UK Jobfishing Scams Leave Employees Moneyless

Latest “jobfishing” scam from UK-based business, Madbird, has left employees in debt.


Madbird Jobfishing Scam

Many job applicants have been left in debt after being “jobfished” into working for Madbird, a UK-based business. The same has left multiple employees without payment and one former staff member in as much as £10,000 worth of debt.

Ali Ayad created the illusion of a legitimate business using fake senior personnel profiles and stolen images. From this, he hired applicants on self-employment contracts and did not pay staff wages.

In an investigation by the BBC, it was found that no one got paid. They had been promised salary payment upon completion of their probation period and were under the impression that up until then they would be working on a commission-only basis.

Even though some employees were working there for nearly six months, they were never given a penny. The scam was revealed after two employees starting looking into the company’s set up.


Beware of ‘Jobfishing’

The Madbird scheme is sadly just one example of ‘jobfishing’, with many scams underway to target vulnerable individuals. To look out for jobfishing, there are certain key factors to take into account.

A scam job is a job that promises a lot but in reality is completely different, if it exists at all. It may also aim to get things from you like money, personal details or identification documents.

Consumer publication Which? say that a job scam will probably look like a ‘dream job’ that is likely too good to be true.

It might offer big money for people with few skills, qualifications or experience.


What are Digital Privacy Experts Saying?

River Hart, Digital Privacy Expert at ProPrivacy comments on the ‘jobfishing’ scandal:

It’s easy to imagine digital scams as high-tech operations run by cybercriminals, however, the biggest threat to your online security and your livelihood can come from meticulous social engineering posing as seemingly legitimate opportunities.

Ali Ayad’s elaborate Madbird scam is a devastating example. Ayad had enough charisma to keep the charade alive and tailored incentives to ensnare victims – victims searching for stable work during the pandemic, and even hoping to earn a UK Visa.

Our workplaces are largely digital these days, and scammers like Ayad have been able to leverage this new normal to their advantage. The lengths Ayad went to create fake employees with emails, LinkedIn profiles, and stolen headshots and bios gave Madbird’s online presence legitimacy that was difficult to question remotely.

The story highlights the importance of asking these questions whenever suspicions arise, and it doesn’t have to be an overly technical process. Google Maps and reverse image searching proved to be vital tools in taking apart Ayad’s scheme.

Job hunters should be particularly wary when browsing LinkedIn. The site has no shortage of employment scams, be they bogus recruiters or entirely fabricated firms, so it’s important to temper your eagerness with a healthy amount of caution. Utilise tools like reverse image search to verify the identities of key personnel, ask yourself if the incentives sound too good to be true, and be wary of unsolicited DMs or emails containing links.