The rate of joblessness in Nigeria has led many unemployed youths into being victims of fraudsters in the course of searching for employment. Duke Aigboje reports
As the scourge of unemployment continues to bite Nigerians hard, their plight is increasingly worsened by the growing rate of recruitment scam, which comes in various shades.
Worse still is the inadequate effort by the government to address the growing menace, as the people seem to be left to their own fate.
Recruitment scam occurs when a fraudster poses as an employer or recruiter, and offers attractive employment opportunities, which require that the job seeker pays money in advance. To lure unsuspecting victims into the web of deceit, the perpetrators of this scam go as far as reeling out specific vacancies that require being filled.
The scam is carried out, using several methods and schemes.
In the recent past, there have been many cases of fake recruitment exercises into the government agencies such as Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Although these government agencies eventually release statements, denouncing such recruitment exercises, the scam would have thrived successfully over a period of time, long enough for unsuspecting members of the public to have fallen victims.
A victim of one of such scams, who gave his name as Esechie Oaikhena said he was swindled of the sum of N200,000 by some persons who are actually officials of the Nigerian Navy. According to him, “Sometime in January last year (2016), I was approached in Benin City by some persons who claimed they had connections with the Nigeria Police, and that there was an online recruitment exercise going on for the rank of Cadet. I was made to pay a deposit of N70,000, out of a total of N135,000 as the fee required for facilitating our application process.
“After paying the fees, a number of us were assembled at Imaguero Girls College, Benin City to write the recruitment examination. Just before starting the exams, we were made to pay another N10,000 each, to ensure we scaled through the exercise. Then we were asked by the “coordinator” to wait in for an SMS within the next 24 hours, informing us of the outcome of the exams as well as the next stage.
“After waiting for about three days without any message, some of us tried frantically to reach out to our contact persons on the phone, but none of such calls were answered. When I decided to go back to the website where we initially filled the registration forms, the site had been scrambled. Then it finally dawned on me and most of us that we had just been scammed.
Also, research has shown that most job recruitment websites in Nigeria are operated by Internet fraudsters. Several recruitment firms are in the business of advertising non-existing job vacancies, with the aim of getting unsuspecting applicants to pay some fees, which are usually known as “registration” or “subscription” fees.
Others are in the business of printing fake vacancies and phone numbers of scam recruiters on posters and circulating such around various locations.
This ugly phenomenon is budding into a highly lucrative industry for its perpetrators as more and more people seek to obey their survival instinct by keying into anything that presents itself as an opportunity for them to earn an honest living.
As at last June, Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) pegged the nation’s unemployment rate at 14.2 per cent in the last quarter of 2016, up from 13.9 per cent in the preceding quarter. This is the ninth consecutive quarter that the unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased.
This negative trend also dovetails into the realms of underemployment.
According to the report, the underemployed rate rose to 21.0 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 from 19.7 per cent recorded in the third quarter of the same year.
One major fallout of such a disturbing statistic is the corresponding increase in the number of potential victims of recruitment scam, who in their bid to secure job placement, resort to using any means available, including subscribing to physical and online recruitment agencies, patronising recruitment racketeers for government jobs, and many other such schemes.
Analysts say the rise in the unemployment and underemployment rate was due to the negative economic growth recorded by the nation in 2016 up till the last two quarters of the current year.
According to the co-founder of popular HR Company, Jobberman.com, Olalekan Olude, “the rising rate of job scams in Nigeria is greatly due to the high level of unemployment in the country. This can also be attributed to the high level of competition for available jobs, and desperation of getting well-paying jobs outside of the due process of applying for a job and securing an interview. These create an avenue for opportunists to take advantage of unsuspecting job seekers with the aim of generating revenue.”
Also speaking on the issue, a Human Resources Consultant at Systems Intellegenz Limited, Dolapo Jenrola, described the development as “worrisome.”
She said: “The presence of fake recruitment agencies casts a shadow on the credibility of real HR firms. The more they are allowed to fester, the less people would want to trust or deal with organisations that provide real recruitment services.
“Unfortunately, the trend is growing every day, with little or no efforts by the relevant authorities to checkmate such development. The government should do a lot more to arrest the situation at this stage before it becomes intractable.”
An attempt by New Telegraph’s to speak with officials of the Nigerian Directorate for Employment (NDE) on efforts of the government to addressing the situation was unsuccessful, as no one was willing to respond to questions.
It is bad enough that citizens are meant to grapple with high rates of job losses and the despondency that comes with such. It would amount to double jeopardy on the lives of such people to leave them to the antics of fraudsters, who lay in wait to fleece them of whatever it is that their lives are hanging on.
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