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UK job scam fallout felt

Cambodian job seekers have been scammed for thousands of dollars by a fraudulent company advertising fake jobs in England, leading one shamed victim to threaten suicide.

The jobs, originally listed online by Cambodian labour recruitment firm CAMHR, do not exist according to the Hilton Hotel in London and Bailbrook House Hotel in Bath, the companies supposedly advertising them.

Applicants from Cambodia, who all wished to remain anonymous, have sent emails identifying Wales-based company CSI Travel as the firm that scammed thousands of dollars from them, Tracy Tennant, general manager of the Bailbrook House Hotel, said yesterday.

“There’s six  [from Cambodia] that I’ve actually got emails from, and we’ve had 10 that have actually called the hotel but they didn’t want to give their names, they just wanted to check if the jobs existed,” she said. “I told them that it was fraud and not to pay any money, but some of them had already paid.”

A copy of one of those emails obtained by The Post yesterday detailed the suicidal thoughts of a young man after he was duped out of money his mother had borrowed, thinking it would lead to his employment.

“Now I have nothing. The money, my study, my honour, my career opportunities ( I refused to interview with a private company and a non government organisation ). I destroyed everything in my life, there’s only my life left,” the email reads. The author went on to call for justice for his family before vowing to commit suicide.

A family from Lithuania, where sham jobs are also advertised, had arrived at Bailbrook House Hotel with their seven-month-old baby, only to discover they had been scammed and now were searching for housing, Tennant added.

“They basically had their lives in the suitcase and I had to tell them they had no job,” she said, adding there had also been victims from the Philippines.  

A man answering the phone number of CSI Travel’s listed manager, Aaron Hewitt, said yesterday he felt bad that a victim of the scheme was apparently suicidal. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. I think I’ll get back to him,” he said yesterday, before hanging up.

A staff member from CAMHR who declined to give his name said yesterday his company was not responsible for vetting potentially fraudulent job offers, which were posted independently by clients. “Right now our company has deleted it,” he said.

But he admitted that though the link to the advertisement had been removed, the actual web page still remained and could be found using search engines.

“Sometimes, when a company posts a job advertisement so fast, we don’t have time to examine it clearly,” he added.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, urged victims to come forward and file complaints so investigations could proceed into the apparent fraud.

A representative of the United Kingdom’s Action Fraud Authority said yesterday he was unable to comment on any potential investigation, but that victims had to come forward for them to launch a probe.

“I understand that victims do feel embarrassed, but the fraudsters rely on that embarrassment to make sure the cases aren’t reported,” he said.

Tennant said that UK immigration officials had declined to investigate and though police had come to inspect the hotel, she’d heard nothing further from them.




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