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Desperate jobseekers fooled by fake ads (news.com.au 7 Oct)

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Desperate jobseekers fooled by fake ads

By Edmund Tadros

news.com.au

October 07, 2009 03:25pm

AN IT training company that lured candidates with the promise of “guaranteed jobs” has been banned from making false and misleading claims under threat of jail for its directors.

The Federal Court found Zanok Technologies and its directors Darley Stephen and Vanitha Darley gave the jobs guarantee – along with other lies – while selling courses that cost up to $4700.

The company targeted Indian students desperate to obtain permanent residency in Australia by placing fake IT job ads on websites.

It even offered scholarships and a $200 referral fee to entice more victims, the court found.

At least 80 people were affected by the company’s conduct.

Justice Richard Edmonds branded the conduct “unconscionable” and banned the company and directors from making similar false and misleading representations to job-seekers for five years.

The court heard Zanok had placed the fake ads on websites including MyCareer, Seek and Gumtree, between February and May this year.

Despite assurances from Zanok and its agents, there was no guarantee of a job at the end of the training course – itself described as “unstructured, disorganised and of no value” by the agency that initiated the case, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The court found that Zanok and its directors knew, or should have known, that each job-seeker was “typically a temporary resident or on a bridging visa and required employment in the information technology industry to become a permanent resident.”

Justice Edmonds ruled that the company lied about the availability of IT scholarships and a $200 referral fee for students who signed up others.

The company had also falsely claimed it was a global company that developed and sold functional IT software products, he found.

ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said in a statement: “This case sends a clear message that the ACCC will not hesitate to take action against persons who seek to take advantage of, or mislead, international students and those seeking residency in Australia about training courses or job opportunities.”

IT message boards such as the Whirlpool forums have been flooded with complaints about the company for months.

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