They had been promised that a French company was looking for farm hands and were offered four months work at 84€ a day salary. The work involved building greenhouses and collecting mushrooms. But of course there was a catch, namely the need to pay fifty five euros each for the “paperwork”.
Five hundred people fell for the scam, and turned up at Almeria’s intermodal train station on Sunday waiting for the company representative to appear with their train tickets to France. After a wait of 22 hours, they finally started to accept that they had been scammed out of their fifty five euro fee.
Some of them had travelled long distances to the rendezvous. One man, Francisco Gómez, who had come from the province of Seville had spent 400 euros getting to Almeria with a new suitcase and supplies for the four months. By midnight on Sunday he was resigned to his fate and preparing to return home to his family with the bad news.
The scam had started with local adverts across Andalucia advertising the positions. Applicants contacted the recruiting company via telephone or internet, sending in their details. Francisco explained that he had spoken to a woman via phone several times, who had asked for his details and finally rang him back to tell him he had been accepted. With no dole left and no prospect of work where he lives, the job seemed to be a lifeline for him and he jumped at the chance. As did the hundreds of other desperate job seekers prepared to travel thousands of miles to work in the fields outside Paris.
“Social security, paperwork, ID and a firm job offer in the name of a well known international company, it all seemed above board” explained Francisco. The job offer was of course forged, and an advance fee of fifty five euros “to pay for the translation of documents into French” was demanded and paid.
The field workers union SAT said the scam was “worthy of the third world” and showed the desperation of Andalucian workers. The union has offered free legal advice to the affected workers.