Olinda Chapel Court Case, As Police Investigate CoS Frauds
29 October 2023
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Scandal Uncovered as Zimbabweans Seek UK CoS Jobs Amid Fraudulent Certification Practices.

By A Correspondent | In a latest revelation, as UK socialite Olinda Chapel faces a court hearing over alleged unfair labor practices tomorrow, more than 20,000 Zimbabweans have flocked to the United Kingdom in search of Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) jobs in the care and health industries. Their pursuit of overseas employment has exposed a disturbing underbelly of fraudulent qualifications and corrupt practices.

Three years ago, the ZimEye news network initiated an in-depth investigation into the fraudulent activities taking place between Harare and London by recruiters. The investigation unveiled a disheartening trend where people were selling assets that did not belong to them, and desperate jobseekers were willing to go to great lengths, including breaking the law, to secure employment abroad.

In the quest for these coveted positions, many individuals resorted to obtaining counterfeit certificates in nurse aide and care work through unscrupulous insiders within institutions certified to issue such documents. While these institutions have now acknowledged the challenge, they claim to be in the process of enhancing their systems to eliminate the issuance of fraudulent qualifications.

The skyrocketing demand for caregivers, particularly in Western countries, prompted by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, inadvertently created an avenue for criminal activities. The Sunday Mail Society has unearthed evidence that some staff members in local training institutions were actively involved in issuing fake certificates to desperate jobseekers in exchange for a fee.

Desperate individuals were paying exorbitant amounts for these forged qualifications. In some cases, these fake certificates were so well-made that they were nearly indistinguishable from genuine ones.

Employees at several leading training institutions were found to be manipulating the system, issuing certificates to individuals who had never attended classes, let alone engaged in the required industrial attachment.

Legitimate certification from top institutions would typically cost at least $250, with a requirement of attending classes for a minimum of 10 weeks, in addition to a month-long industrial attachment. However, for those willing to circumvent these processes, corrupt employees and trainers offered to provide fraudulent qualifications for amounts ranging between $150 and $200.

Following a tip-off from the public, the investigation confirmed the extent of the rot. Posing as a potential client, an investigator approached a staffer at a reputable local institution, requesting assistance to acquire qualifications “unprocedurally” for use in the diaspora. This led to the discovery that some corrupt staff members had even lowered the price after negotiations, accepting a deposit of $100, with the balance to be paid later.

The certificate issued came with the promise of being legitimate for life, with the added assurance that it would be entered into the institution’s database to avoid detection during background checks.

Despite repeated attempts to obtain an official comment from the institution in question, the organization recently urged the public to exercise caution in response to reports of bogus institutions offering counterfeit qualifications.

While this practice is not yet widespread, it poses a significant threat and is at risk of spreading to other institutions. The chain of individuals involved in this illicit activity includes staff from healthcare training centers, front-office workers, immigration agents, security guards, and even students, with jobseekers who wish to bypass formal training being the primary targets.

In response to these concerns, some institutions are working to enhance their security features, promote direct payments to facility accounts, and reduce opportunities for corruption. However, with organizations no longer routinely conducting background checks, this issue remains a cause for concern.

Authorities, including the police, have warned of the severe consequences of acquiring fake documents, emphasizing that it constitutes fraud and carries the potential for imprisonment. Employers are encouraged to diligently verify the qualifications of potential jobseekers, and the public is urged to report any information related to these fraudulent operations to assist in curbing this illicit trade.