Ministry sends warning to job scammers

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 24, 2019

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THE Labour Ministry has urged people who have been duped out of their money, with the promise of a spot in its overseas employment programme, to come forward, and at the same time is urging those desperate for jobs to be on alert for these scams.

At this week's meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament, members complained that some people continue to try paying their way to get on the programme, and other job opportunities, sometimes through unscrupulous agencies.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Labour Colette Roberts-Risden, in response, said: “In cases like that we need to know who is facilitating this. What I can tell the committee is that we work very closely with C-TOC (Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch) and MOCA (Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency) and we have had a number of prosecutions, specifically relating to the overseas employment programme. We take it seriously. If somebody can point and say 'I paid X person money and I was able to get on the programme', or even if they weren't able to get on the programme, we need to know; I need to know.”

She said too often the ministry is unaware of the scams, with no formal reports being made, as those who have been scammed are too embarrassed to come forward.

“What we have been doing is trying to educate the public that you really should only be doing business with licensed employment agencies. We don't get a lot of people coming to us and saying 'I paid a company a lot of money and they have not provided me with a job'; a lot of it is embarrassment. Using the farm work programme for example, we say there is no money that you're to pay to participate in the programme, but you will hear stories of people paying people money to participate in the programme. So even though we preach it, people do it. We do monitor those who we grant (employment agency) licences to ensure that they are operating within the ambit of the licences,” she explained.

Roberts-Risden stressed that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has been stepping up its public education campaign, especially in light of the fact that scams have now seeped into the public space via social media.

“What is happening is that people are now circulating things on social media and using the ministry's pictures, website, and logo, making it seem as if it's an authentic message. As soon as we come across those, we put notices out that the ministry did not issue any advisory in relation to this; it is a scam. We tell person not to recirculate it, and to ignore; we have been doing a number of things as soon as it comes to our attention,” she stated.

Highlighting some of the reports which he said have reached his constituency office, St Catherine Southern Member of Parliament (MP) Fitz Jackson pointed out that: “As prohibited as it is, when they know of somebody who 'let off' a money and get a farm work ticket and go on a farm work programme they don't need any more proof than that paying can get them somewhere. That's how corruption strives, because people see the results.”

MP for St Catherine North Eastern Leslie Campbell said he has also received complaints from constituents of waiting for years to get in the overseas employment programme, with one individual asking whether he can pay to secure a spot.


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