Shetland Islands Council is being used as a pawn to help part unsuspecting job seekers with their cash in a global internet scam.
Attempts are being made to lure people looking for employment into sending bank details along with a passport, birth certificate and £400 in cash in exchange for a career as senior auditor with an “accounts and audit” department at the SIC.
Realistically, few if any in Shetland would be taken in by the employment contract, which promises a $14,000 per month salary – note payment in dollars – along with a $550,000 “gratuity” after a period of continuous employment.
New recruits are also promised a “furnished three bedroom apartment” in the authority’s “staff quarters”, which it says every employee is entitled to.
However unlikely it may seem, though, there may well be some people who might be duped into thinking it a genuine offer.
The contract has a convincing Shetland Islands Council crest at its head and is written, for the most part, in a language style convincing for a binding legal document, even if it does talk about working for “Shetland” – a form of shorthand for the local authority body never used by the SIC itself.
Employees supposedly embarking on a new career with the council are encouraged to contact barrister Jeff Adams.
Passing on their details could leave them susceptible to having their bank accounts emptied and their identities stolen.
The con was highlighted to The Shetland Times by Helsinki-based job-seeker Kazmi Hussain.
He had posted his CV online on a recruitment website, and subsequently applied for the job.
He later received an email telling him his resume had been shortlisted, and he was given an online interview consisting of 15 questions.
After that he was sent the contract to sign, but was also asked to send £400 to the aforementioned barrister.
He was told £230 of that was to cover a work permit fee, while the remaining £170 was for “processing”.
“I did not pay anything,” he told The Shetland Times via email this week. “The contract itself looks so fake. I could easily understand that.
“How can a company offer $14,000 a month to a new recruit who is just entering a company and, also, not at executive level?
“So I was sure it was fake and I just wanted to let you know that somebody is using your name (Shetland) to cheat people.
“I have just sent the guy an email that I know he is dealing with fake documents and advised him to leave it and find a better job.”
The Shetland Times emailed Mr Adams, but he did not reply.
The council’s trading standards department said it was difficult for the SIC to warn people against the scam, especially as the cheating activities took place outwith the isles.
A spokeswoman said she was unaware of anyone turning up out of the blue to start a job within the authority that did not exist. She said anyone caught up in the scam should contact the police in their own country.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Northern Constabulary said the force had been made aware of the scam and had taken “appropriate action”.
• The SIC’s trading standards service is warning folk to be on their guard against phone calls claiming they are entitled to a refund of their council tax.
The caller claims to be authorised by Shetland Islands Council to let them know their house band had changed and they are eligible for a refund.
People in Shetland who have received these calls say the caller already had their name, address and date of birth and just needed their bank details in order to process refund. These callers are not working for the council.
Andrew Hall from the council’s revenues service said: “We do not phone anyone to inform them of a change in their council tax band or to ask for personal details in order to issue a refund.
“Remember to never disclose personal or valuable details such as your date of birth, passport or driving licence number, credit card or bank details, security numbers or passwords, unless you are confident about the identity of the person you are talking to.”