False employment scam: how embezzlement harms victims’ mental health – 05/03/2022

After three years of unemployment, Igor Vilassa, 29, dreamed of returning to the job market. He saw an ad on a well-known job opportunities website and submitted his resume. The proposal seemed irrefutable: R$ 250 a day and countless benefits to act as a driver for a distributor, delivering medication. However, before he could assume the position, he was informed by the recruiter, through text messages, that he would have to make a transfer in the amount of R$ 800 as a guarantee for the lease of the company’s vehicle, under the promise that the vacancy would be his. Soon after sending proof of payment, Igor was ignored by the attendant.

“She didn’t answer me anymore, so I went to the address of the company mentioned in the contract, in Osasco, but when I got there it was just an unused shed. I was very sad and regretted having fallen for the scam”, says the boy who lives with his mother in Itapevi and is the father of a three-year-old boy.

According to psychiatrist Daniel Vasques, who works as coordinator of the residency in psychiatry at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Santa Casa de São Paulo, self-esteem and a sense of guilt are the main symptoms presented by victims. “One for the feeling of amazement of ‘how did I fall for this scam’ and another when he analyzes everything he could have done to avoid falling for the scam”, he says.

Fake vacancies are also advertised on buying and selling sites, as happened with Mesequias Maadson, 27 years old. The young man from Moreno, Pernambuco, applied for the position of residential doorman, but to take on the role, he would have to take a receptionist course: “I fell like a duck, after getting the certificate, the attendant kept fooling me and then blocked me, even their CNPJ was a ghost, I had a horrible feeling when I noticed it was a scam”, says the agricultural technician, whose loss was R$ 150.

Mental health experts warn about the risks that this type of cybercrime can bring to victims, “the person can mainly develop depression, anxiety and another condition that we call adaptation disorder”, says Vasques. this disorder encompasses extremely distressing and debilitating emotional and/or behavioral symptoms caused by an identifiable stressor. Regarding therapeutic techniques, they may vary between psychotherapies psychoanalyticbrief supportive therapies, interpersonal therapy, and group therapies.

“Therapies cognitive-behavioral they aim to change the way people act and, with that, modify their way of thinking and vice versa; thus, it is possible to solve or minimize problems of self-esteem and self-confidence”, explains the psychiatrist.

False employment scam - Personal file - Personal file

Igor Vilassa fell for the fake job scam and lost BRL 800

Image: Personal archive

A survey carried out by Psafe, a technology security company, identified, between September and February 2022, more than 608 thousand fake job scam attempts. Scammers take advantage of people’s fragility to take advantage of false promises of jobs, selling dreams and delivering nightmares.

Fake companies use social and emotional vulnerability

According to data released by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), the number of unemployed Brazilians in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 12 million. The moment of economic instability in the country favors the emergence of scams such as false employment, in which some companies promise vacancies upon payment of qualification courses, rental of items or credentials as essential to perform the function offered. However, after applicants pay the required amount, they discover that the vacancy does not exist. In some cases, in addition to the monetary loss, there is also the theft of personal data to carry out financial fraud.

For José Olinda Braga, professor in the psychology department at UFC (Universidade Federa do Ceará), there is a hierarchy of needs in human life, the greatest of which is survival guaranteed largely by work. People driven by such needs can become preferential victims of profiteers and false promises. “It’s as if the prospect of solving problems became more urgent than their capacity for reflection, which explains only a posteriori people realize how naive they were to believe the arguments presented in the coup”, he says.

Patricia baderpsychology coordinator of the Network Ache São Luiz in São Paulo, makes a social critique of inequality in the country and the precariousness of the job market to clarify why the coup still deceived many people. Many see the blame in the victim himself, but the situation goes much further, involving important issues from an economic, political and social point of view.

According to her, a young person who studied at a private school, who attended one of the best colleges in Brazil, who had cultural experiences and other experiences, is part of a privileged population that will experience few situations of competition throughout its existence, unlike a young middle class peripheral who studied in a public school, working to supplement the family income.

These two contexts to say that those who fall for this coup, in general, are less privileged people, who already have their self-esteem devastated by a bigger issue, by a social issue, by the impossibility of entering the job market in an honest and fair way”, stresses. bader points out that these fake companies use social and emotional vulnerability to blame the person for not being able to enter the job market, that is, the victim is forced to buy something to become more qualified to compete for an occupation.

In a capitalist world where money governs relationships, those who do not produce it are separated from the social space, and this has an effect on the esteem of the individual. “We have this culture, when we meet someone, we ask their name and what they do, what their way of earning money is and then ask where they live, interests, but the job is the subject’s last name”, mentions the specialist.

Source: José Olinda Bragaprofessor at the Department of Psychology at UFC (Federal University of Ceará); Daniel Vasquespsychiatrist and coordinator of residency in psychiatry at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Santa Casa de São Paulo; Patricia Baderpsychology coordinator at Rede D’Or São Luiz in São Paulo.

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