The fraudulent and the gullible
frequently highlights instances of prospective overseas job
seekers being duped by bogus job agencies.There have been scenes
where the victims have lain seige to these employment agencies
and staged demonstration ala the Golden Credit Card and Sakvithi
It appears that fraud is on the march in this country. Only
the other day a prospective lady doctor was fined by Courts for
producing forged references from an overseas Medical University
to enlist with the Sri Lanka Medical Council.
What consequences would have ensued had she succeeded, can
only be imagined. How many such imposters do we have in our
midst wearing the patina of respectability, no one will know.
It is time that a serious effort is made to grapple with the
incidents of fraud in our society - not just swindles done by
job agencies but big time rip offs such as the VAT scam. But the
sleight of hand duplicity by the rogue job agents are serious
enough for the Government to come down hard on these operatives
irrespective of the influence they wield.
Time and again we see these sudden outbreaks of protests
after gullible sections have been defrauded. Yesterday, we
reported how the detection of two such bogus job agencies had
led to the arrest of 80 rouge agents who had swindled millions
from unsuspecting clients.
What is more they have been posing as licensed agents of the
Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) having in their
possession its official seals and receipts, which of course were
It would not be out of place to suggest to the SLBFE Chairman
to conduct an inquiry to ascertain if there has been any
collusion from within his organisation in this regard. Two
suspects had in their possession copies of receipts worth over
Rs. 1.5 million and as reported this was only the tip of the ice
berg. The SLBFE Chairman says they had launched an investigation
into the matter.
In earlier instances too investigations were promised but
from the frequent reports of similar swindles that unravel we
are not sure if these investigations have had the desired
First and foremost, one needs to probe deep into the racket
since it is obvious that for such bogus agencies to operate with
impunity even thumbing the nose at the SLBFE, there necessarily
has to be an organised ring at work with high connections. We
have often seen how big detections such as these have been
hushed up in the past not to believe otherwise.
Today, these illegal job agents operate with impunity knowing
they can get away with their misdeeds in the same way
bootleggers do with nary a care for the law. One recalls how
some unscrupulous persons made fortunes by sending people for
jobs in Italy through perilous journeys by sea.
It was no secret that this project too had the blessings of
politicians unmindful of the risk to the lives of the desperate
job seekers. No big issue was made by the parties concerned
because this formed a lucrative source of employment and
arrested the problem of rampant unemployment in the coastal
areas of the North Western Province which today, has an affluent
landscape due to the riches brought in by these segments.
This, however, is no excuse for allowing illegal operatives
to thrive. The call made by the SLBFE Chairman for all
prospective job seekers to cross check their sources with the
Bureau before committing themselves is a wise move.
There was a time when employment agencies mushroomed willy
nilly with the advent of the Middle East job boom. There was
hardly any mechanism to control these job agencies at the time
with the overwhelming demand particularly of housemaids.
Now with the demand for more skilled workers and the
professions, these job agencies have moved into the big league
demanding enormous sums from their clients.
But not all of these job seekers receive the jobs promised
and a majority of them are even left stranded at the other end
as often reported in the press.
Now with the global economic crisis taking a heavy toll on
jobs even in the well known employment destinations it is just
as well to warn all prospective job seekers abroad to be
cautious before accepting lucrative offers and demands for
massive down payments.
Saying that, it is also the duty of the SLBFE to rein in
these bogus job agents preying on the gullible who are sometimes
forced to part with all their worldly possessions to meet the
massive fees demanded. The country is already witnessing enough
agitations and demonstrations by those who been stripped of
their lifetime savings without adding to the cacophony.