in 2016, over 1,200 English teachers working abroad reported being victims of either identity theft or short-term kidnappings as reported by Interpol in their annual report. How many victims did not report their experience out of embarrassment or for security reasons is anyone's guess. Here is a summary of how the scam works and every English teacher in the world needs to pay attention:
The "VIP Tutoring" ads often appear in the following places:
The ads generally read like this:
"VIP Family in Colombia needs Native-English Speaking ESL Tutor for immediate live-in assignment to teach family English for 6 months - $50,000"
(Various countries will be cited like Mexico, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, China, Dubai, Venezuela, etc)
You are then told that the client is a rich banker or CEO who is moving to America on the EB5 investment program and must learn English in a hurry and you will teach the family 3 hours a day as a live-in tutor. You will need to send your resume, photo, and passport scan to ______ at VIPESLRecruiters@... gmail/hotmail/yahoo/msn.com (or some similar email address)
You will then get a telephone interview supposedly to evaluate your English and you will be selected within a day or two after the agent plays the recording of your interview to the client who will also review your resume. The client him or herself may even call you in broken English with a heavy accent to ask 2-3 questions, and then warmly invite you to his/her country and assures you that all of your expenses will be fully paid and your airfare reimbursed upon your arrival.
They then have the "family lawyer" call and offer you a $10,000 cash bonus if you can fly to the destination within a few days. They will even send you a contract that puts all their promises in writing, but they say it is not valid unless signed in their country.
When you fly over to that country the "family lawyer" will meet you at the airport and have dinner with you and help you check into a hotel. They will even give you a phony business card. The "lawyer" then asks for your passport to process you with the local authorities. In a day you will get a call that says someone with your name is a wanted fugitive and they need your national ID (or social security number) to prove it is not you or you will be arrested and jailed pending extradition!
Of course, most people are terrified and will readily give the "lawyer" any information he wants. They will then research your family online and if your family is well-off (living in a $500,000 home, or having a luxury car registered is enough for them) a fake detective will show up and say he has to take you for fingerprints to make sure you are not the fugitive. People want to profess and prove their innocence and go with the detective.
They have just become a hostage in Colombia, India, Mexico, or Dubai and your family is shaken down for $500,000 or more. If you do not come from a wealthy family, you will be told that there is an emergency and your services are no longer required. But in 6 months you will be contacted by the police about the $20,000 of jewelry or other merchandise purchased in your name. Of course, you will not even think the credit card fraud has anything to do with your trip six months ago.
Indeed, this is a very sophisticated scam, but it is more common than you think. Do not let it happen to you. Fortunately, most of these scams have happy endings - aside from the trauma and bad memories not many people are physically hurt. One kidnap victim who was taken to North Korea (David S.) actually fell in love with a Korean girl and decided to stay in Korea for 12 years with his new Korean wife and children! http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/david-sneddon-found-nor...
Before accepting any work abroad job, visit and read the many warnings at http://reddit.com/r/tefl_esl_scams. Even very intelligent professors with Ph.D. degrees have fallen for this very costly scam so beware.