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Published:May 25th, 2006 03:13 EST
Au Pairs / Nannies Beware!

Au Pairs / Nannies Beware!

By Juliet Maruru

A friend of mine told me about a situation she went through a few weeks ago. Her story piqued my interest and made me want to investigate. According to her story she had applied for an au pair/nanny job on an online matching site. She soon started getting job offers. Most were genuine enough but did not satisfy her choice criteria.

A few weeks after she first signed up, she received an email with an offer that was too good to be true. A man who seemed to hold a very senior executive position with a multinational oil company was offering her a very large allowance, college options and very good working conditions. He even sent photos of "himself with his precious little boy`. She didn`t have to worry about visa processing; her prospective employer would see that it would be processed on time and legally. All she had to do was contact a ticket agent "affiliated` with a reputable airline, which she did.

The "ticket agent` replied soon enough and informed her that everything she needed; travel documents, air ticket and insurance would be processed in Nigeria. At this point the ticket agent asked my friend to send Great Britain Pounds 500 to an address in Nigeria via Western Union Money Transfer, after which the "executive` would arrange for someone to come all the way to Kenya with her documents and escort her to the country where she would be taking care of a beautiful four year old.

At this point, my friend`s warning antennae were working overtime. She decided to play it safe and blocked all emails from the "executive` and his "ticket agent`. The experience left her very worried such that the foreign au pair experience didn`t seem very attractive anymore. However, a few days later she received a new offer. This time she was very careful, doing everything by the book. She just sent me an email from her new home and she loves her new family though she isn`t paid nearly as much as the "executive` had offered her.

This kind of a scam would be very easy for a Kenyan to fall for. Jobs are scarce in the country and many people are willing to do anything to get a job out of the country. If you do get a job, immigration laws in most countries have become stricter than ever and a way to get around such laws would seem attractive to a person who is desperate for a job. Unfortunately, if my friend had fallen for this scam, she would be jobless and a loser, too [less GBP 500 = KSHS 65000].

Circumstances may be tough, but always think twice if you get an offer that promises getting rich quick.