Friday, 1 June 2012

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

Please help me check a Senegalese identity. Are these documents fake or genuine?

This is an obvious fake.

The quality of the ID card is very suspect, look at the changes in font, both typeface and size, the incorrect capitalization and the general quality of the documents. Also there are other clues. Who has an ID card numbered "0001"? The "passport" also shows the same strange use of fonts. If you look closely you’ll see that the signature on the passport is totally different to that on the ID card and neither say “Richard Bongo”.

Both of these documents have been created on someone’s computer and clearly by an amateur. A quick Google search showed that the very same ID document has been used before in "advance fee" scams. Also the name "Richard Bongo" has been used in scams before.

Update: The reader responded and confessed that he had already lost P10,000 to the scam. It seems like we were too late this time. Be warned!

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I need your advice. I want to buy a car and there is an offer too good to be true. Could you check it for me because I don't understand why their bank is in New York yet they are in Japan?

[The reader attached details of three vehicles he was interested in buying from a Japanese web site. All were Toyotas, between 12 and 15 years old, but all were models that you and I have probably never seen here in Africa and all three were in credibly cheap. One was available for $600, the other two for $950 each. The total bill for buying them and shipping them all from Japan came to $4,950, about P40,000. The invoice they sent also was extremely specific, even giving the chassis numbers of the vehicles they were offering.]

Did you say “too good to be true”? That’s always a clue that something is suspicious.

I'm skeptical about all car import businesses but in this case the banking details are the least of my concerns. The key issue for me is that you have no way of inspecting the vehicle before you pay for it. You have no real guarantee that the correct car will turn up or that it will be in a satisfactory condition. What can you then do if the car you receive isn’t the right one, or isn’t in the condition you expected? Nothing.

I did a bit of detective work and I’m now even more suspicious. One of the chassis numbers they quote, for a Toyota “Windom”, is also available for sale from the same company, not in Japan, but in Georgia which is 8,000km away from Japan. How can the same car be available in these two places? At the very least someone isn’t being entirely open with you.

The prices are, I suppose, reasonable for cars of this type and ages but that would make me even more cautious. A cheap car of that age is not going to be in the best of condition and who will support such a vehicle in Botswana?

All in all I'm very skeptical!

Update: The reader came back to us saying he’d reconsidered and had dropped his plan to buy these cars.

1 comment:

Kasey Chang said...

Just looking at the "passport" would reveal that the "date" font, which appears to be real, is completely different from all the other details. The "date" fonts are nice and dark, while all the other "filled in" details seem to have some weird "tint" to it that "floats" above the the actual document.