Paul Tobiko, the Director of Communications at Narok County Government, told PesaCheck that the villa does not exist.
An appointment letter submitted for fact-checking via PesaCheck’s WhatsApp Tipline and shared on the Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa website is a HOAX.
The appointment letter was issued to a job applicant who had applied to work at Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa. While the applicant successfully got the job, the appointment letter does not mention the role pertaining to the vacancy. The letter only informs the applicant to report for work on 10 December 2022 from 8 AM to 5 PM at Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Narok County.
“We have allocated you a Tourism Service & Park Access License no. CC 2130032 as per the new Government Circular Act 2021 requirement for all Game park employees. Come ready with your clothes, documents, and national ID or passport but not beddings,” part of the letter reads.
One red flag is that no interview was conducted and applicants are advised that “the best interview is to see your work”. The applicant will, therefore, be on a three-month probation period and receive a salary of KSh28,065. The salary will be revised upwards after three months and permanent employment granted.
Some of the benefits are free accommodation and food. However, successful applicants are not allowed to bring in their spouses and children above the age of five years.
The applicant is advised to sign the appointment letter and bring it on the reporting date.
“If we will not have heard from you by 7 December 2022, this offer will be automatically withdrawn,” the letter adds.
Applicants are urged to contact/expect to receive communication from three specific phone numbers. The letter is signed by Kiprotich E Bett, the villa’s Human Resource manager.
The jobs are also advertised on the Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa website. The advertised opportunities included: waiters/waitresses, front desk staff, chefs/kitchen staff, housekeepers, bar attendants, cleaners and security personnel.
To confirm whether the jobs at Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa are legitimate, PesaCheck did a few key searches. The first was the evaluation of the villa’s website.
While the establishment is called Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa, it keeps referring to itself as Mara Resort & Spa, which PesaCheck has previously debunked and found to be non-existent. The wrong name is mentioned on the job advert, on the About section, the Packages section, the Accommodation section, and the Rates and Seasons page.
The appointment letter
The appointment letter also has several red flags. One is the phone numbers of the recruiters. We searched the three numbers on Truecaller and established that they are all registered under Mara Resorts, which is an establishment PesaCheck debunked as a scam.
Two of those numbers on the appointment letter were used in another job ad of a resort called “Mara Avillaz Resort and Spa”, also debunked as fraudulent.
Again, the Human Resource manager of Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa is the same as the one at Mara Avillaz Resort and Spa — Kiprotich E Bett — and with the same signature.
Further, the appointment letters of Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa and Mara Avillaz Resort and Spa look alike; the colors used, the layout and the tagline, which reads “… experiencing Africa’s safari with a taste of 5 star service & accommodation”.
The location, postal address, and the website name of Mara Ressoto and Mara Avillaz are also the same.
Additionally, the words used in the Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa appointment letter are exactly the same as those used in the Mara Avillaz Resort and Spa appointment letter. Only the name of the establishment, the dates, the Tourism Service & Park Access License number, salary amounts, and the small images on the letterhead have been altered.
social media reviews
Another successful job applicant shared the Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa appointment letter on Facebook and asked followers whether that job advert was authentic. One respondent reacted, “very scam I was sent the same but they want money for tourism management so be careful”.
Not at the Maasai Mara
Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa is not listed among the establishments in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
The communications department at the Maasai Mara National Reserve previously told PesaCheck that there are only camps and lodges at the Mara.
To confirm whether the villa exists, we did a search on the Companies Registry, where all registered companies in Kenya are recorded. No such business has been registered by the Companies Registry, which is also known as the Business Registration Service.
The villa also does not exist on Google maps and the maps provided on the Mara Ressoto website lead to “Masai Mara Travel”.
What the Narok County Government says
Since the Maasai Mara National Reserve is in Narok County, we reached out to Paul Tobiko, the Director of Communications at Narok County Government, to confirm whether the devolved unit government had approved the establishment of such a villa at the Mara.
“It does not exist. So it is the same line of fraudsters,” Tobiko told PesaCheck in a message.
PesaCheck has looked into an appointment letter submitted for fact-checking via PesaCheck’s WhatsApp Tipline and shared on the Mara Ressoto Villa & Spa website and finds it to be a HOAX.
This post is part of an ongoing series of PesaCheck fact-checks examining content marked as potential misinformation on Facebook and other social media platforms.
By partnering with Facebook and similar social media platforms, third-party fact-checking organizations like PesaCheck are helping to sort fact from fiction. We do this by giving the public deeper insight and context to posts they see in their social media feeds.
Have you spotted what you think is fake or false information on Facebook? Here’s how you can report. And, here’s more information on PesaCheck’s methodology for fact-checking questionable content.
The article was approved for publication by PesaCheck managing editor Doreen Wainainah.
PesaCheck is East Africa’s first public finance fact-checking initiative. It was co-founded by Catherine Gicheru and Justin Arensteinand is being incubated by the continent’s largest civic technology and data journalism accelerator: Code for Africa. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reporting. To find out more about the project, visit pesacheck.org.
PesaCheck is an initiative of Code for Africathrough its innovateAFRICA fundwith support from Deutsche Welle Academyin partnership with a coalition of local African media and other civic watchdog organisations.