You can loosely describe them as ‘anti-social elements’ or ‘con-artistes’ or 'scamsters'. Their motto is to make a quick buck by hook or crook and they see opportunities in every crisis situation.
In recent times, they seem to have found in the economic slowdown and the shrinking job market a perfect opportunity to con youngsters looking for employment or opportunities to supplement their income.
Mr Sandeep Thange, for example, was promised that he could earn through a 'virtual call centre', sitting in the comfort of his home. All he had to do was to deposit a refundable amount of Rs 12,000.
Sandeep not only deposited the money, but also hired a personal computer and got an Internet connection. But the call centre job never happened.
Nor have they returned his money, despite repeated reminders. He now wants to know how to recover the money.
Mr M Jose too has had a similar experience.
Question: I saw an advertisement about a social contact club, offering opportunities to earn well. When contacted, they asked me to deposit Rs 3,000 as membership fee and later, a consultation fee too in their bank account and said they offered an opportunity to make as much as Rs 10,000 per day. However, I never earned any money and now they are not returning my fee either. Please let me know if there is a way to get back my money.
You would do well to lodge a police complaint. This would prevent others falling prey to such machinations. The police can also force the agency to pay back your money. I do hope you have proper receipts /proof for the payments made.
As I understand from the letters, those who promised the jobs were agents, promising employment for a fee collected from you. So, failure to provide the promised service constitutes ‘deficiency in service’ under the Consumer Protection Act.
It is also an unfair trade practice. You can seek a refund through the consumer courts constituted under the CP Act.
You can also seek compensation for any other expenses incurred, financial losses, if any, sustained, and mental harassment and disappointment.
You can ask for reimbursement of the cost of litigation.
In the case of The International Overseas Services and Ors Vs D Subramanium, (RP NO 2420 of 2003, decided on February 4, 2004), the highest consumer court in the country upheld the decision of the lower court awarding compensation to the consumer who was lured by an agency promising a lucrative job in Abu Dhabi.
Mr Subramanium had paid a recruiting agency Rs 30,000, but his job was terminated a few days after joining and he was sent back to India.
Even though the recruiting agency promised him another job, it never happened.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in this case upheld the order of the Andhra Pradesh State Commission directing the agent to refund Rs 30,000 along with interest calculated at the rate of 12 per cent, besides a compensation of Rs 5,000.
Here is a general note of caution: Do not pay service charges (or any money) to any agency promising a job, without making enquiries about it.
Ask the agency for the list of those who have taken their services and check with them.
Most important, contact the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi police (or whichever state the agency is in) and ask them about the track record of the agency. You can also talk to the local police.
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