UCLU JobShop placement cons student out of £2000

Apparently it was a ‘national scam’

A devastated fresher lost over £2,000 when she was conned by a job ad hosted by UCLU. 

Zahra is devastated after she fell for what turned out to be a “national scam” on the JobShop website.

After applying for an office assistant role at a company called Designs by Becca, the first year Pharmacy student was told she would receive a cheque for £2,200.

Hapless Zahra only wanted a job

Hapless Zahra only wanted a job

A woman called Becca, claiming to be South African, contacted Zahra to confirm her role and working hours. Becca instructed Zahra to send the same amount back to her, which the fresher promptly did for fear of not getting the job.

Her bank then told her the cheque was fraudulent after Zahra had already sent the whopping amount back. She was left £2,200 out of pocket just months before the start of term.

Zahra said: “It sounded really legit. [The woman] told me who she was and what she did and her company etc.

“She asked me what my address was so she can send me a cheque, and I thought ‘why is she sending me a cheque?’ I thought it was a bit weird but I didn’t want to question it too much.”

This e-mail could fool anyone.

This email could fool anyone.

Zahra said the woman, who referred to herself as “Becca”, ignored Zahra’s request of being contacted by phone to discuss this in any more detail and insisted on sending her a cheque.

When the cheque came, it was for £2,200.

When Zahra informed Becca she had received the cheque, Becca requested Zahra to transfer money from Zahra’s bank account in the UK to her account in South Africa, to help her cover the costs of various things.

“She was asking me to do quite a lot of different things for her and I didn’t feel like I was in position to say no and I didn’t want to make a fuss, you know, in case I’d lose the job.”

When Zahra raised financial issues to Becca, her response was to send Zahra another cheque, and refused to use a simple bank transfer as Zahra had suggested.

“Then I got a letter from the bank saying that the cheque was fraudulent, and when I tried to email [Becca] again, she just didn’t reply to any of my emails.”

The fraudulent cheque

The fraudulent cheque

The hapless student was left penniless, had maximised her overdraft, and had her first instalment rent and deposit to pay the next day.

“It was all my savings. I emailed the UCLU JobShop wondering whether they knew they had advertised for a fraudster, and all they said was that they’re sorry about what had happened and that it’s a national scam so they can’t do anything for me.”

UCLU Jobshop say they had taken down the advert “within a couple of days” when they realised there was something “dodgy about it”, and that the job “wasn’t supposed to be put up so soon…we hadn’t finished checking on it”.

As for Zahra, they have so far only issued this email of apology and advice:

Thanks for the support UCL

Thanks for the support UCL

Zahra has since reported this to the police, but is deeply saddened by the lack of support by UCLU JobShop.

Advice from fraud prevention agencies are: do a good background check on the employer – make sure you know the location their office address, and stop all contact when they start asking you for money.