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Don’t believe everything you see. This old adage no less applies to online advertisements, listings or postings regarding employment offers, vacancies and internships.

Fraudsters are acutely aware that many out there are desperately seeking employment, and are prepared to take advantage of unsuspecting victims through fake vacancies and internships advertised on websites, or doing the rounds on social media. platforms. 

Their motives may be to either trick unsuspecting job seekers to disclose their personal information (for identity theft purposes) or in other instances to defraud them of their money through the payment of upfront “fees” for “placements” or “training” to be provided.

Yes, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between legitimate and fraudulent employment offers and listings, but there are a few indicators or “red flags” that you can look out for:

  • You are required to pay upfront ‘fees’ for services (background checks, training, etc.).
  • Listings appear unprofessional and contain spelling mistakes or poor grammar.
  • There is no recruiter or company contact information.
  • The offer requires minimal skills or experience, yet offers high rewards or salary. 
  • Requirements for the vacancy are vague and the job description is unclear.
  • The personal email address for enquiries is not associated with a particular company/organisation.
  •  Communication with the recruiter is exclusively through messaging services (WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.).

The ability to differentiate between legitimate job opportunities and fraudulent ones means that you will likely not become a victim. Here are some pointers to avoid employment-related scams: 

  • Even if you know the company advertising online, do your research before applying for the position.
  • Verify vacancies or job offers circulating on social media. Check the advertised company’s website for confirmation that the vacancy/employment offer exists.
  • Check online for job seeker complaints or reports that an advertised listing is a scam.
  • Be sceptical – Look out for exaggerated claims and promises associated with the employment offer and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Never pay any upfront fees or transfer monies to secure a ‘successful application’.
  • Do not give out your personal information to recruiters, unless you are sure and have confirmed their legitimacy.
  • Where providing personal or confidential information online, ensure that that website you are using is secure (indicated by the https:// or a padlock in the address bar). 
  • Be sceptical of Gmail, Yahoo or other free email service addresses used for enquiries or recruiting. 
  • If you come across fraudulent listings, or if you think that you have been scammed, warn family and friends and report this to law enforcement authorities.
  • Finally, trust your instincts and remember: If something doesn’t feel right, it probably is a scam.


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