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How to Avoid Human Trafficking Job Scams

Recently, there are a number of Malaysians being duped and trafficked into working online scams in Cambodia. 


Cambodia has been a hub for modern slavery job scam in recent years. Semi-legal, Chinese-owned businesses employ hundreds thousands of indentured guest workers, primarily from China, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand, to patiently drive victims into their fraudulent online investments. Many are recruited through deception and then held captive to run the illicit online businesses. 


It is very saddened to see advertisements for these bogus jobs still being published online and victims are still falling for it. 


Therefore, today we’re sharing tips on how to detect and avoid human trafficking job scams. 


Red flag #1 – overpromising


It is unusual when the employers offer high pay but no experience is required. If you can’t get any details in advance of inadvertently giving someone your phone number by texting or calling, it may not be safe. 


Red flag #2 – they don’t ask you questions or give info


If a company that you’re inquiring about (online or via a sign) doesn’t ask you any questions, you may be in danger.


All legitimate businesses will want to review your professional experience, even if you’re applying for entry level work. They’ll care if you’re in their industry or interested in their industry.


If there is no way to apply online, or nowhere to email your resume, and they get angry with you for asking, it’s not a legitimate opportunity.


If they jump immediately to an interview after you text “I’m interested,” that’s not how normal businesses operate. Legitimate businesses can’t interview everyone that is interested, it’s not logistically possible. That’s a big red flag.


If you can’t even tell what industry it’s in or what the position is, the best choice is to not even contact them.


Red flag #3 – the interview is in a weird place


Small businesses will often interview you in a Starbucks, and that’s totally legitimate.


But if you have ignored the first two red flags and found yourself lining up an interview, look at Google Maps before you head that way. 


All interviews should be at a company’s offices, or in a very public place like a Starbucks. And even if the interview goes well and the interviewer wants you to immediately go to a private location, never ever ever do that.


Red flag #4 – weird contracts


Let’s say you’ve found yourself answering a shady ad that you didn’t know was shady. They say it’s all remote, so you don’t have to meet anyone in person. So far, so good.


Maybe they promised that you’ll do a ton of fancy international travel, and their headquarters are in another nation, so the contract is in another language, but they tell you what it says so you sign anyways.


If an employment contract is in another language, you truly have no idea what you’re signing to – don’t do it. 


Red flag #5 – money flows oddly


This red flag is applicable to a number of scams, not just human trafficking. If you are required to pay money up front before getting a job (for tools, training, or inventory), you’re either joining a scam, a MLM scheme, or being stolen from. That’s not normal for a traditional full time opportunity.


On the other end of the spectrum, traffickers that are Promisers try to gain your trust, so without meeting you, they may mail you a check as a sign on bonus (you were smart enough to reject giving them your bank account information for direct deposit which is a common way to scam people out of money).


You’ll put the check in the bank, it’ll sit there for a few days while it clears, but meanwhile they’ve gained your trust and start working toward meeting you in person and fast forwarding the trafficking process.


The check isn’t going to clear, but now they have your home address, likely your phone number, name, and if you were tricked into filling out an application, they have your IC number.


Your identity could be stolen and sold, or worse, it could be used to track you down and find you in person, knowing how vulnerable you are since you missed all of the previous red flags.


Red flag #6 – the company is a mystery


So maybe you’re a really smart person and you’ve avoided all of the red flags.


Maybe you just saw a simple job ad that didn’t provide a company name, but the opportunity sounds legit, so you email through their relay system to avoid giving your real email address. You ask for details. Smart.


In most cases, they’re smaller businesses avoiding being bombarded by desperate third party recruiting firms, so they keep their name off of the ad. Those folks will tell you their website, who they are, and any information you’re seeking.


Do your homework. Find them on Glassdoor, Google around.


If they don’t have a website, maybe they’re just getting started, but the founders should at least be on LinkedIn and have real people they’re connected to (which is still no guarantee of legitimacy. If there’s no mention of them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Google, ask for more information.


If someone gets angry at your inquiries, or refuses to answer, they’re either illegitimate, or they’re looking for victims. Either way, it’s not worth it, stay away.


Red flag #7 – your gut says it’s dangerous


Although it should be number one, the final red flag is that if your gut tells you any part of the process is off, trust your intuition.


Stay safe! 


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