From 2013: Private Eye on Fake Job Adverts on Jobcentre Plus

Mike over at Vox Political, Johnny Void and very many others have also repeated blogged about the way Universal Jobmatch, IDS’ vanity jobs site, is full of fake adverts, many put there by agencies to increase their profile on the internet. This is a real problem for Jobseekers, as the Jobcentres insist that they use the site, though as Johnny Void points out, they have no legal power to force you to do so.

Private Eye also covered this issue in their edition for 19th April – 2nd May 2013. The fake adverts they investigated here were for the pyramid-selling firm, Kleeneze. Here it is.

Jobcentre Plus
Blind Data

More evidence reaches the Eye of government complicity in helping dodgy employers, scammers and others to exploit the unemployed.

The last Eye revealed how Jobcentreplus was advertising hundreds of jobs where agencies were flouting minimum wage legislation and paying carers far below the statutory £6.19 an hour. They are not alone. Unscrupulous self-styled “agencies” are using the government’s job sites and centres to offer work which either does not exist or is little short of pyramid selling, and certainly does not guarantee a minimum wage.

The Eye, posing as a job applicant, tried just a couple. The first was for a “time business development manager” with flexible working and a starting income of £200 a week. A click on the government’s website link takes applicants to a site for Alchemy Logistics, demanding name, address, phone numbers and email address – but giving no contact details for Alchemy Logistics. There is no company registered as Alchemy Logistics, or indeed “alchemydistribution.co.uk” which appears on the application link.

Having obtained the personal information supplied by an Eye reporter and told us that we would receive “further information shortly”, nothing was forthcoming from any company or person identified as Alchemy. Interestingly, its website was “powered by bigadvertising.co.uk, which among its many listed specialisms boasts of “recruitment leads for the direct sales and home business industry.”

While Alchemy Logistics showed no sign of being more than a means to capture data, the second advertiser, SP-Recruitment, did have an operation on the ground. It offered catalogue and home selling and delivery work as well as “leadership opportunities for ambitious individuals”. The government’s job website assured applicants that “the company has given an assurance that workers could achieve a wage equivalent to the national minimum”. The link takes applicants to a site remarkably similar to Alchemy’s – also “powered” by bigadvertising.co.uk – demanding the same personal details. Once again there were no contact details for SP-Recruitment or indeed anything about them. This time, however, an automated reply came from “bigresponder.com”, which is turn is run by Contact Manager Ltd, a dormant company according to Companies House.

The automated reply gave the yahoo address of Paul Kearey and his wife, Sue, who, it turns out, are SP-Recruitment. So the Eye, no longer pretending to be a jobseeker, emailed them. Mr Kearey emphatically denied “capturing” personal data to sell it on. He said that he and his wife, like many others around the country, were recruiting for Kleeneze, a homeware marketing company now owned by Findel Plc. The Keareys were themselves Kleeneze sales and distribution people and were looking to recruit others. So what was in it for them? Bonus payments and, more importantly, percentages of recruits’ sales so called multilayer marketing. Kearey said the advert made clear the work was commissioned-based: “Commission is not a wage but if you work you are paid and the national minimum can be achieved and more, so if you do nothing you are paid nothing, where is the issue?”

Twenty four hours later, the Eye job applicant received another email via big-responder offering the means of “clearing debt, eating out more or updating the car?” It turned out to be from another Kleeneze distributor. Whether this was Alchemy or had been passed on through “big-responder” is unclear. What is clear is that it is not proper employment.

As with any pyramid-type selling structure, signing up more people progressively dilutes the marketing opportunities – especially if distributors advertise nationwide on fellow distributors’ patches. But those at the top must be doing well: promotional material shows Kleeneze recruits with flash cars, executive homes and exotic holidays.

The type of work as a self-employed peddler, where agents or distributors like the Keareys take all the risk, cannot guarantee any kind of wage, let alone a minimum one. As one irate jobseeker to the Eye: “In the age of date protection it is unbelievable that the government is simply too lazy to check that jobs exist at a valid company or address before forwarding details of unsuspecting jobseekers to them.” The scandal is compounded by the fact that the unemployed may lose benefits if they are not seen to be applying for the advertised jobs – and it give the impression there are far more jobs available than there really are.

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