WITH the rise of online job portals and social media platforms, finding your dream job has never been easier.
However, this also creates fertile ground for scammers who prey on job seekers desperate for work.
A common scam on WhatsApp, for instance, offers people thousands of rand for doing things such as subscribing and liking YouTube channels, or submitting screenshots of particular locations for a fee.
And Sumsub’s third annual Identity Fraud Report states that South Africa saw a 1200% rise in deepfake frauds in the past year – where people steal images to impersonate them and even go as far as manipulating their voice to sound like them.
“In today’s digital landscape, vigilance is key. Scammers employ sophisticated tactics, so it’s crucial to stay informed and exercise caution throughout your job search. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” said Larisha Naidoo, head of Zimele, Anglo American’s enterprise and supplier development arm.
Naidoo outlines some common red flags to watch out for:
Unsolicited WhatsApp offers:
Legitimate companies usually have official WhatsApp channels for communication. Double-check their website and social media pages for authorised channels and enquire about the specific job offer from there.
Mismatched email addresses:
Scrutinise company email addresses, Naidoo warns.
Scammers often mimic the company’s official format, but with slight variations, like adding an extra letter. Verify the email format on the company’s website and be wary of any discrepancies.
Missing job postings:
If the supposed opportunity isn’t advertised on the company website or official social media pages, it’s probably a scam, Naidoo notes. Always check their official channels for legitimate vacancies.
Typos and grammatical errors:
Professional companies prioritise quality control, so documents with spelling errors or grammatical mistakes should raise suspicions.
Legitimate companies never ask for money upfront for job opportunities or secure contracts. Beware of requests for quotes (RFQs) demanding pre-payments.
Scammers often use suspicious links or prize offers to phish for personal and banking information. Never click on such links or provide sensitive details unless you are absolutely certain of the source’s legitimacy.
Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency, pressuring you to make quick decisions without proper research.
Be sceptical if an interview is conducted solely through emails or messaging apps. Legitimate companies usually conduct video or phone interviews at the very least, or they ask you to come in person.
“And trust your gut instinct. If something about the opportunity feels off, don’t ignore it. It’s better to be cautious than fall victim to a scam,” she said.
What should you do if you do encounter a job scam?
Naidoo says you should report it.
“The Department of Employment and Labour has a fraud reporting hotline you can reach out to. But we also need to promote a culture of awareness and share our knowledge about job scams with friends, family, and online communities.
“Your best defence is to educate yourself and others, and to exercise caution – the more informed we all are, the harder it is for scammers to operate,” Naidoo added.