Facebook account impersonates South African police to promote fake jobs

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A Facebook account falsely purporting to belong to the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been misleading social media users into believing that it’s promoting an opportunity for hundreds of unemployed people. AFP Fact Check found that the advert is a hoax: police have confirmed the page is fake and there is no such traineeship programme at the moment.

“SAPS IS LOOKING 314 YOUNG UNEMPLOYED…  Salary: R6 000 - R9 000 p/m,” reads part of the Facebook post published on February 28, 2021.

The post, which has more than 1,100 comments and 600 shares, includes an application form purportedly from the SAPS.

A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post taken on March 1, 2021

After clicking on the link in the post, AFP Fact Check landed on a page titled “Local Vacancies Updates”, which does not offer any information about how to apply for the alleged positions.

A screenshot of the job advertisement website taken on March 9, 2021

AFP Fact Check contacted the SAPS on its verified Facebook account and the agency confirmed that while it does indeed run traineeship programmes, the post is fake.

“There are no learnership [programmes] at the moment,” SAPS said. 

The misleading Facebook page was created on January 3, 2021, under the name: “SAPS Learnership 2021”, and has since shared multiple poorly edited job adverts purportedly by several popular retailers in South Africa.

A screenshot of the photos on the false Facebook account taken on March 9, 2021

Almost all of the comments on the false post show that social media users believe the advert is genuine, replying “help” as instructed to receive more details.

A screenshot of comments on the false Facebook post taken on March 9, 2021

There are other clues indicating that the page is not authentic: it is categorised as a “musician/band” and does not include a description nor link to any websites related to the police.

To access legitimate SAPS job postings, visit the official website or follow their verified Twitter and Facebook accounts. 

The SAPS site also carries a warning: “NOTE: Be aware of bogus website advertisements on SAPS traineeship and vacancies.”

It added that only the information on its website “can be regarded as authentic”.

Record unemployment

As reported by AFP, South Africa's unemployment rate reached a record 32.5 percent between October and December 2020, the highest since the start of records in 2008.

South Africa was already in recession when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020; months of rolling restrictions to stem its spread stifled economic activity and bled tens of thousands of jobs.

"The number of unemployed rose by 701,000 to 7.2 million compared to the third quarter of 2020," Stats SA said in a statement.

AFP Fact Check has published multiple debunks here and here about fake job adverts on Facebook.