Facebook recruitment scams targeting vulnerable Thais on the rise

Facebook recruitment scams targeting vulnerable Thais on the rise
Photo: Youth Employment Decade

Job recruitment scams, mainly appearing on Facebook, are on the rise in Thailand as more than 1,500 complaints have been filed with the Department of Employment (DOE) over the past three years.

The scams usually involve the posting of jobs in various international locations with “agents” requesting processing fees upfront from applicants. However, in many cases, the jobs never materialize.

The General-Director of the DOE, Suchat Pornchaiwiseskul, said that there have payments totaling more than 100 million baht to recruiters over the past three years.

He said that while these scams have always existed, the method used to recruit people has changed from the use of in-person agents to actively approaching job seekers via platforms such as Facebook and Line chat.

Facebook claims it does not allow false or misleading information to be published on its platform and that it would remove all content that violates its policies.

Mr. Pornchaiwiseskul agreed that the social media platform is operating lawfully, but that the use of social media was making it difficult to track offenders, saying:

“The licensed companies are mostly operating under the law, but we are facing difficulty with recruiters operating on Facebook. We don’t know who these people are, making it hard for us to track them down.”

More than 133,000 Thai citizens are working abroad, mainly in other Asian countries as unskilled laborers. The most popular jobs taken by Thais abroad include massage therapists, waiters and waitresses, factory workers, and agricultural workers.

In many cases, job-seekers are promised a high-paying job abroad by recruiters but are tricked into sending a “processing fee” first. An activist for the government’s anti-human trafficking task force, Wirawan Mosby, explained:

“These end up being money scams where the so-called recruiters don’t show up at the airport and block the job seekers on social media.”

The government claims to have taken action, charging more than 800 fake agents over the past three years and revoking the licenses of 12 recruitment agencies.

Further issues arise when job-seekers are told they will be doing one job, but discover the job is not as described upon arriving in a foreign country. This is particularly prevalent in the massage industry. Ms. Mosby said:

“Many people know what they are getting into but because of financial needs, they chose the risky route. In recent years, many women and LGBT+ people go to work at erotic massage parlors and end up not liking the working conditions.”

A Senior Researcher at Mahidol University’s Institute for Population and Social Research said that the problem lies in the use of agents in the first place for overseas recruitment. She explained:

“As long as there is a demand for agents, they will come up with new methods of taking advantage of job seekers. People seeking jobs overseas have many limitations that lead them to depend on agents in the first place, and these restrictions should be eased.”

Source: Thomas Reuters Foundation

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