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Illegal recruitment thrives even during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has issued a warning to all would-be overseas Filipino workers against online illegal recruitment schemes promising “deployment after the lockdown” or “work interview after quarantine.”

Illegal recruiters frequently offer a promising job and facilitate faster processing of papers on the OFW’s behalf. Regardless of what form of assistance these recruiters can offer, their primary goal is to charge clients as high as possible. Sometimes, aspiring OFWs can be persuaded easily because of the huge sum of money which can be earned abroad. In addition, illegal recruitment is another way to undertake child trafficking and worst, as drug couriers.

Illegal recruiters aim to victimize those with strong family attachments, unaware of human trafficking, and with poor financial standing.

According to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Chief Hans Leo Cacdac, drug traffickers hire carriers to transport baggage containing illegal drugs to a target destination. If the OFW carrier is able to pass through immigration, this act can be done regularly and an incentive can be given by drug suppliers for succeeding transactions.

POEA officials warn the public against the proliferation of illegal recruitment activities in the country. They advised the public to check official announcements, job posts, and list of accredited recruitment agencies before making any transaction. POEA officials also remind that when the recruiter requests for advanced payment, it could be a possible swindling act. Those who have doubts may call the attention of officials from Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Foreign Affairs, OWWA, and law enforcement agencies.

The POEA urges the public to be vigilant against individuals who may misrepresent legal and licensed recruitment agencies in the Philippines as a means of luring unsuspecting Filipinos to their scheme. After exchanging introductory messages online, the illegal recruiter then asks for reservation fees and/or phishes for important information from applicants.

The public is warned of promises of online scammers for job interview and deployment after the lockdown or after lifting of the quarantine, “PM (private message) if interested,” or “Click link for more details.”

Advertisements ask for reservation fees and/or personal information from unsuspecting applicants. Methods include the use of fake job advertisements posted on Facebook and sent through private messaging platforms with the use of fake websites and generated fake emails. POEA added that most illegal recruiters then ask for a fee that the victim can send through remittance centers or via money transfers.

POEA warns the public to ignore these online advertisements and not to give or deposit money, especially through remittance centers such as Western Union, Cebuana Lhuillier, or Palawan Express; or money transfers through GCash, 7/11, or PayPal.

Further, please be warned about providing sensitive personal information, such as full names, birthdates, addresses, etc. as these may be used in criminal activities, said the advisory.

Filipinos are advised to check with the POEA verification system at www.poea.gov.ph to authenticate the job vacancy and/or job orders or to email the POEA information center at info@poea.gov.ph.

The agency also asked the public to immediately report any suspicious or illegal activity pertaining to online recruitment scams to the Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch Operations and Surveillance Division at email poea_airb_osd@yahoo.com or contact 0919-067-4206.

To avoid illegal recruitment, do not apply at recruitment agencies not licensed by POEA; Do not deal with licensed agencies without job orders; Do not deal with any person who is not an authorized representative of a licensed agency; Do not transact business outside the registered address of the agency;

If recruitment is conducted in the province, check if the agency has a provincial recruitment authority; Do not pay more than the allowed placement fee. It should be equivalent to one-month salary, exclusive of documentation and processing costs; Do not pay any placement fee unless you have a valid employment contract and an official receipt; Do not be enticed by ads or brochures requiring you to reply to a post office box, and to enclose payment for processing of papers; Do not deal with training centers and travel agencies, which promise overseas employment; do not accept a tourist visa and do not deal with fixers.

END/Patrick T Rillorta

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2020-07-29
Dir.Exequiel Guzman
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