August 4th 2014
A job-seeking graduate from Aberdeen lost hundreds of pounds after signing up to a fake oil and gas industry training course.
The graduate was informed by fake startup site First Oil Energy that he would be offered a post on the condition that he completed an online training course with Oil Education, to whom he paid a three figure sum. However, Oil Education then contacted him to say that the fee quoted had been incorrect and the correct amount should be an additional £1000, adding that they would refund the sum already paid. However, when no refund was received, the victim got in touch wth the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline, who in turn referred the complaint to Trading Standard, who established that both websites- registered in the previous two months by non-trading UK individuals – appeared to be part of an elaborate scam.
Further enquiries revealed that much of the website content had been copied from legitimate companies, including the biographies of the directors and the company names and addresses.
Registration information for most websites can be checked through a ‘Whois’ search, such as the Nominet Whois tool (http://www.nominet.org.uk/uk-domain-names/about-domain-names/domain-lookup-whois/whois-tool) which shows the name and address given by the registrant for websites in the UK domain. The company is unlikely to be reputable and well-established if the website has only recently been registered, or the registrant is a named individual, particularly one who wishes to withhold his address, or declares they are “non-trading”. In such a case, you should be extremely cautious about having financial dealings.
Aberdeen City Council Carole Jackson, Aberdeen City Council Environmental Health and Trading Standards Manager, said: “We are concerned that people looking to improve their career opportunities are being targeted by such websites. There are genuine online learning course providers, and a list of those applicable to the Oil and Gas industry can be checked on the website of OPITO, the industry’s focal point for skills, training and workforce development.”