Let’s play detective!
A little while ago, I received a comment on the post 3 Qualities Job-Seekers Must Have. The author of the comment was wondering if the job she had applied for was a scam. She pasted a quote of the email she had received. When I read the following, I knew it smelled bad: “You will have to make a funds deposit with the company prior to issuing you the documents you will need to secure your work permit and upon your arrival to Canada, your money will be reimbursed back to you in full.”
I contacted the commenter and urged her to not do anything before I investigate a bit. At this point, I was 90% sure this was an immigration job scam but I wanted to get to the bottom of things.
So, here goes the story. The commenter, based in the Philippines, had applied for this job offered in Toronto, Canada. The company, MET International, is an American company based in Carrolton, Texas, but it allegedly has an office in Toronto. After she applied, MET International sent her a “fund deposit agreement form”. She was supposed to send the company $500 for it to process her work permit application and to show her commitment to come work for the company in Canada.
There were quite a few red flags in just the email body:
- The spelling was pretty erratic: random caps, weird punctuations such as in “what we do,You can Visit our website”. It didn’t look professional at all.
- The overseas applicant was required to “make a Minimum deposit of $500”, which is “just a mandatory policy that you made a deposit with the company prior to issuing out the documents”.
- “The funds have to be transferred via western union or money gram”. I don’t know for you, but for me, a Western Union deposit means “you will never see your money again”.
- Additionally, the payment was supposed to be sent to a “Regional Accountant”, Mrs Laura Boynton, based in Florida, USA. The address, “4616 W. Meadown Ave Suit 402” isn’t spelled properly and doesn’t match a business.
As for the MET International Agreement itself…(click on the link to see the PDF):
- The letterhead didn’t look professional, MET International logo looked scanned and was barely legible.
- The address of the company office in Toronto (287 Macpherson Avenue Suite 301) didn’t match a business.
- The agreement states: “In a successful processing of the work permit, the above named applicant as automatically become an employee of the company, with the company responsible for financing the whole trip and responsible for providing a six month accommodation for the applicant with his/her family until he/she settles down. The fund deposit of $500 which the applicant has initially deposited will also be refunded.” Really, this is too good to be true. Some company when hiring overseas may provide moving expenses but no company will commit for so much (and note that the phrasing is very vague).
- Note that the job offer advertised for an administrative assistant/ customer service position. With all the respect I have for people working in similar positions, this isn’t the kind of job for which you must resort to hiring overseas. Plenty of Canadians have the necessary skills to fill the position.
Finally, I visited the website of the company, MET International. It appeared to be a legit business, although the address of the company was slightly different than the one in the email (1900 Surveyor Road instead of 1900 Surveyor Blvd). However, a small line at the bottom of the page caught my eye: “We are located in Carrollton, Texas, and DO NOT have any locations outside of this main location. Please beware of anyone else trying to represent themselves as our company.”
Ah AH! So I guess there are no offices in Toronto, are they! The way the sentence was phrased made me think that people were scammed before. I wrote to the company:
“I’m Canadian and have a blog about immigration. One of my readers recently send me an email about a supposedly job offer he got from your company. It seems bogus to me.
I noticed your website states that you are located in Texas and do not have location outside the US. Can you confirm that?
Thank you for your cooperation”
I received the following reply:
“Yes, we are a small company with an office in Carrollton, Texas only. These guys are scamsters.
We have reported to our local police, the FBI, but no results yet.
Hope someone catches them. We have taken the pains to write a letter to anyone who emails us to ask if we have offices outside Texas. A lot of people have thanked us for taking the time. There are however a few naïve, desperate folks that have sent the $500 to these scamsters unfortunately.
Hope this comes to an end and these guys are brought to justice.”
He added later:
“They had a website metintl.com that was a CARBON copy of our website. Our attorneys had to send legal paperwork to the hosting company to have that website shut down.
We are now trying to shut down their email address that uses the metintl.com.
Other companies have reported to us that they are also victims. CWI in NJ is facing similar problems with these same scamsters.”
I later found out that people were reporting this scam on Ripoff report on several instances. The name of the company seems to be used in a variety of scams, including a phoney cheque scam and overpayment fraud scheme.
Morale of the story? Be very careful when applying for jobs abroad. A lot of people want to come and work in Canada, in the U.K., in the U.S.A etc. and scammers know how to use people’s weaknesses. Use your judgment to not be fooled and if something looks fishy, do some research before you commit to anything. And remember: if it’s too good to be true… it probably isn’t legit nor true!