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Fraudsters cash-in on the mining boom

WHILE promises of large pay packets continue to lure workers to the mining industry, there are groups profiting from the boom by ripping-off jobseekers, leaving them unemployed and out of pocket. <b>Kristie Batten</b> reports

Kristie Batten
Fraudsters cash-in on the mining boom

While recruitment scams are not a new concept, fraudulent companies targeting wannabe miners are becoming more common as the resource boom continues.

In April, job advertisements in Brisbane’s Courier Mail, placed by companies called Tripec Labourhire and Shutdown Service, appealed for hospitality workers for mines in Karratha and promised a Red Card at the end of three months.

Jenna-Lee McPherson’s partner Tristan Wilde had been eager to get a job in the mines and responded to the newspaper ad.

“My partner called them up and they said that you did three months as a cleaner, cook or laundry person in a Karratha mine, and if they liked you at the end of the three-month period, they would give you your machine tickets and a raise,” she told MiningNews.net.

McPherson said within a week of Wilde emailing his resume, a return email was received informing Wilde his application had been successful.

He was asked to deposit $515 into a bank account to cover half of his first airfare to Karratha, which was a Qantas flight due to leave on May 12.

After Wilde quit his job, the couple sold everything and moved in with Wilde’s parents in Sydney until they were due to move across the country.

“After we paid them the money, we got a receipt and never heard from them again,” said McPherson, who was 8 months pregnant at the time.

“We tried calling and emailing them constantly but we heard nothing.”

According to reports, dozens of people were caught up in the scam, some even showing up at the airport on May 11, only to be told there was no such flight.

McPherson and Wilde notified the Queensland Fraud Squad, Qantas, the Karratha mines and also the police.

“We would like to take action but there’s no one to take action against,” she said.

The scam has cost them more than just the fee paid to Tripec. The couple and their newborn son are still living with Wilde’s parents and Wilde has only just found another job, though not in the mines as he wanted.

An internet search of the company names failed to show up anything except negative press and forums with posts from victims discussing the hoax and other potential scams.

Just last month, Roger Temple Bell was fined $3000 by a Cairns magistrate for advertising jobs for a fake gold mine in North Queensland and charging job seekers $50 to apply for a “guaranteed job”

"Investigations found Mr Bell had misrepresented the availability of jobs and had deliberately altered photos of an old gold mine known as the Regent Gold Mine to try and entice potential applicants into thinking jobs were readily available," Queensland Attorney General Kerry Shine said in a statement.

Bell’s website is still operating, however the name has been changed from “Regent Gold Mine” to “Mine Jobs Australia”. The site offers a variety of mining guides for sale such as a mining dictionary, interview strategies, an induction course and machinery courses.

The company has no phone number and MiningNews.net was told via email that Bell is on extended leave.

Shine said that due to the mining boom, a range of well-paid jobs were available, but job seekers should be wary of promises of guaranteed jobs or requests for upfront fees.

Rio Tinto is also aware of mining recruitment scams and said neither Rio Tinto nor any recruitment agency engaged by the company would request an upfront payment from a prospective employee.

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