Sat, Oct 05, 2002 - Page 10 News List

Firms duping `employees' into buying their products

By Angelia Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Consumers' Foundation yesterday advised job seekers to be aware of "bait and switch" scams in newspapers' job ads, urging them to read the fine print before signing any job contracts.

The Foundation held a press conference yesterday to inform the public about the issue, after 47 complaints were filed with the private organization.

The scam preys on job seekers by running newspaper ads offering secretarial or office positions, but then ends up forcing the new employees to buy the company's products, describing the products as "training tools."

"These companies take advantage of the high unemployment rate to trap job seekers and then fires them once they refuse to purchase the products. [In addition,] they are threatened if they do not keep quiet," said Jason Chang (張智剛), secretary-general of the Consumers' Foundation.

There are several variations of the scam. These are mostly organized around sales of health-related gadgets like circulation-stimulators, health-improvement devices and cosmetics.

According to Chang, companies that offer jobs without having actual vacancies are committing fraud.

Allegations of threatening behavior will be investigated by the prosecutors' offices, he noted.

Young people who are susceptible to persuasive measures are these con artists' favorite targets.

"They target new graduates of around 20 years of age and middle-aged, unemployed people who are less educated and desperate for a job," said Chou Chao-tsung (周朝宗), director of the labor affairs bureau of Taipei County.

The firms often railroad interviewees through the hiring process, encouraging them to buy into the plan before checking the contract in detail, said Chou. This violates the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) which stipulates that companies are not allowed to place false job ads, Chou said.

Violators of the law can be fined between NT$300,000 and NT$1.5 million.

One of the scam's victims, surnamed Lin, said at yesterday's press conference she was first interviewed for the position of receptionist.

During the interview the interviewer asked her whether she had a credit card.

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