Arrests made at bogus job agency

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IOL ST  JOBscam INLSA Prisca Ngomba and Welheminah Mabunda were victims of a bogus recruitment agency. Photo: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg - Joburg metro police have cracked down on a suspected fraudulent job recruitment agency that milked thousands of rand from each of its victims.

On Monday, a squad of metro police stormed through the Renaissance Centre in Gandhi Square in the Joburg CBD to search the offices of Skhozanani Training and Projects.

Leading the team was Sergeant Stella Maleka, who questioned the owner of the office space about how long the business had been operating.

She was told the agency had been operating for about two months.

The owner insisted he had had no idea about the supposed fraud taking place.

According to investigators, two people associated with the business have been arrested. This was after the police discovered numerous copies of IDs, CVs and allegedly fraudulent job applications on the premises.

A fraudulent Companies and Intellectual Property Registration office certification was also seized.

One of the alleged victims, Prisca Ngomba, said that since her arrival in South Africa from the Democratic Republic of Congo, she had been desperate for work and found the company online.

When she arrived at the offices at the beginning of June, she was asked to register for R400, then return with a further R700 to start “the interviewing process”.

She was eventually promised a care-giving job in Sandton and told that the employer would be in touch with her.

Ngomba waited more than a week before returning to Skhozanani.

She said she was then informed the position was no longer available, but that her biography and picture had been placed online for other job opportunities.

This resulted in her being called late one night for a “business meeting” at a hotel in Hillbrow, which she immediately turned down, said Ngomba.

She said her husband was convinced she had uploaded her image onto a dating website, and threw her out of their home.

When Ngomba returned to the agency’s offices to complain, she discovered they had packed up shop without providing her with a forwarding address.

It was after meeting another woman who had also allegedly been scammed that Ngomba found out that the offices had moved to Gandhi Square.

She said she demanded her money back and that her picture be removed from the internet, and only then, she claims, was she told that because she was a foreigner, she would not be helped.

Ngomba said she reported the company to the police and discovered she was not the only victim of the alleged fraud.

“I just want other people not to be caught out. I want to help people who are going to be ripped off.”

Metro police spokesman Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the pair who were arrested would appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s court on Thursday.

According to Maleka, a large number of such recruitment agencies existed, and the police were acting on tip-offs to uncover their fraudulent activities.

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