A company in Tzaneen, South Africa, which has an international platform (Huntsman International) in conjunction with the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) and DIRCO (Department of International Relations and Cooperation) came to the aid of 10 victims (seven South Africans and 3 non-South African) who were lured to teach English in China under false pretences… writes Bertus de Bruyn from Letaba Herald.
Letaba Herald has seen proof that this scam is also doing the rounds on various social media pages in Tzaneen.
The victims endured months of hell in China before Huntsman International intervened and came to their aid.
The victims were brought back to South Africa and arrived at OR Tambo in two groups, the first on July 3, and the second on July 10.
Huntsman International, an organisation that specialises in international matters would like to warn the public of this scam and to be alert before any youngsters venture into a gap year.
“This is a very well thought out and planned scam which finds victims around the globe to pay over money under the pretences of getting a dream job in China teaching English and earning anything from R20 000 to R50 000 per month,” an agent told Herald.
Most of the victims are recruited by citizens from their home country, via social media platforms, that have been employed by Chinese agencies which supposedly arrange all your flights, get you employment, arrange the necessary working visas (Z Visa) and ensure a happy working experience.
However the common modus operandi is to lure victims into paying anything between R30 000 and R60 000 before leaving to ensure all goes well.
“The victims are given flight tickets and are issued with normal visitors visas (L Visa). On arrival in China the victims are told that they will have to go through a process of attaining a legal working visa, this is seldom the case.
“Victims are then allowed to work, teaching English at privately owned schools, (but) when their salaries are paid it is not paid to the victim but to the agency who then tell the victims that a large portion of their salary will be used to attain a working visa… which in many cases has already been paid for.
“This cycle is repeated to a point where many victims are left living in sub-standard conditions, many times finding themselves in small run down rooms sleeping on the floor on mattresses and often having to share ablution facilities with unknown people,” the agent sketched the dark picture.
When the victims’ visas expires they are often sent to countries where a visa is not necessary under the pretenses of a holiday break.
They are then issued with either tourism visas or with Business Visas (F visa) so they can carry on working.
The Business visa (F visa) is not a working visa; it is simply a visa to carry out business activities.
Therefore the victims are kept working without the correct visas, according to the agent.
“Parents and family of some of the 10 people involved in our success story approach an organisation known as “Unchain our children” for assistance as their children had been caught in a similar scam as mentioned above.”
With a long working relationship Unchain our children engaged Huntsman International.
After a thorough assessment of the events and evidence acquired by their international agents the following was discovered: All 10 of the people involved had been lured to China under the pretences of teaching English legally but all 10 where apprehended by security police in China and had been lead to believe that they would be giving evidence in the prosecution of the agency owners that they were currently working under.
This however was not the case.
They were interrogated and then placed under house supervision which in South African law is similar to house arrest.
“Their passports were confiscated and they were instructed that they would not be allowed to do any work. Many of the people were under house supervision for up to a period of 18 months without any means of earning money or receiving money from abroad as they no longer had proof of identity,” the agent said.
They each had two charges made against them. One for illegal border crossing which carried a sentence of up to one year imprisonment.
They also faced criminal law charges which stated that they took deposits from people illegally or in disguised form and disrupts financial order.
This is equivalent to money laundering or racketeering under South African Law.
This charge carried a jail sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to R1 million.
“This was because the agency was using the victims to withdraw money from the company and showing it as a salary paid even though the money was never paid in full to the victims.”
The victims were all taken to a legal firm that Huntsman International have reason to believe acted in the best interest of the agency and not the victims and advised the victims to plead guilty on all charges.
Through interventions and negotiations all 10 victims’ charges were either exempted or the persons were deported.
“We would like to advise the general public and anyone working abroad on similar international job opportunities to contact us so we can ensure that the job you currently have or are going to is a legitimate opportunity and that the organisation you work for or intend on working for is a legitimate organisation,” the agent urges.
Inquiries can be forwarded to: firstname.lastname@example.org