The Rise of Ghost jobs & job scams in Uganda

What you need to know:

Ghost jobs, or fake job opportunities, are on the rise in Uganda, with many unsuspecting job seekers falling victim to them.

Sarah, a colleague of mine. Excitedly, she confided in me that she had found a new, better-paying job through a friend. When she called the number provided in the job advert, she was told there was no need for a physical interview or even a CV submission. Instead, the supposed employer requested UGX 25,000 (approximately USD 6.75) to be sent via mobile money and a scanned copy of her ID. Although initially thrilled, Sarah became suspicious. Why would a legitimate employer ask for money upfront and not conduct an interview? She consulted with me, and upon further investigation, she discovered that it was a scam. This fraudulent job listing was a ploy by conmen who have been exploiting job seekers for some time. If they could scam 20 people a week, they would make UGX 500,000 (about USD 135) without much effort.

Ghost jobs vs job scams

As per ExpressVPN’s research, Ghost jobs are job postings for roles that are not actively being hired, whereas fake job scams are advertised with the sole purpose of defrauding job seekers.

Job scams often involve asking for money upfront, usually under the guise of processing fees, training fees, or even as a deposit for equipment. In some cases, the scammers may also ask for personal information, such as ID copies or bank details, which can be used for identity theft or other fraudulent activities. These fake job advertisements often appear on popular job boards and social media platforms or are circulated via word of mouth. They promise lucrative positions and easy hiring processes and sometimes even bypass traditional recruitment steps such as interviews or CV submissions.

The rise of ghost jobs and job scams has significantly affected job seekers in Uganda. Many people have lost money, and some have fallen victim to identity theft. The emotional toll of being scammed can be devastating, especially for those who are desperate for employment. Some victims may even turn to illegal activities to make ends meet.

Effects of Ghost jobs and job scams

The prevalence of ghost jobs and job scams has significant negative impacts:

  • Financial Loss: Job seekers are often duped into paying fees for non-existent opportunities
  • Emotional Distress: The excitement of finding a job quickly turns into despair and distrust
  • Wasted Time: Valuable time that could have been spent on genuine job searches is lost
  • Identity Theft: Scammers often request personal information, leading to potential identity theft

Tips for Finding Genuine Job Listings

To avoid falling victim to ghost jobs and job scams, it is essential to be cautious when applying for jobs and to do thorough research on the company or organization offering the position. Some tips for finding genuine job listings include:

Verify the employer

Research the company thoroughly and check its website and social media profiles. Look for a professional-looking website with a clear mission statement, contact information, and a list of employees. Check out its LinkedIn page as well. 

Check contact information

Use the official contact information on the company’s website rather than the numbers provided in the job ad.

Be wary of job ads that seem too good to be true

It could be a red flag if the salary or benefits seem excessively high compared to similar positions.

Never pay money upfront

Legitimate employers will not ask you to pay money to apply for a job or to receive training.

Trust your instincts

Sarah listened to her gut feeling. If something feels off about a job opportunity, it's better to err on the side of caution and avoid it. If in doubt, seek advice from colleagues, mentors, or career counselors.

Look out for professionalism

Genuine job postings are usually detailed and professional. Poor grammar, vague descriptions, and unrealistic promises are warning signs.

By being vigilant and following these tips, job seekers in Uganda can reduce their risk of falling victim to ghost jobs and job scams and focus their efforts on finding genuine employment. Remember, if a job opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is. No matter how desperate you are to find employment, stay informed, stay cautious, and prioritize your safety in the job search process.