Gauteng Job Seekers Conned

Promised thousands of Rands in salaries and good employment benefits, dozens of Pretoria residents are fighting back after they were allegedly conned out of tens of thousands of Rands in a suspected job scam. The alleged con artists, who have gone to ground, are believed to have duped hundreds of desperate jobseekers from across the capital and Gauteng out of their money. Police urge those who have apparently been conned into paying for “uniforms” by the Highlight Recruitment & Staffing Agency to urgently contact them.

Displaying receipts for the money they have paid to the alleged con artists and showing SMSes sent to them by the recruitment agency indicating that they had been successful in their job applications, three of the victims were determined to ensure that those behind the alleged scam are caught. For Ga-Rankuwa resident Sammy Mogashoa, being told that he had found a job was a like a miracle. “I have been battling to find work. When I saw the advert last week I thought I had nothing to lose” he said.

Dialling the phone numbers in the advert, Mogashoa rushed to Vermeulen Street where he registered with the agency, handed over his CV and a copy of his identity document, as well as R300 for a uniform. “The people I spoke to were extremely professional. They told me that I would be contacted over the weekend and told if I had been successful or not in my application,” Mogashoa said. “I was so desperate that I could not wait for the SMS, and phoned the people on Saturday. I was told that I had the job and that I must report at their offices in Vermeulen Street on Monday.”

Instead of being greeted by his new employers at their fourth-floor offices in Karl King House with his cashier contract, Mogashoa was met by hundreds of other angry jobseekers standing outside an empty office demanding to know what had happened to their money and the promised jobs. “I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited. I told my family that I had a job. I told them that I had been told that I would earn R4 500 a month and that I would get a raise in three months’ time if I worked really hard. What do I tell them now? How do I tell them that not only do I not have a job, but that our money has been stolen?” he asked.

Mogashoa said he did not want his money back, but the job that he had been promised. “How can they do this? How can they take the money of people desperate for jobs? I want them caught and I want them punished. I want those who did this to go to jail,” he said.

For Nelson Mamoriri of Mamelodi and Refilewe Babili of Hammanskraal, the dream of being able to provide for their families has been smashed. “I don’t know what to do. I had saved that money for so long and now I have nothing left. They told me that if I got the job I could choose whether I wanted to work in Kempton Park, Centurion or Midrand. When I saw the SMS I told my family that we would not have to worry anymore. I was so excited. I was so happy that I would finally be able to support my family,” said Babili.

Mamoriri, suspicious of the job offer, but desperate for work, decided to apply anyway. “When I contacted the company and heard that I had to pay for my uniform, I became suspicious. But I was desperate for a job. I went and while standing in the queue waiting to apply I videotaped the staff helping the people. You can see how professional they are. You can hear how they promise to try their best to find work for us. These people lied to us. They stole our money,” he said, showing a receipt for the R300 he paid for his uniform.

The video clip, viewed by the Pretoria News, shows a woman standing next to men in an office filled with tables and chairs asking for their waist and shoe sizes, explaining that this was needed for their uniforms. The woman can be heard asking for the R300 before telling the jobseekers that they would be contacted shortly Attempts by the Pretoria News to call the two phone numbers in the newspaper adverts, which are the same on the Highlight Recruitment & Staffing Agency business card given to Babili, proved fruitless. Both went to a voice messaging system.

Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Wanda Olivier said that so far 65 people had come forward to open fraud cases in connection with the alleged job con. She said that no arrests had been made. Olivier urged anyone who had fallen victim to the alleged scam to call the investigating officer Captain Mokgotho at 082 335 1868.

This article was published on Independent Online today.

Fraudsters have been attempting this kind of scam over the last few years in various publications in South Africa. The Job Mail team have listed various kinds of scams on the Job Mail Avoid Scams page. Remember: Be Smart, Be Savvy, Be Safe!

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7 Responses

  1. George says:

    What a shame. When paying fees be careful who you are dealing with. Check out the legitamacy of the business first. Paying fees up front to any agency should really spark concern.

  2. sidwell says:

    Thats very bad but according to me i think this procesure of agencies must come to an end because because people they get robbed every now and then

  3. Evan Booyens says:

    I think this is despicable behaviour. People who are essentially honest and really making an effort to become economically active are being ripped off by unscrupulous wolves like these. Hopefully RICA and the new CPA (consumer protection act) will help give us some teeth to fight these vultures. My heart goes out to the people who where duped out of money which was obviously hard to come buy and desperately spent to secure a good future, but ultimately stolen. I hope our SAP will make an extra effort to trap the felons.

  4. shaun says:

    Be careful of a company calling themselves “Masterplacements” it’s a scam

  5. charles says:

    South Africans should be cautious of these scams, and less tempted to take any job advertised without verifying the credentials of that particular agencies. I know people are desperate for jobs but to be duped by con-artists is just to give oneself to abuse by these vampires. Next time do not go for simple job advert and think you are fortunate, these skunks are ripping people of their last money and vanish. I you need a job, go for genuine and reputable employers not third party animals.

  6. charles matuludi says:

    Many people in this country have suffered at the hands of con-artists, and they don’t learn a lesson.
    There is no short-cuts to find yourself a decent job. It is just like people who think there is an easy way to make money and fall victims of conmen who use a simple trick, to dangle money so to catch their prey.
    Any money making scheme in this country must go via DTI and Cipro, the rest is just a fallacy.

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