After almost a year of searching for an IT job in Chennai, S. Mohana, an engineering graduate from Tirupati, recently got a mail from ‘Infinity Software Services', telling her, “Congratulations, you meet all the requirements of our vacant post for a software trainee. You can join us from February 1, after a brief round of verification about which you will be intimated shortly.”

Mohana was ecstatic, because all that she had to do to get the job was enrol for an ‘online trainee course on database management' by paying Rs 10,000 to a certain placement agency she had registered with. A month's power-point lessons on ‘basics of database management' later, she went to the offices of ‘Infinity Software Services' in Nungambakkam, only to find an entirely different company with an entirely different name functioning from that address. “It was an animation company, and the staff there had no clue of the job offer. The agency that offered me the job doesn't exist too. Even the email IDs have become dysfunctional (sic) now,” she said.

This is not an isolated incident of engineering graduates being duped. Nearly 60 students of Aarupadai Veedu Institute of Technology were lured by an agency that promised them software jobs with decent pay once they shelled out Rs. 5,000 each for training. “Despite several warnings from professors and college administration, we decided to go for the agency's offer. When you don't have campus recruitments, it is natural to fall for such offers,” said a student.

MCA students are the ones who often cheated in large numbers. S. Selvaraghavan, a student from a private engineering college on OMR, says, “Most of these agencies know that a certain number of students are not eligible for recruitment in IT companies or have many arrears. They approach us through a common Google group. While many students ignore such mails, there are some who take them seriously because the mail has employee codes, holograms, office locations, details of the training programmes — complete with name and designation of the signatory. These often convince students.”

Many of these emails originate from IDs that do not look fake. “I got an offer from, saying I got selected in the off-campus interview I had attended that weekend. So I had no doubts at all,” says Kannan Rajkumar, a graduate of SRM University. “When I responded to the mail, I was asked to deposit Rs.10,000 in a bank account as a refundable deposit for sending air tickets for the interview in Bangalore. Sometimes, these companies also insist on medical tests and clearly ask us to bring cash, because they don't accept payment by cards,” he said.

TCS is among the many companies often cited as a potential employer by such fraudulent offers. The company, on the careers page of its web site, has put an alert about fake job offers and has also created a toll-free TCS Careers Serviceline for people to report such job alerts. Other companies including Wipro, HCL Technologies, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Hyundai, Aricent have expressed their concerns too.

“Companies do not send job offers from free email services like Gmail, Rediffmail, Yahoomail or Hotmail. They might employ the services of an agent, agency or company to conduct employment interviews, but they certainly do not authorise people to charge any security amount or even offer jobs,” says an HR official of TCS.

NASSCOM has urged students to be careful of such fraudulent offers. “Companies have an operation process, details of which are available on their websites. Students can always call the numbers listed to get more clarity, instead of falling prey to the fake offers,” says K. Purushottaman, regional director, NASSCOM. “And, never trust any company that asks you to deposit money affront. No reputed company will ever ask you to do that.”