Watch out for this Universal Jobmatch scam

Much has been written, both on this blog and elsewhere, about the serious problems with both the security of the DWP’s ‘Universal Jobmatch’ (UJ) system, and with the quality (or lack of, to be precise) of the jobs posted up there.

Many have commented that many of the jobs on the system are fake – but the DWP, via its Jobcentre Plus (JCP) centres, continues to pressure jobseekers to use it, even though they have no legal power to do so, even regularly going so far as to ‘direct’ jobseekers to do so.

Those concerns about the genuineness of jobs on UJ appear to be entirely justified, and the SKWAWKBOX has received an example which I’m posting here so that others who are being forced or pressed to use this woefully inadequate and insecure system can watch out for it and not fall into the trap.

A couple of days ago, I received this by email from one of a professional, unemployed couple who are both facing severe pressure from their JCP adviser to use the system:

On Monday was I got a phone call  and email to go to XXXXXX to have an interview. The ad is in all the usual job agency lists, so it is quite numerous on the internet.   It is offering an entry level position in IT support, and I applied for it last week.
When I turned up, it was a nice office in a nice location, but it seemed to me that perhaps the room was hired perhaps for the day.  It started with regular questions but it went on to basically offer me work once I have spent six weeks doing Microsoft Certified Professional qualifications which cost £750 (but I would put down a deposit to show my commitment and only when I started work properly, would I repay the rest.)   Once I had passed the two exams, then I would be employed for the man who was interviewing me and he would send me to his clients.
Well, I finished my interview in good faith, but was worried about paying anybody any kind of money for very hurried training all at my own risk.
I left it that I would speak with my husband about it, and that he would send me an email with all the details, including a copy of the contract that I would be asked to sign.  So far I haven’t received his email, however I saw the same job re-advertised again yesterday, through computer weekly the online jobs list, where I found the first one.  I guess that he managed to get enough people to sign his contract straightaway, that it wasn’t necessary for me to receive his information.
Anyway, I think it is another scam, but obviously I don’t know for sure.   He took a copy of my CV (which I already sent with my application anyway) and a photocopy of my passport details page.
I think there’s very little doubt that this is indeed a scam – one designed to extort money from vulnerable people, and to obtain their private details in a way that makes them vulnerable to identity theft. Here are some excerpts from the job ad in question:

XXXXXXX has some very challenging growth targets for the next few years so we’re really looking for someone who can hit the ground running and who has the knowledge and passion to drive efficiencies, make changes and grow with the business.

Qualifications Required:

You must have at least 5 G.C.S.E Grades (C and above) or equivalent, Maths and English is a must.

Training to be provided:

Systems and Networking Apprenticeship – • Microsoft Technical Associate (MTA)• City and Guilds certificate in IT Systems and Principles• City and Guilds Level 3 Diploma in IT Professional Competence.

Weekly Wage £: £150.00

‘Hit the ground running’ – in other words, ready to make a fast start and an immediate impact. Hardly consistent with looking for an ‘apprentice’.

‘Training to be provided’ – a company providing training to its new employees does not mean ‘we’ll train you and charge you a sum equal to 5 weeks’ wages for it’, nor does the qualification offered at a cost match the full list of training the employer commits to in the ad.

None of this is in line with an ‘apprenticeship’, which is what the company claims to be offering. Instead, the company – which has but a single director – appears to be relying on pressure applied by JCP advisers and the threat of sanctions to manipulate people into first attending the interview and then into handing over money for training that would be provided at the company’s expense if this were a genuine opportunity.

It was already obvious that the DWP under Smith and Hoban are ignorant of – or prepared to forget – the limits to their own powers over benefit claimants. The more evidence and examples come to light, the more obvious it is that they are reckless with regard to the wellbeing of those who are forced to ask for financial support.

Watch out for this scam and others like it. And if you’ve ticked the box on the JCP form agreeing to use UJ and to give the DWP access to your account, rescind that permission. If you were told you must accept, you were given incorrect information and did not therefore give informed consent, and you have a right to withdraw it.

The DWP/JCP do not even have a right to specify how you report on your jobsearch activity, let alone which system you use to carry it out (or for that matter whether you use any kind of online platform).

They won’t, of course, volunteer this information to you – but don’t let them infringe your legal rights by ignorance, misdirection and unethical pressure.

36 responses to “Watch out for this Universal Jobmatch scam

  1. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Following on directly from my article on the DWP’s claims about benefit claimants going digital yesterday, I’m delighted to reblog this piece, discussing exactly the kind of scam I mentioned in the segment on Universal Jobmatch. The advice at the end is vitally important for anybody who doesn’t want to be mugged by a system that has been set up in a way that opens them up to exploitation – not only by the DWP but by unscrupulous criminals who claim to be employers.

    • Hi Mike – I’m new to this site One thing that I find is that when I log onto UJM the system crashes!
      I assume that DWP were uscrupulous criminals!

  2. It takes more than 6 weeks to train to that level. One Microsoft exam can be done on a 1 week course if you already know the subject and the course for one costs around £1000 if you go to a decent training company. If you want to do it on your own I recommend CBT nuggets some good books and the exams are around £100.

  3. I wonder if the police should investigate this? It certainly seems like a racket

    • Unfortunately, It would need one of the applicants to make a complaint.

      Getting the story onto Rip Off Britain would be good. The training etc may be bona fide, it is the recruitment method which is very dodgy!

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  6. Hi Skywalker, thanks for keeping me informed. I am currently unemployed and decided not to sign on because of the hassle of having to keep showing evidence about applying for jobs. As if it was not enough that I am applying, getting some interviews but not a job was not bad enough but one gets the impression it is not good enough. Enough said about the benefit scroungers in the media, I am not claiming or getting any benefits. When I was, I was not entitled to, after 12 weeks, interest on my mortgage let alone any council tax reductions, or prescription charges or dental treatment. And I have not got that much of savings. The whole thing is a big scam being run by this government!

    Santosh Rishi Date: Sun, 6 Oct 2013 22:09:45 +0000 To:

  7. I have noticed this sort of thing is rife on other job boards as well. Some recruiters ask for money up front for ‘self-employed opportunities’ and ‘training courses’. It’s a minefield

    • I think many people may believe that UJ is safe as it is a government site and unscrupulous opportunists will take advantage of this fact. Plus, Jobseekers are being forced to use the site.

  8. Is it ‘Monster’ who run Universal Job Match? They have a reputation for dodgy vacancies. There really ought to be strict monitoring of all job boards but don’t hold your breath.

  9. I far as I can tell it looks like quite a small ebay/online mail order business being run from a house in London, nothing wrong with that.

    But I can’t see where a high tech IT person comes in to it anywhere, – perhaps they think they’re getting ripped-off by the person/company currently looking after the sites. Or..

    Going by the required qualifications it very much looks like they’re going for young people 16-24, where they can get a £1500 apprentice grant.

    “Weekly Wage £: £150.00”

    “a photocopy of my passport details page.”

    Professional, unemployed couple are going to have to get streetwise quick. It’s not clear to me whether the interview was conducted by one of the agencies staff or one of the companies staff.

    After having reported fake jobs to JCP myself in the past – Good luck with that!

  10. Lots of people constantly state that you do not have to give permission for the job centre to access your ujm account . You do ! The rules of jsa are that you must follow the advisors directions , they direct you to tick the box giving your consent , if you don’t your breaching your agreement. And they can sanction you . Anyway , if your doing what your supposed to be doing why hide . Its obviously the job seekers who are just goin thru the motions who are the ones unwilling to share their job search information .

  11. The scam jobs are sadly many and varied. Self-employed door-to-door sales jobs are the most common ones I’ve come across.

    My experience with the Universal Jobmatch at my jobcentre has been quite different to the experiences here though. Staff at my jobcentre will always sigh and show great annoyance when I tell them I use UJ. “Which idiot told you to do that?” was the funniest response I got from – and from the most senior member of staff who checks your jobsearch at that.

    Through chats with various staff it’s clear they’re aware of the number of scam jobs but are powerless to do much about it themselves. One commented that the new system is to blame and that it’s one of the reasons he’s fed up with it. Others just generally get annoyed with having to log into the system every time someone who uses it comes along and then being randomly kicked out of the system every so often…

    All in all the staff on the ground where I am have more problems with it than the jobseekers. I personally quite like it as I find online searching easier to use and record on. Plus it means no more losing my search record and makes applying for multiple jobs easier.

    Rare that IDS would do something I like and the jobcentre don’t but there you go…

  12. hi i got 3 months santion because i applied for cleaning job given to me by jobcentre plus and when i applied i was told by email responce that job was taken a week before i applied plymouth devonport jobcentre than said they dont believe i applied and santion me to no benefits untill 14th jan 2014 i applied for serco hospital cleaning on their site on 24th september i have the reply back from them on my email address but the jobcentre still saying i didnt i am also signed up to serco agency. can anyone help please. it doesnt seem right it like i been made one of their targets. i have only been on benefits a month. i worked since i was 19 years old i am 42 years old now. please help.

  13. This bastard is really out of order, to exploit people who he must be aware are suffering and being exploited by the Jobcentre staff with the threat of sanctions given if they happen to sneeze in the office. I have spoken with friends of mine who are also going through the horrific Jobcentre humiliation process and we have come up with a solution to the increasing numbers of sick, unethical, half educated, toffs who are more than willing to promise desperate people false hopes through dead end useless training, we will arrange to go for an interview, but we will do the interview and find out his client lists and who he intends to place the new graduates with. If his replies don’t turn out to be true and he is just taking the poor applicants money, then he will be invited to sign up for one of our scam courses. First of all we will take the already usurped money he has taken and we will give it back to the naive well intentioned applicant. We will then arrange to interview him weekly, not always at his convenience and we can’t promise daytime appointments. Our course of interviews will run until he gives up his bogus training scam, or his increasing disabilities make it difficult to run his course.

  14. Hi, I am being forced to use Universal Jobmatch but at yet refuse to tick the box allowing jcp to follow and harass me.
    I have discovered many jobs on all usual sites (rapido / reed / cv library etc) are now being automatically transferred to and find this extremely suspicious considering the one job I did decide to just go for after the transfer to Direct Gov did not go further than take my cv and cease up any furthering to the actual application.

    Has anyone else had this happen? Am I being paranoid? or is this actually extremely suspicious?

  15. The reasoning behind the company stating that “training to be provided” is because the Job Centre tell you that you MUST apply for jobs where training is offered. It’s essentially forcing you in to the trap..

  16. Pingback: Watch out for this Universal Jobmatch scam | annabellalaws·

  17. I have noticed recently that a lot of jobs are being advertised through a agency in the name of secret recruit a firm based in watford. I have applied for several vacancies but could somebody tell me if this is a genuine site.

  18. Que Consultants, Secret Recruit, Search Job Vacancies, Connect Recruitment Solutions, MF Training and Recruitment Solutions, Thomas Reilly…all of these (and probably many MANY more) are FAKE job advertisers on UJ. They use the UJ site in order to generate webhits for their own s**tty sites. Absolute parasitical vermin, preying on the poor and vulnerable in order to turn a quick buck.

    • Another fake jobsite preying on the desperate, and also using and abusing a number of companies in the process (including Tesco and Morrisons no less)
      Fictitious jobs on Jobcentre Plus.

  19. I am glad that there is somewhere we can share our experiences about what happens in the
    Job Centres all around. We now need to develop physical contact eg. Meetings. Forces fighting us are united in all they do against us so we also need to organise ourselves with a hope to create a Job Seekers Union. Whenever you go to sign up make sure to create “friendship” with one if not two people lets get talking people.

  20. I reluctantly turned up for my 1st interview after years of refusing to sign on because of the hassle they at the jobcentre plus are notorious for dishing out.
    The first advisor i saw did her best to make me feel small, but since i remember their tactics, it went straight over my head.
    The second advisor, lacked any kind of energy and didn’t speak to me whilst typing stuff down, when i asked her what she was doing she replied the she was delating templates. Each time i looked at the screen she would turn it off, she did it about 5 times in a 40+ min interview.
    So when it came to my claimant commitment, the advisor didn’t ask me what i can commit to do, she just made up my answers and and told me it is compulsory to agree to everything or risk loosing JSA benefits.
    She didn’t actually tell me i was signing my claimant commitment, as soon as she handed me the form, she then started to speak to me about my actions for finding work. Just blurting out, I will use job sites and employer websites. I will log on to Universal job match…….. I will…..I will 9 different, I wills in total. I asked if it is compulsory and she said yes. That was the only time she spoke to me in length.
    So its to no surprise that my advisor stitched me up, by making out that i have agreed to the above and,
    Be available for all types of work
    Travel within 90 each way for work
    Work for any hours on any day, any day of the week for min 40hrs.
    So in reality i would have broken my agreement already.

    what do you think i should do? I won’t let her get away with it, i just wanna know what you would do.

    People in the struggle x

  21. If you think that’s bad then try having 3 of the latest iPhones brought in your name and with your bank details. Now you may think it stupid to give your bank details out but they said it was for verification and it all seemed fine to do so, even more so when you want that job. However my partner and I have been dealing with this since December and it is still not resolved and the amount of times the adviser at jcp has been told they haven’t said much or done anything about it and we have been to action fraud about it because you cannot speak to the police about it and yet we are still receiving threatening letters from the phone companies.

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