Sunday, 20 July 2014

How Fake Job Consultants, Racketeers Defraud Jobless Nigerians

I came across this article and though it is a very long write up I decided to share it because I think it is a piece that everyone should read and share, there is a lot to be learned from it.
Read it below:

Like many of his col­leagues, his fear for the future increased in intensity as the passing out parade of his batch, the official closing ceremony for members of National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, inched closer. The staggering statis­tics of unemployed Nigerians, as released by the government recently, coupled with the sac­rifice of his poor parents, who had predictably looked forward to a better life after their son’s graduation, could only accen­tuate Olanrewaju’s (not real name) anxiety.

Olanrewaju, a graduate of Business Administration finally returns to Lagos after his service year to face the inevitable challenge of life after school. A typical day for him began with a visit to a nearby newspaper stand, where he would jot down names and addresses of organi­sations where vacancies existed.

 In the course of doing this, he innocently penciled down the name of a recruitment agency and subsequently forwarded his application as advertised in the publication. Few days later, he received a text message request­ing him to attend a job interview three days later.

The interview, which was conducted in batches as a result of the large turnout of appli­cants, went smoothly and Olanr­ewanju returned home optimistic of a favourable result. “Just as I had expected, I received another SMS congratulating me for mak­ing the shortlist and requesting that I reported at the venue of the interview for the final lap of the recruitment process,” he told Sunday Sun.

Olanrewaju arrived at the venue only to be jolted by the turn of events. A staffer of the recruitment agency who addressed him alongside other applicants that made the cut told the applicants numbering over 30 that only 20 of the over 100 who sat for the interview made the shortlist on merits, while 15 other candidates who scored above average were said to have been placed on standby, should some of those on merit list fail to meet “the final selection cri­terion,” which, according to him was the payment of N5, 000, while those with OND were asked to pay N3, 000. Those with O’ level were told to pay N2, 000,” he recalled.

Olarenwaju who claimed he had less than N1, 000 on him said he raced down to a nearby ATM and made a quick with­drawal just like a few others who were caught unawares by the development. “None of us on the main list was ready to concede our position to those on standby. So everybody, except one or two persons, who perhaps could not afford the money, paid, he recalled.

If Olanrewaju had thought his ability to pay the required amount was all he needed to land himself a job, he was total­ly wrong. Upon paying the mon­ey, he was given a form in which he was to list three different jobs in order of his preference, a development he said raised his suspicion for the first time. “I actually applied for the position of an administrative officer. So I didn’t see any reason why I had to fill in three other jobs in the form having been told that I did well in the interview,” he said.

To douse his doubt, Olanrewaju said he made an enquiry from one of the staffers of the recruit­ing company who simply told him to go by the instruction on the form. But that was to be the end of it all with the company. “Upon completing the form, we were told to expect final invitation from the contracting company which never came, just as a few visits to the agent’s office failed to yield any positive result,” he lamented.

Olanrewaju’s experience is similar to that of countless Nigerians who fall prey to the antics of the so called recruit­ment agencies, who capitalize on the desperation of millions of jobless Nigerians to exploit them. Anthony Ogbeide, just like Olanrewaju, did not find it in any way better during his days in the labour market. Ogbeide who now teaches in a private secondary school in Alagbado narrated his ordeals in the hands of fake job consultants to Sunday Sun.

Ogbeide who claimed to have been allegedly defrauded by three fake job consultants said he made the decision not to pa­tronize recruitment agents after his experience last December. “After I lost my money to two different consultants early in the year, I made up my mind not to patronise any agent for job again,” he said.

He would however make a U-turn when late last year he re­ceived an SMS inviting him for aptitude test in response to a job application to a multi-national company. “I could not remember applying to any multi-national company around the time. So, I guessed one of the agencies I had patronized earlier could have done that on my behalf. But then, I had resolved not to pay a dime should there be any demand for money.”

Ogbeide attended the apti­tude test which was slated for a Thursday but did not get any feedback until three weeks after. Meanwhile, Ogbeide had run into a former schoolmate who also came for the test and, who called him a week after the test to inform him that he had received an SMS congratulat­ing him and inviting him for an interview. “My friend sought to know if I received a similar message, but I told him I was yet to receive such informa­tion. Meanwhile all this while, nobody had the faintest clue of which multi-national company was in need of our services,” he recalled.

Ostensibly out of suspicion, Ogbeide called the former schoolmate to confirm the interview he attended. “I was not surprised when my friend told me that he could not take part in the interview due to his inability to pay the sum of N5, 000 which the consulting firm demanded as a condition for attending the interview. He however told me that some of the applicants paid the money and did the inter­view,” Ogbeide who later got a similar SMS, inviting him for an interview almost three weeks after he attended the aptitude test, informed Sunday Sun.

Curiously however, the in­terview was slated for a differ­ent location. While his friend attended the interview at the same venue in Ikeja, where they had the aptitude test, Ogbeide’s batch was scheduled to undergo the interview at Ketu, Lagos. But unlike majority of other applicants invited along with him, Ogbeide already had a clue of what was going to happen and had decided to inform a few applicants around him to prepare to pay before taking part in the interview.

“Some of them did not believe, but a few who believed me vowed to frustrate any attempt by the agency to extort them and that was what actually happened when the first set of applicants that went in for the interview were requested to pay before undergoing the inter­view.

 It was at that point that the people began to ask questions as to which multi-national company the consultant was recruiting for, and why the consultant failed to notify them that they would have to pay. And before one could say Jack, some of the applicants had descended on two of the staffers of the agency, while the rest took to their heels. But for the prompt intervention of policemen, the two young men would have been lynched,” he said.

The plight of jobless Nige­rians has in recent times been compounded by government agencies and dubious job re­cruitment outfits. In some states, corrupt government officials deceive desperate job seekers to part with money either for purchase of dubious employ­ment forms or in the guise of outright bribe. Some government agencies also compel candidates desperate for job to apply online and purchase scratch card from designated banks.

Governor Emmanuel Udu­aghan of Delta State not long ago put the employment process into the state civil service on hold following allegations of employment racketeering in the process of recruitment.

The governor had in Janu­ary ordered that the payment of N1,000.00 by applicants to access the recruitment forms on-line be stopped and refunded to those who had already paid.

The governor was peeved that the unemployed which formed part of the vulnerable group in the state would be made to squeeze out money in form of application fees before their applications are considered.

It was learnt that employment scammers within the recruitment process have continued to pose threat to the chances of many jobless Nigerians in securing jobs in the civil service and government parastatals in the country as they allegedly de­mand for money before helping applicants secure job placements in the service.

The operations of job racke­teers have in recent times been extended to states like Osun where a number of applicants have been allegedly defrauded. Miss Tope Oyagbile, a graduate of the Osun state College of Ed­ucation, Ilesa who was recently duped in Osogbo said a group of people who she knew through her boyfriend had assured her of Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) during the corps’ last recruitment and asked her to pay N100,000 a sum of money which she said she paid.securing a job at the Nigeria Security and

Miss Oyagbile who said she had been looking for a job for over four years said some individuals claimed that they got job appointments with NSCDC follow­ing the payment of the money, hence her quick resolve to pay the money without argument.

She said after paying the money, she was assured of the job but was disap­pointed as she could not get any appoint­ment and efforts to recover the money proved abortive as the racketeers could no longer be found.

Another victim, Mr. Joseph Obasola while narrating his own ordeal said, “I was introduced to a man who claimed to work with the Nigeria Immigration Service in Abuja and he requested for the sum of N200,000 which he said I could pay in installments. “I gave him N100,000 as first installment, and till now I am yet to receive any news from him,” he said, adding, “I have kept calling him but he kept reassuring me. It is over a year now that he collected the money from me. In fact, I have been to the house he described as his house in Osogbo but I could not find him in the house.”

The situation is not different in Ebonyi State where Sunday Sun gathered that several people suffered in the hands of fraudsters during last year’s job recruit­ment of junior and senior clinical and non-clinical staffers of the Federal Teach­ing Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA).

Sunday Sun gathered that the fraudsters went round collecting between N200, 000 and N500, 000 from the applicants who sat for the job test at the hospital with a promise of getting them employments in the hospital.

The fraudsters who claimed to have come from the hospital management through the e-mails and text messages sent to their unsuspecting victims de­manded they pay some amount of money to process appointment letters for the applicants.

The fraudsters, Sunday Sun gathered, also collected money from their victims and issued them appointment letters through the e-mail with the logo of the hospital printed and cloned signature of the acting Director of Administration.

Some of the victims who spoke with Sunday Sun said that they paid N200, 000, N300, 000 and N500, 000 to one account number and some paid cash while others paid part of the money to be com­pleted when given appointment letters.

They claimed that they received text messages inviting them for the job test and after which they received appoint­ment letters from e-mail internet with the logo of the hospital which directed them to print and go to the hospital for documentation.

“It was when I came to the hospi­tal with the appointment letter sent to me which I printed from internet that I realized that I had been duped. When I came for documentation, the management of the hospital told me that it was fake appointment and when I called the phone number of the dupe, he kept on promising me that the hospital will be communicat­ed to accept me,” the victim narrated his ordeal.

The situation attracted the attention of the Management of FETHA which raised the alarm and warned the applicants over the activities of fraudsters within the period of the recruitment exercise in the hospital last year.

The Chief Medical Director, Dr. Paul Ezeonu, while reacting to the incident last year, lamented that the fraudsters collect­ed money from victims, promising and giving them fake appointments saying that one of the victims came from North with fake appointment to the hospital but later found out she was defrauded.

“People are dubious and they were trying to mess up peoples names and which we reported to the police and SSS. Even during advertisement for the job, some people told the prospective employ­ees to pay money into an account. So it is really a big problem in Nigeria where people want to make money out of every situation, extorting the poor and needy,” he lamented.

Although there has not been any major job scam in Kaduna State in recent times, but Sunday Sun investigation revealed that some faceless organisations are in the habit of defrauding unsuspecting job seekers in cash and kind.

Our correspondent reported that, the fraudsters in most cases place their fake job vacancy notices at public places, es­pecially Post Office along Yakubu Gowon Way in Kaduna.

When Sunday Sun visited the Post Office, some of the vacancy notices on the board were seen marked, “Fraud, Thieves” among others. When asked about the marking, one of the job seekers met at the spot told our reporter that, “some of us are not strangers here, we know job adverts that are genuine, we know those that are fake”.

The veteran applicant who identified himself as Sunday Emmanuel disclosed that, he had attended more than 50 job interviews in Kaduna, but at least 20 of them were fraudulent in one way or the other.

According to Emmanuel, “I have been to one interview somewhere around Sta­dium Roundabout, we were about 80 ap­plicants at the interview, but what amazed me is that, when I got inside, I was told that, if I wanted to be selected for the job I should pay N5000. They went ahead to tell me that, only very few of us that are intelligent were asked to pay that amount with the condition that we must not dis­cuss it with other applicants. But, on the contrary, I discovered that every single applicant that went inside was asked to pay that amount.”

Asked about how such fraudsters can be suspected, he said, “Once you see any notice on this board without proper ad­dresses and organisation’s names, forget it. They will just tell you, a Kaduna based or an international IT firm and so on, they are fraudsters.”

Another female applicant who over­heard Emmanuel’s comment interjected that, “in fact, some will ask for your phone number and call you later that, you are about to be selected for the job, but you have to come and see them in a hotel before they can finally shortlist you. That is the kind of country we have found our­selves in. And I know many have fallen victims of such,” she said.

Meanwhile, efforts to speak with the authorities of the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) where the vacancies are placed proved abortive, but a source close to the post office told Sunday Sun that, the au­thorities always try its best to ensure that, only genuine employers are allowed to place job recruitment adverts at the point.

Speaking in an interview with Sunday Sun Mr. Chukwuma Vincent, Managing Director, VIC Human Resource Nigeria Ltd, Lagos, described the situation as worrisome. Chukwuma who claimed to have fallen victim of the antics of fraudulent job agents in the past said most applicants in their desperate search for jobs often put themselves in vulnerable positions to be defrauded. “Why would an applicant patronize a consultant who does not have an office? Or in a situation where the person has an office, most applicants don’t bother to know whether the company is registered or not. These are some of the reasons most of them fall victims of fraudulent job consultants,” he noted.

As a way of guarding against the antics of job racketeers, Chukwuma said job applicants should only relate with registered consulting firms with traceable addresses. In addition to this, applicants must also ensure they ask question on the advertised openings. “An applicant must not hesitate to ask if there are openings truly and in case the agent tells you there is no opening at present, you may seek to know when there will be one.

If you are satisfied by the time frame given to you, you may decide to register with him and wait for the time when you will be invited for the job. But avoid putting the agent under undue pressure to get you job at all cost because consultants have ways of frustrating such difficult applicants,” he disclosed.

Shedding more light on how recruit­ment agents frustrate troublesome appli­cants, Chukwuma said, “ if you are such a troublesome applicant, a consultant who knows that you reside in Abule Egba may choose to send you to a company, which does not require your services at Yaba. By the time you are sent to three or four of such companies and you calculate what you have spent on transport, you will have no choice but to back out,” he revealed.

Ms. Linda Ayodele, a human resource expert, said detecting a fraudulent employment consultant is as difficult as identifying other questionable charac­ters in the society. “First of all, we must understand that there is no sector or field where you don’t have people of ques­tionable characters and you can’t just determine a fraudulent person by merely looking at him or her. However in the case of recruiting firms, one major way of identifying a fraudulent job consultant is his or her interest in money.

 A consultant who predicates your chances of getting a job solely or largely on the money you are ready to pay is a fraud. All an employer needs in an employee is the ability to deliver. But if anyone tells you that what matters is your money it is better you leave the person and search elsewhere.”

The Sun

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