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Beware of fake ‘Youth Empowerment Scheme’ messages on WhatsApp and social media

IN SHORT: Beware of a viral message spreading on WhatsApp in South Africa and beyond, promising cash through easy registration for a youth empowerment scheme or project. It’s a scam, confirming that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

A WhatsApp shared in South Africa and with Africa Check promises “all awaited youth who have interest” the chance to apply for the “Youth Empowerment Scheme”. 

The message includes many misspellings, such as “Prove of Business” instead of “proof of business”, “beneficiarys” instead of “beneficiaries” and “minmum” instead of “minimum”, and includes a link to a “registration portal”. 

At this link those interested are invited to “check for validation”. Apparently “business owners” are eligible for “300,000-above” and “student grants” for “120,000-220,000”, though it’s not explicit what currency these amounts are in. 

There is no indication where this message originates from, and no specific country or government is named.

It’s difficult to believe that an authentic government scheme in any African country would be advertised via such a poorly written message, but we clicked through to investigate. 

Youth_SCam

A forest-full of red flags

The webpage linked to mentions “Youth Empowerment Scheme”, “Youth Empowerment Project” and the “Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI)”. It asks for personal information, including contact details, date of birth and gender. 

There are a number of legitimate programmes with similar names to this, but none we could find matched the details given on the webpage.

On filling in these details, you are taken to another page, where a message reads: “Congratulations. Your application for the on going Youth Empowerment & Support Grant has been received. To proceed to next page where you will select your appropriate support grant. Answer the following three questions to acquire your immediately.”

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This programme or grant has by now been referred to by four different names, which is highly suspicious. And whatever you answer to the next three questions about educational level, available hours and your “marital stauts”, you are told next “you've been approved to benefit from the Government Youth support Funds”.


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However, to download your "appointment letter which will enable you to recieve your support grant" you are next asked to share the information with 15 friends or five groups on WhatsApp.

If we weren’t already certain this was a hoax, a request like this, asking users to share information before a next step, is a classic example of engagement bait

These are social media posts or messages that ask people to interact by liking, commenting or sharing. These can be benign and used for legitimate advertising online, but are also used to harvest personal information and even commit identity fraud.

Recycled scam page

Up to this point everything indicates that this is not a legitimate scheme and doesn’t present any legitimate opportunities, for “youth” or anyone else. But a last message at the bottom of this page confirms it. 

It reads: "Note: If you do not complete this step correctly, the VISA FORM page will not load."

Up until now there has been no mention of any “visa” – the link and page has been promising funds for “youth empowerment”. But here it becomes clear that this webpage was previously used for a similar scam promising visas, probably to work or study in an attractive location in the developed world. 

Africa Check has uncovered plenty like this before, tempting desperate job seekers and students.

Like many online promises before it, this page is fraudulent. For more information on how to avoid online scams, particularly on Facebook, read our guide here.

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Africa Check teams up with Facebook

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The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Further Reading

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