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I recently went for an interview for a new job, the interview took place in the restaurant of a hotel in Euston, UK.

They called 2 days later to inform me I got the job of a customer service advisor with salary £20k+ and would like me to sign a contract. Then they informed me I would have to pay £180 for an ISO 9001 accreditation before employment commences. The signing of contract took place in a rented office in Moorgate.

Alarm bells are ringing. I told them about my concerns and I needed more time to think about it. Is this a legitimate offer?

I have only spoken to one person during this whole encounter and the website seems dubious with the following information.

If we employ you directly, it will be under our employment and career development (ECD) program. Because we are an ISO 9001 affiliate network company, you will be required to become an accredited member of the Institute of Quality Management Excellence and to follow an accredited career development plan created for you to the level of your role with us.

You will be required to make full payment for your accreditation as a condition of employment but we will refund any amounts paid out by you after you have been employed with us for a period of (26) weeks.

  • 96
    Sure smells like a scam to me. – paparazzo May 9 '16 at 18:28
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    Do the rest of humanity a favor, report this as fraud. Agree to pay, take undercover law enforcement with you to the next meeting, and get this guy arrested before he screws over anyone else. – candied_orange May 9 '16 at 20:26
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    @CandiedOrange What a wildly inaccurate perception of police sting operations you have. Going into a police station and saying "I want an undercover police officer to come to a meeting with me" is about as effective as saying "the aliens are stealing my brainwaves." Sure, file a police report, but don't expect that they'll drop everything and assign an undercover officer to accompany you to your next meeting. – HopelessN00b May 9 '16 at 20:46
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    @HopelessN00b What a wildly inaccurate perception of what I'm suggesting. What I'm suggesting is that you might have an opportunity to provide the police with more than a report. A chance to meet the offender at a scheduled place and time and give them a chance to incriminate themself for no more investment than going out to lunch is what they call a lead. Don't decide they don't care so casually. You likely won't be the first one complaining. Really the hard part here is finding the right department to send your complaint. Keep calling until you find people that do care. – candied_orange May 9 '16 at 20:56
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    A quick google of the "Institute of Quality Management Excellence" gave me 2 hits - both to the scam job postings. It's possible this institute exists, but I highly doubt it. – Laconic Droid May 16 '16 at 13:48
269

It's a scam. ISO 9000/9001 accreditation is about quality in a company, not individuals (I've worked in an ISO 9000 company).

To be accredited, the company needs to define their quality system for all aspects of their business. It is then audited to ensure that it is acceptable and that they follow it.

Making you pay up for accreditation is likely part of an advanced fee fraud, where there will always be "just one more" thing to pay for before starting the non-existent job.

Just imagine the guy asking you is emailing from Lagos, Nigeria, and how you'd react to that; it's the same scam.

  • 93
    There was a problem with your accreditation but we can clear that up for another 250 then you should be able to start next week. Ohh did I mention the deposit we need on the computer you will be assigned. Its a top of the line computer and the deposit is completely refundable... Ohh about parking... – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 9 '16 at 20:41
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    "iso 9000/9001 accreditation is about quality in a company" This is 100% true. I work for such a company as well. Not only that, but accreditation costs far more than £180. – Nathan Osman May 10 '16 at 2:37
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    That's not exactly true. ISO 9000/9001 is a accreditation about the quality management system in a company. There is a subtle difference, which is of course not relevant here. – Josef May 10 '16 at 7:52
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    Also, if you've given them your banking information, change it and change it yesterday. – Ethan The Brave May 10 '16 at 19:51
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    Yup agreed - I've worked for several ISO-accredited organisations and never once have I been asked for any money: the company gets ISO 9000/1, not the individual. Even if you do need it, the company should be fronting the cost, not you! – Jon Story May 11 '16 at 11:06
115

As someone who is a ISO 9001 certified auditor, I can tell you that:

  1. This is a scam. You cannot get an ISO/9001 certification (it's not possible); you can only be certified as an auditor and even then it doesn't cost 180 GBP (its way more).

  2. Your "sixth sense" is right on this one. This is a ruse. I can almost guarantee that if you pasted some paragraph from your contract into Google you'll find that it's either a template or common sample contracts available online.

  3. Even if you ignore everything else, if there is a requirement for a job to get certified (and a candidate is not), the company pays for the certification in lieu of a work bond or other such undertaking. They most definitely don't ask for money upfront.

In fact, in general if you are asked for money upfront during the hiring process it is almost always a scam.

  • I upvote this answer because it's the only one which uses the word "certification", not "accreditation". Please see ISO 9000 – scaaahu May 10 '16 at 14:43
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    @scaaahu within the industry, "accreditation" is incredibly widely used and understood. Hence why nearly everyone in the thread uses that phrase. – Jon Story May 11 '16 at 11:11
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    While it is remotely possible that getting a new job involves cost that you need to pay out of your own pocket, even in that worst case the company would pay for it and deduct it from your wages. The only situation where I ever paid money to a company that employed me was paying for my lunch in the canteen :-) – gnasher729 May 11 '16 at 12:39
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    @scaaahu the two terms are interchangeable in the way they're being used here. – Rob Moir May 12 '16 at 6:29
54

It's definitely not normal practice here in London for an employer to require an employee to pay anything at all before starting a new job.

This is so unusual that you have either come across a remarkably stingy employer, or (more likely) this is a scam.

Also, the thing they're asking you to pay for sounds like a load of nonsense: ISO 9001 is an accreditation which applies to organisations, not individual employees:

The ISO 9000 family of quality management systems standards is designed to help organizations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product. ISO 9000 deals with the fundamentals of quality management systems, including the eight management principles upon which the family of standards is based. ISO 9001 deals with the requirements that organizations wishing to meet the standard must fulfill.

Action Fraud has a page about employment/recruitment scams:

When you pay one fee (eg: a visa administration fee), the agency will tell you about another fee that has to be paid (eg: a deposit on accommodation). In reality, the fraudulent agency makes none of these arrangements.

What’s more, the fraudsters may also ask for your bank account details to set up salary payments. They will use these details to steal money from your account.

Some employment fraudsters ask the applicant to pay a fee in order to apply for a job.

In reality, there is no job and any fees paid go straight to the fraudsters.

In summary: run a mile.

  • 48
    And run that mile towards the police station. Call the cops. – Mindwin May 9 '16 at 19:46
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    If something is required for you to complete your job in a safe manner, your employer is required to provide it. – Aron May 10 '16 at 2:36
  • @Aron that's more about a safe working environment: emphasis "safe" manner. They don't have to provide everything you need to do your job, although the vast majority will. Example: Doctors have to pay for their own registration – Jon Story May 11 '16 at 11:09
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    But not to the employer. – gnasher729 May 11 '16 at 12:40
  • Although if you are from overseas, it is common to ask the employee to pay for their own visa upfront. The key is that this money is going straight to the government, not through the employer. – WetlabStudent May 12 '16 at 8:01
16

Further to all the answers about why asking to pay for ISO-9001 accreditation is a sign of a scam, something which hasn't been touched on.

If I'm going for a job with a company, I expect to have at least one interview at the place I'm going to work. Remember that YOU are interviewing THEM as well, and you're going to be spending a lot of time there over the next few years. Do the facilities look OK? (But also be suspicious of vastly over-expensive crap if the company is not making a honking great profit, as per all those famous failed internet startups.) Do the people look OK? How's the parking? Do you need to allow an extra hour for traffic?

There are three exceptions to this. One is if the company is so big that it's worth them hiring an entire hotel for a new-intake event. In that case you'd be in a large group of other potential hires. The second is if I'm a contractor, in which case I have a signed contract before I start and either I'm working through an agency or (if going direct) I get paid weekly so I'm not left out of pocket if things go south. And the third is if your skill-set is so specialised and you're such a star player that it's worth their while to headhunt you and take you out to a fine-dining restaurant to try to persuade you to join their team. You don't fit any of those categories.

Oh, and if they say it's a new startup, that's fine. You then decide whether you can take that risk though. And as a ground-level employee, you want some shares.

  • 4
    "How's the parking?" - in Moorgate? Poor to non-existent. – Steve Jessop May 10 '16 at 12:38
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    For completeness, I would add the case of an office manager being hired to set up the London office they now need because of expansion of their UK business. – Patricia Shanahan May 10 '16 at 19:10
  • @PatriciaShanahan true, but in that case it's typically going to fall under the "Rent out a conference centre/hotel" type of arrangement – Jon Story May 11 '16 at 11:12
  • @PatriciaShanahan I would expect to be flown to their New York head office in that case. – Martin Bonner Oct 18 '18 at 10:36
9

You might be dealing with the alleged scammer in this video.

Explanation

By googling for the term

"If we employ you directly, it will be under our employment and career development (ECD) program."

I found that a similar scam had also been run using the website www.staffinder.co.uk.

Further googling for staffinder uk scam lead to this website, where a number of people describe similar scans and one person links to the video mentioned above.

Please note that I have no means to independently verify that the man in the video is indeed a scammer, but if OP recognizes that man, it might help in identifying and reporting him.

  • Doing a Whois for the domain ACCESSHR.CO gives contact name Mildred Myers but email johnphillipsjr@ymail.com – Martin Smith May 15 '16 at 13:12
  • The email address is not at the domain ? (Ymail was, IIRC, a Yahoo! wannabee, some long time ago) – Mawg Dec 12 '16 at 18:21

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