How Fraudsters Are Using Family, Friends to Swindle Millions From Jobseekers

How Fraudsters Are Using Family, Friends to Swindle Millions From Jobseekers

Lydia Momanyi did not hesitate to send an application when a friend she’d known for many years reached out with an interesting job opening, accompanying it with the surety that her chances of getting it were extremely high.

She quickly updated her CV, drafted a cover letter, gathered scanned copies of her certificates and sent them to an email the friend had shared, which was supposed to be a self-hosted Red Cross Kenya address.

The following day, at about noon, she received a call from a woman who only introduced herself as Mary.

She said she was the human resource officer in charge of the recruitment process and was pleased with the CV Lydia had sent. She wanted her to start the following week.

To complete the recruitment process, she asked Lydia to send clearance certificates from the police, credit reference bureau, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Kenya Revenue Authority and the Higher Education Loans Board.

She had none of them, yet they were needed in less than two hours.

To quickly seal the deal, Mary offered to link Lydia to a staffer at Huduma Centre in Nairobi to help her get the documents within an hour and forward them for confirmation of employment. At that point, she’d been told her starting salary would be Sh120,000 per month.

Sure enough, she received a phone number via text message, which when dialled, was identified by the TrueCaller app as “Mercy Huduma”. She had no doubts.

Then came the shocker. Mercy told her that all the documents would cost her Sh10,000 and she’d have to pay upfront.

If she had the money, Lydia would have paid without any hesitation, because until that moment, everything added up and made perfect sense.

Indeed, the Employment Act amended last year restricts employers to only seek clearance certificates from individuals they intend to employ, and Lydia was well aware of this fact.

However, having graduated in 2019 and still without any meaningful employment, she was too desperate to let the opportunity slide.

“I graduated with a First class honours degree in Psychology and I have undertaken a series of internships since then, but no meaningful job. I was, therefore, convinced that I had enough qualification and experience to earn that much as a starting salary,” Lydia said.

But what she didn’t know is that apart from the police clearance certificate, which would actually take at least two weeks to get, all the required documents are freely available online.

Out of panic, Lydia called a tech savvy friend to see if he could help her get some of the documents to cut down the cost.

“It was while discussing with this friend that I realised something was not adding up. He told me it would not be possible to get a police clearance certificate within an hour even if I knew someone at Huduma Centre, because the document is issued by the DCI (Directorate ofCriminal Investigations),” she said.

The friend then asked for the email address to which she had sent her application. That is when they realised the website hosting the email was not the official Red Cross website, but an imitation. Instead of the official, the email was hosted at

Disappointed and disheartened, she decided to forget about the job and didn’t care to ask the friend who referred her if he really knew the
person he’d referred her to.

Barely a month later, her friend, Valary Amondi, nearly got swindled in a similar fashion.

Valary, a statistics degree holder, received a call from her elder brother asking her to apply for a Data Analyst position at the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. He shared with her an email address, which also appeared to be self-hosted by the KCAA website.

But like in Lydia’s case, the email was hosted at, an imitation of KCAA’s official website –

In almost a similar script as Lydia’s would-be swindler, she received a call the following day from a man who identified himself as Mr Otieno. He immediately offered her the job at a starting salary of Sh97,000. She was also asked to share her clearance certificates and when she said she didn’t have them, the man offered to link her up with a staffer at Huduma Centre.

When she called the number, she was told to pay Sh12,750 for all the documents needed, money she didn’t have. She immediately called her twin brother to ask if he could help with some of the documents.

Lucky for her, her brother asked her to check the email addresses’ host website and that is when she was spooked.

When Valary asked her elder brother if he knew the person he’d referred her to well enough, he said: “I think we met at an event and exchanged contacts. But I can’t really remember which event or what he looks like.”

The Nation has learnt that this is a technique that fraudsters are now using to deceive jobseekers. The main strategy is to eliminate doubt by getting people one trusts to refer them, and then entice them with hefty salary promises.

While both Lydia and Valary were lucky enough to detect the fraudulent schemes before losing money, several jobseekers have fallen victim to these cons and lost thousands of shillings.

Benbellah Omondi, a human resource practitioner, said that when job hunting, jobseekers need to watch out for deals that look too good to be true because no recruitment process is simple.

“Recruiters are required by law to give every potential candidate a fair chance through a competitive process for any position. Getting a job offer without an interview or any form of assessment is very unlikely,” he said. “Employers always try to abide by employment laws to avoid future lawsuits or claims of discrimination.”

Mr Omondi also recommends checking companies’ official websites for job postings because the law requires them to publicly announce vacancies even if they are to be filled from within.

Nation - Wednesday 1st February 2023

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