How a Delhi-based Keralite teacher survived Nidhi Razdan-like phishing bid

Days after popular television journalist Nidhi Razdan revealed the shocking story of a phishing attack, another woman professional based in New Delhi has shared a similar experience.

While Razdan fell prey to online fraudsters who made her believe that she was selected for a teaching post at the Harvard University, Nidhi Jacob, an English language trainer, survived a similar fraud as she smelled something fishy when the scamster demanded money.

Jacob, whose parents are from Vazhoor in Kottayam, is settled in New Delhi.

Turn of events

Jacob applied for a teaching post in the University of Malmo, Sweden, attended an interview online and was selected for the job.

However, what should have been the joy of her life turned a nightmare when she realised that she was being cheated by a 'faceless' cyber fraudster.

Jacob and her husband's alertness saved her from the cheat as she had had a second thought before depositing the amount sought by the fraudster who impersonated the head of the human resources department of the Swedish varsity.

“I applied for the job as I came across a notification on the website at the end of August. Then the person who claimed to be the HR head contacted me by email and we communicated over three to four months over the recruitment. Finally, I was given a contract on the university's letterhead signed by the dean of the university,” Jacob told Onmanorama.

The job notification that appeared on the website.

She said she was asked to pay $2,000 as a share of the rent to be paid for her accommodation once she reaches Sweden.

Doubts arise

While the very demand for a share of the rent itself was a cause of concern, Jacob became more suspicious as the impersonator gave the account details of a person instead of the institution's.

“I was told that the bank account details were of a lawyer representing the varsity. It was not convincing and hence I decided to contact the university directly,”Jacob said.

“The university official said there was no such post and the varsity would not ask for money from any employee. Later that evening, I emailed the official a copy of the ‘contract’ I had signed thinking it was from the university,” she said.

The interview that was not

Jacob was selected for the job after an interview that sounded authentic to her. “It was supposed to be an online video interview. However, the video was turned off citing poor network. There was only one person on the board and he sounded very authentic to me,” she said.

The job notification has since been taken off from the website. Jacob has sent an email to the website about the fake notification, but she has not received any reply yet.

The fake job contract issued to Nidhi Jacob by the fraudster.

The last message

Jacob did let the fraudster know that he had been exposed. “I just sent him a WhatsApp message saying that I had figured that it was a scam. I also asked him why he would cheat people of their money,”she said.

Asked how she reflects on the entire episode, she said, “I was a bit disappointed but I do think I was cautious enough. That's why I didn't send the money.”

Jacob has informed the Swedish Embassy in India about the fraud and the authorities there, according to her, have acknowledged that they were aware of such incidents. She has not initiated any legal step yet.

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