Alberta is warning workers in the slumping oilpatch to beware of fraudulent websites that offer energy industry jobs for an upfront fee.
Service Alberta says the websites pose as legitimate oil and gas corporations, but are bogus and post jobs that do not exist.
"Once you pay the company you never hear from them again," Yonathan Sumamo, a spokesman for Service Alberta, said Friday. "You lose your cash and they walk away with your money."
In one case, a fake business called Daglo Oil & Gas Co. has been offering jobs through a website in return for a fee paid in advance, he said.
Daglo says the fee is necessary for pre-screening and other services.
Investigators have determined that the operator of the website is in Gambia, a country in west Africa, Sumamo said.
Thousands of workers in Alberta's oilpatch have lost their jobs over the last few months due to a big drop in oil prices. Statistics Canada estimates that 7,000 positions were cut in Alberta's natural resources sector in February alone, mainly in the oil and gas industry.
Daglo's website lists a corporate office location in Calgary, has pictures of an executive team and refers to its shares being sold on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the stock symbol CLL.
The executives pictured on the Daglo website actually work for Calgary-based Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd. CLL is Connacher's stock symbol.
An official with the stock exchange said there is no listing for Daglo.
Greg Pollard, Connacher's chief financial officer, said the company is a victim of corporate identity theft.
"They have cut and pasted our management profile," he said. "We have no relationship. We have never heard of them. This is a pure scam.
"We as Connacher, as a good corporate citizen, want to make sure that people are not being taken advantage of."
Sumamo said the province is working to shut down Daglo, but noted that other bogus companies have tried similar scams using the Internet.
"They are getting victims from all over the word, inside Alberta and out."
Service Alberta recommends that people looking for jobs should actually speak with a prospective employer and discuss details of employment before paying any fee.
Sumamo said job seekers using the web to look for work should watch for warning signs such as requests for upfront cash, credit cards or other personal information.
People should also beware of job offers without interviews, he said.