Scams: Job seekers beware!

Frieda Paton

Stories of scammers, or swindlers, who line their pockets by tricking people out of their hard-earned (or borrowed) cash, are as old as human history. The sad part is that their victims are usually the most vulnerable and desperate. And who is more desperate than the thousands of unemployed youth in South Africa?

There are many scams out there targeting the youth – places in educational institutions, learnerships, apprenticeships, and other job scams. Cases are being reported to the police daily. The scammers use advertisements on job boards or on social media like Facebook, or even in newspapers. Some collect information about job-seekers on the internet and send out e-mails. Advertisements can even contain the name and logo of a government department or a well-known company.

The scammers use exciting promises to hook you and then, at some point, ask for an up-front payment. The reason given for this could be to process the application, for a test, or even for something like necessary study material or uniforms.  They usually ask for the payment to be made through an e-wallet or as a cash-send at a supermarket. Let that be an immediate red flag!

Use the following tips to avoid falling into a trap and having your money stolen:

– A reputable organisation will never ask for money up-front for a place in an educational institution or a job placement.

– The salary promised is much more than the average for the qualification and experience required – for example, R15 000 per month for someone who has just finished school.

– The duration of the course is much shorter than what is normally required for a specific qualification.

– The advertisement is for a very large number and different types of jobs in the same company.

– The contact information is not what one would expect from an established company.  For example a personal phone number rather than a landline, or one of the common free e-mail addresses, such as those ending with or

– They could ask you to send an SMS to one of the short-type numbers (e.g. 5236) with the course/job name and your phone number and/or e-mail address.

Some scammers even invite people for an interview, conduct the interviews at hired premises, promise the job on condition that the up-front payment is made – and then disappear with full pockets.

So be warned.  Do your research – know what the normal requirements are for the field of study you’re interested in, make sure that the educational institution is legally registered for the course of study, go to the website of the company that’s mentioned in the advertisement and compare the phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Too many have discovered the truth of the old saying that if something sounds too good to be true – it usually isn’t.


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