Chefs are you reading? – Recruitment Scams, How To Spot Them!

If there is such a place as Chef Jobs hell (aside from the one I inhabit) then there’s a special place reserved there for a certain Sir Chirr Rouchael. To western ears, especially those of us born and raised in the Anglosphere, that might sound like an unlikely name to choose when cooking up a catering & hospitality recruitment scam. You’d assume, wouldn’t you, that any recruitment scammer or shakedown merchant wouldn’t want you to pause, for long enough, while reading his  “job pitch” to wonder to yourself about the peculiarities of their fictional name.

 Hospitality Jobs and Hospitality Recruitment Scams

However this particular recruitment scam isn’t aimed at westerners, least of all those from the anglosphere. Nope, this is aimed squarely at those chefs, and hospitality professionals, who want to get to the west, are perhaps even desperate to get to the west. Desperation, as you’ll find out if you read on, is the handmaiden of poor judgement and when you’re being gamed, rightly gamed, one bad judgement call leads to another and another. The idea, always, is to seek upfront one reasonably sizeable lump sum. The sum of money initially involved must be small enough to seem like a reasonable price for the rewards on offer but large enough to ensure that the victim, whether a chef or not, is fully invested or “has skin in the game.” Once that initial investment is made it’s just a matter of reeling the victim in deeper and deeper all the while pushing them further and further away from any chef jobs they’ve been dreaming of getting

There’s No New Hospitality Recruitment Scams

So how come I’m writing about this and why now? That’s a fair question. The kernel for this post started germinating a few days ago as I was scanning through the pages of another chef recruitment blog. Out of a pile of  posts, covering the usual subjects recruitment professionals (or amateurs, the difference is getting paid) obsess about, my eye was drawn to a story about recruitment phishing scams. That set me thinking about other recruitment scams (expect me to revisit recruitment phishing scams in another post later on) I’ve bumped into in the past. If only tangentially, I’ve been aware that recruitment is an area ripe for scams if for no reason other than the frequency with which I field enquiries from Chefs, always Chefs from overseas, about how much our fees are to put them into chef jobs. It always struck me as notable the relatively high number of Chefs who expect us to charge them for our services. It’s notable because the custom and practice, indeed in our part of the world the industry standard, is that the client/employer pays us to find the Chef and not the other way around. That’s the rule, you don’t bill the chefs.

Deceptive Catering Recruitment Job Ad

Deceptive Catering Recruitment Job Ad

How I Lost My Innocence When It Comes To Catering Recruitment

However that wasn’t the only reason this subject set my radar on fire. No! No because a couple of years ago, while grinding my way through hundreds of web searches, I came across an astonishing job advertisement. This advertisement was offering a bewildering variety of hospitality jobs, i.e. not just chef jobs, and this is the time and place I first set eyes on the name Sir Chirr Rouchael. – Over time I’ve come to dislike the person behind this name but my dislike can only be weak stuff in comparison the the enmity Sir Chirr Rouchael’s clients/victims must feel for him – It wasn’t just this guy’s name that jumped off the page at me, it was everything else and the reason was that his advertisement purported to offer a number of positions in a Hotel in my own neighbourhood of Dublin. This Hotel is a quite small and relatively modest operation in the Three Star Hotel category. It offers decent accommodation, at a good location, and at competitive prices. It has a popular bar, lobby/lounge area and a decent dining room.

If the Job Ad Looks Improbable Then Clutch You Wallet Tight

In other words it’s not the sort of Hotel you’d expect to find advertising on an Indian Job Board offering, among other things, jobs for: Wine Stewards,  Dealers, Croupiers, Dance Instructors (I kid you not) or Car Washers. This Hotel has no Casino (I know of no Irish Hotels which have Casinos), it has no Dance Hall and if it were in the business of employing Car Washers it wouldn’t have to look as far away as India to find them. In among this bizarre list of open positions were less exotic ones such as positions for Chef De Parties and Executive Chef etc. Here’s the boilerplate of the job ad as it appeared (check out the screenshot above too):

Company Description

Hotel / Hospitalities Positions Skilled and Un-Skilled
Application Requirement: International Passport holders, Degree or fresher, skilled and unskilled are qualified to apply, pregnant woman, sick man or woman not eligible to apply.
Computer Systems Manager
Hotel Secretary
Printer
Accountant
Receptionist
Gift Shop Manager
Retail Sales Assistant
Dance Instructor
Food & Beverage Manager
Executive Chef
Pastry Chef
Chef de Parties
General Cook
Baker:
Butcher
Cook
Bar attendant
Hotel bar manager
Bar Back
Cocktail waiter / waitress
Wine steward
Cleaner
Car washer
Room cleaner
Sanitation officer
Plumbers
Cashier
Slot Technician Manager/Slot Technician
Dealer/Croupier
Casino Manager
Customer Manager, Fitness trainers, Restaurant/mall workers,
Sales Manager, Receptionists, Drivers, bar boy, Cook,
Food & Beverage Cost Controller/Manager,
Receptionist, Admin asst,
Accountant, Duty Manager, Front Manager,
Computer Applicant,
HRM Manager

Sir Chirr Rouchael

Dublin Skylon Hotel Ireland,

Recruitment Scams Always Look Obvious…When It’s Too Late…

Or if you work in Hospitality Recruitment, you get a nose for these things in our business. Of course to anyone on the ground in Ireland that ad screams SCAM and at decibels that would have smothered Black Sabbath at the peak of their career. And just in case we’re not on the same wavelength let me put it in the plainest possible terms, The Skylon Hotel would have been completely oblivious to this campaign, they’d have known nothing about it, rest assured of that. It wouldn’t be any surprise if they’re still receiving angry phone calls from Sir Chirr Rouchael’s outraged clients.

If you happened to stumble upon this ad then I’m sure, like most people, you’d recognise it for what it is straightaway and assume that this Sir Chirr Rouchael was a sad loser going nowhere fast. You’d think that, and so did I, but you’d be wrong, as was I. Unfortunately, like all scams, its success isn’t dependent on fooling all of the people all of the time; to be a success it must only fool a few, perhaps even only one.

Most of the People, Most of the Time

Sir Chirr Rouchael doesn’t care whether you or I fall into his trap, he cares only that someone does, and when he snares that someone there’s no end to the amount of suffering and loss he’ll inflict on them. All this will be for nothing because there’s no real employer and no real chef jobs at the end of the line. You’ve probably got the gist of the story by now and if you’d rather avoid the grisly details of how people like Sir Chirr Rouchael flay their victims alive then now would be a good time to navigate away (but hopefully not before you subscribe for our updates). However if you’ve got the stomach for it, read on.

Shoddy Recruitment Scams Work Some of the Time and That’s Enough for the Scam Artist

Now that Sir Chirr Rouchael’s ad had triggered my internal alert systems I decided I’d like to discover whether, what was to me, a patently obvious scam had succeeded in suckering anyone and if so what this type of collateral damage looks like in real life. So I went back to what I do best, searching, and quite quickly began to experience that sinking feeling we must all, as fellow humans, experience at the sight of the suffering of others. Its called empathy, something nearly all of us have and without which the world wouldn’t work. However that’s the flaw in the system, societal and human, that permits the proliferation of such swindles. If empathy wasn’t the default setting for the overwhelming majority of people then such schemes wouldn’t work, but then again neither would anything else. The successful swindler to be successful must be either devoid of empathy or have discovered a way to either suppress that feeling in him or herself or have found a way to dehumanise their victims.

Hospitality Recruitment Scam Aftermath

Hospitality Recruitment Scam Aftermath

The Damage Done

The most eloquent description of what the damage from falling for such scams looks like can never do justice to a first hand account so here, in their own words, is what it’s like to get taken for a ride by someone like Sir Chirr Rouchael (there’s a screenshot of this just above):

After a long search to find answer to our questions and doubts, finally we’ve found the answer. My fiance is a victim of this “DUBLIN SKYLON HOTEL – SIR CHIRR ROUCHAEL”. We are too late to know that all of this is a scam. And the saddest part of this is that we have already send them big amount of money for the processing of the documents of my fiance and guaranteed him a job in DUBLIN SKYLON HOTEL as an ADMIN. CUSTOMER SERVICE .

My fiance applied online at this site [email protected] last October 7,2010 and got a reply coming from SIR CHIRR ROUCHAEL on October 13, 2010. And from there on their communication started.

First, SIR CHIRR ROUCHAEL have told my fiance to send money for the processing of his visa application which is 150 POUNDS or 12 THOUSAND PESOS and contact this email add for his visa processing : [email protected] My fiance have send him the money thru WESTERN UNION.

This is the payment details:

RECEIVER’S NAME: DAMIAN GREEN

ADDRESS: 40 HOLBORN VIADUCT LONDON EC1N 2PZ

AMOUNT: 150 POUNDS

After a week, he told my fiance to pay 560 POUNDS or 43 THOUSAND PESOS as a payment for the BRITISH INLAND REVENUE COMMISSION thru PETER VIENTO the BIRC Commisioner and this is his email add: [email protected] . That is A CLEARANCE TAX FEE FOR NON UK APPLICANTS. He also send him the money.

This is the payment details:

RECEIVER’S NAME: DP PETER VIENTO

ADDRESS: GROUND FLOOR 286 EUSTON ROAD LONDON NW13UH LONDON

AMOUNT: 560 POUNDS

My fiance have send an email to SIR CHIRR ROUCHAEL asking if there would be no future payments for the shipment of his documents here in the Philippines and he replied that is the last payment to be made. But after couple of days, he emailed my fiance again and asking him to pay for 375 POUNDS or 27 THOUSAND PHILIPPINE PESO for his registration certificate because he is an immigrant and as advice by a person named ATTORNEY THERESA JESSY HOMER this is her email add: [email protected] as endorsed by SIR CHIRR ROUCHAEL. My fiance send them the money again.

This is the payment details:

RECEIVER’S NAME: ATTORNEY THERESA JESSY CHAMBER

ADDRESS: 90 LONG ACRE ROAD LONDON UNITED KINGDOM

AMOUNT: 375 POUNDS

And according to ATTORNEY THERESA JESSY HOMER, my fiance would need to send her 750 POUNDS or 57 THOUSAND PHILIPPINE PESO for his account opening at HSBC. She said that he would need this account as a supporting financial document for his appearance at the UK EMBASSY in the Philippines. SIR CHIRR ROUCHAEL told my fiance that after we send the payment this would be the last step and his parcel would be delivered in his doorstep after 72 hours. So, my fiance send the money again in western union last December 8, 2010. His documents has been handled by GLOBAL DYNAMIC SECURITY EXPRESS and even received a confirmation message via email by the courier service company.

Last night (December 9, 2010) as we have checked my fiance’s email he had received a message coming from a personnel of GLOBAL DYNAMIC SECURITY EXPRESS that his parcel had been put on hold by the the MALAYSIAN SECURITY VAULT because it doesn’t have the clearance pass. The MALAYSIAN SECURITY VAULT have emailed my fiance that he should pay $1450 or 68 THOUSAND PHILIPPINE PESO. According to them this payment is for his parcel to be cleared and the courier company can continue their delivery for this said parcel. The involved persons here are: HASSAN AMIN and ZURAIDA SALIP.

SIR CHIRR ROUCHAEL had advice that he should pay them the fee and it is beyond their power of control and that there would be no delays because they will contact the UK EMBASSY for the appearance of my fiance and told him that his schedule for travel for UK is on December 19,2010.

So with the last message of ZURAIDA SALIP and HASSAN AMIN and with this big amount of money that they asked and upon research we found out that all of this is a scam. Sad to hear that lots of websites are catering and offering these jobs online connecting with the name of SIR CHIRR ROUCHAEL and DUBLIN SKYLON HOTEL. We are very unlucky that we have get into this situation and spending a big sum of money and losing our hopes and dreams because of believing to this CON ARTIST.

Disclaimer: It must be assumed that all above named people, and entities, are fictitious and that any resemblance to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

The Human Cost of Hospitality Recruitment “Long Cons”

One person duped by this recruitment scam and, let me do the sums for you, Sir Chirr Rouchael is £1835 to the good. At today’s exchange rate that’s $2954.59 (US dollars) or €2200.27 (euros). I would wince in pain at having to take a $2954.59 hit but exactly how painful would that be if you were from the Philippines? Okay, let me take the legwork out of that for you too, GDP Per Capita in the Philippines is $2587 (US dollars per year per person). Painful enough?

The Company Pays, Not the Chef

One very basic lesson here should be to treat with the greatest measure of scepticism anyone who offers to find you work abroad, especially for a fee. There’s a basic rule in recruitment, chef recruitment or any variety of recruitment, the employer pays. When employers use third parties to find them talent of any variety, whether Chefs or any other type of professional, they’re the people seeking a solution to a problem and that solution often, but not always, costs. Why should you as a chef, or hospitality professional, pay to solve someone else’s problem? The answer to that might sound withering but it is the truth, you pay when you’re not the solution to someone else’s problem and if you’re not the solution to an employers problem then whose problem are you solving? If you don’t know the answer to that then my advice is to assume that you’re about to lose the shirt off your back. If you haven’t committed money then consider yourself lucky and make a clean escape now, while you still can.

So stay vigilant and keep your money in your pocket. If you know someone who’s found themselves taken in by one of these recruitment scams please use the comment section below to share their story and please share this blog post as far and wide as you can, the better informed people are the harder life becomes for people like Sir Chirr Rouchael. That’s what we all want, isn’t it?

  • Luc Talon

    after 20 years in Brazil, in 2007 I decided to come back to Europe and i came across an ad looking for a personal chef to cater for a family in England. The salary was good and so were the conditions. it went on for a about a month through mail and telephone calls with the person in charge, until I discovered that they wanted me to pay a fee for non european worker, then i told them i was french and nether heard of them after that.
    So it’s not only about hôtels, they do that also with other type of ad. At the beginning, it looks interesting but they only want you to send them money and there’s no job at all at the end.

    • http://topchefs.wpengine.com/ David Hall

      Luc I’m not surprised, either that they tried to fool you or that they didn’t have the sense to suspect that your name sounded suspiciously French to begin with. The really annoying thing about a lot of these scammers is that they play a numbers game. Yes they’ll have been disappointed by their inability to con you out of your hard earned money but they’ll have just dusted themselves down and moved onto the next Chef unlucky enough to have fallen into their orbit. I’m glad you escaped in time.