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Scam Alert: Headhunter Fraud

Perhaps this has happened to you. You see a great paying job advertised online by a “legitimate” name-brand headhunting firm from the West. You apply for the job and send in your resume. They call and ask you for a scan of your passport and visa (two documents that contain quite a bit of your personal data).

Because it is a large well-known headhunting company you don’t think twice about it and send in the requested info. Now one of two things happens: You never hear from the big grade A headhunter (in which case it is an outright fraud – Identity thieves phishing for your personal information); or, more commonly, you get called in for an interview, but you get a surprise.  

When you arrive for your interview you get “good news and bad news” as follows… The bad news is the great paying job you applied for “was just filled yesterday by a very qualified candidate." The good news is that they just so happen to have another job for which you qualify but one you would never have come in for an interview had they advertised the real job. You have no choice but to listen to the crappy job offer.

This unethical scam is used by almost every HR firm in China and our inside sources at Antal, Michael Page, and Fesco admitted to us confidentially that it is their easiest and least expensive way to accumulate a large database of qualified candidates. The tactic is known as a “CV Magnet” in the headhunting trade and you can see from this link that many people have picked up on it in Beijing already.

Although the HR firms don’t intentionally do anything malicious with your information, they do sell off your resume to others if they can’t match you with one of their less desirable, hard-to-fill jobs. It is those third party buyers that will start harassing you with teaching jobs or calling offering to be your agent for a fee, or sell your data to identity thieves and make a quick 300-500 yuan. And we all know how that story ends – badly. (Here’s yet another angle used by HR scammers.)

In order to avoid all three of these very clever HR scams, never agree to provide a copy of your visa or passport until you actually attend the interview in the office of the HR firm (not a coffee shop). And before you accept the interview about that “great job” ask them for a link to the job description or ask the HR assistant assigned to the file to give you details about the employer. If they hesitate or refuse, they are playing this game with you.

We also learned that 3 HR employees were terminated last year by one major headhunting firm in Beijing because they were caught hustling personal data on the side to ID thieves.

Next week we will talk in depth about identity theft, but for now you can get more info by visiting www.CleverChinaCheaters.com.  If you suspect a scam you want us to investigate or have been victimized by one, please send us an email in strict confidence at ChinaScamPatrol@gmail.com.


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