Friday, 9 April 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I received an email from someone called Mestika saying they were from the Northern Ireland Institute of Business and Technology.

Some months ago I enquired with this establishment about a degree but they seemed too suspicious. Do you think they are real?

Absolutely not. They are completely fake. To begin with you can tell a lot from the email they sent you. It said:
“Dear Friend,
We are updating our record and found that you still have not yet enrolled for the Great British NIIBT degree programme. We will be removing and destroy your name from our record if we do not hear from you again.
Please keep us inform if you are organising the enrolment and payment for your degree programme with NIIBT the Great British.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.”
And this is meant to come from an educational establishment? As with almost all scams the quality of the English is terrible.

Like a lot of scams these days they have a web site but they really need to try harder if they want it to be convincing.

Various questions come to mind when you look at the web site. For instance, why do they call themselves the “Northern Ireland Institute of Business and Technology (British)” when their contact details are in Malaysia? Admittedly they DO give an address in Ireland but it’s in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, not Northern Ireland, which is part of an entirely different country.

Like any educational establishment they list their senior academics but there you come across another problem. None of them actually exist. Not one of them seems ever to have published any academic works or to have been employed elsewhere. That’s because they are entirely fictional, like the qualifications this fraudulent bunch of scammers offer.

You might wonder whether this establishment has any official recognition or accreditation. Well, in fact it DOES. It is accredited by the so-called “International Accreditation and Recognition Council” or IARC. However the bad news is that this body, IARC, is itself a fake. This is a standard trick by non-accredited universities and colleges. Just buy accreditation from one of the many fake accreditation bodies. No standards are applied, no inspections are made, no checking is actually done. Alternatively what many of them do is just to register a web site and set up their own accreditation body.

If you approach this fake establishment (and I did) and ask them they’ll send you various very amateur documents about the qualifications they’ll sell you. The total cost for one of their fake Master of Business Administration degrees will be a mere £1,600, something around P18,000.

Of course you might think that paying that amount is worth it if you can’t be bothered to actually study for a qualification but the problem will be the criminal deception you commit if you ever suggest to an employer that this is a real qualification. I know of two fairly senior managers in large companies in Gaborone who have been immediately dismissed when it was discovered that they had lied about their qualifications.

Everyone who reads The Voice will know that anyone they meet who claims to have a qualification from the “Northern Ireland Institute of Business and Technology” is a liar.

Do you want to take that risk? It’s not worth it.

Fake qualifications email

Many people (including us) have received a spam email as follows:
“BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT! Is your lack of a degree holding you back from career advancement? Are you having difficulty finding employment in your field of interest because you don’t have the paper to back it up – even though you are qualified? If you are looking for a fast and effective solution, we can help!”
In another email they sent, they said:
“Bacheelor, MasteerMBA, and Doctoraate diplomas available in the field of your choice that's right, you can even become a Doctor and receive all the benefits that comes with it!”
Obviously this is a scam, as well as being scandalous.

However there are two interesting things. Firstly when you call the USA phone number they give you are answered by an automated message that has a South African accent. Clearly our home-grown African scammers are travelling the world. Secondly, notice the spelling mistakes in the second email. “Bacheelor”, “Masteer” and “Doctoraate”. This time those mistakes are deliberate so they can slip past any filters your email system has in place to identify spam email. Never underestimate the intelligence of scammers.

UPS emails

Two weeks ago we alerted Voice listeners to an email claiming to be from Facebook that contained a virus. This week several people have alerted us to another email claiming to be from UPS, the international shipping company. The email says:
“Hello! We were not able to deliver your postal package which was sent on the 14th of January in time because the addressee's address is incorrect. Please print out the invoice copy attached and collect the package at our department.
United Parcel Service of America”
In fact there is no invoice attached, it’s a computer program that will damage your computer. If you get such an email please make sure you delete it without opening it.

Scam appeal

If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam please get in touch. We realise it’s embarrassing admitting if you’ve been a victim but if you spread the word you can prevent the same thing happening to your friends, family and neighbours. We promise you complete confidentiality.

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