UNEMPLOYED oil and gas workers are being targeted in an online scam aimed at conning desperate job seekers out of hundreds of pounds.
Several North Sea firms, including Peterhead based ASCO group, are warning about fraudulent activity designed to trick those affected by the oil crisis into giving up cash and personal details.
The jobs scam is believed to involve handing over passport details and payment to cover processing fees, visas and work permits before non-existent posts are offered.
The con has been condemned by union chiefs, who say widespread job losses across the industry due to the collapsed global oil price have left many people unemployed, vulnerable and desperate.
More than 65,000 workers associated with the North Sea industry have been left without a job since Brent crude dropped to a 12 year low of below 30 dollars a barrel earlier this year.
RMT union regional organiser Jake Molloy described the con as “despicable”.
He said: “It’s an appalling abuse and an appalling attempt by the people behind it.
“To exploit people who are already suffering, these are despicable individuals who are exploiting an opportunity to target vulnerable workers desperate to get back into the industry.
“I would say to workers it doesn’t cost you to get a job anywhere. Nobody should be charging you to attract you in employment - it will be done on merit.
“I’ve spoken to a few guys it has happened to, they’re in desperation to get a job”
Recruitment specialists are urging people to be keep their guard up against the ever-more sophisticated tactics being used by those looking to rip others off.
Dean Hunter, founder of human resources specialists Hunter Adams, said the challenging North Sea job market had made workers more vulnerable to such scams.
He said: “The fact is that in the north-east, and in particular in the oil and gas sector, this sort of targeted recruitment scamming has been highly prevalent.
“People are becoming more desperate to find work and they’re more inclined to offer up personal details like passport information – which would be a breach of data protection – in the search for a job.
“They’re offering jobs they would not offer anyone else. People need to consider, it’s no different to giving up details and being scammed in the same way as if you gave your bank details to someone.”
Peterhead based service company ASCO also issued a statement online warning jobseekers to be vigilant.
The company said: “Fraudulent recruitment activity using the ASCO name and identity is taking place.
“ASCO will never issue an employment offer without conducting at least one face to face interview, or issue any correspondence from a free web-based email or personal account.”
French energy giant Total and Danish firm Maersk Oil also reported recent instances where their names and logos were used in job scams.
Total’s recruitment department said: “Please be advised that Total, its subsidiaries and the organisations that it entrusts with its recruitment requirements do not and will not ask for money from applicants under any circumstance, at any point in the selection and recruitment process.”