How fly-by-night firms fleece unemployed graduates, lure them into ‘marketing’

How fly-by-night firms fleece unemployed graduates, lure them into ‘marketing’

In late 2019, months after PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter submitted data across recruitment platforms while posing as a job applicant, Gboyega Alabi, an old friend and job applicant, sent in an application from a recruitment agency called Primix Consult. Located on Number 6, Remilekun Street, off Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, Lagos, the company claimed to be recruiting on behalf of banks and other companies in Lagos and other parts of the country.

Since this reporter did not get the invitation directly, he was advised to “gate-crash” ––a popular catchphrase among job seekers, which implores one to attend a job interview even when uninvited for such–– but declined. Many desperate job seekers do ‘gate-crash’ quite often, and a few lucky ones get picked for job opportunities.

Mr Alabi and one other job seeker who attended the interview at Primix Consult office in Surulere told this newspaper they paid N5,500 at the interview venue and were given assurance of job placements. They were also asked to enroll for “Empowerment training scheme”, while anticipating their job calls.

Over a year after the ‘interview’ was conducted, they never heard from Primix Consult, according to Mr Alabi, who now works with an IT firm in Yaba. He added that the telephone details given to them were also no longer reachable after some months.

In February, PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter visited the office address used by Primix Consult at No 6, Remilekun Street, Surulere, but there was no trace of any such company operating from the building. A middle-aged man who sat in the only office space inside the building told PREMIUM TIMES that such company never operated from the building.

Primix Old address and new signboard announcing job at 6, Remilekun Street, Surulere, Lagos

Surprisingly, at the front of the same building used by Primix Consult, PREMIUM TIMES found yet another signpost by an unnamed firm announcing vacancies for different job positions. When this reporter requested details of the new “unnamed” firm from the man found inside the building, he claimed to know nothing about it.

Meanwhile, further checks by PREMIUM TIMES showed that Primix Consult has no digital footprint whatsoever.

Musiliu Akande, an Ibadan-based career coach, told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview that many of the firms often change their location addresses and corporate names over time, in order to defraud unsuspecting job seekers.

“Many unsuspecting job seekers are likely to fall victim to the antics of the same fraudulent recruitment firm more than once,” he said.

“This is because the firms often change their names and location address and other identities with which people can trace them.”

Like Primix, like ONeal

Like Primix Consult, ONeal is one other recruitment agency that suddenly disappeared from its old base on the same Surulere axis of Lagos. Located on Number 1, Babatunde Street, Off Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, the company boasted of recruiting for top firms in the country.

Biola Ibidapo, an applicant who got invitations from the company when it operated from its Surulere address told PREMIUM TIMES the firm suddenly exited its office location, months after they had been promised job.

They never heard anything about it afterwards, said the applicant. Another applicant who does not want her name in print said she declined to go for their interviews after she heard complaints that ONeal was recruiting for GNLD marketing.

When PREMIUM TIMES visited the office address used by O’Neal in February, this reporter found that the building had been abandoned and the gate shut.

Number 1, Babatunde Street, Off Ogunlana Drive, Surulere – Oneal former office

A trader who sold from a kiosk opposite the building told this reporter nobody had any idea of what went wrong with the company. She added that they also had no clue about its new office address or the whereabouts of its founders.

In Abeokuta, Ogun State, Deborah Ashade and two other graduates of the National Open University (NOUN) told PREMIUM TIMES of a similar ordeal in the hands of one Best Consult, a recruitment firm operating from the Adigbe end of the Ogun State capital. According to Ms Ashade and her friends, in 2020, the company sent them invitations for job interviews and they paid N5,000 on the day of the said interviews. They never heard from the company thereafter.

When PREMIUM TIMES visited the location of the company in Abeokuta last March, residents said the recruitment firm suddenly vacated the space and nothing was heard of its founders’ whereabouts afterwards.

In Nigeria’s chaotic job market, the experience of Mr Alabi, Ms Ashade, and others in the hands of fly-by-night recruitment firms appears commonplace, as PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation showed. Unscrupulous companies working as recruitment firms often trick unsuspecting applicants into paying “fees” for jobs they hardly get.

Fly-by-night

One clammy evening in January 2015, Subomi Samuel said he received a text message from a certain recruitment firm called ‘CEO Resource’ directing him to come for a job interview. Mr Samuel, a 2012 Engineering graduate of The Polytechnic Ibadan, had spent two years of post-NYSC life seeking employment across Lagos and different parts of the South-west.

“I thought that was the end of my unemployment frustration,” he quipped, “But I was wrong!”

Mr Samuel recalled that the first sign of danger he noticed was the poor grammatical structure of the invite message. But he was too desperate to care, he admitted.

Upon getting to the venue of the “interview” at Pen Cinema, Agege, he noticed yet again that the interviewers looked quite “haggard and hungry.”

“But they spoke eloquently and were able to convince many of us to part with our money,” he said.

By the time the company was done, Mr Samuel said he and numerous other young people had parted with N10, 500 each, to secure employment in various organisations.

Their ordeals began two months after they attended the ‘interview’ and nothing was heard from the ‘organisers’. Mr Samuel said whenever he placed a call through to demand clarification, he was assured that they would help him secure a job.

“Since I was teaching at the time, and I had some money to survive, I had hope that things could indeed get better,” he said. “But few months after the interview, I could no longer reach them on phone.”

Mr Samuel said when he finally visited the company’s office at Pen Cinema, Agege, they had vacated the place.

“I was devastated,” he told PREMIUM TIMES. “But luckily for me, I got another job shortly after.”

In December 2019, four years after Mr Samuel’s ordeal, PREMIUM TIMES’ got details of yet another company named Fad Consult which had many graduates pay for job placement using the same address as ‘CEO Resource’ at Pen Cinema, Agege. Two graduates who fell victim told this reporter that they were fleeced of N10,000 each and never got any job.

Plaza Opposite Oando, Pen Cinema, Agege, Lagos

Located opposite Oando fuel station on the ever-busy Pen Cinema axis of Agege in Lagos, the company was able to convince many job seekers with its strategic office address.

But when this newspaper visited the office location, shop owners said the firm had vacated the building. A trader told this newspaper that many disappointed job seekers had visited the plaza to lament the disappearance of the phony companies in the past.

GNLD ‘Marketing’

Apart from fly-by-night recruitment firms, PREMIUM TIMES’ findings showed that many job seekers have also fallen victim of being lured into different forms of ‘marketing’ jobs, notably for GNLD products.

Golden Neo-Life Diamite International (GNLD) says it is a pioneer in whole food nutrition supplementation, with a commitment to end the trend of poor wellness and poverty. It has footprint in different parts of the world.

ALSO READ: TRENDING: #GNLD: Nigerians share hilarious ‘job scam’ experiences

In Nigeria, however, promoters of the brand rely heavily on marketers to sell their products. PREMIUM TIMES’ findings revealed that they recruit young unemployed people and convince them to become distributors who would then purchase the products on discounted rates. The young marketers would share these products and earn profits from them, while the income realized is determined by the number of products sold.

“Too many fraudulent recruitment firms latch on Nigeria’s unemployment situation to lure desperate job seekers into the GNLD network,” says Charles Ike, a job seeker who claimed to have paid N10,000 at a recruitment agency in Ogba before being lured into the ‘GNLD marketing’ scheme. Mr Ike said there was nothing wrong with the GNLD marketing scheme itself, but many fraudulent companies deceive young graduates with promises of ‘lucrative’ jobs only to lure them into the marketing scheme.

“I never wanted to participate in GNLD because I find it very stressful. But these guys (recruitment firms) would not tell you the job invitation is for GNLD product marketing. You’d only know this when you get to the interview venue, and often after making payment,” he lamented.

Another job seeker told this reporter that he had a similar experience at a recruitment firm in Isolo area of Lagos after paying N8,500 for “license” and “certification” as a nutritionist. The payment, he was told, was to certify him as an eligible marketer of GNLD products.

At least two other applicants told this newspaper of their experience at ONeal recruitment firm wherein many job seekers were lured into marketing of different nutrition products.

Checks by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that ONeal has no known physical address and no functional website, since its old office at Surulere is now abandoned and under lock.

In May, PREMIUM TIMES called a telephone number listed by the recruitment firm in its job invitation messages to some young job seekers but it was received by a lady who claimed to have left the company since 2016. She also claimed she knew nothing about the company or its founders’ whereabouts.

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