Long before Covid-19 hit us, Kenya was already struggling with unemployment, particularly affecting the youth. Graduands are tarmacking everyone with no nuance of hope since even securing a job in this country, requires a bribe which the unemployed youth cannot afford or connections. It is nolonger about what you know, but rather whom. An innovative Kenyan lady known as Laura then came up with the hashtag #IkoKaziKe for potential employers and employees to link up. For a while, #IkoKaziKe pulled its weight, untill the demons that hovered over OLX, dawned on it. Now criminals are the ones using it to lure, target and rob unemployed youth of their belongings along with their dignity.
It appears the same thugs that disguised themselves as sellers or buyers on OLX, now jiji, are the same ones that are posting on the hashtag as potential employers. The Kenyan youth are desperate given the economic turmoil and right there and then begins their worst nightmare. First, there are posts such as these;
These are designed to lure those in need of quick cash for doing absolutely nothing which we both know is a rare occurrence unless God’s flashlight really spots you. They are pyramid schemes that will rob you blind and leave you crying pepper tears. One must ask themselves why their potential employers who are seemingly broke themselves are not making that money. Tiens are the original promoters of this scam. Other scams have since replicated the scam. Kenyans do not share easy money making schemes, that should be your first red flag.
And then there are the worst kind that invite you for an interview in some dingy office downtown Nairobi. They will ask you to carry a laptop and a smartphone and many unsuspecting youth soon become victims, particularly women. They will even tell you what to dress just to throw you off their criminal scents and intentions. Upon arrival you will be met by a smartly dressed young man or lady who will ensure that you are in possession of the valuables that they so desire. Once this is ascertained, others then come in heavily armed with crude weapons and sometimes guns to relieve you of your possessions.
The victims surrender their valuables in fear of their lives or otherwise being harmed before the assailants disappear using multiple exits within the building. You can imagine the level of investment that goes into even renting an office space to perpetuate criminal intents, but then again so are many businesses. It takes moments before one who endures such a harrowing experience overcomes their fear and gathers the courage to even walk away from the scene, let alone sound an alarm.
The thugs even threaten their victims to the point many of them fail to report to the police. More often than not, the police officers are reluctant to even assign an investigating officer which then gives the criminals leeway to continue their criminal tendencies in the same location without the risk of being caught. When the victims do report, the officers are too lazy to visit the scene and only issue the complainant with an Occurrence Book (OB) number. They give the complainant false hope that they will be assigned an officer to investigate and just then, the trail goes cold, never to be heard of. One can even assume that the police are in cohort with the thugs.
To be safe, one should endeavour to ascertain the legitimacy of an invite and the identities of their potential employers. Avoid carrying valuables to an interview as most job opportunities do not require you to have a phone or laptop in possession, these are usually needed after one has secured the job, not before and definitely not during an interview. Be vigilant and help report invitations that seem suspect to you. Put the ones inviting you for an interview to their defence and make sure they reveal their details before risking, you’re better off broke for missing a job than dead.