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There has never been a better time to explore technological advancements like today. The 21st century innovations have opened a humongous window to the world filled with many possibilities. Sadly, amongst those possibilities, are fraudulent activities. 

International Fraud Awareness Week was from 15 – 21 November 2021. The purpose of the week is to encourage business leaders and employees to proactively take steps to minimise the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education. 

Fraud awareness is critical at a time when organizations around the world lose an estimated 5% of their annual revenues to fraud.

Today we are focusing on identifying online job scams and how to avoid them. It is easy to fall for online job scams due to the dire desperation for employment (7.8 million South Africans are unemployed) and the need for extra income as we are all currently living through tough economic times. 

According to TransUnion, one in three (37%) of South Africans said they are aware of digital fraud attempts that targeted them from January to March 2021, and 5% of them fell victim to the attempt.

Privacy Hub, an online platform that educates internet users about privacy and cyber-security shared the below red flags of online job scams to lookout for: 

Red Flags Of Online Job Scams 

  • They ask for too many personal details, e.g. ID no., bank details, etc.
  • They ask for money.
  • They use a personal email address instead of a company name domain.
  • Evasive responses about enquiries on the job listing.
  • No online presence of the organisation in question. 

While the red flags are helpful in assisting you to notice online job scams, it is also important to note key factors that help in identifying legitimate online job offers. We elaborate on some of these below:

Key Factors In Identifying Legitimate Online Job Offers

  • Professional Email Address.

Most scammers use free generic email addresses. While legitimate online job advertisers use professional email addresses with a domain that can be easily searched online for verification purposes.

  • No Upfront Payment.

Organisations pay people to work for them, not the other way round. If you have to pay for anything under the guise of skills transfer, uniform, or equipment; know that you are being scammed. Legitimate companies do not want your money. 

  • No Unrealistic Salaries. 

Be sceptical of entry-level job advertisements with ridiculously high salaries. A marketing internship that pays R50 000 is a scam. Research the market related salary of the job you’re interested in. Legitimate job advertisements often don’t share the salary being offered. 

  • Job Responsibility & Requirements. 

Carefully scan the details of what the job requirements are and the duties and responsibilities. Although some job advertisement scams may be written with proper grammar and language, it is imperative that one thoroughly scan through the finer details to evaluate if they match the job position being advertised. 

For example, a senior position like Head of Marketing position will not have ‘’no experience required’’ in the requirements. 

  • Online Presence. 

Many companies nowadays have an online presence. Do a thorough search of the organisation’s online presence and check their interactions with real people on social media. A legitimate job advertisement often has links to their website and other online platforms. 

While one can never be too careful about safeguarding themselves from online scams, let alone online job scams, there are a few ways to avoid falling into the trap that many job seekers have fallen into:

How To Avoid Online Job Scams.

  • Research.

Speak to people who are either currently employed by or previously worked at the organisation to get their perspective on the job posting. Read up on the organisation, send enquiries whenever you suspect that something isn’t adding up.

  • Avoid Sharing Sensitive/Private Information.

Identity theft is a real issue and one way this happens is when scammers get hold of your identity documents. Bank accounts are also being cleaned out through the sharing of banking details. 

  • Do Not Make A Payment For A Job.

As stated above, organisations pay you to work for them, it is never the other way round. If an organisation seeks payment from you, run!

As We Conclude… 

The COVID-19 pandemic has enormously changed all aspects of our lifestyles, and unfortunately for many, the effects are negative and fraudsters do not have any empathy towards vulnerable job seekers. 

If you would like to report any suspicious online job scams, report them to Interpol.

Interpol is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control. They will communicate all matters regarding scams to the Commercial Crime Unit of the South African Police Service.

Interpol’s contact details are as follows:

Tel No: (+27) 12 309 3866

Fax No: (+27) 12 309 3003/4

E-mail: vdventera@saps.org.za