According to Stats SA, the unemployment rate in South Africa reached 29.1% in the third quarter of 2019. As the statistics continues to increase, the number of fake recruitment agencies are also on the increase. These fake recruitment agencies target job-seekers and take advantage of their desperation to defraud them.
In South Africa, Statistics South Africa (“Stats SA”) was a victim of these fake agencies. This forced the organization to put up a clear warning on its website stating, “Stats SA wishes to caution the public about impostors claiming to represent the organization and falsely promising jobs, and asking for prepayment to secure jobs for applicants”.
Desperation is the very fuel that these fake recruitment organizations use to drive their fraudulent activities. Yes, you need a job urgently, but being desperate would lead to trouble. Don’t jump at every seeming job opportunity. Ask questions. Look out for reviews. Verify before committing and be wary of too good to be true offers from recruitment agencies.
This article would highlight red flags to look out for, what you can do to protect yourself, and some reported fake recruitment agencies in South Africa.
Red Flags To Help You Spot Fake Recruitment Agencies
With the state of the employment terrain in South Africa today, identifying a fake recruitment agency is not a walk in the park. These fake agencies are good at mimicking genuine agencies especially with the availability of technological tools. The key to spotting them is paying attention to details and demands from such agencies.
1. Request for payments upfront
A fake recruitment agency would require applicants to pay money upfront for different purposes. It is not uncommon to see them ask an applicant to pay a fee for them to conduct a ‘criminal clearance test’. However, take note that the recruitment company normally pays the fee.
Don’t be fooled into paying an amount for you to be shown available job opportunities or to submit your application. A fake recruitment agency in South Africa might want to trick you into paying a fee that supposedly allows them to enroll you onto their company insurance. Be cautious of such requirements and shady demands.
2. Send emails from a free account/domain
A genuine recruitment agency should have a secured website where information about the agency can be accessed easily. Having a website means they own a domain that typically carries their agency name. If this is true, then such an agency is expected to own personalized email addresses as well.
A fake recruitment agency is not in business for the long haul game, so owning a custom domain is not a needed luxury. Treat emails from free accounts such as Gmail, Hotmail, etc with extra caution. Look out for spelling and grammatical errors. If an email attachment feels fishy, it is probably a malicious link, capable of tampering with your device and personal information.
3. Outlandish job offers and terms
As a young professional, you should already have an idea of the offering available to you for your current level of education and experience. An agency that offers an intern the terms of employment best suited for a senior manager is a fraud.
Most people who fall for scams do so because of their greed, don’t be like that. Desire the best, but be willing to work for it. Once offered an unrealistic job with unbelievable benefits, double-check before moving forward.
Easy Steps to Protect Yourself from Fake Recruitment Agencies in South Africa
- Research the recruitment agency’s name
- Check the agency’s VAT number to see if the recruitment agency in question exists and is authorized to operate in South Africa
- Verify the provided phone number
- Acquaint yourself with genuine recruitment agencies associated with your niche within the country
- Consider getting the job requirements and description directly from the recruiting company’s official website
- On no account should you provide your banking details or financial information
- Double-check the recruitment agency’s adverts for authenticity and adherence to due recruitment protocols
The South African Police are doing their best to tackle these recruitment scams. If a recruitment agency falsely and illegally defrauds an applicant, such applicant can approach the South African Police Services with evidence and available details to report the fake recruitment agency.
List of Reported Fake Recruitment Agencies in South Africa
According to a report by Opera News, the most popular fake recruitment agencies in South Africa are allegedly located in Kempton Park and Johannesburg and are mostly foreign-owned. They target poor Africans who are in desperate need of jobs. The report further reveals that they advertise their fake jobs on Indeed and Best Jobs for jobs such as cashiers, hospitality industry staff, security and the likes.
During our research into identified fake recruitment agencies in South Africa, two recruitment companies; 1Fourall and Whiteknight turned out to be one company. Our research also revealed that they use fax and email to make money. Applicants are not charged any initial fee but are required to send their filled out forms through fax, which is very expensive. The recruitment agency earns a lot through this way – faxing. Interestingly, faxing is one of the popular recruitment scams in South Africa. Other common recruitment scams in South Africa include:
1. Pay for items scam
This scam would have applicants believe they have gotten an actual job until the straw that breaks the camel’s back suffices. Here, applicants attend a seeming valid interview, after which the company informs applicants of a work-from-home arrangement. The employer then sends a cashier’s check and asks the applicant to deposit the check into their bank account and withdraw funds. This is closely followed by an instruction to send the withdrawn funds to Western Union for the work-from-home materials needed by the applicant.
2. Fake job application scam
The success of this scam is proof of people’s desperation to get a job in South Africa. Here, job seekers receive an email asking them to complete a form online. Once they click on the link to the form, it redirects them to a page that requires them to fill out their personal information. A text eliciting fear of missing out is usually included to convince people to fill the form.
3. Sign up for trial period scam
This scam can be quite deceiving and has been exploited by fake recruitment agencies to defraud applicants. An applicant is notified that only two or three persons have been chosen for a job but would be required to go through a trial period of two or three weeks. The recruiting company’s details and information usually look genuine and convincing. The way to identify this scam is a careful look at the form given you to fill. It would require you to provide your ID number, personal details and bank account information.
As a job seeker, please be wary of the job adverts you respond to. No company or retail store would be able to pay you 10000 Rands per month for a cleaning job. It is unrealistic to believe such when people who occupy managerial roles barely earn such an amount monthly.
It’s important to reiterate that thorough evaluation is necessary to hamper phoney recruitment agencies.
Knowledge is power. By arming yourself with enough knowledge, you are better equipped to identify fake recruitment agencies. The magic is always in the details, so pay proper attention.
On your part, prepare yourself for the kind of jobs you desire. Get your credentials ready and in order. Increase your chases of getting hired by taking advantage of a professional CV writing service, interview preparation tutorials and other helpful resources.
As far job applications go, were in doubt, ask questions for clarification. Take advantage of the tools made available by technology to double-check and verify before getting in bed with any recruitment agency. Check out our blog for more helpful resources and career advice.
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