It seems like the job market in the IT sector is, sadly, not booming any more in Karnataka. Engineering graduates from two-tier cities come to Bengaluru, the country's IT hub, to look for jobs and more often than not, are sorely disappointed. This desperation for a job and a shot at a better livelihood have spawned multiple fake job scams and fake contract scams, which are being reported in Bengaluru.
On Saturday, the South division police arrested Dharshan, a 32-year-old man, for scamming multiple engineering graduates and IT professionals of over Rs 15 crore. On Friday, an FIR was registered at Subrahmanyapura Police station in Bengaluru against Darshan and his wife Nikhita Gowda for allegedly duping engineering graduates by offering lucrative contracts. They claimed to be working with several IT giants like Infosys, IBM and Oracle.
The modus operandi
According to the police, Darshan, through mutual friends, would befriend the victim by projecting himself as a rich person, who outsources jobs for IT giants like Infosys, IBM and Oracle. Darshan would then tell his victims that they would have to set up their own companies and give him a down payment anywhere between Rs 5 to 10 lakh if he had to subcontract the IT project to the victim.
Darshan would also pretend to discourage the victims by saying the job would demand a lot of work and he was sceptical about the victims’ capabilities. A disgruntled engineering graduate would return home and a few days later, would be pleasantly surprised to receive a call from Darshan, asking them to meet him at a star hotel.
“Most of the victims are from two-tier cities but there were also people from Bengaluru. He and his wife would make them believe that they were rich and well established. The first meeting would reinforce that. Later, the second meeting, too, would happen at a posh cafe or restaurant and that would be another way of projecting his wealth and making people believe in him,” a police official told TNM.
Darshan would allegedly collect original documents from his victims and tell them it was to obtain the approval from the IT giants.
“He would tell them to pay him money for getting them contracts and that the big companies would, in turn, pay them for doing the work. But three to four months after the victims began working on these fake projects, he would come back and say that their project has been rejected,” the police added.
When the victims realised that they had been conned, they would demand their money back and Darshan allegedly brought in a gangster named Shanmugan to threaten them.
“He issued death threats to many people. Those who have been conned hold double degrees and are educated. He just banked upon their desperation to find some way to earn money,” the police added.
The police say that Darshan and Nikhita have been running the scam since 2010 and so far have the police have received complaints from 17 victims. DCP Annamalai also said that several FIRs have been registered against the duo across various police stations in Bengaluru.
Darshan was arrested on Saturday after his friend and confidante, who realised what had happened, filed a complaint with the Subrahmanyapura Police Station.
How to detect job scams
According to DCP South, Annamalai, one of the primary reasons why victims of fake job scams do not detect the con is because of the desperation they face.
“When someone is put under so much pressure to find a job and when there is such desperation to make a living, people generally do not think about doing a background check. When they come across an opportunity after many failures, they feel compelled to take it,” he says.
- No money, please: DCP Annamalai says that the first red flag would be when the person offering the job demands money. “Generally, these con artists say they represent a multinational company (MNC) to lure victims. They demand money to get them jobs. The first suspicion should arise when money is demanded,” he says.
- Write to MNC’s HR: no multinational company, especially IT giants, outsource work to smaller companies and most importantly, these MNCs do not outsource the task of hiring new employees. “When people come across such offers, the first thing they can do is do a quick Google search and obtain the email ID of the said MNC’s HR team. They can write to them about the offer they received and ask the HR to confirm whether it is legitimate. The HR teams generally respond quickly to such requests,” DCP Annamalai elucidates.
- Google first: In case the conman approaches a person with a lucrative portfolio of his company and shows victims a brochure containing all the projects he/she has done for these said MNCs, the first thing one must do is search for the company’s name online. “People cannot operate like the police but there are some precautions they must take. If the company’s name does not pop up on Google, that right there is a red flag. In this day and age, if a company is successful, it will have an online presence,” he points out.
- Find them on job forums: One can also always look at online job forums. There are numerous pages on Facebook and other social media sites where aggrieved people, who have been conned by people, come together to talk about the one who has allegedly conned them. “Generally, there are discussions about these companies,” DCP Annamalai says.