Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

A reader contacted us with a very long story about a car that had been involved in an accident in February 2009. The biggest problem he had was actually with the towing company that retrieved his car from the scene. After a series of delays apparently beyond the owner’s control the towing company ended up storing the car for about 15 months. When he approached them recently to get the car back they demanded P20 per day for storing the car for him. That makes a total of P11,000 plus VAT they say he should pay before he gets his car back.

He asked if that was reasonable.

I think that’s only acceptable IF he agreed to that storage fee up front. I don’t think they can come back to him after all this time and demand he pay for a service he never agreed to. What do you think?

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

We heard from a Voice reader who asked:

“Can you please find out for me whether this is not a scam?”

She attached an email that I think it’s worth quoting in full. The reader had earlier registered on the web site.
“Hello Au Pair/Nanny,

I hope my mail meets you in good state of health. I am Mark Lennox, 41 years of age from United States. I am a Consultant Contractor and I reside at #162 Macarthur blv. Hauppague, NY, 11788, USA. As part of the information you may require, I have a 4 years old wonderful and interesting to be with twins namely Chris and Sheani. Due to the nature of my work and the unexpected transfer of my wife to Portugal, I hardly have time for my lovely Kids which prompted an idea of seeking an Au Pair/Nanny. After scrolling through your profile on, both myself and my Wife consider you worthy of the job vacancy in my Home.

Your duties includes taking the kids to school/bringing them back home, play with them, go to Museums, Playground, Cinema Hall, prepare/fix their meals and snacks. You will have your Private Room which consist of Air-Conditional, Television, 12 hours Internet Access and a Telephone to keep you in touch with your friends, families and maybe relatives as often as you may desire, a Bathroom and Toilet. You will have Saturdays and Sundays as your off days, so to enable you have enough time for yourself otherwise, you will be paid for extra services. As for your salary, I will be willing to pay you 2,000 Dollars for every 4 weeks and a pocket fee of 500 Dollars weekly which I suppose should be enough for your primary needs. Regards my family pictures, I will send some upon request.

With all due respect, I will be hoping to hear from you as soon as possible if interested at the said position. Bye for now and may the gentle breeze of all moment blow cool memory into your brain, Amen!

Warmest regards,
Mark Lennox & Family
Do I really need to explain that this is a scam? The usual clues are there, just like with every other scam. Let’s begin with the poor English. The first sentence is surely evidence enough but just read the rest and you can see that rather than being a “Consultant Contractor”, our friend “Mark Lennox” is almost certainly West African, don’t you think?

There’s quite a simple piece of evidence if you do a Google search for the email address used. You’ll find that this particular email address has been used before and is recognised as being from a scammer. They’ve used exactly the same email address, the same name, the same address and phone number. I think it’s safe to assume that they’ve sent this email to thousands of people.

Then there’s the simply unbelievable nature of the offer he appears to be making. $2,000 every 4 weeks plus another $500 every week? That’s $52,000 per year, more than P350,000. For an au pair? They must be joking.

Actually they’re not joking, they’re appealing to our sense of greed. I think most of us instinctively know that this is nonsense but maybe a few of us will wonder if there’s anything to lose by replying? Of course anyone gullible enough to reply is soon going to have their gullibility ruthlessly exploited. I guarantee that sooner or later there will be a last-minute hitch, a visa fee, a deposit, a compulsory bank account opening fee, something that requires YOU to send money to an anonymous Western Union recipient.

That’s what this and almost all other scams are about: the “advance fee” that gives this scam it’s name.

My original suggestion was going to be to ignore the email and pretend it never happened. However I think it’s time for us to try another approach.

I would urge every Voice reader with an email account to email this scammer and tell him exactly what you think of him. Make sure you include something along the lines of “if you think we are that stupid in Botswana…” and feel free to be a rude as possible. In fact let’s be incredibly rude. Let’s make it clear to the scamming community that Botswana is a nation of skeptics, we’re not stupid and we’ve had ENOUGH of scammers thinking they can fool us.

Please make sure you send a copy of the email to us at as well so we can have a laugh!

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