Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s biggest tech company, yesterday sacked at least four executives for allegedly giving preferential treatment to certain staffing firms in recruiting contractual employees, ET has reported.
While full details of the TCS job scam have yet to come out, it has again underlined another kind of job scam the IT sector is rife with: job seekers are promised IT jobs, charged a lot of money, and are left holding fake job offers.
The lure of IT jobs is so strong among a large number of Indian youth who study computer technology that IT job scams have become a cottage industry of sorts over the years.
The job crunch in the IT industry has aggravated the job scams. Fewer jobs and more job seekers translate into an ideal fishing ground for scammers.
Demand for talent in India’s IT sector fell to its lowest in more than three years in May this year, as cost cuts by circumspect end-user industries in America and Europe and fewer client additions at some of the country’s largest services exporters caused white-collar hiring in the world’s biggest outsourcing hub to shrink 22%. That’s when Indian IT companies are adopting various cost-cutting measures to address the issue of overcapacity.
Yet, the IT sector continues to be the most preferred sector for campus students, despite a fall in fresher hiring and macro factors dampening the growth momentum in the near term. About 32% of students surveyed in Deloitte India’s Campus Workforce Trends 2023 survey prefer to work in the IT/ITeS sector, according to data shared exclusively with ET.
How tech job scams work
You get a call from a jobs consultant promising you an interview at a reputed IT company. The consultant asks you to submit your original documents with the company. You go to the company office where the consultant makes you meet a representative in person. After that, a company representative interviews you. The consultant charges you hefty fees and gets you the job offer letter. When you reach the company office on the joining date, you are informed that the job offer is fake.
In 2011, a few scammers managed to gain entry into the campus of a leading IT company by misusing the vendor entry cards issued by the company. They ran a very smooth operation and even interviewed candidates inside the office. They had everything in place, from fake company letterheads to a fake office on the company campus. They were caught by the police when a job aspirant found something amiss and got suspicious.
Tech job scams are no longer such a risky enterprise. They have become easier and numerous due to the rise of social media and outsourcing of hiring to staffing and talent search firms. The modus operandi of the imposters has shifted online from instances in the past when they would interview candidates in person.
Last year, a harried IT professional from Kerala frantically called up a jobsite’s helpline, saying he’d been duped of ₹10 lakh. A recruiter claiming to be from the platform had contacted him for a job in Singapore. After receiving an offer letter, he was asked to pay various charges including the visa fee and for family relocation. The offer letter, however, turned out to be fake. The company that made the job offer to him didn’t even exist.
Freshers are not the only ones to fall prey to scammers.
A woman with two decades of experience in a major IT services company was approached by a recruiter claiming to be from an executive search firm. He said he had several options for her in leadership roles, provided she got her background verification done. She forked out about ₹75,000 for this, realising only too late that it was a scam.
Another variation of the tech job scam is luring the small-town engineering graduates who are less likely to doubt the scammer. The IT sector names such as Infosys and TCS can blind a small-town graduate for whom these are beyond reach. In some cases, scammers also organise recruitment drives in three-star hotels in small towns to snare unsuspecting job seekers.
Frauds range from work-from-home job scams, fake job sites and fake call centres/consultancy firms to misrepresentation of reputed job sites/companies. They often access resumes of people looking for jobs from reputed job sites by signing up as genuine recruiters.
Scammers resort to a wide variety of methods such as fishing at reputed job portals, creating websites of fictitious companies, creating lookalike websites of reputed companies and posing as job consultants. The diligent and the most innovative resort to an elaborate racket. They can go to any length to appear genuine. They won’t stop at getting you a fake job letter. They will also make you join the job, provide you training and even deposit salary in your account for a few months. And then, everything vanishes in thin air.
Top IT companies such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL and Tech Mahindra have issued alerts, advisories and a range of cautions against job scams from time to time. Now, with international job scammers targeting Indians, even the government has issued advisories.
As job scammers get innovative by the day, the best defence is to do all the due diligence. If it sounds too good to be true, believe that it is.