In what has come as very shocking news, former NDTV anchor Nidhi Razdan today informed that she was conned into believing by scamsters that she has been offered a teaching facility at Harvard University. She took to Twitter today to inform that after contacting the university, she came to known that she was never offered a job there, and she fell victim to a sophisticated version of Nigerian prince email type scam.
On June 13 last year, Nidhi Razdan had announced on Twitter that she is going to join Harvard University as an Associate Professor of Journalism later that year. Consequently, she had announced that she is leaving NDTV after a long career in the controversial news channel. But now she claims that she was the victim of an elaborate phishing scam where she was conned into believing that she was offered a job in the university.
Although anyone can be victim of such scams, the incident does raise some questions. The scam didn’t involve monetary transaction like most online scams are, it was about offering someone a fake job. And it is intriguing how a well-connected person like Nidhi Razdan fell prey to it.
An interview is a basic prerequisite in any such recruitment. Assuming that physical interview was not possible during the pandemic, a video interview must have happened. If it happened, who took it? Did someone impersonate some senior official at Harvard and Nidhi Razdan didn’t recognise that? These questions need to be answered. And if no video interview was taken, it should raise doubt in anyone’s mind.
Before appearing for a job interview, a standard procedure is to study about the employer, visit its website, read the detail of the recruitment procedure, read about the interviewer etc.
According the recruitment process of Harvard University uploaded on its website, the process starts with reviewing resumes, after which selected candidates are screened through telephone. Candidates who clear this step are then called for an interview before an interview team. After the interview, reference check of the selected candidates are done, and only after that, the candidates are selected for the position.
Assuming that physical interview was not done due to Coronavirus pandemic, it must have been replaced with video interview. Had she studied the recruitment process, she should have felt something was not right when it was not done at all.
According to Forbes report on recruiting professors at top universities like Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, and MIT, candidates have to give a one hour seminar, attend a dinner with several faculty, and have a series of 30 minute to one hour meetings with individual faculty. Absence of any of these should have sounded alarms in her mind.
Nidhi Razdan has been a journalist with NDTV for a long time. Being a Delhi based journalist, she is also well connected to several politicians and bureaucrats. As a result, she must have known people who had studied or worked in Harvard, and could have just talked to such people to confirm the same before taking an important decision like quitting NDTV.
According to some reports, she had already moved to Boston to join Harvard. In fact, in September last month, she had said that she is teaching at Harvard, while replying to a Twitter user. This raises another question, how she was already ‘teaching at Harvard’ if the very job she was offered was fake? Does it mean she lied that she was teaching at Harvard when her job was not confirmed? Or was she teaching in some fake university in USA like a Bollywood slapstick comedy?
After she had left NDTV, the channel had taken her comments in its news reports on various issues. In those reports, the channel has identified her as Associate Professor of Harvard. It is very baffling how both Nidhi Razdan and NDTV claimed that she was working at Harvard when she was not. It shows that kind of due diligence, rather the lack of it, the former journalist and the channel used to employ in reporting stories.
Assuming that she had already moved to USA to join her ‘new job’, the question of her visa also arises. Without a letter confirming the appointment at Harvard, she won’t get a proper visa to move to USA to work there. If she indeed got a proper visa like H1B, L1, J1 etc, this means she was given a fake offer letter which even conned the US consulate officials in India, pointing towards involvement of a big ring behind the scam.
If she didn’t have a proper work visa and went to USA, assuming she went there, she may have gone on a tourist visa. That will be violation of US Visa rules, as vising on tourist visa with the intention of joining a job there is not allowed.
Although it is unfortunate that she was scammed like this, the incident does question the kind of decisions she made, and the kind of due diligence she had taken before making those decisions.