Every day, anxious job seekers are being hoodwinked by fraudsters who employ different tactics to fleece their victims. Over the years, so many victims have been duped, raped, robbed, kidnapped or killed in the process.
As their old tactics are uncovered, the scammers reinvent themselves and re-strategise to inflict deeper trauma on Nigerian youths, whose hopes of securing good jobs dim by the day. Just when one thinks that the fraudsters have exhausted all their gimmicks, they come up with a different one.
Every graduate and, indeed, any young person willing to work would naturally dream of securing a good job as soon as possible, to make ends meet.
In Nigeria, many young degree holders, having passed through the rigours of completing higher education and graduating with good grades, wait for months and years for decent jobs. Those waiting years become long periods of torment and frustration.
For many graduates, passing through school is not a tea party. Many of them combined working odd jobs while studying, and waiting for non-existent jobs many years after graduation could be traumatic and frustrating.
No wonder, when these graduates pass out from the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, and after waiting for months or years without getting good jobs commensurate with their qualifications, they are desperate to try their luck anywhere. And once they see any seeming opportunity in the labour market, they jump at it without asking many questions.
It is obvious that fraudulent individuals and agencies are using the terrible unemployment situation in Nigeria to enrich themselves at the expense of desperate and naive job seekers. Those seeking employment are always left worse off after passing through these unscrupulous recruitment agencies.
They are everywhere and are aggressive while searching for new victims. Some of the swindlers employ dynamic and sophisticated craft to hoodwink innocent victims.
Scammers are persons who extort money from job seekers, promising to secure employment for them. This is very common when government agencies are recruiting. First, the victims are scammed into believing there are existing vacancies within the agencies, although no such vacancies exist.
Recently, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, raised the alarm that fraudsters were using a fake NIS website to defraud Nigerians who were seeking employment.
He explained that the scammers opened a website that they were using to carry out fake recruitment activities. He quickly clarified that vacancies in the NIS were always free and made known to Nigerians via the national dailies, television, radio and the service website, “www.immigration.gov.ng.”
But even before the warning came, it was said that hundreds of unsuspecting Nigerians had already fallen for it and got duped.
Fraudsters lay ambush using different baits. Some of them operate from known addresses, while others are strictly on the Internet parading themselves as the messiah that jobless graduates might have been waiting for. There are also a set of others who are faceless. What they do is to scout for phone numbers of their targets, and send messages to them with about juicy offers.
Anywhere one turns, different fictitious job vacancies are being advertised even on many job recruitment websites. Phone numbers are written on walls at popular bus stops and other busy places in Lagos, promising job seekers immediate employment.
It was gathered that many graduates, out of frustration from inability to gain employment, decided to venture into fake job recruitment businesses. They normally demand registration fees from anyone seeking employment through their office, even though they often don’t have any jobs to offer. Scammers are becoming more organised in the way they operate. It is now difficult to differentiate between fake and genuine recruiters.
Sharing her experience with the reporter, Adeola Adeboye, who resides in Lagos, said she could not fathom how fraudsters knew that she served as a national youth corps member in Jalingo, Taraba State,. She also expressed shock at how the strange callers got her phone number.
Said she: “The young man who called me said, ‘How are you Adeola? My name is Okoduwa Akinpelu, your Taraba corps mate, Batch ‘A’ two years ago. We were in the same platoon and we both served in Jalingo. In case you have not got a good job, I now work with Shell SPDC Oil Company, Bonny branch, Rivers State. You can call me because Shell is recruiting presently.”
She said that she was immediately excited and before she could ask any question, the man at the other end had ended the call. Her joy could be understandable, just as any unsuspecting job seeker would jump at the seeming opportunity.
But she soon began to suspect that something was amiss. For instance, she still could not recall meeting him during the entire service year. She was not even familiar with any of her supposed colleagues at the time of service, neither did she drop her phone number anywhere while in Jalingo.
“Still very curious, I decided to call him to ask if he could tell me one or two things during our stay in orientation camp and our place of primary assignment. Within a few seconds of the interaction, I realised that he was an imposter looking for whom to defraud.
“After that phone call, I got another call from Ibadan, telling me to travel down to the city the following day for a training that would lead to getting me a job in the company I had applied to. I didn’t doubt it much because I have applied to different companies and job recruiting agencies, but I became curious when the caller asked me to come with a good laptop. He emphasised that the laptop must be very ok.
“When I asked him to give me the details of the company that his agency would be training me on its behalf, he began to fidget. Instead of giving me a direct answer, he asked me to remember and mention where I applied to for vacancy. I asked him a few other questions but he kept beating about the bush,” she recalled.
Indeed, many unemployed youths have fallen victim to this dubious scheme in their desperation to get a job. This is the ever-present fate that seems to lie ahead of many unemployed youths that roam the streets of Nigeria in search of decent employment.
Aside from Adeola, almost on a daily basis, many Nigerians receive fraudulent messages or calls from strangers looking to make a dishonest living and take advantage of the high rate of youth unemployment by offering fictitious employment offers.
In the quest of seeking employment in reputable companies, many applicants have lost hundreds of thousands of naira. The fraudsters usually pose to be in positions to potentially pave the way for job seekers’ applications to be accepted. Some applicants go as far as soliciting money from their parents or relatives to bribe their way through.
From all indications, experiences tend to prove that many of those who succumb easily to fraudulent schemes in Nigeria, popularly called 419, are the lowly.
Many unserious recruitment agencies could invite applicants to come for an interview within 24 hours of receiving their applications. This is said to be against the norm of registered and legitimate recruitment agencies.
A staffer at the human resource department of a popular paint company in Lagos, Mr. Daniel Bunmi, said: “I would advise unemployed youths out there to be very careful because of the activities of fraudsters everywhere. But it is satanic for Nigerians to be duping fellow Nigerians in the name of helping them to secure jobs.
“I understand the desperation displayed by many of our youths because it is not easy to stay at home for months doing nothing when one has the strength to work. They should be vigilant and wise. No matter the situation, it is still sensible to do a simple search of the company on the Internet or by legwork, if you are in the same city.
“Something is definitely fishy with any company that has no website with descriptions of what they are doing. When the recruiter is anxious about collecting your money, you need to be sceptical. Our youths also need to be careful when they are offered unbelievable monetary packages as salaries or wages,” he said.
Findings have revealed that most job seekers that prefer federal jobs due to the stability and security fall prey to this kind of scams. To lure more unsuspecting victims into the web of deceit, the perpetrators go as far as reeling out specific vacancies that require being filled.
Another trend is sending bulk SMS or emails to random people about an interview they have been selected for when they didn’t even apply for any.
Indisputably, the situation can also be attributed to the high level of competition for available jobs, and desperation of getting well-paying jobs outside of the due process of applying for a job and securing an interview.
To halt this ugly trend, government has been called upon to invest in the youth by creating jobs, and also ensuring that there is proper monitoring through the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, and all of these employment agencies so that there could be a bit of sanity in the system.