Friday, 15 January 2010

Our first scammer of 2010

Here we are, barely into the new year and the scammers are back. They certainly don’t hang around, do they?

Last week there were advertisements in various newspapers from a company calling itself “Dalberto Sponsors”. The two advertisements I saw were slightly different but the message was basically the same. I’ll quote the shorter one. I haven’t changed any spellings or grammar.
“Are you bored with your present job? Have you no career prospects? Why not think of getting a job abroad? Welcome to Dalberto Sponsors.

We are a recruiting company that sponsors individuals to work, study and volunteer all across the world. We work closely with employment agencies, schools and government organisations to make sure that each individual meets the necessary requirements. Dalberto sponsors is now recruiting people to work, study or have a cruise ship job for as little as R3500 we sponsor visas, accommodations, air tickets and many more for more information visit where you can fill in our application form.”
So far so good you might think? No. This is a scam. Here’s why I think this so.

Firstly this is the latest in a long lone of schemes we’ve seen that claim to get people jobs in far flung parts of the world and which require an up-front fee. All of those turned out to be scams. I know I probably shouldn’t judge these people by my experience with others claiming to do the same thing but it’s a clue, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Then there’s the company itself. Their web site is fairly glossy, looks well-constructed and suggests that they are credible. Until, that is, you do some digging. The web site suggests that the company has been operating for a while, but their web site was only first created on 29th October last year. What’s more, almost all the text on the web site seems to have been copied from other web sites. Pick almost any sentence on their site and do a Google search for it and you’ll find it’s been “borrowed”.

The site also has brief profiles of the staff they claim to employ. First on the list is one “Adam Sewall”. This apparently highly qualified American attorney claims to be a member of the Maryland State Bar Association. Sorry, no he’s not, I’ve checked. It’s the same for every other “employee”. None of them actually seem to exist.

Let’s move on to the jobs they are offering. At one point they say this about engineering positions in the UK:
“For most recently graduated or qualified individuals (one to three years experience) the average starting contract rate is usually between £10000 to £16000 per month.”
Per month? Do you seriously believe that a recent engineering graduate can earn over P2 million a year? That’s not all. Elsewhere they say that a Human Resources Administrator can earn P1.9 million a year. This, let me remind you, is in the UK, a country in the depths of a recession. UK companies aren’t hiring anyone at the moment, they’re firing people left, right and centre. They certainly aren’t offering vast fortunes to under-qualified foreigners.

One rather amusing thing is that they give a supposed business address in the UK: “Unit 115 Lockwood House, London SE11 5TD”. However scammers these days seem to be a little behind the times. Using Google Street View I was able to take a look at this address. It’s a block of residential flats, certainly not a business address.  (That's the place on the right.)

Finally there’s just the sheer nonsense of their claims. They say they’ll get you a job, pay for your accommodation and even pay for your flight, all for R3,500? Come on, how credulous do they think we are?

We phoned these people, on their South African cellphone number (the only numbers they have are cellphones) to investigate further. One of our team was told they could guarantee her a job in a bank in the UK. Another, who was under instructions to sound as unqualified as possible, was told that she could get a highly-paid administrative job there.

Finally we got bored of undercover calls and phoned them, announced who we were and asked them a few critical questions. They said (warning - medium size mp3 file to download - don't forget to admire his fake London accent!) they had placed people with various UK banks including Barclays and claimed that they could afford to fly people all that way by having bulk bookings with South African Airways. Later, we started getting emails from them and you can see all the emails on our web site. I promise I haven’t changed a word they said. In one hilarious email our scammer friend “CJ” (that's his picture on the right but frankly I think he's stolen it from somewhere on the web) said:
“You have a go ahead to publish anything you want about our company we have "no comment" but we have done a little investigation about you and we are a powerful company that is prepared to spend hundred thousands of pula to expose you so watch the news and papers soon.”

I then proposed a simple idea to them. All I wanted was a little bit of evidence. I asked for contacts in companies in the UK where they had successfully placed workers. Just one would have been enough. His response to this simple request?
“Please stop harassing my staff and wasting our time Mr. Richard we will talk through media.”
So here we are non-existent CJ and Dalberto Sponsors, talking “through media”. You’re scammers, crooks and liars. Your offers of employment are fake and you are trying to cheat people. Over to you.

This week’s stars
  • Sam and Nonofo at Orange for brilliant customer care and for “going the extra mile”.

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