In my previous article, I talked about fraud involving overseas scholarships.
I indicated that the target groups are local Zimbabweans who are in pursuit of academic excellence.
These are scams that are perpetrated by con-artists masquerading as scholarship agents defrauding innocent people through payment of advance fees purported to be for administration processes.
Now let’s look at some processes involved when securing an overseas scholarship:
Anyone intending to secure an overseas scholarship can either find the offer on the internet or other advertisements.
The details of the institution or university making an offer will be clearly indicated together with a wide range of faculties on offer.
The offer will outline the rules or procedure involved when making an application.
Under normal circumstances, the institution will have a focal person in Africa known as the programme manager.
The programme manager has the responsibility of co-ordinating all communications between the institution and the applicants.
The application forms are downloaded from the internet and after completion by applicants, are scanned and sent by e-mail to the programme manager.
The programme manager on receipt of the applications forwards them to the institution for screening.
The suitable candidates who meet all the requirements are advised of their acceptance through the programme manager.
Once acceptance has been confirmed, the programme manager arranges for an interview in the applicant’s home country.
The project manager ensures that the applicants do not incur expenses at this stage.
The programme manager physically presents himself and conducts the interviews.
After the interview, successful candidates are notified and are sent documentary proof of acceptance and admission to the institution. Information relating to candidates’ travel arrangements and tuition are sent to successful candidates.
Of importance to note is the fact that there will also be communication between the programme manager and embassy officials in applicant’s country.
The notice of admission and obligations of the institution are sent to the embassy of the country offering the scholarship.
Armed with documentary proof, the applicants approach the embassy for processing of travel documents.
Remember, each country has rules on intending to visit it, therefore requirements such as medical examination, police clearance and others are a prerequisite.
At this stage, that is when one can incur some expenses unless it has been prior indicated to the applicant that it is not a full scholarship.
In this light, the issue of people claiming to be agents based in Inyanga or some part of our country demanding processing fees to be deposited in their mobile accounts is a non-event.
The above process also applies to overseas placements and jobs.
The following are suggested tips that can help you avoid being a victim to overseas scholarship fraudsters.
Do due diligence process. Find out what is involved in overseas scholarship programmes, particularly on the issue of procedure.
- Consult the Government department which also deals with scholarships. This will help you to have a broader understanding as well as getting proper counsel.
- Do not advance any money for processing. An institution offering you scholarship will not require you to make any payment particularly for processing stages. If you are asked to make payment, know that it’s a scam.
- Be careful when transacting on the internet. Fraudsters are manipulating processes on the internet. Be responsible enough to protect yourself on the internet.
- Avoid depositing money in mobile accounts. Why would an international representative ask you to deposit money in his personal mobile account?
- Ensure that you go through all the stages involved in the selection process.
- Upon receipt of notice and proof of admission, approach the embassy of the country offering you scholarship. Once the embassy is satisfied that everything was done above board and requirements were met, then you can safely travel.
Remember you should not be a fraud victim!
This article is published in line with the Z.R.P. Theme of the year 2012 “Z.R.P. for Total peace, Stability and Progress” in conjunction with CID Serious Fraud Squad Vision, “To be a Beacon of Excellence in the Fight Against Economic Crime in Zimbabwe”.
- For your comments and assistance with information that can be helpful to C.I.D. Serious Fraud Squad, you can contact me on 04-753543/0772 764 043 and on Email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Detective Assistant Inspector Tom Muleya works under the Public Relations Department, CID Serious Fraud Squad, Harare.