NEWS COMMENTARY CAUTIONS JOB SEEKERS AGAINST FALLING PREY TO FRAUDSTERS.
Ghanaians have been hit by waves of scams and fraudulent activities over the years. The infamous ‘sakawa’, 419, mobile money fraud and Loom have all come and gone, or at least reduced to a large extent. However, job recruitment scam appears to be the latest on the block. It entails the fraudulent or deceptive use of job advertisements and other career offers both online and offline to lure job seekers with the sole purpose of defrauding them financially or soliciting sensitive information such as personal details, credit card information among others. And with the high rate of unemployment in the country, it is no surprise that University graduates are usually the prime targets as they become vulnerable and desperate after completing school without getting jobs.
The whole idea of job recruitment scam may seem laughable to many, but for the victims it is a painful experience especially when they lose money in the process. Asking unemployed graduates to part with money they do not have when there is no guarantee they will secure the job, makes no sense, but out of desperation and lack of alternatives, these people are compelled to borrow money from friends and family to pay recruitment agencies with the hope of securing high paying jobs.
Based on observations, research and interactions with victims, job recruitment scams can be classified into three. The first is online, where the perpetrators post fake job advertisement with unrealistic financial benefits to lure their victims. The fraudsters also use social media and emails, with the most popular being the WORK FROM HOME job adverts. This is reiterated by the Head of Cyber Unit at the Ghana Police Service, Dr Gustav Yankson, who affirmed that Fraudulent activities on social media placed second on the chart in 2017, but in 2016 it was fourth. The second is Offline job scams, which is not so common. With the offline job scams, the perpetrators make physical contact with their victims. The third and final one is described by many as legitimate.
It would interest Ghanaians to note that well established companies also take advantage of job seekers by extorting monies from them. Although this form is not necessarily a scam as legitimate jobs are involved, the recruitment process is shrouded in secrecy and fraud. Imagine a situation where a company seeks the services of a recruitment agency to fill a vacancy for the role of a Public Relations Officer. After putting out the advertisement of a vacancy, the agency receives more than 500 applications. These applicants are all invited for interview where they are asked to pay 50 Ghana Cedis each in the name of processing fees. Then, all 500 applicants are called back and asked to pay additional 50 Ghana Cedis for an aptitude test. The procedure goes on and on until only one candidate is picked to fill the vacant position. In a scenario like this the recruiting agency stands to make a fortune. This makes it extremely difficult to differentiate between the genuine agency from the fraudulent one. Although victims are often silent on the matter, a few have had the courage to speak out. An unemployed graduate narrated her ordeal saying she lost 200 Ghana Cedis to the fraudsters two years ago during a job hunt. Another person lost 30 Ghana Cedis through the same process.
Finding a job these days is a difficult task, especially as the fraudsters keep upgrading their tactics to infiltrate the genuine recruitment agencies. However, the presence of certain red flags should never be ignored as they are indicators of a recruitment scam. First and foremost, if the financial benefits attached to the job posting is too good to be true then it probably is. Be careful with vacancies that omit the company’s name and details, do extensive research on job postings before you apply. Stay away from recruitment agencies that contact you to apply for a job instead of you going in yourself and most importantly, stay away from job postings that require payment for registration or processing fees. The onus lies on online job platforms such as jobber man, job web Ghana, job list Ghana, Ghana jobs, Job House among others to ensure that vacancies they publish on their platforms are authentic. This would not only improve their image but it will go a long way to strengthen Ghana’s cyber space.
BY NATHANIEL NARTEY, A JOURNALIST