Engineer was 'tricked into quitting job by fake online recruiter'
An engineer was scammed into leaving his job, claiming he was scammed by a former colleague who assumed the identity of a recruiter on LinkedIn.
Sean Cleary, who has worked in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry for almost 25 years, began working in a contracted position for an engineering firm in Belgium in February 2012.
Mr Cleary, who is originally from Trim, Co Meath, said three months after he started this job he believes he was scammed by a workmate into handing in his resignation to management at the Brussels-based site.
"The person assumed a fake LinkedIn persona of a recruiter, 'Martha' at Pfizer Australia," he said.
"This fake recruiter offered me a position back at Pfizer, Grange Castle, in Clondalkin. And I swallowed the bait."
Mr Cleary said he gave a month's notice to his employers but soon realised there was no position waiting for him in Ireland.
Corresponding solely through email, Mr Cleary said the fake recruiter postponed the start date repeatedly.
He said he was left without a job and regular income when he finally received a mail to tell him the job offer was no longer on the table. Mr Cleary said he was still recovering from the effects of the incident.
"I managed to track down the real Martha in Australia and we talked via Skype. She was horrified," he said.
A LinkedIn spokesperson told the Irish Independent that, while the company does not comment on individual cases, "there are millions of job opportunities listed on LinkedIn and incidents of job advert fraud are rare, but we take them extremely seriously".
"We have technical measures in place to take down fake job adverts before they are shown to members and when this type of activity is detected on LinkedIn, we work quickly to remove it," the spokesperson added.
"We also recommend members take simple precautions to protect themselves as they would elsewhere online.
"Job seekers should be on the lookout for any advert or interaction with a recruiter that seems suspicious, such as requests to provide financial information or perform any monetary transaction.
"We encourage our members to report any messages or postings they believe are scams."
Mr Cleary now works for Jacobs at BMS Cruiserath (Bristol-Myers Squibb), near Blanchardstown, but said the experience left him out of pocket and embarrassed.
"I lost about three to four months' pay," he said.
"The repercussions of what happened in July 2012 continue to affect me to this day, both in the pocket and in the head."
A report has been filed to the gardaí and the Belgian police in relation to the incident. Mr Cleary claimed his colleague tricked him in order to secure work on more contracts; however, the co-worker has denied any involvement in the scam.
The company has also undertaken an investigation into the incident, but no charges have been brought against anyone in relation to the fake job offer.