UPDATE 27/2/13: Registering an account with Universal Jobmatch will become mandatory from the beginning of March 2013. There should still be no requirement to tick the box giving DWP access to your account. For the latest details and what this means for claimants keep an eye on:
The Government’s new job vacancies website, Universal Jobmatch, is riddled with outright scams, data harvesting operations, spoof job vacancies and dodgy business opportunities. The recently launched website is the latest crazy scheme from Iain Duncan Smith to snoop on the ‘job seeking activity’ of benefit claimants.
The bug ridden site, which many claimants say barely works, is now leading to fears unemployed people may be forced to hand over personal information to fraudsters or face benefit sanctions.
An advert appeared last week for the Montcalm Hotel offering a staggering £3-5000 a month for bar work and catering staff. All candidates had to do is send a full CV, with contact details and a passport sized photograph, to an email address which appeared to emanate from Thailand.
This advert, which was an obvious identity fraud scam, has now been taken down. But this was only after several people had identified it on twitter and made the real Montcalm Hotel (which does exist) aware of the fake job advert. It seems to have easily passed through the shabby vetting procedures the DWP requires from employers wishing to advertise jobs on the system
An obvious scam such as this appearing on a Government website is embarrassing enough, but of far more concern is that unemployed claimants can now be forced to apply for any job on the site or face losing benefits. This is not scare-mongering. The DWP could force you to hand over your personal details to an obvious fraudster. In fact this could have already happened.
The lax security procedures were highlighted when the site launched and an advert with the reference number 007 called for an Elimination Specialist at MI6. This weekend two adverts have appeared asking for a ‘gay princess’ with a company called spamco suggesting hackers have already found their way through the verification system.
Even the jobs which aren’t outright scams or spoofs are dubious at best. Several adverts ask for ‘distributors’ for a company called Focus Group Distribution. Like many of the jobs on the Universal Jobmatch site, this position is commission only. Potential candidates are asked to visit a website to apply where they are presented with a form asking for a name, address and telephone number. The company claim to be a long established British PLC. Yet according to Companies House, Focus Group Distribution don’t exist. The website is registered to a single individual at a home address.
Several more vacancies are available with the optimistically named Freedom Enterprises. Once again this leads to a website which demands full personal details before before providing any information on the company. According to who.is, this website is registered to a non-trading individual.
Unlike the Montcalm Hotel scam these commission only jobs advertised on dubious websites may be perfectly genuine. Or they may be pyramid schemes, spammers or the kind of ‘business opportunity’ that demands huge cash payments up front. The DWP don’t know. Or even seem to care. So desperate are they to punish and harass anyone who might find themselves unemployed, that they no longer seem interested if by their actions they further destroy people’s lives.
An increasing number of people forced off sickness benefits and into endless job seeking activity have learning disabilities or mental health conditions. Most are desperate and living in dire poverty. These are exactly the people scammers like to target to strip away any last remaining cash they may have.
And the DWP will help them along the way by demanding that huge numbers of unemployed people are forced to hand out personal information to any passing ID fraudster.
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