The Evolving Jobs Scams: How Phoney Recruiting Links Circulate on Facebook to Defraud Kenyans

Leading Kenyan brands, mainly in the communication, manufacturing, and retail sectors, have recently been targeted by numerous scams orchestrated through social media postings. The most affected brands include Naivas, Safaricom, Coca-Cola, Quickmart, Rubis Kenya, and East African Portland Cement. Scammers have also targeted NGOs and humanitarian organisations such as World Vision, USAID, and the United Nations.

This research concentrated on posts throughout the three months between January and April 2022. The analysed posts were mainly centred around false recruitments and brand impersonation scams to swindle or phish people’s data and money.

From the research, we noted that scammers employ various techniques to steal victims’ money or personal information. In contrast to earlier attempts using just M-Pesa to extort money from victims, bank deposits have recently been implemented. This research gathered 494 posts from Facebook public groups and pages, with links to forms with details impersonating retail companies, such as Quickmart (185) and Naivas (182).

With the upcoming Kenyan elections, fraudsters are also enticing job seekers by promising positions in exchange for money or personal information.

With the rising cost of living in most Sub-Saharan countries, many residents are searching for money-saving offers and better-paying jobs locally and abroad. The situation has created an opportunity for scammers to prey on people’s desperation through online scams like impersonating major brands, prominent personalities, or government agencies. The onset of COVID-19 proved to be a perfect opportunity for the scammers as many governments launched relief funds and packages to cushion their respective citizens from economic hardship resulting from the pandemic.

A review of previous scams that we fact-checked shows that they are predominantly spread via Facebook and WhatsApp, both owned by Meta Platforms Inc.

However, the company has partnered with various fact-checking platforms to debunk the scams and fake news on its Facebook platform. Cracking down on similar scams through WhatsApp has proved challenging due to the platform’s end-to-end encryption, meaning the company cannot access the content shared by users.

Many scams have been employing the same strategy by asking users to submit their personal details, including but not limited to names, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses. The unsuspecting victims are then asked to share the link with at least 15 contacts via WhatsApp to redeem the alleged gift or benefit. Some of Kenya’s major brands and companies that have been impersonated include Safaricom, Naivas, Carrefour, Huawei, EABL, Coca-Cola, and Brookside Dairy. The scams have also involved recruitment hoaxes targeting leading firms, government agencies, and NGOs. Notably, the victims rarely suspect they are dealing with fraudulent individuals since the scammers use the company’s logos, brand colours, and official names on social media with added punctuation such as a hyphen, underscore, or removing any spaces in the usernames.

Scammers have found an easy target, considering the recent massive job losses and poverty resulting from the pandemic. For instance, during the pandemic, the hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit resulting in the closure of hotels, restaurants, and bars coupled with the ban on flights, which led to massive layoffs in the industry, which is heavily dependent on tourists. One of the major scams in 2021 was a recruitment drive for alleged upcoming resorts at the Masai Mara.

One of the purported resorts was the Mara Gazella Resort in Narok County. The applicants were informed via email that they had been selected without an interview. They were later asked to pay Ksh. 2,475 for a government tourism health and food handling certificate. The Nairobi County government offers the same certificate at a fee of Ksh. 700 and Ksh. 200 by Narok County. The purported resort used pictures of other known facilities and lodges on Facebook. The scam was replicated in other cases, such as the Mara Ritz Palazzo,   Mara Crescent resort, and the Mara Palacio resort.

Elsewhere, the retail and supermarket sector, one of Kenya’s leading employers, has also recorded significant scams. The sector’s labour-intensive nature requires till attendants, floor staff, and loading and delivery staff, among others. This has seen many scammers consistently impersonate these brands with job offers. One of the fake pages we discovered and is still operational is Naivas Kenya, impersonating Kenya’s most prominent and fastest-growing supermarket chain with over 79 outlets. The high expansion rate has led many to be scammed by fake recruitment drives.

The page, which has over 5,000 likes and followers, has been previously fact-checked by, ,  a misinformation debunking organisation under Africa Uncensored. The fact-checks revealed that the page posted fake job advertisements while impersonating Naivas supermarket.

The page owners usually leverage Google Forms to collect user data. It also focuses its ads on current events, such as the 2022 general elections, where the IEBC recruits temporary poll officials.

Additionally, the page has run job ads for Quickmart supermarket, the second-largest supermarket chain in Kenya. Interestingly, the website uses the same Google Forms template, only changing the relevant content and brand image.

The form requires users to pay a non-refundable registration fee, mostly between Kshs. 350 and Kshs. 400, through various methods such as M-Pesa send money option, till number, or through a KCB account number.

A look at the page’s transparency shows that it was created on September 10, 2018, as Tuskys KENYA, impersonating Tuskys Supermarket, which was by then Kenya’s largest supermarket chain. The page later changed its name to Naivas Kenya on August 21, 2019, when the supermarket overtook Tuskys as the largest and fastest-growing chain in the country.

The Actors

Our research looked at several forms with details about sending payment information or payments. The table below shows three accounts widely shared in public groups between January 2022 and April 2022.

Leveraged payment methods come with unique benefits and drawbacks. We noted that the bank deposits option has recently been introduced. We collected 494 posts shared across Facebook public groups and pages. Notable links were associated with the impersonation of supermarket chains, i.e., Quickmart (185) and Naivas (151). The looming elections also created an opportunity for scammers to lure job seekers. The scammers are promising jobs but instead ask for upfront fees to process the applications.

A chart shows posts shared with alleged recruitment links between Jan and Apr, 2022. [Link to visualisation ] (Source: CT/CfA)


A Code for Africa (CfA) analysis examined the fraudulent strategy used to defraud unsuspecting job applicants. Below are some of the common online scams we investigated during the three-month period.

IEBC Scams

One popular trend entails scammers leveraging current events and situations in Kenya to lure unsuspecting targets. As Kenya prepares for the 2022 general elections on August 9, IEBC is required to hire thousands of temporary staffers across the country to serve as returning officers, presiding officers, logistics officers, electoral trainers, polling clerks, and ICT clerks, among others.

According to our research, the “IEBC is recruitinglink first appeared on April 23, 2022, on the Kericho Renaissance Network, a public group with over 143,200 members. The attached form was posted in 52 other public groups within the next two days. The posts bore almost identical messaging without many alterations of terms and were amplified mainly by the use of shortened URLs redirecting to a Google Form.

Analysing the characteristics of the application form reveals that applicants were required to pay a registration fee of Ksh. 350 through MPESA, a mobile payment system by Safaricom, and then share the transaction reference number to confirm registration with a disclaimer that “the fee will facilitate the interview process.

A screengrab of the payments to be made on the IEBC applications. (Source: CfA)
A screengrab of several posts made of the alleged IEBC applications. (Source: CrowdTange / CfA)

NCPB – Agriculture

The scammers targeted farmers preparing for the planting season, which began from March to April. This comes in the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian war that led to a rise in the prices of commodities and farm inputs. With Russia being among the top exporters of fertiliser, the country has had to limit exports to cushion its farmers from sanctions imposed by the west.  In this line, tentative government measures were proposed to ensure farmers had access to fertilisers to sustain Kenya’s food demands. This was an opportunity for scammers to defraud unsuspecting farmers.

Job Recruiting at Naivas & QuickMart

Top, A chart shows posts shared with the alleged recruitment link within the last year. Bottom , screengrab of several posts sharing links to the Quickmart job(Source: CfA )


The recent rise in online scams targeting individuals and businesses has generally resulted in significant financial losses and exposure of personal information. Besides the financial impact, the highlighted scams continue to affect victims emotionally.

This worrying trend deprives desperate job seekers of much-needed income while damaging the reputations of legitimate businesses. Raising awareness, therefore, is vital to minimise the number of victims. It is also crucial for the general population to understand the nature of these scams and take the necessary precautions to remain safe. Through education and vigilance, both businesses and individuals are in a position to help stop fraud.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether or not public shaming is an effective deterrent against scamming. However, more coordination is needed to hold the scammers accountable through legal means.

This report was co-authored by Africa Uncensored’s data journalist, CfA iLAB analyst Robin Kiplangat, John Ndungu  and reviewed by iLAB investigation manager Allan Cheboi. The report was copy-edited by Paul Amisi and approved for publication by CEO Justin Arenstein.

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