The very essence of a scholarship is the opportunity to pay less or nothing at all for quality education. Truth be told, this is the dream of nearly every Nigerian youth. So getting an email that offers you the scholarship of a lifetime is definitely an answer to prayer. Well, not really all of the offers. Scammers have taken advantage of this yearning for cheap higher education and have a variety of tricks to get you in their trap.
Some unscrupulous companies guarantee that they can get scholarships on behalf of students or award them “scholarships” in exchange for an advance fee. Most, offer a “money back guarantee” – but attach conditions that make it impossible to get the refund. Others provide nothing for the student’s advance fee – not even a list of potential sources; still others tell students they’ve been selected as “finalists” for awards that require an up-front fee. Sometimes, these companies ask for a student’s checking account to “confirm eligibility,” then debit the account without the student’s consent. Other companies quote only a relatively small “monthly” or “weekly” fee and then ask for authorization to debit your checking account – for an undetermined length of time.
Here a sample from a so called ‘World Scholarship Alunmi Foundation’:
Welcome to the WSAF Scholarship 2010. You are just a few short steps away from realising your ambitions at a university of your choice. Please note that the scholarship application is only available online. We will not accept any hard copies or physical applications. Candidates must attach softcopies of the documents to be submitted to the Scholarship Committee. WSAF is currently accepting softcopies only. No hardcopies will be accepted.
Downloadable application forms in pdf format are used for most of our programme. Short-listed candidates will be notified six (6) weeks after the application deadline. The candidates will be contacted directly and instructed on the next course of action to consummate the award process.
According to an online poll, 7 percent of people who received this email had already paid the sum of 204.25 US dollars for the purpose of this scholarship, and 30 percent planned on paying.
How then can you know when you’re being scammed? Experts advise is to watch out for these tell-tale signs:
The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.”
“You can’t get this information anywhere else.” “I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship.”
“We’ll do all the work. You just pay a processing fee.”
“The scholarship will cost some money.”
“You’ve been selected” by a “national foundation” to receive a scholarship – or “You’re a finalist” in a contest you never entered.