Scam Alert: Identity Thieves Feed On Resumes Of China Foreign ESL Teachers


On the home page of visitors are invited to upload their resumes in hopes of landing a new job. But where are those 1,500 resumes being uploaded to every month?  This is the question that has too many people in China a bit more than nervous these days, since job applicants are easy prey for professional identity thieves that thrive in China. Nobody seems to know for sure how the ID thieves are getting their hands on dozens of resumes every week, but it was revealed by credible sources that China Scam Patrol obtained a “tip” and a “confession” from a Chinese job recruiter and an ECC employee that resumes were being sold in bulk to various Chinese recruiters and perhaps identity thieves who presented themselves as just another one of 1,000+ China foreign teacher job agents in China.

But resumes alone cannot get a cyber criminal into your bank account. What it does give him is the cover and credible reason to call you and offer you a great new job that in reality does not exist.  They may even arrange a telephone or coffee shop interview for you and after you learn that this new position pays more than double of your last gig, you will not think twice to email them your passport scans, a copy of your diplomas, and complete the official-looking employment application.  All the normal questions will be asked including one that asks for your “taxpayer ID number” which is an innocuous label for your social security number. You will be told that an interview is set up for you next Wednesday at some famous location like China New World building or Galaxy Soho, and the employer is an International company.  Nothing they tell you is alarming – so you cooperate.

The day before the interview however you are called and told that it has to be postponed and they will call to reschedule the following week, since the ID thief already has what he wants and needs to get bank accounts opened in your name and the credit cards that come with it. To keep you distracted, your resume will be resold to at least three China recruiters, maybe even a legitimate one, and they will be sending you job offers and setting up interviews as well.  That great job you really wanted remains a mystery until you finally are told it was filled by the home office but they will keep your resume “on file”.

Meanwhile your resume has entered the databases of a handful of recruiters who keep spamming you email job offers that are insulting, and when you don’t respond, they start calling and offer those better-paying jobs just to get you to come in for an interview. Eventually you will get so frustrated and tired of interviews that you finally accept a job.

But perhaps 3 or 4 months later you will get “the call” from a Visa collection specialist asking why you haven’t paid your credit card bill of $7,945?  Eventually, after the matter is turned over to the local police and Visa security you will convince them with the help of a lawyer, that you are a victim and not a criminal.  But the damage to your wallet and credit rating is already done, and you’ll probably end up with a $5,000 legal bill from the lawyer by the time he restores your good credit with TRW and Equifax.  All this hassle over a single resume that was read by the wrong eyeballs.

This how it was explained to me at a China Scam Patrol seminar three months ago but no resume sources were specified. This time it is echinacities, but next month it could be Michael Page, Antal, or ????? After all, it only takes one dishonest employee, not the board of directors to arrange “cooperation” in China.

The lesson to be learned is two-fold.  1) Avoid recruiters and never post your resume on line. And 2) Don’t give passport scans, actual photos, or your “taxpayer ID number” to anyone but an actual employer when you are sitting in the office of their HR department (not some coffee shop)  To understand more about the dangers of ID theft and dishonest recruiters here is some additional references:

eChinacities expat website now a propaganda machine

Whether you take this information seriously or not is up to you. If you can afford to lose sleep and money, go ahead and roll the dice. Currently the odds are in your favor as only 1 in every 5 expats in China fall victim to this scam. Maybe one in 100 will admit they fell into the web.