mail to got the same offer (well, same package, but as an IT manager) on the 15th of April. He got it directly from Duramex Petroleum this time, and not through Renfield Recruitment :D. The scammer had launched a fake website using Microsoft Office Live. I contacted Microsoft, and they replied in less than an hour to tell me that the fraudulent website had been closed. They also told me that they have taken appropriate action, and asked me about any information that would aid their investigation. I sent them the info, but don't actually know if a real action was taken against those people or not.

I really want to kick myself for not blogging about this earlier.Here are the links for the Appointment Offer and the Terms Of Agreement I received on the 26th of February. Also here is a text file with all the contact details that I collected from my communications with Renfield Recruitment and from the mail sent to my friend. This file is a part of the mail I sent to Microsoft.

Now just some few tips for you, whether you want to be able to find out scams, or to run your own scams professionally :D
  • People contacting you claiming to be a company or a recruitment agent should regularly have a corporate mail and domain, and not emails on Google and Hotmail. Some recruiters do use free mail servers so to reduce the number of spam on their corporate mail system. If you receive a mail from a free mail service, you should at least be a little bit careful.
  • A large company or corporation should have a website, and it's usually a dot com website not a dot org. The latter is cheaper, and is mostly used with non profit organizations (or people who want cheap domains). Another thing, a corporate website will not be hosted on Microsoft Office Live, Google sites or any other similar service.
  • If you suspect a website, do a whois lookup to see who's the registrant, and try to make sure that the information is true.
  • ALWAYS research the company that wants to interview/hire you before taking some serious action
  • If relocating to another country, ask friends who know this country about rules, standard of living, cost of living, and salary ranges for people of your experience

Finally, I would like to thank Emad Bakir a lot for helping me with information on UK, and UK companies, and for being the one to tell me that this is probably a scam.

EDIT (4th of May 2008)

Just wanted to add some links to other sources

10 comments:

Raghavan alias Saravanan M said...

Hi Nassef,

First of all, sorry to hear about the bad experiences you have faced.

Second of all, thank you so much for the beautiful write up and the excellent warning you have givne with enough tips and information.

I too thought this was very real and got surprised and happy as well when reading through. I got into your blog through Javaranch, as i am an active member there!

We would of course be careful!

Keep up the great work!

Cheers..

Alaa Nassef said...

Thanks a lot Raghavan for your comment. I hope this helps a lot of people

Mohamed Nabil said...

!!!! OMG Alaaa i want to kill you

Alaa Nassef said...

Why do you want to kill me? Were you the one operating the scam :P?

shaan said...

hi Alaa,

im Zeeshan, i ve got the same email as u had got, thnks for providing such useful information against this fraud.

regards
zshan31@hotmail.com

Santosh said...

Hello Nassef,
Thanks for posting very valuable information. I got the similar offer.
Interpol should really take some note and do some thing to stop this type of crimes of cheating.
Any way, great work buddy. With best regards,
Santosh

benny said...

Hi Nasser,
Thanks for your valuable information.I also got the same email yesterday.That means the culprits are still active.Your blog is really helpful in identifying such scams. Thanks a lot. God bless you
Regards
Benny George

faisal said...

hi Nassef...
Thanx for the blog...i have got the same offer today..but when i have gone through yours write up..i realized that i was also going to make a big mistake...thanx to u..

kunal said...

hey ..thanks...
for the effort u have put, did save me a lot of time..
keep doing the good work..
best wishes ....kunal

Alaa Nassef said...

WOW. Seems that they started their scam again. If you can forward the mail you received to me, I'll be grateful. You can forward it to alan{dot}125{at}gmail{dot}com