As the hardship occassioned by unemployment continues to bite Nigerians, the plight of unemployed persons and job seekers is increasingly worsened by the growing rate of recruitment scam, which comes in various shades.he high rate of unemployment in Nigeria has led many unemployed youths into being victims of fraudsters in the course of searching for employment as more job scammers have sprung up online and in offices parading themselves as employers or recruitment agents.
Job seekers who fall prey to employment scams appear to be on the rise as the providers of fictitious and non-existent placements dupe their clients by giving them mouth watering offers at a fee.
It was gathered that the rising employment situation has compelled many job seekers to seek refuge in agents who in turn charge exorbitant rates or reach an understanding to share a certain percentage of their salaries as the case may be when the jobs click.
The Unemployment data, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that unemployment rate in the country has risen by 189. 1 per cent from 5.5 million in the first quarter of 2015 to 15.9 million in the third quarter of 2017, and the figure is likely to increase in 2018.
The release stated that in the first quarter of 2015, the unemployment figure was 5.5 million whereas in the second quarter, it hit 6 million. In the third and fourth quarters of 2015, the figures were 7.5 million and 8 million respectively.
In the first quarter of 2016, the rise continued to 9.4 million and in the second quarter of the same year, it went up again to 10.6 million. Also in the third and fourth quarters of the same year, the figure maintained its rise to 11.6 million and 11.5 million respectively.
Last year opened with unemployment figure of 11.9 million in the first quarter and in the second quarter, the figure hit 13.5 million. In the third quarter of the same year, the figure skyrocketed to 15.9 million.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the NBS has warned that the number of unemployed people in Nigeria would increase in the fourth quarter of 2017. The bureau made this prediction in the third quarter unemployment report, which was recently released on its website.
Scam and victims
The current state of the economy has worsened the situation as more job scammers have sprung up online and in offices parading themselves as employers or recruitment agents.
Recruitment scam occurs when a fraudster poses as an employer or recruiter, and offers attractive employment opportunities, which require that the job seeker pays money in advance. To lure unsuspecting victims into the web of deceit, the perpetrators of this scam go as far as reeling out specific vacancies that require being filled.
In the recent past, there have been many cases of fake recruitment exercises into the government agencies such as Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Although these government agencies eventually release statements, denouncing such recruitment exercises, the scam would have thrived successfully over a period of time, long enough for unsuspecting members of the public to have fallen victims.
The fake agents charge the desperate job seekers between N10, 000 and N300, 000 based on the agreement and nature of the so-called job.
President of the Human Capital Providers Association of Nigeria (HuCaPan), NeyeEnemigin said: “Some group of persons extort money from job seekers, promising to secure employment for them. This is very rampant during recruitment by government agencies. The extortionists are either insiders (employees of the recruiting organisation) or outsiders who claim to be connected to the top echelon of such organisations.”
In some states, people pay up to N100, 000 to secure a teaching job in public primary schools. In government agencies, a job seeker may be asked to part with as much as N30, 000. In cases where they are successful, the job seekers do not complain because they believe that the job was worth the price.
Enemigin said the menace of scammers in the labour market has become one of the major challenges to the Human Resources (HR) profession in the country.
He noted that most unemployed youths fall victim to the fraudsters due to lack of job opportunities in the country.
He narrated his experience about a young man who came to his office as head of HR in a well-known company to resume work with a forged employment letter of the company name given to him by one of the scammers.
Another victim of one of such scams, who gave his name as Tunde Adebayo said he was swindled of the sum of N200, 000 by some persons who are actually officials of the Nigerian Navy. According to him, “Sometime last year (2017), I was approached in Benin City by some persons who claimed they had connections with the Nigeria Police, and that there was an online recruitment exercise going on for the rank of Cadet. I was made to pay a deposit of N70, 000, out of a total of N135, 000 as the fee required for facilitating our application process.
“After paying the fees, a number of us were assembled at Imaguero Girls College, Benin City to write the recruitment examination. Just before starting the exams, we were made to pay another N10, 000 each, to ensure we scaled through the exercise. Then we were asked by the “coordinator” to wait in for an SMS within the next 24 hours, informing us of the outcome of the exams as well as the next stage.
“After waiting for about three days without any message, some of us tried frantically to reach out to our contact persons on the phone, but none of such calls were answered. When I decided to go back to the website where we initially filled the registration forms, the site had been scrambled. Then it finally dawned on me and most of us that we had just been scammed.”
Narrating his experience, a graduate of many years who fell victim in Lagos, AdeniyiOlatunji said job scams are very true because I fall into the trap of fraudsters through a flyer that was distributed on the roadside.
He said: “The flyers stated that banks were recruiting and in an effort to put food on my table, I called a man whose name was Steve as written on the flyer as HR person. I was asked to send my CV to his email, few weeks after than I got a message that my name was shortlisted for an interview.
“I called the HR to explain the interview process to which he responded that I had to pay N30,000 for consultancy and another N50,000 for an insider to help me get the job which I paid by borrowing from friends and family.”
Adeniyi said the experience was a bitter one because after making the payment their numbers could no longer be reached and he had to start rallying round to refund the borrowed money.
Also, a few months ago, it was gathered that kidnappers had begun to send text messages inviting their victims for job interviews but they hold them hostage as soon as they turn up at the addresses given to them by the abductors and then demand huge sums of money as ransoms from the victim’s family.
Also, research has shown that most job recruitment websites in Nigeria are operated by Internet fraudsters. Several recruitment firms are in the business of advertising non-existing job vacancies, with the aim of getting unsuspecting applicants to pay some fees, which are usually known as “registration” or “subscription” fees.
Others are in the business of printing fake vacancies and phone numbers of scam recruiters on posters and circulating such around various locations.
This ugly phenomenon is budding into a highly lucrative industry for its perpetrators as more and more people seek to obey their survival instinct by keying into anything that presents itself as an opportunity for them to earn an honest living.
According to some experts who spoke with LEADERSHIP said the trend has triggered aggressiveness in the youths who currently deploy short-term means of making ends meet, while many others resort to advanced fee fraud, touting, gambling and other anti-social vices.
They said while many work for security officials at garages extort money from motorists and transporters, a large number of the unemployed youths have taken to corporate begging in the streets.
LEADERSHIP checks revealed that the fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated in the way they operate and it is becoming more difficult to differentiate between them and genuine recruiters.
The Lagos State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade IdowuAdelakun urged youths to be wary of such scams as there are some signs to watch out for.
“Never part with your money. The golden rule is, any job offer that requires that you pay a fee in advance is probably fake. Most reputable companies will absorb the costs themselves. Another sign is if the recruiter offers to train you for the job in return for money, NEVER pay them any money. No legitimate company or recruiter will ask for any payments upfront,’’ he said.
President of HuCaPan, advised job seekers to carefully go through genuine job sites, rather than collect flyers on the road.
“HUCAPAN is making moves to end quackery among recruiters through collaboration with Federal Ministry of Labour to organize monitoring teams to eradicate job scammer’s behavior from the country.
Also speaking on the issue, a Human Resources Consultant at Systems Intellegenz Limited, DolapoJenrola, described the development as “worrisome.”
She said: “The presence of fake recruitment agencies casts a shadow on the credibility of real HR firms. The more they are allowed to fester, the less people would want to trust or deal with organisations that provide real recruitment services.
“Unfortunately, the trend is growing every day, with little or no efforts by the relevant authorities to checkmate such development. The government should do a lot more to arrest the situation at this stage before it becomes intractable.”
It is bad enough that citizens are meant to grapple with high rates of job losses and the despondency that comes with such. It would amount to double jeopardy on the lives of such people to leave them to the antics of fraudsters, who lay in wait to fleece them of whatever it is that their lives are hanging on.
There are several ways to avoid fake jobs and recruitment scams and some of them include doing a thorough search on the hiring agency or organisation, visiting their websites to confirm if there are legitimate vacancies.
As the year progresses, steer clear of organisations that use free email accounts like Gmail and Yahoo instead of corporate email accounts and avoid being too desperate to notice the tell tale signs of a recruitment scam.
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