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Jobdogs.co.za – The Indian company scamming South Africans

On Friday last week, Pikitup, Johannesburg’s refuse collection company posted a message on social media, telling followers to beware of a fake job notice being circulated on X claiming to be from Pikitup itself.

Pikitup warned people from engaging with what it called a “fraudulent” general workers’ advertisement, adding that the misleading ad contained a number of red flags, including the fact that it contained a fictitious deadline and instructed interested parties to contact a WhatsApp number for more information.

“Pikitup suspects it may be a deliberate tactic used by the perpetrators to exploit desperate job seekers,” it said on X.

Example of a jobdogs advert, this time for Amazon South Africa.

The fraudulent ad also instructs people to head to “jobdogs.co.za” for “application purposes”, and here is where it gets a bit more interesting.

Jobdogs list adverts for hundreds of South African companies.

The actual website for jobdogs.co.za doesn’t exist and instead leads to a dead page. However, if you Google the domain you will find at least two variations on the domain – “job-dogs.co.za” and “jobdogs.co.za.”

We also found “jobfeed.co.za,” “South Africa.governmentjobs.guru,” “studentroom.co.za” and several different Facebook pages like “PB garage jobs” and “SA Retail Jobs” and an X account that all instruct users to head to a jobdogs site and include the same WhatsApp number in adverts.

There is even an active WhatsApp channel with over 3 000 users called South Africa Jobs that shares ads.

There is also a WhatsApp channel for Namibian users from the same company.

These websites, shoddily put together as they are, all do the same thing. They list job advertisements for many, many companies in South Africa and other African countries like Namibia, Zimbabwe and even in Sudan. Some of them are legit adverts, with links included that redirect to actual company websites while others are older posts or are simply fake ads.

They all have similar design work, and the same AI-generated filler text. Despite being generated with co.za domain names, the websites are all made, likely, by the same organisation originating in India. We found several clues about the origin of these websites.

The first is the location of offices in the “job-dogs.co.za” site, namely Rajasthan, India. There is also a gmail account listed here. The other clue for the origin of the websites is found in the filler text on another site, namely Jobfeed.co.za.

“With over 1 lakh subscribers and more than 300,000 monthly unique readers, Studentroom Co Za has become a trusted bridge between individuals and the opportunities that can define their professional paths,” it reads. “Lakh” is a term used in India and Pakistan that means 100 000.

Every time you enter one of these sites you are bombarded with ads, and because of link placements that strategically keep you users within the network of these websites, this is likely an adsense scam.

We came across similar scammers who created several fake South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) sites in 2023 to capitalise on interest around the search term.

“It looks to me like the people behind these sites have just identified that there is a lot of search traffic on these terms, like ‘check SASSA status’ so they are setting up dedicated sites with these keywords in the URL,” Alan Hammond, CEO of Careersportal.co.za told us about the SASSA scam.

“They can easily steal [content from official sources or news stories] – which they often do – or they can just use ChatGPT to create basic articles to publish. They then monetise them through Google Adsense.”

Due to South Africa’s record unemployment rate, millions of South Africans descend on Google every day looking for jobs, generating huge traffic that the JobDogs scammers capitalise on.

They then exploit this influx of massive South African interest to generate adsense dollars – likely a significant amount – from Google, all the while sitting at home in India. The advent of generative AI has made these sorts of scams easier, and since the information they host is benign in nature, Google simply doesn’t care enough to take them down.

The Facebook pages and WhatsApp channels act as a sort of funnel, to direct traffic back to any one of these websites. We noted that job-dogs.co.za is serving ads from PlayaBets and Salesforce at the time of writing. Thanks, Google.

Despite what they claim on their many sites, JobDogs doesn’t actually care to connect South Africans with employment, which is why they occasionally post fake adverts. They only care about South Africans clicking through to their many websites, making them more and more money as they do so.

[Image – CC 0 raju shrestha from Pixabay]

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