Friday 22 January 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I saw an advertisement from a company called Dalberto Sponsors that said they could get people jobs abroad and would pay for flights, accommodation and visas, all for P3,500. Can this be true? It reminded me of the scams you had written about in the past. Is this another scam?

Do you think I should respond to them?

No, you certainly should NOT respond to them. This is a scam.

In fact a number of people have contacted us about these advertisements that appeared in at least two newspapers in Botswana (not The Voice though, perhaps they know that Voice readers are more skeptical than others?). They all asked whether this was “another scam” and they were right to be suspicious.

The biggest clue was that what Dalberto Sponsors offer is simply unbelievable. How on earth can they get you a job, pay for your flight, give you accommodation and sort out visas and paperwork for as little as P3,500? They don’t even say where the jobs will be so how do they know what the flight will cost? Assuming they mean Europe then the numbers simply don’t add up. There’s no way you can get a flight to anywhere in Europe these days for less than P6,500. The airport taxes alone come to over P2,500. What they claim is simply unbelievable.

It becomes even less believable when you start doing some research about this company. They have a web site that looks very professional but strangely for a company that claims to have been operating for years, this web site was only registered on the 29th October last year. What’s more, almost everything on the web site had been “lifted” (that’s a polite way of saying “stolen”) from other web sites. Word for word.

They even show pictures of the people they claim run the company but it’s curious, don’t you think, that none of these people actually seem to exist in real life. None of them has left a trace of ever having existed before, other than on the Dalberto web site. You’d think that at least one of them would have a Facebook page at least, don’t you?

Things becomes just ridiculous when you look at the jobs they claim to be offering. They claim they can find you a job as a “Human Resources Administrator” in the UK with the truly astonishing salary (sit down before you read this) of P1.9 million per year!

How stupid do they think we are? Obviously the salary is insane but remember that they claim this job is in the UK, the country still in a recession, when people are being retrenched rather than hired and where they certainly aren’t offering jobs to foreigners like us.

It didn’t take too much detective work to confirm that this bunch of crooks really are, in fact, a bunch of crooks. The business address they quote in the UK is in fact someone’s house and presumably just an address they chose at random.

We phoned Dalberto Sponsors several times on their South African cellphone numbers (the only numbers they have that actually work) and pretended to be interest in the jobs they claim to offer. Each time it was the same message. Just give us your money and we’ll get you a job, guaranteed. Even when we called and pretended to be a unqualified as possible we were offered high paid jobs.

We gave up pretending eventually and got in touch with them and asked them to justify their claims. They couldn’t. All they could do is threaten us. In one angry email they said:
“we are a powerful company that is prepared to spend hundred thousands of pula to expose you so watch the news and papers soon.”
When I asked for the name of just one person they had successfully placed in a job abroad, or the name of just one company who had used their services, anywhere in the world they said:
“Please stop harassing my staff and wasting our time... we will talk through media.”
This is a scam, it’s a simple as that. Please don’t get abused by them, don’t have anything to do with them!

An update

Last week we responded to an email from a consumer who felt she had been abused by Prokard. This worthless hotel discount scheme employs telemarketers who call people and apparently sign people up for their scheme without their explicit permission. We heard from several people who had given their credit or debit card details to Prokard. That might sound foolish to you but one said she had only given the details “to establish if I would be Gold or a normal member”.

However she later found that she had been charged over P1,000 and was now a Prokard member.

We got in touch with Prokard who have now decided to refund one of the consumers everything she was charged. Hopefully this will happen with the others as well.

Our message remains the same. Never, EVER give out your personal and banking details to anyone you don’t already trust. Don’t also sign up for hotel discount schemes unless you know exactly what you are guaranteed first. Finally, if you want to get a cheap hotel stay in South Africa go to Bid2Stay where you tell them what you are prepared to pay for a hotel. You can save a fortune and, most importantly, it costs you nothing.

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