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Usioshwe! Expert tips on how to spot and avoid clever scams

A few months ago, tales were abound of a ring of scammers targeting job seekers with high-paying jobs at a renowned government parastatal.

The scammers included a lady who impersonated a senior manager at the parastatal and an accomplice who allegedly worked at a one-stop-shop government office offering various public services.

The lady would approach well-known bosses or personalities under the guise that they had met at a previous event and because one cannot remember who they met at several events, the hook is sunk much faster and the boss is secured.

The lady would then tell the boss that her ‘parastatal’ office was looking for new employees and if the boss could recommend people to her.

And because bosses-or popular personalities- tend to be trusted to some measure, their recommendations are easily swallowed.

Once they share the lady’s email address with those looking to change their careers, the scam is on. It then goes that this lady would be in contact with applicants, informing them of how she was looking forward to forwarding their CVs to the company’s board to onboard them into the parastatal at higher job groups.

The con games then begin here. She goes through the CV and if she finds any loopholes, she latches onto them and turns them into cash cows. One trick, it was revealed, was that she would pressure the applicants to send in their Chapter 6 government clearance documents with their CVs and if they did not have them at hand, then she knew someone at the one-stop-shop who could help them get the documents before the board could end their sitting on the new hires.

She would constantly bombard an applicant who did not have the documents with phone calls, pressuring them into paying for the documents to be processed on the sly because the ‘parastatal’ board would not sit again for a while and the end of the business day was fast approaching. And because an applicant is desperate for a job, is being pressured with phone calls (mainly on a Friday afternoon) and is grateful that the lady knows someone who can get them the clearance documents from the government, they part with money to make the onboarding process fast and smooth.

This is how these conmen would end up pocketing tens of thousands of shillings a day, depending on how many targets they have.

The accomplice would forward to WhatsApp the ‘government’ documents as proof that they have held up the end of their deal but later, when introspection happens, one would wonder- why were these documents forwarded instead of sent? Why would a company board sit to discuss those to hire instead of this simply being handled by a manager and a human resource officer?

Calling back the lady and her accomplice ends up in futility because they either don’t answer or switch off their phones. After days of trying to reach them, it then dawns on an applicant that they have been conned. Where do they even begin recouping their hard-earned cash? Whom do they report to? How on earth did they fall victim to a con?

Nairobi News spoke to Ms Jackline Mwangi, a city-based Financial Advisor who revealed some tips people could note to avoid falling prey or becoming a victim again once targeted by scammers.

“The most common red flags people should be aware of are when the deal is too good. The deal is packaged in a way that promises high returns with little or no risks.

“The other one is the pressure to act quickly. You are made to endure the fear of missing out- that the arrangement is exclusive to the chosen few and will end or close in a few days.

“They give you that pressure so that you don’t even have time to do due diligence and make a smart decision. Also, where there is lack of transparency, one should question because that is a red flag. You’ll find the person presenting the idea to you, they don’t want to give clear answers or details about an investment,” began Ms Mwangi.

While verifying can be an uphill task, one needs to stop and think about it first. As someone is expected to invest some amount of money in exchange for a return,