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Scam alert: call centre and office administration jobs in insurance or banking







By Tamara Jacobsen, Director, Applied Learning Academy

The unemployed daughter of an acquaintance responded recently to a call centre position advertised on a job website. This is a copy of the actual ad:

“We are now looking for Matriculants or Grade 11 people to work in our client based in Randburg call centre to deal with different products like- outsourcing Liberty Life, Nedbank, Telekom, Multichannel, MTN Mobile, Telekom Mobile and Hollard. You must be hardworking and self-motivated with good communication skills, age 18 – 30 years needed and must be starting around Johannesburg or Randburg as no experience is required since training is available for Free. Salary ranges from R4500-R9000.” 

On arrival, she was told that she needed to pay R200 to secure her place on the ‘free’ training.  The family put the money forward in the belief that it would lead to a job. They also scrounged money together for transport for her. At the end of the five day training course (which was rather lacking in content), they were asked to put another R550 forward to obtain the ‘certificate’.

The family approached the business in central Johannesburg. They noticed that the office staff of the unnamed business were answering calls from at least ten different cell phones. When challenging the staff of the business about the false promises, they were threatened by two foreign nationals and were forced to leave. We became involved after hearing about this scam and conducted our own research. We uncovered the following:

  • There are many, many similar ads posted on job sites across South Africa. The ads typically claim that there are multiple job opportunities in call centres, office admin or sales where no previous experience is required, i.e. unemployed matriculants and their families are being deliberately targeted;
  • The starting salary is typically above average for an inexperienced person entering the job market;
  • Where a website has been indicated, it is mostly invalid or the company when contacted, knows nothing about the job and did not hire agents to conduct recruitment;
  • Up front money is requested from applicants of between R200 and R800 – this fee is positioned as a ‘training’, ‘registration fee’ or ‘placement’ fee;
  • The process does not always refer to or include basic call centre training;
  • After a successful ‘interview’ or ‘training’ session, the applicant is asked to pay a further fee for ‘processing’, a ‘certificate’ etc;
  • None of the applicants ever secure a job through the ‘agency’.

A number of the large corporates like Vodacom and Telkom mentioned in the ads have posted warnings about the scam on the internet. Speaking with a number of our insurance and banking clients, they confirmed that they would never recruit call centre staff through the types of processes mentioned in the false job ads.

The ‘no experience required’ job scam is extensive and well organised. They even deliberately include spelling, typing and/or grammar errors to filter out less educated applicants. According to scamsters, less educated people are not as likely to contact authorities and more likely to pay a second or third fee before figuring out that it is a scam. The advertisers also typically promise a higher than average starting income level to encourage people desperate for a job opportunity to suspend their reasoning in the hope that it is possibly true.

Tips on recognising a false job opportunity

Here are some tips to help identify whether an advertised job opportunity is a possible scam:

  • Generic email addresses are used rather than a company email address, e.g. a gmail account;
  • There are spelling, typing and/or grammar errors in the ad;
  • A higher than average salary for the particular position and level of experience is promised;
  • A fee is payable on arrival, being successful in an ‘interview’, or on ‘acceptance’;
  • The company’s name is not mentioned in the ad or if it is, it does not exist or the real company knows nothing about the advertised position.

Help protect the unemployed – spread the word

Professional recruiters will be working through a registered business with a proper email address or contact number (not just a cell phone number). Their ads contain few or no spelling, typing or grammar errors. Further, professional recruiters are paid by the company who hired them to source people for a position and will not ask for any fee from applicants. Applicants should therefore look for clues within the ads and check the credentials of an advertiser before submitting an application. If any payment is requested, it is a scam and the applicant should leave immediately.

Please tell friends and acquaintances about this scam, especially those with a family member who is looking for a job. There have been approximately 40 new ads of this nature posted on different job websites within the last day – it is a significant problem and unacceptable. We have started a campaign by notifying the various job seeking website administrators and through this notice. We ask you to please help protect fellow South Africans by spreading the word!

Source: Applied Learning Academy
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