Tis the season to be scammed

There are people in the world who make money out of scams and this also extends to teacher recruitment. Scammers follow a  well thought out strategy. I've made a list of what, you as a teacher, must look out for so you don't get lured into a scam.

1. The Starting Point. Scammers will pick up your CV from somewhere, so if you have struggled to find a teaching job and have thrown your CV out to every nook and cranny of the teaching world, it may land up in the grubby hands of a scammer.

2. Qualifications. Now your CV is in the wrong hands, the scammer will see if you are a teacher, so they will look at your experience.  Most schools require certain qualifications. Scammers don't. If they see you have been teaching, you're a candidate for their 'services'.

3. The interview process. This varies with scammers. Some have a team with whom they work and you may actually get an interview. The teachers who have told me of their (scammed) interview experience is the interview has either been off camera or the lighting has been so bad, you can't see the interviewer. The name of the interviewer is rushed through, so you don't catch it. Everything is very vague. Regardless of your experience and your qualifications, the scammers are assessing your gullibility. Is this someone who will believe the scam?  This is if you actually have an interview. Most scams don't. You just magically receive an offer. Oh we wish it could be that easy!

4. The Offer. There are a couple of red flags when you get to this stage.

Firstly,  the offer will come on a legitimate looking letterhead with a plausible school name. We have seen names of legitimate schools followed by a word that will make them fictious eg.a real school name followed by Model School or a city name followed by International Independant school. The first thing you may do is Google the school and you'll find their website. Scammers are not fools. They'll set up a website for their false school and have a little bit of information on it, with fake phone numbers and email addresses. If you phone the numbers, they don't get you anywhere. Because Scammers like to use the name of real schools and modify their name, you may find the real school website and discover the logo is completely different to the one on the letterhead.

Secondly, the offer will be unbelievably good, especially if they did hold an 'interview process'. They will wax lyrical about you and offer you far more than any school will. The salary will be too good to be true. And then there are the benefits. Here the scammers shine. Offers of luxury cars, unbelievable arrival allowances, staying at 5* hotels until you find accommodation, all fully paid of course, amazing accommodation, flights, health care and full education benefits for entire families. It's all there.

5. The Scam. Perhaps you are drawn in. It's an offer too good to refuse, so without delay you sign and send the required documentation. Now comes payday for the scammers. The next thing you receive is the list of required documentation. This varies, but inevitably contains the fees you need to pay. They are multiple, but it is quite possible the 'school' will pay you back on arrival. As the school doesn't exist, this isn't going to happen. There is some pressure to pay the fees. They are usually quoted in US$ and can add up to hundreds of dollars. If you have family, the amounts are even higher, which is why teachers with large families are no problem. Usually, the more dependants the harder is for a teacher to find a job. Teachers get more desperate and are easy targets.  If you pay the fees, you've been scammed. You will never see the money again and you will have no job.

Let me be clear: Legitimate schools do not ask for fees up front. They do not give you their bank account number and say pay into it. This does not happen. If you are asked to do it, it’s a scam.

6. What you can do? Don't spread your CV across the internet.  Use a reputable teacher recruitment company, who won't charge you a fee.


Helga van Niekerk



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