Friday 24 July 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

There was an advert in a local newspaper, claiming to be to be from Transitions Abroad and is looking for workers offering salaries up to US$8,000 a month.

Going onto the website it looks like the website is a portal for work, volunteer and study abroad programs and not a job search service.

I find the advert suspicious for three reasons:

a) The e-mail address that looks suspicious is when the contact listed on the website use the domain

b) The two telephone numbers listed (with no contact names, or persons) are +27763519083 (South Africa) and +447023025996 (UK)

c) payment of a service fee upfront instead of after you land the job!

I'd like to ask Consumer Watchdog to possibly follow-up on the advert and confirm it is on behalf of Transitions Abroad). I fear some innocent Batswana looking for jobs under these economic conditions may lose their hard earned cash to yet another scam.

We need more people like this consumer. Clearly someone with a skeptical mind and who is willing to do a little detective work on behalf of other consumers. Few things give me as much pleasure as seeing people standing up for themselves and their neighbours. If we had a little more of this community skepticism our country would be an even better place.

Yes, this is a scam. Some months ago we saw an identical scam from a company claiming to be called “ITA Work and Travel” who were offering ridiculously high salaries to totally unqualified people in far-flung parts of the world. Recent graduates from UB were being offered senior Accountancy positions in the USA at staggering salaries. Most of the victims were offered jobs on cruise ships with similarly extravagant wages, opportunities to visit exotic places and even a “diplomatic passport”. Of course it was all a scam. The key piece of evidence was that you had to pay $350 up front. The second clue was that they claimed you had to get a US visa from the US Embassy in Pretoria, not from the embassy in Gaborone. When we saw one of these visas that had been emailed over to the victim by the crooks we could see instantly that it had been created on a computer. We also sent it over to the US Embassy here in Gaborone who also confirmed that it was a fake.

In fact this scam you mention sounds remarkably similar. The same up-front payment, the same unbelievable offer of employment, the same inconsistencies. Why would an organisation like this operate from a Gmail account and not, as you say, from their own domain?

Then we noticed something important. The South African phone number you saw in the advertisement. It’s exactly the same as the cellphone number used by ITA. It’s the same guy, the same fraudster, the same low-down, sneaky, scumbag crook as last time. If you feel like having some fun why don’t you spend a few thebe and send him a polite text message and let him know we’re onto him? Tell him that in Botswana we’re not quite as naïve as he hopes. Tell him what you think about him! Let’s see if we can take the battle back to him!

Success University update

My recent comments on Success University provoked a reaction. Someone claiming not to have any real interest himself in this pyramid scheme has now sent me a total of nearly 1,500 words explaining how they are the solution to almost all of life’s problems. He attempts to justify them calling themselves a university, repeats a whole lot of nonsense about how they empower, enrich and uplift us. Blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, there is news about Success University. This scheme (that’s still illegal in Namibia) which is supposedly committed to “success education” and giving people motivation has been taken over by another “network marketing company”, called Worldventure. Another educational scheme you think? No, they sell holidays. Everyone in the Success University network will now be selling holidays as well as mass-produced motivational materials.

I think this shows the real nature of these schemes. The product itself isn’t relevant. What matters to them is the selling mechanism itself. What they really want is a pyramid of people selling, the product isn’t really relevant.

Wouldn’t you think it strange if McDonalds bought BMW and they started selling burgers in their former car showrooms? It’s too bizarre to contemplate. I think the same goes for Worldventure taking over Success University. It tells us something about the nature of these schemes. They really don’t care about the product, they just want recruits.

Our advice remains the same. By the time you hear about one of these schemes it’s too late to join and make money. You’ll be so low down the food chain that you’ll just get eaten. Only the people at the very top, the creators of the scheme and the initial members will make any money.

Even Worldventures own figures show this to be true. They confess that in 2008 70.2% of their recruits made no money from the scheme. Of those that did make money, the median earnings were a pathetic $114.60. Then, hidden away in the small print it says:

“These figures do not represent Representatives’ profits; they do not consider expenses incurred by Representatives in the promotion of their business.”

So that $114.60 is before you have paid your expenses? Steer clear!

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