9 Indians stranded in UAE after accepting fake job offer on WhatsApp
UAE: Nine Indian men are the latest victims of visa racketeers in Kerala who are using WhatsApp and other social media platforms to lure jobseekers to the UAE.
The men – all in their 20s and 30s – claim they met the agent named Shafeeq on WhatsApp and paid up to 70,000 Indian rupees for visit visas to the UAE.
They are currently stranded in Al Ain and Ajman and claim they are without jobs and food.
Fazil, one of the victims from Malappuram district in Kerala, told Khaleej Times that he jumped on the job offer he received on WhatsApp.
“A WhatsApp message that promised jobs in the UAE within 15 days was being widely shared in Kerala, and I also received the forwarded message. I really thought it was genuine as many people were showing interest,” said Fazil.
“I chatted up with the agent who convinced me that I will have a job in a supermarket in Al Ain as soon as I land. He told me I will get Dh1,200 as monthly salary and free food and accommodation. I was going through tough times, and thought it would be a good start for me,” said Fazil who is a qualified technician.
Fazil said he mortgaged his mother’s gold ornaments to cough up the money and cannot return home without a job.
Mohammed Rafeeq, 30, another victim from Kozhikode in Kerala said he borrowed from friends and family to raise Rs70,000 for the ‘Gulf dream.’
“Nine people including myself managed to pay up. And the agent formed a separate WhatsApp group for nine of us and we were communicating with each other. He told us we all will be travelling together and working in the same company. So, we had no reason to worry,” said Rafeeq, who is married and have a child.
But as soon as they landed in Abu Dhabi on July 15, the men said they realised they got duped.
Rafeeq said a local agent named Shameer met them at the airport and split the men into two groups. “Four people were sent to Ajman and five of us of were taken to Al Ain. When asked about our jobs, he said the supermarket official is in jail and hence they will have to find new jobs for us. We immediately knew we were in trouble.”
Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi has stepped in and have offered to assist in sending the men home.
Rafeeq said he and his friends are surviving on the allowance given by the embassy.
“Our future is uncertain as we are trapped in a foreign land without jobs. I wish I had done my due diligence before paying the agent.”
Indian embassy warns jobseekers not to bypass immigration rules
Indian embassy has repeatedly warned job-seekers to come to the UAE through official channels and not bypass immigration rules, and thus fall in to the trap of bogus recruiting agents.
But despite the awareness drive conducted by the Indian missions through its social media channels, the number of victims reporting to the embassy continue unabated.
In June, Khaleej Times reported the case of five men from Kerala who were brought to the UAE on visit visas by illegal agents and left abandoned.
Last week, five jobseekers were brought to the UAE on visit visas by agents who promised them jobs in a packaging company.
Women who seek jobs as domestic help in the UAE are the most vulnerable, as many fall into the hands of nefarious agents who push them into prostitution. Others end up in difficult conditions with salaries and face abuse and harassment.
“We have repeatedly highlighted the need for ECR passport holders to not come to UAE on visit visa for employment purpose,” Ambassador Navdeep Singh Suri told Khaleej Times.
Smita Pant, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy said they have started pushing for legal action against unscrupulous agents in India.
“We have reported about 40 such cases to Indian authorities and police investigations are on. That is important to deter these illegal agents from duping more people.”
Pant said the embassy is encouraging victims to file a police case against the agents so that they could be brought before the law.
Indians in distress can call the embassy’s hotline at 80046342.