Police have warned of the dangers of identity theft after two bogus South Tyneside hotels were advertised on the internet.
Two sets of homes in South Shields have been promoted as hotels in recent weeks and police are investigating whether any crime has been committed.
The Gazette has seen an email which was sent out to prospective staff members at Royal Mills Hotel and Suites – which was said to be based at Harbour View, South Shields, but is, in reality, an up-market housing development.
The “employment offer” asks for a wide range of personal details including a passport number, address, driver licence number and copies of education certificates.
It also requests a copy of employment letters, including the applicant’s latest salary slip, and a scanned copy of the photo page of their passport.
Police have warned that giving such information could leave people open to identity theft.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Our advice would be never disclose personal details online to a source you do not know or trust.
“Always verify their credentials and if you are in any way concerned, either report this to police or the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre – Action Fraud UK – on 0300 123 2040.
“Action Fraud UK has advice and information to help people protect themselves from fraud. Further information can be found at www.actionfraud.police.uk”
It appears that the email is mainly aimed at job applicants who are overseas, as it states a “flight ticket from the residing country will be provided by the management when the visa is ready”.
One Indian man told an online forum that he had received such correspondence, and applied for the job as instructed.
He later received a phone call asking him to pay the equivalent of almost £600 in ‘visa processing fees’.
Another Indian man claimed that he had received an email,saying: “You have been appointed as an Assistant Marketing Manager from the management of Royal Mills Hotel & Suites.
“You have been appointed and thereby, we are sending you your employment letter.
“Go through it, sign and send to us as a token of acceptance and send a copy to your visa officer, (whose details are) in the employment letter.
“We shall be waiting to receive your response and to see you grow with Royal Millers family.”
In the email attachment, it is claimed that visa processing charges will be reimbursed after the applicant has joined the company.
In addition to the police investigation into the Royal Mills website, South Tyneside Council has confirmed that it has reported both that and the ‘Glascoville Hotel’ – which was advertised as being based in Long Row, South Shields – to national agencies.