In these hard Pandemic times, the last thing we need is for university students and recent grads to be offered fake dream jobs abroad through “back door internships” offered by clever fraudsters online and in boiler rooms. In China, the U.K., Thailand, India, and Philippines these con artists have been luring victims for years with great ads that offer generous salaries of $40,000 – $120,000 a year.
The other infamous internship fraudsters include two British companies owned by the same owner Rex known as I-to-I and TEFLOnline.com which peddle fake “Teaching Internships” along with bogus online TEFL courses that issue a TEFL certificate that is only recognized in 27 third world countries but no major European or Asian countries. Their story is told here:
CRCC out of the U.K, Horizons, Wiseway, China HR, Getin2China, GoOverseas, Step-By-Step, WorkAbroad, and TeachAbroad are others. They all use different angles to grab your attention and many will package their phony internship as part of a study abroad program and require you to take various TEFL or other training courses. They either charge you a pricey up-front fee or take a BIG slice of your salary in the case of Teaching Internships. So how can you tell if the internship is legitimate or a fraud? Here are 5 Red Flags to look for:
Also always remember, that ALL legitimate internships are absolutely free (other than your air fare). Many recruiters and job agents really push and do a hard sell on these programs because they collect a $1,000 referral fee for every victim they enroll. So before you take their bait take a few minutes to see what students in the U.K. think about these fraudsters:
No matter how bad your hometown economy may be friends, do not believe the beautiful lies of any third party internship promoter. They will always prosper and once you get to China or another foreign destination, you will not have any legal recourse. China does not have a BBB or FTC and the local police will just laugh at you for being so gullible. It’s your money and your life. Do as you please, but you’ve been warned.
The CFTU, along with the China Scam Patrol, China Teachers Alliance, China Scam Watch, and the old China Scam Central have spent at least 800 hours investigating various TEFL courses offered all over the world, more than 85 in all including 74 that are offered on-line. Not surprisingly, we all made some unique and common observations, and came to these conclusions which we want to share with the 2.8 million TEFL teachers of the world
There are no international bodies/agencies that regulate the TEFL training nor teaching industry in any country. Consequently, there are no TEFL course standards to use as a benchmark.
This regulatory void gave birth to dozens of companies that sprout up every year claiming to be the best, most-recognized, most popular, or Internationally-certified TEFL course in the world with heaps of self-professed accreditation, and plenty of wonderful testimonials of “satisfied students” heaping all sorts of praise upon the course and their “certified instructors”. Frankly this is all marketing bullshit since as per 1. above, there is no such organization that certifies any TEFL course nor their instructors.
But because thousands of wannabe TEFL teachers are genuinely in need of some basic TEFL teaching instruction they are easily sold the sales hype of all these self-proclaimed experts who at best may hold a regular business license and may have one or two instructors who actually have a degree in English, Libguistics, Communications, or Education. Most do not.
In fact, anyone can open up a TEFL School tomorrow with a clever name, a clean classroom buy some textbooks like TEFL For Dummies, hire a confident Teacher and after recruiting 10-15 students per class, start raking in some serious cash. Even more if you choose to offer an “on-line course”.
Today in 2020, we have so many of these DIY Tefl Courses with convincing names and great looking web-sites, the competition is fierce to recruit the most gullible teachers who want a piece of paper that proves they can teach English abroad Now these TEFL training companies are resorting to trashing each other on TEFL forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc. when in reality most all have garbage curriculum, do not really insist on minimum attendance, and never divulge the real qualifications, credentials, or sometimes not even the full names of their instructors.
Truth be told, you cannot properly learn how to teach any subject, to a classrooms of foreign speakers online, especially one that requires pronunciation, writing, and verbal skills. Only a real live class-room setting with an open, live, interactive dialogue between students and teacher can accomplish this task. All of these online courses are simply trash, but many teachers don’t care so long as they get their “tefl certificate”.
We sent 24 volunteers to be undercover teachers to enroll into TEFL courses and ask45 questions during the enrollment process. Not surprisingly most all of the sales people could provide any lists of specific countries that “accepted and officially recognized” their TEFL Certificates, but most of them were trained well to tell us why their course was better than their competitors. Only two of the 85 courses were willing to send our undercover volunteers resumes of their course instructor, and we were shocked to find that many instructors were NOT EVEN NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKERS and 23 of the 85 courses relied on old DVD curriculum from KAPLAN, DELL, and even BERLITZ courses from the 1970s-1990s with no verbal interaction with students unless they paid extra for optional reviews with a live instructor for 30 minutes on Skype or Zoom.
So as confusion and hostility grew in the TEFL market over the last 10 years, we did notice that a mere handful of Universities offered real TEFL classes in real classrooms with really qualified instructors like the University of Toronto, Cambridge TESOL Trinity course, and Stanford, Ohio State, and others who even send their instructors overseas to give live, in-person, 120 hour TEFL courses with curriculum designed by Educators with Phds, in teaching the English Language. These real classes are the only ones that can possibly provide a professional TEFL training regimen that can yield measurable results.
But along comes a clever group of TEFL course hustlers who realize that if they can somehow legitimize all these TEFL courses with some “official review” and “certification” not only could they give the appearance of some organization, but make quick and easy BIG money. The called themselves TrustedTEFLReview.com but conveniently will not identify their ownership, their corporate registration information, but for $20,000 a year will put your new TEFL School or Program on their certified list! This is called “Pay for Play” and is not only unethical, but illegal.
Without hesitation, we can factually tell you that at least 12 TEFL Courses highly rated by TrustedTEFLReviews.com are well-known and blacklisted scams going back at least five years, and two even ten years. Like everything else in our world, it’s all about money. Those who have a bad reputation, simply buy a good one from a third party willing to endorse them and sing their praises with glorified reviews, real or not. There are good reasons you will find many of these TEFL operators exposed at scam.com, Reddit, Ruqqus, eslwatch.info, TEFL.net, etc. To be fair however, since there are no established standards at present, what is good, better, or best can only be relative and evaluated comparatively by personal interpretation. But we recognize a money grab when we see one. If you doubt the judgement of the China Scam Patrol you can review their track record at https://chinascampatrol.wordpress.com.
We have recently contacted law enforcement and FTC/BBB officials to investigate certain matters brought to our attention including the recent assault on a potential competitor, Mr. Glickman and his MyTEFL.com, who by the way, we do not believe is any better in any respect whatsoever, BUT this assault at https://trustedteflreviews.com/2020/01/24/the-mytefl-com-scam/ gives credence to the premise that this is all only about money, and not about ensuring the proper and thorough training of TEFL teachers on a global basis. If however, you as a new TEFL teacher just need any TEFL certificate to attach with your resume, then none of the above will matter to you. BTW… many universities will give you college credits for a TEFL course completed at their university. Their full report on this matter will be published shortly.
THEREFORE… We hereby advise anyone and everyone who sincerely wants PROFESSIONAL & EFFECTIVE training to become a TEFL teacher, to ignore all the on-line courses and seek out a genuine TEFL course taught at University or Vocational School near your home. The “certification’s” and “ratings” given by “TrustedTEFLReviews.com” only mean that someone paid them a lot of money to endorse and “rate” their self-created course that is not officially certified by any LEGITIMATE ACADEMIC AUTHORITY.
FYI… Both Oxford and Cambridge Universities are no working to design an implement an international standard for TEFL curriculum and certification. Stay tuned and we will keep you posted on their progress. Welcome to the crazy dog-eat-dog money-crazed world of TEFL where everyone who has something to sell you is suddenly an “expert”.
The China Foreign Teachers Union is a volunteer group of foreign teachers who themselves were victims of employer abuse/exploitation, or recruiter scams and skimming schemes. Founded in 2008 in Beijing China, we also have a smaller chapter in Shanghai. We do not sell nor even endorse any product nor service and collect no money. We operate with a volunteer staff. We distribute information via monthly newsletters to our membership, and to the public at https://reddit.com/r/CFTU, and https://ruqqus.com/+CFTU as well as various language forums around the world. Here you will find an 8 year sampling of some of our posts at just once such forum: https://www.esl-jobs-forum.com/search.php?search_author=CFTU In case you can’t tell, we are not in this for the money. We work to ensure foreign teachers are not exploited, cheated, nor scammed with any scheme. Unlike TrustedTEFLreviews.com which first registered online on March 1, of 2019, (about 18 months ago), we have been monitoring the global TEFL landscape for more than a decade. And from our experience, where there is smoke, we have always found a fire.
Do not sign another another contract until you read our Newsletter no 125 here https://www.docdroid.net/9eTuyGK/cftunewsletter125-pdf and you will see 10 different ways your very own recruiter/job agent covertly shaves money out of your contract that you do not even know was meant for you. They further collude privately with your principal who has been working together for years. Together they will convince you that your salary is 16,000 (for example) when it is really more like 22,000 – 24,000 rmb per month) THEY will keep and split the extra money you were supposed to get. And this is just one of the trick they use.. If you think that nice friendly and helpful voice on the phone would never to that to you, Teacher Katherine Cox felt the same disbelief and look what this did to her… https://chinascampatrol.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/making-your-first-million-in-china-as-a-chinese-school-principal/
Now, remember, there are still 9 other equally sneaky and unethical trick they will us and all along your agent/recruiter will just rush you to sign the one-way contract, and if you find something you don’t like, he/she will tell you something like, “This is the standard contract that everyone signs and if you don’t sign it, you won’t get the job, so just sign it.” That is just one of the top 10 lies recruiters and job agents will tell you that we discussed in newsletters no. 75. You can read all 10 lies here: https://opnlttr.com/letter/top-10-lies-told-china-job-recruiters-foreign-tefl-teachers-interested-working-china
I will guess you might be pretty shocked or upset right about now and I don’t want to tuin your day, but just so you know, about 80% of every veteran TEFL teacher went through this same deception and we all fixed our problem. And to fix any problem in life, you need factual information. The reason you never heard about this before, is because almost every expat and ETFL teacher blog and forum takes great care to censor posts like this one. They need to make money you see, and if you knew the truth, you would find out how VERY easy it is to apply directly for any job abroad and get a fair contract and pay package. To see what you really should be earning in China, have a read here… https://opnlttr.com/letter/pandemics-border-closures-provide-silver-lining-dark-cloud-boosting-salaries-60000-world-wide
Also be aware that 70% of all the expat/teaching job ads you see on line are posted by either scam artists and/or identities thieves, Some of those ads were even posted by the moderators of famous forums who in real-life are recruiters and job agents. Do not even send another resume nor your passport scam to anyone abroad until you know your enemy. This is just one of many: https://chinascamwatch.wordpress.com. You can find the rest of them by visiting these UNCENSORED sites for expats
Remember, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Don’t let your dream job turn into a nightmare only because you didn’t take 30 minutes to do a little reading. If you are not earning at least 25,000 rmb monthly in China, you are being exploited and should visit every one of the above links.
Are you one of the 67% of foreign China Cheaters who got screwed out of your last pay check, or maybe a few thousand rmb of overtime over the last year? Stop crying in your beer and get your money back just like 752 of your other colleagues did. You do not need a lawyer and you can get your money paid in full with 15 days! No you don’t need a gun either. What you do need is the courage to stand up for yourself. Here are the details… http://www.chinaforeignteachersunion.com/2015/11/how-china-foreign-teachers-can-get.html
We have received very credible information from China Scam Patrol that resumes sent or uploaded to either Echinacities.com, or Sinocities.com may very well end up in the hands of dubious people who will resell your resume to Chinese recruiters and identity thieves posing as recruiters. Whether the owners of these websites know the phony recruiters are identity thieves or not makes no difference to the victims.
Although we were not involved in this investigation, we have no reason to doubt CSP which has an admirable track record for accuracy in the past when exposing similar scams. You can read their full report at http://chinascampatrol.wordpress.com and if you know of any identity theft victim in China that is a foreigner please have them contact us in China at report[at]ChinaForeignTeachersUnion.org
Any foreigner living and working in China for even a few months knows there are no shortage of scams and frauds in China. Most all of these scams target foreigners abroad that are fed up with failing economies and are looking for jobs. Google “Work In China” or “Intern in China” and you will literally be flooded with over 1,500 alluring ads with links to fancy web sites complete with videos, testimonials, and promises of a small fortune waiting for you in China. The problem is that most of these ads are bogus – posted online by the many self-proclaimed agents and recruiters whose only goal is to get you to sign a contract and get you on a plane to China ASAP. If they can accomplish this objective, they will earn an average of $7,000 to $10,000 for everyone they can fool.
These agents and recruiters will tell you you anything you want to hear but are very careful what they put in writing. They really don’t care what happens to you after you arrive in China and start working and thus they do not bother to tell you that you must have a university degree and a “Z” visa in order to work legally in China. They won’t tell you the truth about what your job really pays because they hope to steal half of your pay as their fee. There are honest agents and recruiters to be sure, but finding one is not easy and you’d find a 40 year old virgin in Brooklyn before you find an honest agent or recruiter in China.
This recruitment scam is just one of about 35 scams that target expat wannabe teachers and this is typically how it works… An unregistered and unlicensed recruiter will take a Principal out to lunch and offer to pay her or him $1,000 a month for their “cooperation”. This sum equals about one-third of their annual salary and very hard to resist. If the Principal agrees, and most do, the principal will refer any and all job inquiries to “Bill” our agent who will never use his real Chinese or English name. And Bill will now start posting dozens of ads on EchinaCities.com, TheBeijinger.com, ESLCafe.com a dozen other ESL and TEFL Forums and “Message Boards”. He will advertise many jobs and pose as a “direct employer” or even the schools “HR Director”. The jobs he advertises will typically pay 6,000 – 10,000 yuan per month. The real salaries being paid for the job are actually double however. Bill will keep the other 50% of the salary as his MONTHLY fee and will be sure to pay the Principal the promised $1,000 per month to keep the job vacancies coming exclusively to him. Off course the Principal i paid in cash to avoid any evidence.
When teachers arrive in China they have already signed a 1 year contract with Bill and some of them were gullible enough to let Bill hold their passports which he falsely told them “was a requirement of the school”. Eventually the teacher will find out the truth – that the agent is collecting half of their paycheck every month but they discover they are locked into a one year contract and if they quit may get blacklisted with other schools as a “trouble maker” or if the agent is a prick, will make sure the teacher’s visa in not renewed with a $100 bribe to a visa official, or not return the teacher’s visa until the day it expires. This is the basic and most common scam but there are many variations including those that are mentioned in this article: http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/blog/scam-alert-foreign-teacher-fraud/The more a teacher reads BEFORE signing anything, BEFORE sending any money to anyone, and BEFORE sending copies of any identification document (passports, visas, diplomas, etc.) the less likely they are to be scammed. Many of these fake recruiters have no job to offer you at all but only want to obtain your personal information in order to sell to identity theft rings to make a quick $300. See: http://open.salon.com/blog/china_business_central/2013/03/13/phony_china_recruiters_now_target_5000_expats_monthly_1
There are also about two dozen companies offering pie-in-the sky internships that supposedly transform themselves into fantastic jobs. They also have some of the most convincing web sites, fake reviews, and testimonials that gave even fooled children of police officers in the past. Imagine having the privilege to pay almost $4,000 to come work for free in China! Yet over 3,000 victims take this bait every year. In reality some of these companies are in fact legitimate but they can be counted on one hand. To find out which are real and which are a scam, send an email to inquiry@ChinaScamPatrol.org and they will even tell you how to find your own China internships for free or almost free.
To be extra safe, you are welcome to check the blacklist of 239 China Schools and the 879 that are on the 2014 white list that we have posted on our web site which is updated every three months. It is essential that if you come to work in China you know exactly who you are working for before committing yourself in writing or exposing yourself to ID theft. You should also visit www.ChinaScamBusters.com to get a list of all the forums and message boards that allow scam agents and fake recruiters to advertise. Please take this post seriously and your stay in China will be more fun and memorable for all the right reasons – not the wrong ones! If however you make a mistake and find the below person looking at you in the mirror one day, please contact us and we will do our best to find a solution for your problem.
FYI: The CFTU is a non-profit organization established in 2010 of all volunteer expat teachers working in China for years. We do not sell, promote, nor advertise any product nor service and we have no religious nor political affiliations. Our primary missions is as an information service for our fellow expat teachers in China. We offer many free services and teacher resources as you can see here at the below link, but we do not offer legal advice. Please visit both of our websites before contacting us with any problem as we are swamped with over 200 emails every day. Most all of what you need will be found at http://www.ChinaForeignTeachers.com and http://www.ChinaForeignTeachers.org. As for the free tools and resources we provide please visit this link here… http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/events/activities/china-foreign-teachers-union-freebie-fun-day/