A website offering fully funded scholarships to study at a Canadian university is getting social media attention.
“Study in CANADA With Course of Your Choice For Free through-out The years program,” badly written text on the home page reads.
“The University Of Toronto Scholarship Program Enables International Students to Study in CANADA Comfortably and Free. Applicants are to fill the form below and click on Apply.”
The amateur-looking site – scholarshome.club – has been circulating on WhatsApp in Kenya, and posted on public groups with thousands of members in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
To see if it’s legit, we went through the site’s application process.
We entered random letters in place of name, email address, country and area of study. Despite this, and even though we didn’t give a name or email address, the site gave us a message of congratulation after we clicked the APPLY NOW button.
This was also badly written: “Congratulations. Your application for the ongoing University of Toronto scholarship has been received.To proceed to next page. Answer the following three questions to acquire your immediately!”
We then had to answer questions about our employment and marital status, and our age. And regardless of our choices, we got our approval. But there were conditions.
“Your CANADA SCHOLARSHIP VISA FORM will be availabe imediately you click the "Invite Friends/Group" button below to share this information with 15 friends or 5 groups on WhatsApp so That They Can Also Aware of the SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMM.”
Completing this step was the only way to get to the next step.
The site is clearly a scam.
Signs of a scam
There were clear signs it was a scam even before we started the application process.
It has no link to the University of Toronto website. And the badly written text, full of spelling and grammar errors, would be extremely unlikely on a site associated with a reputable academic institution.
Finally, the link to the site served up different versions at different times. Some offered scholarships in Harvard University in the US, while another advertised scholarships in the United Kingdom.
Engagement bait scam
Africa Check has previously looked into similar scams. They are engagement bait – posts that ask people to like, share and comment in order to increase a post’s reach but offers no reward.
Facebook is aware of the tactic and is taking active steps to fight it. To help protect yourself against online scams, read our guide to Facebook scams and how to spot them.
For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?
Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.Publishers guide
Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
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.
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