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Scam Internships?

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They've got a London address, they gave me a phone interview, and they popped up on a graduate recruitment portal - they must be legit, right?

They've got a London address, they gave me a phone interview, and they popped up on a graduate recruitment portal - they must be legit, right?

Wrong. Last week the Telegraph reported the case of one Julie Ellis, whose daughter paid out £400 to 'European Medical Assistance' (EMA) for six weeks abroad helping out aboard air ambulance services, and never heard from them again. As it turns out, EMA is entirely bogus - but that didn't stop it making it onto a number of graduate job portals.

In fact, a bit of digging shows that the EMA internship fraud caught out a whole crop of prospective travellers.A facebook group, 'EMA Internship', set up to bring together victims of the scam has so far attracted 33 members - all of whom have lost the £400 deposit. Many more have shared their experiences online.

The problem, it seems, isn't just the unscrupulous types behind these front organisations. It's the graduate job portals which advertise them. The appearance of an advert for an exciting-looking internship or work experience placement on an above board website doesn't guarantee anything. Many job portal sites won't vouch for the reliability of those who advertise with them. Internweb.com, which was made aware of the scam by the Telegraph, still appears to have the EMA ad on its site.

A realistic-looking company website is no guarantor either. EMA's website is still up. Have a look for yourself - would you immediately rumble the ploy? Somebody even seems to have tried to cover their tracks on the student room thread dedicated to EMA.

The moral of the story here is to be careful whom you trust. Always check the credentials of recruitment websites and stick to accountable organisations like the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. Be especially wary of blogs like that don't show any obvious contact details at all and be sure to take as many names, addresses, phone numbers and contact details as possible.

If you pay with paypal it's not impossible to get your money back - but it's not easy. You might save yourself a lot of stress by running a few preliminary checks.

arnab datta grb author

Arnab has a BSc (Hons) degree in Economics and Economic History from the LSE and is a Chartered Accountant (ACA).

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