How to Identify Illegal Recruiters in the Philippines

Filipinos who are looking for employment overseas, please be careful when applying for job opportunities as you could entangled with illegal recruitment agencies. Here are some tips on how to spot illegal recruiters in the Philippines and avoid becoming a victim of human trafficking and fake jobs.

Also Read: POEA Warning: Fake Job Opportunities through Text Messages

Illegal recruiters are everywhere. They are prying on our helpless citizens and giving them false hope about the opportunity abroad. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing in which after they get a sum of money from our fellow Filipinos, they will disappear without a trace.

These incidents of illegal recruitment happen all the time. So, to protect ordinary citizens from illegal recruiters, Labor Code of the Philippines was promulgated. 

With the help of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), we share more details below about how you can determine if a job placement is real or not.

how to identify illegal recruiters

What is Illegal Recruitment?

Illegal recruitment in layman’s terms is the act of recruiting without a valid license. The agency or the group does not have a license to operate and lures a citizen into giving them money to process their papers in the hope of landing a job abroad. ‘With this, P.D. 442 was enacted.

Illegal Recruitment Laws in the Philippines

Presidential Decree No. 442 is known as the Labor Code of the Philippines. Under the P.D No. 442 is the illegal recruitment and the penalties. Illegal recruitment is defined by this article as a “crime committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under the first paragraph hereof.”

Illegal recruitment in Republic Act No. 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act is defined as “Any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-license or non-holder of authority.”

How to Identify Illegal Recruiters?

Illegal recruitment has tell-tale signs. There is something off when illegal recruiters offer something. It is too good to be true. To guide you better, here are some signs of illegal recruitment. Illegal recruiters…

  1. Immediately charge a placement fee or any corresponding fee without receipt
  2. Promises easy departure to another country
  3. Requires immediate medical examination or training even without a clear employer or contract
  4. Applicants are in public places such as restaurants, malls, and not in the office of the licensed agency
  5. Home to recruit applicants
  6. Does not provide enough information about mother-in-law work’
  7. It is said that there is a direct employer and that the applicants do not have to go through the POEA
  8. Promises a quick departure from the applicant using a tourist or visit visa
  9. No employment contract or working visa can be shown
  10. Introducing employees of a licensed recruitment agency but no ID can be displayed
  11. Introduces being connected to a travel agency or training center
  12. Applicants are encouraged to gather other applicants to expedite dismissal
  13. No one can provide enough and correct information about yourself such as full name or address
  14. It promises that documents will be entered into the POEA for processing (especially in the case of EPS-Korea)

There are two types of illegal recruiters: the license and the non-license. Non-licensed individuals are liable for recruitment and placement operations, whereas licensees may be held accountable for illegal acts forbidden by the Republic Act. 8042.

Illegal recruitment is still evident nowadays. This became widespread with the use of technology and social media sites. Offers are very attractive and it seems to be real. Even the illegal recruiters present themselves as trusted persons.

Common Job Scams

There are many job scams that target Filipino migrant workers. The most common one is the fake recruitment scam. In this scam, the recruiter asks for money from the potential employee, but never actually sends them to work.

Another common scam is the job offer that requires payment of a visa fee. The employer will ask the employee to pay for the visa application, but then they will never actually get the job.

Other scams include employers who ask for money to be transferred to them in order to process the employee’s work permit or those that promise high salaries but then require the employee to pay for their own training.

Be careful with these employment scams and if something feels wrong, it probably is. Do not give out your personal information or money to someone you do not know. If in doubt, contact the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions and answers you may come across about this topic:

1. What is the punishment for illegal recruitment in the Philippines?

The penalties to the person guilty of illegal recruitment under P.D. No. 442 is imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a fine, not less than two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00).

The maximum penalty shall be imposed if the victim of illegal recruitment is a minor and if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage which is life imprisonment and a fine of not less than five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) nor more than one million pesos (P1,000,000.00).

2. Where can I report illegal recruiters in the Philippines?

Contact telephone no. 722-11-92 (POEA’s Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch). You can also report to the Philippine National Police or NBI.

3. Is illegal recruitment bailable in the Philippines?

Illegal recruitment is non-bailable.

4. Is direct hiring illegal recruitment?

Direct hiring is illegal recruitment since there is no licensed recruitment agency to intervene with the process. Oftentimes, OFWs who undergo direct hiring are undocumented.  

5. What else constitutes an illegal recruitment?

These are the acts that constitute illegal recruitment according to the Q & A on Revised POEA Rules 2016:

  • To arrange, facilitate or grant a loan to an Overseas Filipino Worker with interest exceeding eight percent (8%) per annum, which will be used for payment of legal and allowable placement fees and make the migrant worker issue, either personally or through a guarantor or accommodation party, postdated checks in relation to the said loan.
  • To impose a compulsory and exclusive arrangement whereby an Overseas Filipino Worker is required to avail of a loan only from specifically designated institutions, entities or persons.
  • To refuse to condone or renegotiate a loan incurred by an Overseas Filipino Worker after the latter’s employment contract has been prematurely terminated through no fault of his/her own.
  • To impose a compulsory and exclusive arrangement whereby an Overseas Filipino Worker is required to undergo health examinations only from specifically designated medical clinics, institutions, entities, or persons, except in the case of a worker whose medical examination cost is shouldered by the principal.
  • To impose a compulsory and exclusive arrangement whereby an Overseas Filipino Worker is required to undergo training, seminar, instruction, or schooling of any kind only from specifically designated institutions, entities, or persons, except for recommendatory training mandated by principals where the latter shoulder the cost of such training.
  • For a suspended recruitment agency to engage in any kind of recruitment activity including the processing of pending workers’ applications.
  • For a recruitment agency or a foreign principal/employer to pass on to the Overseas Filipino Worker or deduct from his/her salary the payment of the cost of insurance fees, premium, or other insurance-related charges, as provided under the compulsory worker’s insurance coverage.

Video: How POEA Deals with Illegal Recruitment

Check out this video clip on the show, Good Morning Kuya on UNTV, where they featured POEA about common types of illegal recruitment.

POEA takes action against illegal recruitment that was shown in this video. The interview gives information about illegal recruitment, tips on how to avoid recruited illegally, and information all about being an OFW.

This video unveils the three things to consider in recruitment: the license of the recruiter, the name of the recruiter, and the employer details.

The video also includes frequently asked questions being answered by Attorney Hans Leo Cacdac.  


The Philippines is one of the top sources for migrant workers in the world. But for Filipinos who are looking for work abroad, you should be careful in applying for jobs as they may be scams.

The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of the different types of illegal recruitment and what to look out for. Legitimate recruiters will always have a license, and you can verify this by contacting the POEA. Be sure to also get the name of the recruiter and the employer, as well as their contact information.

If something seems wrong, do not be afraid to contact the POEA for assistance. Illegal recruitment is detrimental to our OFWs and this affects their families as well.

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