The Cyberabad Police on Friday arrested the CEO of job portal wisdomjobs.com and 13 other employees for cheating over one lakh job seekers in India and the Middle East to the tune of nearly Rs 70 crore.
Ajay Kolla, CEO of Wisdom IT Services India Private Limited and the other accused were taken into custody by the cyber crime wing of Cyberabad Police on the complaint of an applicant, a resident of Hyderabad.
The victims are mainly from India, Middle East, South Africa, Egypt, Qatar, Netherlands, Jordan, Lebanon, UK, Sri Lanka, Australia and Malaysia.
The arrests were announced by Cyberabad Police Commissioner V. C. Sajjanar at a press conference. He did not rule out further arrests in the case saying that investigations were on.
Cyberabad is one of the three police commissionerates covering the limits of Hyderabad and its surroundings.
The accused were arrested under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (cheating) and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act (impersonation).
Police said 2.85 crore people had registered online with the job portal, which was operating from Cyber Towers in Hitec City, the information technology hub.
Investigations revealed that the company was collecting money from the applicants for services like resume preparation, resume forwarding and interviews.
"These were fake interviews conducted by the employees of the portal sitting in their office here, impersonating as the officials of different global companies offering the jobs," said the police chief.
Yedukondalu Gannavarapu, the complainant, told police that he was offered a job in Ravan General Petroleum, said to be from the Middle East. A woman, who identified herself as Angela Bose, HR manager of Ravan Petroleum, interviewed him for 40 minutes on the phone. He had paid $150 for resume forwarding and after the interview he paid another $525 on receiving a call from one Jessy of the same company. When he did not receive any communication subsequently and he could not reach Wisdon IT Service office over phone or even physically, he lodged a complaint with the police on January 21.
The investigations revealed that Nikhita Jain, Sales Executive, Consumer Sales Division, Gulf spoke as Angela while another sales executive Madhuri Veepuri spoke as Jessy. The two accused were among those arrested.
The Police commissioner said Ajay Kolla who floated the company in 2010 had two job portals - wisdomjobs.com and wisdomjobsgulf.com for job seekers in India and the Gulf respectively.
The company had collected Rs 28 crore from 69,962 applicants in India and about Rs 40 crore in US dollars from 35,000 job seekers in the Gulf.
Out of the 2.85 crore people from 26 countries registered on the portals, 25 lakh were registered in the Gulf. The majority of the company's monthly income of Rs 2 crore was coming from the Gulf countries.
The company had 240 employees, with two separate teams including telecallers with specialised skills to speak to the applicants in fluent English with a foreign accent to trap them into paying the money.
The India job website was showing 3.59 lakh job opportunities while Gulf job was claiming 1.74 lakh career opportunities. It also claimed to have tie-ups with several companies in the Gulf.
"We will write to the government to get the information from Indian embassies in those countries to find out if the companies named by Wisdomjobs exist or not," the police commissioner said.
Every day 20,000 job seekers were registering themselves with the portal in India while the number in the Gulf was 3,000. Out of them 2,000 to 3,000 were selected by the teams of Wisdomjobs, making frequent telephones calls asking them to pay $150 to $1,500 dollars for resume writing, resume highlighting and forwarding. To convince the applicants, the company was even using false appointment orders.
Police said the company shared the data of the applicants with other firms and suspect the same was misused.The commissioner said victims in India, Gulf and other countries may share the information with him on firstname.lastname@example.org and WhatsApp number 9490617444.