People living in remote, rural areas being targetted by fraudsters
any job seekers from the rural areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been deprived of money through fake advertisements.
Many people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s rural areas of Shangla, Kohistan, Swat, Battagram and Torghar wish to work abroad. Recently, they have been using the internet to find jobs. This has made them vulnerable to scammers using fake advertisements.
Malik Jan from Swat says he was looking for a job overseas and found an advertisement announcing vacancies in Qatar. “I applied through an online Google form. After a week, I received an email message. The sender claimed that he represented the Qatari company in Pakistan. He congratulated me on my selection for the job. However, the sender also asked for a payment to process my job request,” Jan says.
“I deposited Rs 4,000 in his account in Pakistan. The next day, he demanded more money. I grew suspicious and I asked him for a job letter. Ever since, he has not responded to my emails,” Jan says.
In another episode, Malik Jan received a WhatsApp message informing that he had been shortlisted for an overseas job. “The unknown contact told me that my employment letter was ready. I told him that I had not applied for a job. The scammer then stopped responding. They are stealing money from people by giving out fake information through digital platforms,” he says.
Muzammil Shah, a resident of Kolai Pallas, Kohistan, says he saw an advertisement on Facebook regarding jobs in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). “I went to a computer shop in Bisham to apply through the testing agency. The shopkeeper visited the FIA website to check for the vacancies. They had not advertised the jobs,” Shah says.
He says that earlier he had applied for a job in the Motorway Police. “I paid a Rs 800 fee for the test and sent documents to an Islamabad address through a courier service. However, I never received any roll number slip for the test etc,” he says.
Many people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s rural areas in Shangla, Kohistan, Swat, Battagram and Torghar seek work abroad. Recently, a large number of them have been using the internet to find jobs. This has made them vulnerable to scammers using fake advertisements.
Sarim Khan received a message in January 2022 from a sender congratulating him that he had won a car in a TV game show. “When I replied to the sender, he asked for Rs 50,000 to be sent to an Easypaisa account as delivery charges. I told him that I did not have so much money. He then offered to help me by accepting a little less. In the end, he asked me to send him Rs 5,000. I approached a journalist who works for the TV channel. He told me that the game show did not give out vehicles and that the offer was part of a scam,” Khan says.
Syed Muzammil, a senior journalist, says that several cases against such scammers have been filed with the law enforcement agencies. “Some of them have been caught and are being tried for looting millions of rupees from people. Others are continuing this ‘business’,” he says.
Shahid Khan, a recent university graduate from Shangla, says he had come across a job advertisement on the social media. “They were offering a handsome salary package for a news website. I submitted Rs 3,000 and a Google form. After a week, I received an envelope that had a newspaper and a pamphlet. When I searched the internet, there was no such newspaper or website. They then contacted me through WhatsApp and asked for more money for issuing me a press card. This time, I did not pay them anything,” he says.
Wakeel Khan, a digital activist, says the Federal Investigation Agency and other authorities should take practical steps against such scammers.
He says people living in rural and far-flung areas are easy prey to fake messages promising good jobs.
He says job seekers must verify all ‘wanted’ advertisements through relevant websites or by making phone calls.
The writer is a freelance journalist. He writes on human rights, tourism and education. He tweets at @Umar_Shangla