A member of a West African royal family and an associate admitted to scamming at least 250 people who used job website Indeed.com, conning their marks into paying them for fake employment services, the Manhattan D.A.'s office said.
Osmond Eweka, who says he's a prince of the Benin Kingdom in Nigeria and now lives in Montclair, and Kamel McKay were charged with multiple counts of scheme to defraud and petit larceny related to taking more than $54,000 from unsuspecting job seekers.
Apparently Eweka and McKay would meet with the Indeed.com users and claim they could provide job placement services on behalf of staffing agencies—only these agencies were created by Eweka and McKay. The D.A.'s office says that they "interviewed victims, offered them employment, and then told them that they must pay a fee for job-related expenses such as uniforms, training, licensing, and background checks before starting. Victims paid fees ranging from approximately $279 to $700 to the defendants, but never received uniforms, training, licenses, or employment."
For instance, McKay allegedly posed as "Tyrone Hayes" of Trinity Advancement Group LLC, a fake staffing firm at 48 Wall Street, where he would "hire" victims after an interview and tell them that they needed to pay $279-700 in fees for training, uniforms, or background checks. Authorities say that after receiving payment, McKay would then "instruct them to complete a fire guard test with the New York City Fire Department, which he led them to believe was a prerequisite for the job" or "report to various companies for work or for training. When those victims arrived at the work sites, they, were turned away and told that the companies were not expecting them and had no relationship with Trinity Advancement Group LLC."
Eweka allegedly posed as "Sean Jackson" of Stanford Consulting Firm, LLC, at an office at the Empire State Building. He "informed victims that they had been hired after a brief interview at the Empire State Building, but told them that they must pay for licenses and training before starting their new jobs," the D.A.'s office explained.
Eweka's victims paid fees from $289 to $600, because he told them that "higher fees would land them positions with higher wages." They were also directed to the FDNY for a test or other companies to show up for jobs that didn't exist.
Eweka and McKay also allegedly teamed up at a third location, a Fifth Avenue office, where they'd meet with hopeful people and carried out the same scheme. After an investigation from the D.A.'s office and NYPD, McKay, 27, was arrested in April and Eweka, 31, in May.
In July, Eweka's lawyer had told the Daily News, "Mr. Eweka provided honest services to many satisfied clients, and never acted with mal-intent. The notion that a few disenchanted clients may have later expressed buyer’s remorse, does not mean that criminality was afoot."
"As alleged in the indictment, these defendants raked in a princely sum by exploiting hundreds of job seekers who paid for services that they did not need and that were not ultimately provided," said District Attorney Cy Vance. “In New York’s highly competitive job market, applicants and job seekers are particularly susceptible to these types of fake employment scams. If you or a loved one have been a victim of this scheme, I urge you to report the incident to my office’s Financial Frauds Bureau by calling (212) 335-8900.”