How Close Friends, Family Can Be Used To Con Millions Of Job Applicants

Their main strategy is to eliminate doubt by getting people one trusts to refer them, and then entice them with hefty salary promises. 

How Close Friends, Family Can Be Used To Con Millions Of Job Applicants
Kenyans holding placards pleading for a job. /FILE

Kenyans on social media and offline have raised an alarm regarding a new type of job scam that has seen fraudsters go the extra mile and deceive job seekers through people they trust, ranging from close friends to family members.

An alert raised by a netizen in a WhatsApp group and seen by Viral Tea cautioned other netizens to beware of an individual identified by the email address of a government-owned entity which has been on a conning spree and targeting jobseekers to the point of extending to fields such as communications and Public Relations (PR).

Seemingly knowing that their acts may be easily detected, Viral Tea has learnt that the fraudsters employ a new tactic and use referrals, mostly people close to them, in a bid to get them to lay their guard down.

Their main strategy is to eliminate doubt by getting people one trusts to refer them, and then entice them with hefty salary promises. 

A man and woman working in an office. /FILE

In one such instance, a jobseeker who spoke to Viral Tea revealed that the fraudster nearly defrauded him of Ksh10,000 in January after he received a call from someone claiming that he had been selected for a job interview.

However, to get the job itself, the individual required some documents from the jobseeker which would have cost him around Ksh9,500 to obtain, a matter the jobseeker found suspicious.

"I called the boss from the organization where I had done an interview that morning and I was waiting for feedback that afternoon. He actually told me what I submitted to them is what they wanted and they charged nothing for the same," he told Viral Tea.

He noted that he eventually got the job and was meant to report the following day, but not before he called the fraudster to tell him off.

Another jobseeker revealed that the fraudster had an accomplice who was part of a brazen cartel that also allegedly wielded records of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) PINs from Kenyans and went above and beyond to trick job seekers into believing that they were official, including the nature of phone conversations.

Another shared a copy of a job offer letter dated February 8, 2024, from the government parastatal which had recommended her to work as a communications officer with a reporting date set for Tuesday, February 20 at 10.30 am for pilot test, contract evaluation and signing.

"Please ensure that you carry your Original I.D. Card, Certificate of Good Conduct, Tax Compliance Certificate, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Certificate, HELB Clearance Form and hardcopies of your original certificates. Please note, as per legal requirement, the management will deduct from you all the statutory deductions e.g PAYE, NHIF, NSSF etc," the letter seen by Viral Tea read in part.

The job seeker further indicated that she was sent the form and instructed to part with some money.

We further learnt that this was a new tactic that arose from the difficulty in getting jobs, with some professionals turning to unscrupulous ways to earn a living. Several job seekers have fallen victim to similar cons and lost thousands of shillings.

Human Resource (HR) experts advise that when job hunting, job seekers need to watch out for deals that look too good to be true because no recruitment process is simple.

“Recruiters are required by law to give every potential candidate a fair chance through a competitive process for any position. Getting a job offer without an interview or any form of assessment is very unlikely,” Benbellah Omondi, a human resource practitioner, told the Nation.

“Employers always try to abide by employment laws to avoid future lawsuits or claims of discrimination.”

He also recommended checking companies’ official websites for job postings because the law requires them to publicly announce vacancies even if they are to be filled from within.

On November 24, 2023, the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) warned that millions of Kenyans risk losing their jobs if the cost of doing business continues to be unsustainable due to high taxes that emerged since the enactment and implementation of the Finance Act 2023.

The employers body lamented the dire state of employment in the country, noting that it is still reeling from the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic and many are yet to regain the financial muscle.

It revealed that daily, it received notifications from employers regarding their intent to declare redundancy, adding that between October 2022 and November 2023, 70,000 jobs were lost in the formal private sector, according to a survey FKE undertook to determine the impact of the increased costs on jobs.

"40 per cent of employers have reported that they are planning to reduce the number of employees to meet the increasing costs of operating in Kenya," FKE warned.

FKE CEO Jacqueline Mugo speaking during the release of the Skills Needs Survey report on November 21, 2023. /FKE KENYA