Dubai: Less than a year after a Gulf News expose led to a massive crackdown on Wisdom Jobs, the dodgy recruitment portal is back to targeting unsuspecting jobseekers worldwide from its headquarters in Hyderabad, India.
Nearly half a million employment opportunities are listed on its dedicated Gulf portal https://www.wisdomjobsgulf.com/ alone. Of them around 280,000 are from the UAE including 255,183 in Dubai, 17,040 in Abu Dhabi and 5,986 in Sharjah. Almost all these job listings are fake, outdated or copied from other portals.
People applying for these positions are directed to a login-screen where they are required to fill in their personal details and upload their CV. No sooner have they done that, they get an email informing them that they have been shortlisted. This is followed by a phone interview where call centre agents operating from Wisdom Jobs’ Hyderabad office impersonate HR managers of prospective employers. To clinch the job offer, candidates are asked to pay a ‘resume forwarding fee’ of Rs7,600 (Dh380). However, in the days ahead, they are tricked into shelling out more money towards a series of bogus fees and charges. By the time job seekers break out of the vicious cycle, they would have often easily spent up to Dh7,000.
As part of our investigations we randomly called 20 UAE-based companies from Wisdom Jobs’ Gulf placement listings. Contrary to what the portal would have you believe, none of them had any openings for the advertised positions.
Jonathon Burgess CEO of Dubai-based Aspiriti Recruitment Group said over the past week they spotted 517 fake advertisements listed on Wisdom Jobs under their company’s name. “Most of these are fake. Those which aren’t have already been filled, in some cases, as long as 10 years ago. It’s clear that the scam is up and running again and targeting the Gulf region,” said Burgess.
“Advertising jobs under our brand without our consent is a fraudulent act. We have asked Wisdom Jobs to remove the advertisements but our requests have fallen on deaf years,” he added. A construction company supposedly looking to hire a site engineer in Dubai said they haven’t even heard of Wisdom Jobs. “What’s that? In any case, we don’t have any opening for a site engineer,” said the firm’s HR manager.
Al Muhandes Labour Supply and LLP Global Legal Consultancy, both based in Dubai appeared equally shocked to learn about jobs posted under their names. ‘We never authorised them. What they have done is illegal,” said Mustaqim of Muhandes Labour Supply.
Among the offers posted on the site a few hours ago is an ’urgent opening for a foods and beverage manager at Dubai’s Regent Beach Resort” in Jumeirah. The resort has remained shut for over a year now. “Why will we need a F&B manager for a hotel that doesn’t exist any more,” said the bemused marketing manager of Regent Palace Hotel which used to operate the resort. No less different was the response of entities which, according to Wisdom Jobs, have vacancies for restaurant managers, accountants, receptionists, draft technicians, teachers and helpers.
“I placed an advertisement for an accountant in a local newspaper, but that was about five years ago,” said the owner of a real estate agent. “I am appalled to learn that the same advertisement has resurfaced on Wisdom Jobs Gulf,” he said. Dubai-based Camel Soap Factory, Abu Dhabi’s Cooperfield Business consultancy and the American University of Sharjah are among many others that had previously called Wisdom Jobs’ bluff after it posted fake jobs on their behalf.
The company is believed to rake in millions of dollars annually from the audacious racket that spans India, Canada, USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and the company’s favourite hunting ground - the Middle East. Days after Gulf News blew the lid off the scam, the Hyderabad Police raided Wisdom Jobs and arrested its founder and CEO Ajay Kolla and 13 other key staff members for defrauding thousands of jobseekers to the tune of millions of dollars.
Preliminary police investigation showed the job portal amassed Dh58 million by cheating nearly 70,000 jobseekers in India and another 35,000 based abroad including many in the UAE. A comment from Wisdom Jobs was not available as emails sent to them elicited no response.
Wisdom Jobs statistics:
- 33 million - is the number of registered users on Wisdom Jobs, according to job portal
- 14 key members of Wisdom Jobs including its founder and CEO were arrested by Hyderabad Police in January this year following the Gulf News expose
- 255,183 is the number jobs offered by Wisdom Jobs in Dubai alone
The sting operation that nailed Wisdom Jobs:
To uncover Wisdom Jobs’ racket this journalist registered with the portal in January 2019 and uploaded his CV as a restaurant manager who “develops unpalatable menus” and “hastens the doom of F&B outlets by passing off recycled scrap as healthy nibbles”. But the portal responded to the ‘horrendous’ CV saying that as many as four top hotels in Dubai were interested in recruiting him. The audio conversation with the counsellor from the portal was subsequently put on the website.
The story so far:
2008-2009: Engineering graduate Ajay Kolla starts Wisdom Jobs in Hyderabad and turns the Dh200,000 start-up into multi-billion empire.
2010-2013: The company’s annual turnover increases from Dh4.19 million in 2012 to Dh11.5 million in 2013.
2016: India’s biggest apex trade association, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, puts Wisdom Jobs in the country’s top SME 50 Index.
2017: Wisdom jobs prides itself as the world’s first skill assessment based portal with 33 million registered users worldwide.
2018: The company claims tie-ups with 35,000 ‘top-notch companies’ even as complaints pour in.
Dec 2018-Jan 2019: Gulf News investigates and finds that most employment opportunities listed on the portal are either fake, outdated or copied from other job portals.
Jan 20, 2019: Gulf News publishes detailed report of its probe.
Jan 21, 2019 Hyderabad police orders probe and requests Gulf News to share evidence.
Jan 25, 2019 CEO Ajay Kolla and 13 others arrested and remanded to judicial custody.
November 12, 2019: Wisdom Jobs back to its wily ways, offers over 260,000 fake, outdated jobs in the UAE.