In a classic web based fraud, NDTV journalist Ms Nidhi Razdan appears to have fallen prey to an Internet scam according to which she was offered a position of “Associate Professor of Journalism” which prompted her to resign her job from NDTV. Subsequently she has realized that the offer was not genuine.
This sort of fraud has been reported earlier also. In a typical fraud, the victim would receive forged appointment orders on proper letter head of a well known organization, there would even be a phone number for contact which would confirm the transactions if contacted. The fraudsters would go through the simulation of all the publicly known procedures that the organization normally adopts for such recruitment. Even the Work permits and Visa would be forged and delivered.
While providing all these preliminary services, the fraudster would collect money. In one of the cases I had come across earlier, a senior Corporate employee getting about Rs 3 lakhs salary per month in India opted to take a better offer from London. After resigning from the job and getting ready to move with his family to London, the person realized the fraud. By that time he had spent more than Rs 3 lakhs.
In the instant case, Nidhi Razdan has not revealed the financial loss she has suffered probably for keeping the information confidential for reasons of privacy. But it is reasonably expected that she would have suffered a loss of at least around Rs 5 lakhs. The financial trail of these payments are the best available means of tracking the fraud. I presume that the money can be recovered if properly followed up.
What is however important for public to realize is that the fraudsters are so smart and sophisticated that even a well informed person like Nidhi Razdan with several personal contacts abroad who could have helped her check the genuineness of the offer fell prey to the fraud. We should welcome the public awareness being created by this incident and several senior executives seeking a job change would benefit from the knowledge they gain through this exposure.
The frauds of this kind are facilitated because of the natural psychological approach of most such senior professionals because initially they would keep the offer confidential and deal it entirely on their own. If they are financially independent, they would not even inform others even within the family before the loss starts hurting them. They would not share the information with their friends and colleagues because they would like to avoid problems in the current work space as long as possible. Thus until they are forced to submit their resignation, the information would be guarded as a secret.
In the mean time, the fraudster would take fees for verification of documents, arranging Visa and Work Permit etc. The victim would have shared his/her passport and identity details which are some times separately used to get fake identity documents by terrorists and other fraudsters abroad without the knowledge of the victim.
We donot know if any OTP for a Bank transaction is also obtained and a large amount of money siphoned off from the Bank.
I wish this will be a lesson for all job seekers to be careful whenever an “Upfront” payment is involved in such transactions.
Our sympathies are with the victim and appreciation for sharing the details with the public which would be useful for others.