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I have been in contact with a guy from Ethiopia for a while. He is desperate to leave the country as soon as possible. Recently he started chatting with some person who claims to represent a recruitment agency and who I believe is a scammer.

I don't know all the details, but I can ask him if something is unclear. The details I know are very alerting for me, but not for him:

  • He was contacted via WhatsApp
  • He received an "interview form" which I believe is made using Microsoft Paint
  • He claims that his "agency" will pay all the expenses including his visa fee and tickets
  • He is asked to send $300 to this "agency" as "an indication of seriousness of intent" which will be refunded to him as soon as he arrives to another country

He was sure that he received a totally legit job offer from this person, but I tried to convince him that it is a scam by finding similar scam descriptions on the Internet and forwarding to him. So he became skeptical enough to give me his permission to publish this story.

How can I convince him completely that this is a scam? So far I suggested getting the IP address of this person to prove that location claims are false. Is there a possibility that this is a legit offer and a real opportunity for my friend to get a job abroad? May I be wrong calling this person a scammer?

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    Have you tried pointing out that the agency claiming to pay for all expenses is contradicted by the fact that they asked for $300? – sf02 Aug 16 at 18:02
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    I am inclined to think that your friend is trying to scam you by getting you to believe the story, feel bad for him, and sending $300 to him so that he can pay this "recruiter". – MonkeyZeus Aug 16 at 19:16
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    Some people want to believe so badly that there's no convincing them otherwise. – RonJohn Aug 16 at 19:27
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    @MonkeyZeus Also possible, but I doubt it. Never met the guy in person, but he seems very honest, simple and kinda gullible. He first messaged me almost a year ago on completely unrelated topic, then we discussed a lot of different topics over the time, so I trust him. Anyway, I'm not sending my money to Ethiopia under no circumstances. – CYB3R Aug 16 at 19:31
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    I sincerely hope that I am wrong but thought that it is important to shed some light on the angle I proposed. I wish you the best of luck in convincing your friend to not to send money to this "recruiter". – MonkeyZeus Aug 16 at 19:34
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From a psychological standpoint, the more desperate someone is to achieve X, the harder it is to convince them that a particular way to achieve X will not work. This is sometimes observed with people that have a terminal illness. Someone will try to sell them a new kind of (snake oil) treatment that might cure them, and even though everyone around them knows it's a scam, they refuse to believe it. From their point of view this makes sense though- our brains are wired to latch onto any possible chance of survival if the alternative is not surviving.

In the case of the person you know, if staying in their country is so unfavorable that they cannot bear it, then it makes sense for them to latch onto any possible chance of leaving, despite all the obvious signs pointing to it being a scam.

He should tell the recruiter that he'll give him the $300 after he's out of the country and gets his first paycheck, and the recruiter can keep that $300. If the recruiter were legit, he'd prefer that offer over what he proposed. If he says no, it's a scam.

As a side note, I think MonkeyZeuz's comment is also relevant. Make sure this guy you know isn't just trying to scam you into feeling bad for him and getting you to give him money. Say, $300 for not being able to talk him out of it after he tells you he got scammed.

  • The fact that a "job recruiter" asked for money from the applicant is highly suspicious, I'd say 90+% it's a scam at that point. But I'd think he could easily deflect your suggestion of offering to pay it after you get your first paycheck. Supposedly the point is to prove that you're serious about getting this job. If you refuse to pay until some time in the future, than he could say that fails to prove you're serious. When you buy a house in the US, it's common to give the realtor "earnest money" to prove you're serious and have some money. If you do buy a house, this money then ... – Jay Aug 16 at 20:50
  • ... goes toward your down payment. If you refused to deposit this earnest money and said you'd pay an extra few hundred at closing, that would totally defeat the purpose of earnest money and the realtor would almost surely refuse. – Jay Aug 16 at 20:51
  • @Jay - I agree with everything you just said, but, I'm not sure the example fits well since it normally makes sense for a buyer to pay some money in advance. Maybe a more aligned example with this question would be for the buyer to demand the seller pay the earnest money to prove they really intend to sell, and then after they sell it the buyer will give them their money back. (The seller should respond, I just listed my house for sale, of course I'm serious. Similarly, the guy should say, if I leave the country, it should be obvious I'm serious...) – TTT Aug 16 at 20:58
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    @TTT I basically copied your third paragraph replacing third person pronouns with second person. He did exactly that and got a reply from the scammer that it was not an option with a lot of poorly shopped documents assuring him that it all was legit. Finally. I convinced him to send a link to the scammer to get his IP address. The IP address turned out to be in Nigeria which in my opinion can only mean that this person is indeed a scammer. – CYB3R Aug 17 at 11:51
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    @TTT Whoops, talk about a likely scam and my mind just leaped to Nigeria! I feel sorry for people in Nigeria trying to conduct legitimate businesses. I read a timeline of the history of the Internet once that gave a bunch of serious milestones, and then stuck in, "1992: Scam emails pass oil as the primary export of Nigeria". – Jay Aug 19 at 17:08
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You can tell him this: No recruiter in any Western country takes money from the employee. It's always the hiring company that pays, without any exception.

In some countries, like China, there are recruiters that charge the employees. However, even though this is unscrupulous, they charge when you start the job. No job, no fee. No legitimate recruiter anywhere charges for the work he does, they only charge for getting you a job successfully. They obviously charge more than their work is worth to people who get a job, because they lose out on those who don't get one, but they still only get paid if you start a job.

Nobody anywhere in the world who charges you money before you start the job is a legitimate recruiter.

PS. Since the supposed company that offers the job is in Canada, and the recruitement agency is supposedly in Canada, they would never, ever, in a million years, charge the job applicant, not after they got the job, and most definitely not before they got the job. It would be the hiring company that pays, with no exception whatsoever.

  • I agree that no honest recruiter in a Western country takes money (directly) from the employee, but I have a slight disagreement/nitpik with the implication that the employee didn't pay for the service: When I got my first job, through a recruiter, I effectively paid the recruiter. It was a contract to hire position, where my actual (w2) employer was the recruiter company, who received the salary I eventually got when I was hired directly, took a cut, and passed the remainder on to me. – sharur Sep 5 at 22:28

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