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The baffling story of how more than 50 people were tricked into working for a company which didn't exist is revealed in a documentary released this week.
Titled Jobfished, the one-hour documentary is available to watch on BBC iPlayer and focuses on the made-up company Madbird, which was 'established' during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dozens of people were hired to work for the company which was set up by 'influencer' Ali Ayad and boasted Facebook and Samsung among its imaginary clients, leading hopeful employees to believe they had landed good jobs at a successful company.
See the trailer for Jobfished below:
In reality, the business was entirely fake and scammed people by claiming they would work for an unpaid probationary period, during which they would only receive sales commissions, before getting their fixed salary after six months.
Former employee Chris, from Cornwall, took the job after being laid off from his previous role during the pandemic.
He explains in Jobfished that he 'never got paid anything at all', adding: 'To have gone months at Madbird without pay [while] still paying off a mortgage, paying off loans, it leaves you in a deep hole in effect.'
Chris claims to have accumulated £10,000 of debt while working at Madbird, while another former employee, 26-year-old Jordan, said: 'I worked there for six months and I think I contacted over 10,000 people... In my head at the time, I was thinking I’ve wasted six months where the minimum wage would have got me over £8,000 and I got nothing.'
The documentary, which comes from investigative journalist Catrin Nye and her team, explains how the employees learned the truth about the scam through a damning email.
If you are into Tinder Swindler or Inventing Anna, #Jobfished on @BBCThree tonight by @CatrinNye at 9pm is the one for you.— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) February 21, 2022
It is an *astonishing* story about a company that tricked 52 people into working for them, believing it was a real company. But the company didn't exist.
A synopsis for the film explains: 'Catrin Nye investigates the glamorous design company that tricked its own staff into believing it was real through an online universe of fake profiles, stolen work and lies.'
Nye confronted Ayad and he denied that the company was 'fake', adding: 'If I hurt people, of course I’m sorry, but there’s another version of the story.'
In a statement to the BBC, the owner of the fake company admitted that a 'couple of points' he was being accused of were true, but the 'majority' were 'absurd and incorrect'.
The doc has received positive reactions after it was released this week, with viewers comparing the show to recent popular Netflix titles such as The Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna.
Jobfished is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.
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