Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Consumer Alert - PFI Digital and Vortex Profits

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

17th July 2018

Consumer Alert: PFI Digital and Vortex Profits


Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about a scam that targets the victims of a previous  scam, Vortex Profits.

Background

Vortex Profits claimed to be “a remarkable investment platform … with an outstanding track record of 2 years for delivering best of class investment solutions and endless income-generating opportunity”. They suggested that investors could earn returns of between 2.5% and 4% every day by investing through Vortex Profits in Bitcoin, gold or oil.

Many people in Botswana paid significant amounts to join this obvious Ponzi scheme. They all lost.

PFI Digital

Recently, advertisements have been posted on social media suggesting that a company calling itself "PFI Digital" can assist victims of Vortex Profits to reclaim their lost money. These advertisements invite victims to complete a complaint form and submit it to the company. They suggest that there will be "a criminal investigation" and that the directors of Vortex Profits will "be brought to justice".


In order for this to take place, the advertisement states that victims must send $25 to the organisers by Western Union or Moneygram.

This is a scam. Despite suggesting that this is a company registered in the UK "PFI Digital (UK)" no such company of that name is currently registered in the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, they can offer no more than a Gmail address and a cellphone number. The address they give, "56 Whetstone Lane, Birkenhead" in the UK is actually the address of a YMCA building.

Image c/o Google Maps
All of these facts confirm that this is a particularly shameless scam that is trying to exploit the victims of the previous Vortex Profits scam. Consumers are urged not to send any money to these scammers.

Monday, 16 July 2018

A phishing attack

In comes an email to the Consumer Watchdog email address, warning about a crisis, demanding that we must sign in to our online email account by clicking on a link to "unlock your account".


However, things are not as they seem. Hover the mouse over the link and you see where the link actually goes.

No, I didn't click on the link because that would just have confirmed that the email address was both valid and in use, inviting more of these attempts. Instead I made up a fake email address and used that instead. This is what came up next (after my computer warned me of the danger).


This is what it's all about, getting the password for this email address. The crooks can them sign in to the real account and who knows what will happen next? You can bet it'll be something bad.

The lesson? It's simple. Don't EVER click on links in emails unless you are CERTAIN you know where the link will take you.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Consumer Alert - WC Connect

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

15th July 2018

Consumer Alert: WC Connect


Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about WC Connect, a pyramid scheme currently trying to recruit victims in Botswana.

The WC Connect web site describes the business as "an empowerment based membership program" and says that their:
"vision is to empower our members and through them we empower people around them by just introducing them to WC CONNECT".
However, there appears to be no product at the heart of their business model and recruitment is the only activity required. Their web site (which is registered to an address in Gboko in northern Nigeria) describes very clearly how this supposed business operates.

They claim that there's "NO BUYING" and "NO SELLING" and that it is:
"easy for its members to own houses, cars, laptops, mobile phones and many more without paying a coin. Its all free from WC CONNECT.You stand a chance to own a Brand new bungalow worth 140,000USD, at level 6 etc"
Messages posted in various WhatsApp groups were even clearer. They describe their business model like this.



The way they suggest recruits make money is very simple.




The obvious question was:


And the reaction was predictable:


There's no product, no buying and selling, no activity other than just recruiting other people into the scheme. It's a pyramid scheme.

You have been warned.

Friday, 13 July 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Should I join Bitcoin?

Hello Sir I am interested in joining Bitcoin but I need someone who can explain so I understand better. There is this other gal who tried to explain but I really don’t understand her. May you kindly be of help, especially mining the bitcoins.

Bitcoin is a currency, like the Pula, the Rand, the US Dollar and Euro but unlike these conventional currencies, Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency”. Cryptocurrencies aren’t currencies that you can carry in your pocket, purse or wallet. There are no coins or notes, they exist in cyberspace.

That’s one reason why Bitcoin should never be seen as an investment. Currencies aren’t investments, they’re things we use to trade with, to buy and sell things and the people who trade between currencies are speculators, not investors. They’re more like gamblers.

Data source: Coindesk
Another reason why Bitcoin shouldn’t be seen as an investment is that like all cryptocurrencies, they’re enormously volatile and unpredictable. Their values can go up and down remarkably quickly, much more than real investments and conventional currencies. Bitcoin advocates will often tell you that Bitcoin’s value increased enormously in 2017 and that’s true but what they often fail to explain is that its value then dropped by two thirds. Anyone who “invested” in December last year would have since lost two thirds of their money today.

Consumers should also know that unlike conventional currencies, there are no protections, no safeguards, no regulators overseeing Bitcoin. There’s nobody to turn to if something goes wrong. Nobody at all.

You asked about Bitcoin mining and that’s a complicated issue. Every time someone buys, sells or transfers using Bitcoin, that transaction has to be verified by computers around the world that hold the “blockchain”, the "distributed ledger" of all transactions. That’s basically what Bitcoin mining is and the people running those computers can earn Bitcoins themselves as a result. However, the computing power needed to do this is enormous and huge “server farms” are required to do it. It’s something way beyond you or me.

Perhaps the greatest danger is that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are surrounded by a huge range of scams, pyramid schemes and Ponzi schemes.


Ask anyone who encourages you to join a scheme, how does it benefit them? You’ll soon see that it’s all about recruitment and nothing to do with Bitcoin.

Should I inform them?

I want to ask what happens when all along I have been paying an instalment at furnisher shop, and all of a sudden my contract is terminated and I struggle to pay. It was an instalment of about 14k, and during the period I was working I really pushed to reach half of the sum. Am now owing 7k, and unfortunately our contracts ended.

Should I go to the furnisher shop with letters showing them am still unemployed so that they stop putting more interest in my debt? Am willing to settle the remaining balance, but am still called by finance people reminding me to come pay though am not working. What should I do?

Unfortunately I don’t think I can give you any good news. Very often hire purchase agreements include an insurance policy that covers you for unexpected retrenchment but that’s not what happened to you. From what you say, it seems like you came to the end of your contract and I guess that was something you knew was going to happen? Even if you didn’t know in advance, you presumably knew that your contract could have been terminated like this? Personally, I think that the store should have checked this before they accepted your business. They should have asked you to prove your employment was permanent and not fixed-term or liable to be terminated like this. Before you enter into any financial arrangement you need to be 100% certain that you’ll be able to pay for it all. You need to know that you’ll have income to support the payments you’ll need to make.

What you absolutely must do is exactly what you suggested. Go to the store and explain to them that you are now unemployed and that you’re going to have some difficulties making the remaining instalments. See if you can agree a repayment plan that you can stick to. With luck they’ll be helpful.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is Nexus Global for real?

I was invited to a presentation by them and they say we can P13,000 in a week. Is this true?

I think you know the answer to this question already, don’t you? I suspect that many readers of The Voice can predict my answer already.

Yes, this is certainly a scam. Several people have asked me about Nexus Global and it didn’t take much investigation to discover the truth. They say in their advertisements on Facebook that if you attend their presentations you can “learn how to turn P800 into P13000”. They also suggest that their scheme is based on “Bitcoin mining" but there’s no evidence that this is remotely true. In fact, when I asked the people actively recruiting people into the scheme how money was made they offered a very different explanation. One stated that the money can easily be made "but you need to recruit people" in order to do so. Another confirmed that the best way to make money was simply to recruit other people.

Nexus Global is nothing more than a pyramid scheme as these comments demonstrate but there are other clues that should raise our suspicions. The web site for the company was only registered in February of 2018 and the founder of the scheme, one Christian Michel Scheibener, has a past connection to another very suspicious scheme called Omnia Tech. Yes, when it comes to shady pyramid schemes you CAN judge someone by their past.

I urge everyone to avoid Nexus Global because, as I’ve said many times before, all pyramid schemes eventually collapse and when they do, the only people left with any money are the crooks that started them. And that money came from the victims who gave it to them.

How can I persuade my friend?

I was recently contacted by a lady named Katarina based in Manila. She works with Alliance In Motion Global, a colleague of mine referred me to her as a possible “investor”. So from reading the messages she sent me I just felt it was a pyramid scheme. I’ve decided I’m not going to put my money on this scam obviously, but how do I tell my friend that he has “invested” in a pyramid scheme? Because he has already paid them and is awaiting the products to arrive in Gabz.

This is always a very hard question to answer. When we see a friend or relative investing their time, effort and money in a pyramid scheme or even one of their slightly less awful cousins, a multi-level marketing scheme, our first impulse is to warn them but that’s not always easy. These pyramid schemes are like religious cults, the victims invest so much emotional energy in them it’s very hard to persuade them that they’re being abused.

AIM Global is most certainly a pyramid scheme and they don’t seem shy about talking about it. They talk non-stop about the need to recruit multiple levels of people beneath you and then about how much money you can make when you start recruiting other people. However, the really dangerous aspect of AIM Global is the product range they offer. They claim that their “C247” product can help with 100 different serious medical conditions including asthma, beri-beri, cirrhosis, bone fracture, deafness, endometriosis, epilepsy, hypertension, hepatitis, “toxins in the body”, stroke, migraine and even cancer and “immunodeficiency”. Not only are they extremely dangerous claims to make, it’s also illegal in Botswana to make them.


But that’s not the only illegal thing they do. I had a WhatsApp conversation with one of their recruiters and he proudly claimed that this C147 product had been approved by both our Ministry of Health and the Botswana Bureau of Standards. Both of those claims are lies and are illegal.

In my experience all you can do to support your friend is not to give up. Maybe ask him this. What one thing would persuade you that AIM Global is a scam? Then let me know what he says and we’ll do our best to give him the information he needs to realise the truth. Meanwhile, perhaps you can help spread the word about this dangerous, illegal scam.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 2nd July 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. How can I help my friend?
“I was recently contacted by a lady named Katarina based in Manila. She works with Alliance In Motion Global, a colleague of mine referred me to her as a possible 'investor'. From reading the messages she sent me I just felt it was a pyramid scheme. I’ve decided I’m not going to put my money on this scam obviously, but how do I tell my friend that he has “invested” in a pyramid scheme? Because he has already paid them and is awaiting the products to arrive in Gabz.”
Alliance In Motion Global is a pyramid scheme. Their own promotional material makes that abundantly clear.


Exponential recruitment and promises of millions in income? That's a pyramid scheme. However, they're smart enough to suggest that the business is actually about a range of products, the most striking of which is their "C247" product that they claim can be used to treat 100 different medical conditions, including asthma, beri-beri, cirrhosis, bone fracture, deafness, endometriosis, epilepsy, hypertension, hepatitis, “toxins in the body”, stroke, migraine and even cancer and “immunodeficiency”.


Any product that could do just a fraction of this would have led to someone being awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and probably the prize for Peace as well.

But that's not all. Their distributors make some surprising claims.

Lies. Simple as that. Illegal lies. As simple as that as well.

The question was how can she help her friend who seems to have fallen victim to the scheme. My experience is simple. If you want to persuade someone of something, attack never works. Instead ask the friend this. "What single thing would persuade you that you are mistaken?" When they answer, you know where to begin.

2. Best before vs Expiry dates. What do they mean?

The Labelling Of Pre-packaged Foods Regulations say that:
“The expiry date shall be treated as the date after which food shall not be regarded as marketable or fit for human consumption”
and that the "best before date" is:
"the date which signifies the end of the period under any stated storage conditions during which the product will remain fully marketable and will retain any specific qualities for which tacit or express claims have been made"
It goes on to say that:
“No person shall import, distribute, sell or offer for sale, any food … whose expiry date has lapsed, whose expiry date, best before date, or sell by date has been obliterated or forged, whose label has been altered, obliterated or removed”
It doesn't mention Best Before dates in the same way. The facts are these. "Expiry" dates matter but "Best Before" dates are just advisory.

Meanwhile millions of years of evolution have left us with senses that should be trusted. Trust your sense of smell when it comes to food. Trust your experience. Be very careful with meat, dairy products and seafood. Be very careful how you store cooked food. Be very careful how you transport the food you've bought before it gets home. Remember that perhaps the commonest source of food poisoning isn't the producer of the food, the trucks that transported it or the store that sold it, it's you and me. Most often we poison ourselves. So be careful!

3. Pyramid schemes vs MLMs

What’s the difference between a pyramid scheme and a Multi-Level Marketing scheme?

It's all about products.

Section 9 of our new Consumer Protection Act defines a pyramid scheme as a scheme:
“where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”
The key word is "primarily". Even if the scheme claims to have products, and even if it does have products, if most of the promised income comes from recruitment then it's a pyramid scheme.

The Act goes on to say that:
“A person shall not directly or indirectly promote, or knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in… (a) A pyramid scheme, (b) A multiplication scheme, (c) A chain letter scheme”
and that:
“A person who participates in an arrangement, agreement, practice or scheme under subsection 2 commits an offence and shall be liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding P100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.”
Recently, recruiters for AIM Global, Nexus Global and Jamalife have all told me that it's about recruitment. They've said things like:
“We make money by recruiting other people to join Jamalife with P100 joining fee. We don’t buy and sell. We earn by recruiting.”
They're all pyramid schemes and it's them telling us this.

However, none of this means that Multi-Level Marketing schemes are much better. I have my suspicions about whether they are "primarily" about recruitment or the sale fo products but let's assume they're about products.

The news is almost as bad. Hardly anyone makes any money from joining them. Amway's income statements are sad. Herbalife's are the same.

4. Be careful what you post!

A statement from our friends at the Botswana Police Service.

“EXCHANGE OR DISTRIBUTION OF OBSCENE MATERIALS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

The Botswana Police Service (BPS) is concerned about the growing trend in which some individuals or groups publish, exchange, distribute pornographic or obscene materials on social media.

Of great concern is the exchange or distribution of realistic images of scenes of crime, fatal road accidents and other immoral activities.

The BPS has also identified some culprits that are involved in these activities. Amazingly, the suspects that were arrested claimed that they did not know that the exchange or distribution of obscene material through the internet constitutes an offence punishable by law.
The BPS would therefore like to warn the public that it is a serious offence under the Cybercrime and Computer Related Act.

The public is therefore urged to desist from such practices and to report anyone they suspect to be engaged in such immoral acts. Such irresponsible behaviour has more often caused unbearable trauma to the parents and relatives of the victims or the victims themselves.
We further urge, particularly those who are obsessed with publishing and distributing such images on social media that they should exercise humility, courtesy and respect for others regardless of their status in life.

We have also observed that such acts has the potential of tarnishing the good image of the country.”
Before anyone panics, this isn't a curtailment of freedom of expression, it's just a plea, that we fully support, for people to exercise a little restraint when posting things on Facebook and other social media. It's no different to expressing yourself in a bar, your workplace or the mall. Think for a moment before you shout something out load. Just think.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 25th June 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Tender scams

We've heard from several people who received invitations to supply goods apparently from various parts of the Government of Botswana or from parastatals such as BPC, Botswana Railways and PPADB. The most recent one seemed to come from MMEWR.

The documents attached are very professional looking with the right sort of language, often naming real people in the organisations and with authentic-looking signatures.

The documents then give a link to a supplier of the necessary goods in South Africa. This has a respectable-looking web site and what appear to be genuine contact details. When the victim contacts this apparent supplier they are asked to send a deposit to secure the relevant goods. That's what this is all about. It's actually an advance fee scam. The supplier is fake, the address either unknown or for someone else, the web site often created just a few days beforehand and the only number that works is a cellphone number.

So we've heard from victims before they sent the "deposit" but we heard of one victim who had sent P200,000 and was now desperately trying to get his bank to reverse the transaction. I suspect he's too late.

There are clues if you look carefully. This isn't actually how government or parastatals procure things. They don't approach total strangers giving them business. The web sites are too new. The only working numbers are cellphone numbers. In at least one case the email domain that sent the documents wasn't correct.

If you receive one fo these emails the first thing you should do is contact the Ministry or parastatal's procurement department (using the landline number in the phonebook, not the one given in the documents emailed to you) and ask them if it's true. But it won't be.

2. Nexus Global – another pyramid scheme (again)

Ads are appearing on Facebook for Nexus Global suggesting that if you attend their presentations at hotel in Mogoditshane every week you'll "Learn how to turn P800 into P13,000 every Monday".

They suggest that this is something to do with "Botswana Bitcoin Mining" but when I contacted some of the people shown in the advertisement the story was a little different.

I asked whether it's "really possible to make P13,000 from just P800 every week? How does it work?"

"Thato" responded by saying "Yes it's possible but you need to recruit people".


"Nelson" told me that "There is too much money to be made in recruiting people! We have the Binary system whereby you recruit and start earning 10% commission to your wallet immediately.”


Section 9 of our new Consumer Protection Act, 2018 defines a pyramid scheme as a scheme "where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants".

Nexus Global are a self-defined pyramid scheme.

3. Can this be true?

In comes a message:
"For the past two weeks I’ve been getting calls from a lady claiming to be in UK. She says I must deposit P3,500 pula and earn 200% through Forex. Is it a scam Richard Harriman? Their number isn't answered."
Section 9 of the the new Consumer Protection Act, 2018 says that:
"A person shall not directly or indirectly promote, or knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in… a multiplication scheme."
A multiplication scheme is defined as:
“an arrangement, agreement, practice or scheme where a person offers, promises or guarantees to a participant an effective annual interest rate that is above the market rate”
The calls came from a company calling itself Finmarket and gave a phone number starting with +44 which suggests it's in the UK. However, the company is actually based in Cyprus where the numbers start with +357.

Finmarket's web site warns people that:
"Trading carries risk and could result in the loss of your entire capital. You should not risk more than you are prepared to lose."
Given the high pressure sales approach, the fact that forex trading is a VERY high risk pastime, I'd suggest you give Finmarket a miss.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they ignore the warranty?

On 25 May 2018 I returned my hair clippers with the receipt to the store at Airport Junction where I bought them but they refused to replace my clippers stating the purchase date of 17 May 2016 meant it was out of warranty. I informed the staff that when I purchased the clippers I asked about the 5 year warranty on this item and had been told that they would honor this warranty.

Imagine my distress when they refused to replace my clippers. Please assist as I was their loyal customer of many years.

This is actually very simple. If these clippers came with a five year warranty then the store from which you bought the item must honour that warranty. It’s not complicated and guess what, the Consumer Protection Regulations are on your side.

Section 17 (1) (d) of the Regulations forbids a supplier from “causing a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction” and I think that’s what they’re trying to do here when they say they’re entitled to ignore a warranty when clearly they’re not.

The next section, 17 (1) (e), forbids them from “disclaiming or limiting the implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for use, unless a disclaimer is clearly and conspicuously disclosed”. That means that in 2016 when you bought the clippers they should have informed you that the warranty wasn’t going to be honoured. Finally, another section, 17 (1) (f), says a supplier may not enter “into a transaction in which the consumer waives or purports to waive a right, benefit or immunity provided by law, unless the waiver is clearly stated and the consumer has specifically consented to it”. I think that means they should have asked you to sign an agreement saying you understood that the 5-year warranty didn’t apply to you.

I think you should go back to the store and explain this to them. Meanwhile we’ll do the same. Let’s see if they can see reason!

Why won’t they refund me?

Hello Mr Richard. I have surrendered my funeral policy at and they tell me stories of being given a month notice adding that they won’t refund me. So where can I get help? Mind you the policy was for five years.

I suspect you’re confused about the difference between an investment scheme and an insurance policy. I also suspect the company that offered it to you probably didn’t do their best to explain it to you properly. That’s a common thing and we frequently see the consequences of people not understanding the agreements they’ve signed with insurance companies.

In an investment or savings scheme the money you pay the provider is invested somewhere and with a little luck you earn some interest on it during the lifetime of the policy. When you later cash in the policy you get back the money you invested and that interest, minus any charges and commission that the provider took.

However, in an insurance policy, such as the funeral plan you had, you don’t get the money back. That’s because you’re buying something with the monthly premiums you pay. You’re buying “cover” against an unfortunate event happening. Another way to describe it is to say that you are “transferring risk” from yourself to the insurance company. If the unfortunate event happens, the insurance company pays the bills. That’s how it works with a funeral plan, a vehicle insurance policy or household policy. If there’s a death, an accident or a break-in or fire, the insurance company pays to fix the problem.

During the five years you had your funeral plan, if one of the people covered had tragically passed away, the company would have paid out. The fact that nobody died is fortunate for them and I hope for you too?

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Consumer Alert - Nexus Global

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

23rd June 2018

Consumer Alert: Nexus Global


Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about Nexus Global, an apparent pyramid scheme currently trying to recruit victims in Botswana.

Advertisements have been published that claim that bu joining this scheme recruits cam "learn how to turn P800 into P13000 every Monday".


These advertisements suggest that the business is based on "Bitcoin mining" but when asked for more details the recruiters offer a very different explanation of how money can be made in the scheme.

One stated that the money can be made "but you need to recruit people" in order to do so.


Another confirmed that the best way to make money was simply to recruit other people.


The same person then described the business structure using the following diagram.


Nexus Global is clearly nothing more than a pyramid scheme as these comments and illustrations demonstrate. There are other clues that should raise consumer's suspicions. The web site for the company was only registered in February of 2018. The founder of the scheme, Christian Michel Scheibener, has a past connection to another very suspicious scheme, Omnia Tech.

Furthermore, the Nexus Global web site even describes their business using a similar diagram.


It's safe to say that Nexus Global is yet another scam that is doing its best to use references to cryptocurrency technologies to cover a very old-fashioned pyramid scheme.

Friday, 22 June 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice (The Tender Scam Alert)

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

18th June 2018

Consumer Alert: Government and parastatal tender scams

Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about a growing number of scams pretending to be invitations to supply goods to Government and parastatals, including Botswana Power Corporation, Botswana Railways and PPADB.

These invitations appear to be official documents and suggest that the victim’s company has been directly appointed to supply specialist goods to the inviting entity. They encourage the victims to contact a specific supplier, usually in South Africa, who they imply is the only supplier they are prepared to accept.

Once the victims contact this supplier, which is actually a fake company, they demand a deposit before the fictitious goods can be shipped.

We have heard recently from several companies who have asked us to investigate the legitimacy of the invitations they received and of the suppliers. In most cases we have been able to prevent any money being lost but we have also heard from victims who have already transferred the fake deposits. In one case the victim transferred over P200,000 to the scammers.

Even though there were clues in the invitation documents suggesting that they were false, they are nevertheless convincing enough to have already fooled a number of victims. The fake suppliers have even taken the time to create web sites to help them appear legitimate.

We urge companies to be vigilant and always to contact purchasing authorities in the Public Service and parastatals to confirm the legitimacy of any invitation to supply goods they receive before they pay any deposits. They can also contact Consumer Watchdog for free advice. We can be reached by phone on 3904582, by email at watchdog@bes.bw or via our Facebook group, Consumer Watchdog Botswana.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Press Release - Government and parastatal tender scams

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

18th June 2018

Consumer Alert: Government and parastatal tender scams

Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about a growing number of scams pretending to be invitations to supply goods to Government and parastatals, including Botswana Power Corporation, Botswana Railways and PPADB.

These invitations appear to be official documents and suggest that the victim’s company has been directly appointed to supply specialist goods to the inviting entity. They encourage the victims to contact a specific supplier, usually in South Africa, who they imply is the only supplier they are prepared to accept.

Once the victims contact this supplier, which is actually a fake company, they demand a deposit before the fictitious goods can be shipped.

We have heard recently from several companies who have asked us to investigate the legitimacy of the invitations they received and of the suppliers. In most cases we have been able to prevent any money being lost but we have also heard from victims who have already transferred the fake deposits. In one case the victim transferred over P200,000 to the scammers.

Even though there were clues in the invitation documents suggesting that they were false, they are nevertheless convincing enough to have already fooled a number of victims. The fake suppliers have even taken the time to create web sites to help them appear legitimate.

We urge companies to be vigilant and always to contact purchasing authorities in the Public Service and parastatals to confirm the legitimacy of any invitation to supply goods they receive before they pay any deposits. They can also contact Consumer Watchdog for free advice. We can be reached by phone on 3904582, by email at watchdog@bes.bw or via our Facebook group, Consumer Watchdog Botswana.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 11th June 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Winter Wonderland – latest update

The Winter Wonderland event was originally scheduled for just before Christmas 2017 but it was postponed until Easter 2018. However, the event was then cancelled. In March 2018 the Grand Palm Hotel, where the event had been meant to occur issued a Media Statement confirming that:
“the Winter Wonderland event has been cancelled by the promoter of the event. Tickets for this event were sold by its promoter, who is an independent third party, and in no way affiliated to or employed by the Grand Palm Hotel.” 
They suggested that customers should seek refunds from the promoter and concluded by saying that:
“The Grand Palm was not responsible for any ticket sales and therefore, regretfully, cannot make any refunds.”
Later, the promoters of the event stated that:
“the event has unfortunately been postponed yet again pending confirmation upon erection of the ice plant and assorted equipment [...] We've been inundated with operational challenges due to supplier and technical partner issues [...] In an attempt to salvage the event and not abandon the initiative (which really would change the entertainment tourism sector nationally) we've decided to resolve issues with suppliers and completely localize the venture, as opposed to being a promoter for an Expatriate company. [...] We have a database of all customers, those whose refunds are pending and those still awaiting confirmation of deployment.”
I think the promoters are missing the point. People don't want the event "salvaged". they just want their money back and they've waited a very long time already to get it. I think that the time to talking is gone. The time is now for action. It's time for these abused consumers to seek the support of the Consumer Protection Unit and the Small Claims Court.

2. How long is the warranty?
“On 25 May 2018 I returned my hair clippers with the receipt to the store at Airport Junction where I bought them but they refused to replace my clippers stating the purchase date of 17 May 2016 meant it was out of warranty. I informed the staff that when I purchased the clippers I asked about the 5 year warranty on this item and had been told that they would honor this warranty.”
The 5-year warranty is actually hard to miss. It's there on the box.

The Consumer Protection Regulations are quite clear about this situation. Section 17.1.d forbids a supplier from “causing a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction”. Section 17.1.e forbids “disclaiming or limiting the implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for use, unless a disclaimer is clearly and conspicuously disclosed”. Finally Section 17.1.f forbids entering “into a transaction in which the consumer waives or purports to waive a right, benefit or immunity provided by law, unless the waiver is clearly stated and the consumer has specifically consented to it”

It's not complicated. A 5-year warranty is... a warranty that lasts 5 years.

3. Insurance (again)
“Hello Mr Richard. I have surrendered my funeral policy and they tell me stories of being given a month notice adding that they won’t refund me. So where can I get help? Mind you the policy was for five years.”
Insurance is about "transferring risk". It doesn't matter whether it's a funeral plan, a vehicle insurance policy, life cover or a household scheme, in each case you transfer the financial risk of an unfortunate  from yourself to the insurance company in return for a monthly payment from you to them. If the unfortunate event happens (a death, a car crash or a burglary) the insurance company pays the bills, not you.

The question is this. If the unfortunate event doesn't happen, are you lucky or unlucky? You're lucky than a bad thing didn't happen but unlucky that you didn't get a return for the premiums you paid. Would you rather the bad thing had happened?

4. Plastic bags - BANNED

The “Waste Management (Plastic Carrier Bags and Plastic Flat Bags Prohibition) Regulations 2018” have been passed and this means that with effect from 1st November this year, plastic carrier bags will be banned. We have been warned!

5. The Lioness of Africa
“Last month I got a call from SA from a man called Clinton Vurden saying I have won a Woman of Africa Award. I accepted the award winning because I once entered a competition through WIBA. As times goes on they wanted me to pay for advertising my company. I don't have that kind of money.. Now they are on my back with payment and even threatened to sue me. How can I settle this issue and I want to know if their business is a scam or what.”
The award being offered is apparently called the “Lioness of Africa - The Fire of Botswana 2018” and comes from the Africa Business Investment Group.  All it takes to receive this "award" is a payment of R35,980. However, I can find no evidence that the award has any real validity. They say that they're backed by “Brodder Family Trust” but there's no trace of such a thing. None.

Is this just another award scam?

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 4th June 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. The crooked husband

A woman's husband asked her to co-sign a loan application form but she refused because they were already in debt and he hadn't discussed it with her. She told us that
"He is so desperate that I think he might even forge my signature. I went to the bank to ask them if its possible to block him from processing this loan since I don’t agree and I suspect that he might even forge my signature. The loan sales personnel said there is nothing they can do to help me and if he forges my signature the loan will be successful. Please help me, what can I do to block this loan. Is it ethical for the bank to say they will process the loan even if the signature is forged?”
Ethical? NO WAY! If she's right and he forges her signature he could go to prison for up to seven years. Even if she trusts him so little that she thinks he might do such a thing, she's got problems.

I suggested to this lady that she needs to find a better husband.

I also suggested that she contacts the branch manager at the bank and warns them about the risk they're all facing from his potential conduct.

2. Is this real?

In comes a message:
“I have a problem and I don’t know if you can help me. My friend sent me a parcel from the UK and it is now in South Africa. From January until now they have been asking for money to clear the parcel by sending them money and I have sent them P3,000 but until now its not here and they are still asking for more money. The parcel is at the South Africa airport now. What must I do as its been a long time? Please help me and another thing is that they sent me to the Bank of South Africa as my money is there and said they want me to send them another R10,000 to my account. Is this right what the bank is doing?”
Nothing is real here. There is no friend, there is no parcel, there is no authority in South Africa demanding money, there is no "South Africa airport", there is no "Bank of South Africa". The only thing that's real is the money that this victim has sent to the scammers. It's an advance fee scam and unfortunately, scammers don't offer refunds.

3. Winter Wonderland - an update

MANY people have asked us about this event that was scheduled for late last year at the Grand Palm Resort but was postponed until Easter this year and then cancelled completely.

One message said:
“I bought family ticket for this event at Grandpalm last year, it was cancelled and announced to be this year Easter. Even now I have never heard from them. I called a number of friends who also bought the tickets, they are just as worried as me. I have called Grand Palm, they seem not to take responsibility.”
In March 2018 the Grand Palm issued a Media Statement that:
“confirms that the Winter Wonderland event has been cancelled by the promoter of the event. Tickets for this event were sold by its promoter, who is an independent third party, and in no way affiliated to or employed by the Grand Palm Hotel.”
They advised affected consumer to seek refunds from the promoters themselves. They concluded by saying that:
“The Grand Palm was not responsible for any ticket sales and therefore, regretfully, cannot make any refunds.”
I contacted the promoter who told me:
“Yes the event has unfortunately been postponed yet again pending confirmation upon erection of the ice plant and assorted equiptment (we cannot communicate a date to customers yet again, prior to actual erection).

We've been innundated with operational challenges due to supplier/ technical partner issues. In an attempt to salvage the event and not abandon the initiative (which really would change the entertainment tourism sector nationally) we've decided to resolve issues with suppliers and completely localize the venture, as opposed to being a promoter for an Expatriate company. This has tied us up in quite a bit of red tape we're trying to expeidately resolve. Kindly be advised, these set backs are in no way shape or form a result of any local partners particularly The Grand Palm Hotel & Resort as they were venue / food - beverage and accomodation sponsors.

We have a data base of all customers, those whose refunds are pending and those still awaiting confirmation of deployment.

A full refunds recon has already been advised to technical partner as well as attendance list. We're awaiting transfer of bulk refunds capital, the deployment/ erection of said event possibly just before winter's end this year; and finally the launch of the international operation spear headed from Botswana.”
I think the promoter misunderstands a few things. People don't want the event "salvaged", they're not concerned whether the organisers are local or expatriate, and they have no interest in "confirmation of deployment". They just want their money back. The question is when they'll get it. It needs to be soon.

The other question is whether the Grand Palm has any responsibility for the situation. I suspect not. Can they be held accountable if someone rents a hotel room and sells drugs from it? Or if a financial advisor hires a netting room and then steals people's money? I think not.

4. Travelling to London?

In April 2018 we heard from a passenger who was refused entry to UK because her boyfriend who lived in the UK couldn't prove that he had have enough money to sustain her during her stay. Ethiopian Airlines told us that they had been charged a detention fee of P7,000 by the UK Immigration authorities and wanted to pass that on to the customer.

We heard this week from a travel agent who forwarded us an email sent out by Ethiopian Airlines. It said:
"Kindly note that some passengers (Botswana citizens) visiting to LHR, still come to the airport without the minimum basic required documents of the LHR immigrations, of which most passengers ‘claim’ they were not advised of such when they purchased the tickets. Be advised that, there is a detention fee of GBP10.40/per hour if the immigration authorities decide to return the passenger, which the passenger must settle.

The required documents being:
* The passport copy of the person they are visiting
* The bank statement/pay slip of the person they are visiting
* An invitation letter, stating the purpose of the visit, the addresses of who they are visiting, also the duration of their stay.

NB: Please also advise customers that they should have enough cash in hand (minimum GBP300) for any cases that might arise in the airport including REFUSAL OF ENTRY BY UK IMMIGRATION. Kindly advise our esteemed passengers in order to avoid inconveniencies and for our smooth operation."
5. Looking for clues

We saw an advertisement on Facebook for the "Africa Service Excellence Awards" to be held at the Cresta President Hotel in Gaborone on 29th June. The ad said:
"Enter Into This Year's Awards And Get A Chance Of Getting A Top Award In Customer Service Awards Entries Now Open"
Does that mean that you must spend P800 to attend and then you get "a chance" of winning an award? You're paying for the possibility of an award?

This event is being organised by the "Chartered Institute for Customer Management" which their web site claims is
"a renowned customer service and call centre organisation with its head offices in the UK and regional head offices for Africa in South Africa."
I was curious so I took a look at the addresses they give for these offices in the UK and South Africa.

This is their UK office, an address that also hosts several other companies.


This is their South African office.


It's possible this is perfectly legitimate. Just be skeptical.

Friday, 8 June 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why won’t the bank take me seriously?

My husband gave me a loan application consent form to sign but I did not agree to sign because we didn’t discuss it before and we have other debts that we are still paying off so I didn’t agree with taking a loan now. He was so desperate that I think he might even forge my signature.

I went to the bank to ask them if its possible to block him from processing this loan since I don’t agree and I suspect that he might even forge my signature. The loan sales personnel said there is nothing they can do to help me and if he forges my signature the loan will be successful. Please help me, what can I do to block this loan. Is it ethical for the bank to say they will process the loan even if the signature is forged?

Ethical? I think the only ethical element to this story is your behaviour. You’ve shown that you are prudent and don’t want to get into greater debt. You’ve shown that you’re prepared to disagree with your husband and stand up for yourself. You’ve shown that you’re prepared to take action to protect your interests and even those of the bank by contacting them. You have my respect.

I probably shouldn’t say too much about your husband, other than observe that he seems to need some personal financial education. You also need some protection against his potential recklessness. Sooner rather than later.

Finally, there is very obviously an ethics shortfall at the bank. Given that you’ve warned them that you suspect your husband might be about to commit a serious fraud, something for which he could easily go to prison for a long time and which might lead them to a serious financial embarrassment, I think its shameful that they aren’t taking your warning more seriously. At the very least I hope they’ve made a note on your file and that of your husband that he poses a risk to them.

I suggest that you write the bank a confidential letter explaining your concerns and deliver it personally to the manager of your branch. Make sure they take your warning seriously.

Is this real?

I have a problem and I don’t know if you can help me. My friend sent me a parcel from the UK and it is now in South Africa. From January until now they have been asking for money to clear the parcel by sending them money and I have sent them P3,000 but now until now there not here and there still asking for more money. The parcel is at the South Africa airport now. What must I do as its been a long time?

Please help me and another thing is that they sent me to the Bank of South Africa as my money is there and said they want me to send them another R10,000 to my account. Is this right what the bank is doing?

Readers of The Voice will know exactly what I’m going to tell you because they’ve seen this story before, many times.

I have bad news for you.

Unfortunately, nothing you have been told is true. There is no parcel waiting for you in South Africa. There is no bank holding the money you’ve already sent and which is now demanding more. Worst of all, there is no friend in the UK. This is all a scam.

Specifically this is an “advance fee scam”. This always involves a story about something valuable, either an inheritance, a lottery win, sometimes a job offer or very often a shipment like this one. However, just before the victim expects to receive this thing, the scammers demand a fee in advance. Sometimes it’s a duty or tax, other times an account opening or attorney’s fee. In cases like yours it’s a shipping cost. Whatever it might be, it’s money that will never be seen again.

I’m really sorry that you came to us after you’d sent them so much money but I hope you understand not to send them anything else. Remember that scammers don’t offer refunds.

Friday, 1 June 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

My kids were chased out of school last term for late payment of school fees. One in January and the other in February/March. Now the issue is that they are asking me to pay the balance for last term yet the kids did not attend the classes. Is it fair to pay for the service that you never received? And why chase them out of school when at the end of the day you are still going to ask for the balance? Please help with advice.


I suspect that this depends entirely on what it says in the agreement, the contract you signed with the school when you first enrolled the children. Unlike government schools, privately owned schools rely almost entirely on the school fees that parents pay for their children to attend. The salaries of the teachers and other staff, the power, water and internet access, the books, tables and chairs are all paid from that income. That’s why private schools often include in their contract a termination clause that says you must give at least one term’s notice if you decide to remove your child. That’s often the time it takes to find a child to replace yours. That’s how they guarantee they continue to have a steady stream of income.

Your case is slightly different. As you say, it wasn’t your choice to remove your child from the school, they forced your children out because you were late paying. That’s why it’s very important that you take a careful look at the contract. I’m not an attorney but if the termination clause only refers to a term’s notice being payable if you decide to withdraw your child then there might be some “wiggle room”. Otherwise you might be out of luck.

It might also be worth asking the school whether they actually suffered financially as a result of them ejecting your children. If they were able to find other children to take their places with no gap then you might have a moral argument, if not a legal one.

Why won’t they refund me?

Hello Richard. Kindly assist me. I bought these two lipsticks at a pharmacy by Block 7 only to find out later that they are on special at another shop for a price less than I paid. I purchased them today in the morning. I immediately went back to the shop with receipts for a refund and they are refusing to assist even though I have the receipts and the goods are still sealed and still in their packaging. They say its an over counter purchase they don't return and its not even written in their receipts.

Let’s start with the basics. Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that goods must be “or merchantable quality” which means “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased”. If a store sells goods that aren’t of merchantable quality then they obviously must fix the problem by offering one of the three Rs: a refund, a repair or a replacement.

However, in this case, were the lipsticks of merchantable quality? From what you say, there’s no evidence that they weren’t. So you have no right to return them for this reason.

Were the lipsticks second-hand, used or had they deteriorated? Section 13 (1) (c) forbid the store from selling such things as new but that didn’t happen here, did it?

Other sections of the Regulations forbid a store from deceiving you or from exploiting your ignorance about the product or the conditions of sale but again, I don’t think they’ve done this. From what you say, they didn’t deceive you at any point when they sold you the lipsticks so you can’t use that argument either.

Here’s another thing. Something that the Consumer Protection Regulations don’t mention, a right you don’t currently have. You don’t have the right to change your mind and that appears to be what you’re asking for. I know that the lipsticks are still in their packaging and that you haven’t used them but the store didn’t actually do anything wrong, did they? Did they break any of the rules that would permit you to return them? I don’t believe so.

There are of course some stores that DO allow you to return unused items but that’s not a consumer right, it’s just good customer care. That’s why prices at those stores are often a little higher than at stores where they aren’t as generous. I’m sorry but on this occasion I think you’re out of luck.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my bed?

We bought a bed at last year around June. In January the bed was not comfortable so we reported it and they said their vehicle was not available. We kept on reporting but no one showed up. In March I went to see the manager and she said they will sand someone to come get it but that didn’t happen. The first week of May I went there and found another manager and I explained my issue to him. He checked on their records and saw that for real we long reported the issue. He then said the bed we chose was for kids not adults. I was not there when my wife chose it and I don’t know if the sales who was helping her explained that to her. He then promised that he will send someone before end of week and yes they came to fetch it.

Now they are saying the bad is beyond repair and we should fix it with our own money even though we still have a warranty and we are still paying for it and its them who delayed to assist us before their bed got damaged more. We are sleeping on the ground as we speak its a week now. Now they are planning to give us second hand bad while still paying. Can you help us on how to resolve this issue?


This is a complicated one. Firstly, I’m glad you kept paying your instalments because that’s a common mistake that people make. They think that because they no longer have the goods they can stop paying but that’s a huge mistake. When you stop paying you immediately become the person in the wrong and from that moment the store isn’t obliged to do anything to help you.

In your case, even though you’re still paying the instalments, it’s still complicated. They’re saying that you bought a bed suitable for a child, not an adult, but can the store prove that you knew that? Can you prove that you didn’t?

I suggest you accept the second-hand bed as a temporary solution but make sure you don’t sign anything saying that this concludes the issue. Make it clear to them that you are only accepting it as a short-term solution. Meanwhile we’ll contact the store and see if they can’t be a little bit more helpful!

Must I pay the fee?

I have a question. My husband bought a car from a dealer in Mogoditshane. I didn't have enough cash so we used a credit card to pay. The car dealer did not have a swiping machine therefore he asked another shop to do the transaction. Now we are told we have to pay bank charges amounting to P1,950. The car was P58,000. Is this fair?

If I go to a supermarket and purchase goods with a credit card, they swipe what appears on the price tag. Any interest the bank will take care of. In this case why should I be charged bank charges separately?

Unfortunately I think you must pay the charge. When a company swipes a debit card or credit card they’re charged a fee by the bank. When we go shopping at a supermarket or a filling station, that fee is usually quite small and is included in the price of the purchase. Because it’s so small, customers don’t notice that they’re paying it. However, if you buy something as expensive as a car, the fee becomes enormous, like in this case and no company wants to pay a fee as high as this one.

To make matters worse in this case, the company who swiped your card were just doing you and the dealer a favour and they certainly don’t want (and nor should they) to be forced to pay P1,950 for doing you that favour.

Credit cards can be remarkably useful tools for certain types of transactions. You should certainly always use a Visa card if you’re booking a flight because Visa offers free travel insurance but you should always do your very best to pay off the balance you owe as quickly as possible because the interest rates are extremely high. Buying a car for P58,000 using a credit card when you don’t have the cash is going to be an extremely expensive way to do it. You’ll pay a lot more than the P1,950 transaction fee in interest payments. I suggest you find a way to pay off the card as soon as it’s possible to do so.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 14th May 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Events – can we ever do them right?

Exhibit A. Hamptons Festival

The original event was postponed, and tickets were offered to the rescheduled event. However, some people either couldn’t make the rescheduled date or just chose not to.

But for some of those people, refunds were very slow to arrive.

Exhibit B. Gaborone Motor Show.

Following the sale of many tickets, some of which included entry to a raffle, the Motor Show organisers posted the following message:
“NOTICE: Our raffle has been cancelled! All persons who bought our P100 Raffle Tickets should claim their refund at our entrance points at the 2018 Gaborone Motor Show… We would like to sincerely apologize to all affected customers for this cancellation we were unable to get registration in time!”
However, several people were disappointed. One commented:
“The prize car for the raffle was not a brand new vehicle; the raffle itself was cancelled; and some issues arose with the young ladies tasked with working at the event. As per the post, I tried to claim my full refund at the entrance of the event and they told me the rules had changed and that they no longer give full refunds. Even after showing them this very post, they refused to give a full refund and stated that those will only be possible after an audit was carried out.”
The law is simple. All competitions, including raffles, must be approved by the Gambling Authority and that takes a while, it's not something that can be done quickly. The Motor Show organisers had plenty of time.

The lesson is to read the small print on tickets. Always ask about cancellation terms before you buy the ticket.

2. Jamalife – is it legit?

Jamalife describe themselves as:
“an online cum offline network marketing organization and was born out of the need to build up people financially all across the globe to the point of experiencing high quality life in all areas of living”. 
That's meaningless gibberish. Describing their products they say they have offer “Human Capital Development”, “Food Security”, “Online mail”, “Flight and hotel booking”, “Assets and Property acquisition” and “Financial empowerment”.

More meaningless gibberish.

What Jamalife really offers is multiple layers of recruitment. They call them Builder, Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, Crown Diamond, Ambassador and finally Crown Ambassador. Each of these layers include at least another two layers. Jamalife claim that once you reach the top of Crown Ambassador level, they promise that you can get R3,900,000 and a Range Rover worth R2,210,000.

But here's a question. To get to that level, how many people would you need in the pyramid beneath you?
16,777,214.

The difference between a Multi-Level Marketing scheme and a pyramid scheme is simple. A pyramid scheme is focussed primarily on the recruitment of people rather than the sale of products. Jamalife say this:
"any rewards or earnings that are offered from Jamalife Helpers Global through the Business Plan is the result of members referring or signing up other willing members."
Their own words...

3. Where’s my policy?

A customer started an education policy in 2015, paying P300/month. This was meant to mature this year but:
“I was told I have closed the account in 2015 and it stopped deducting. Now they say I have to pay all the instalments in order for me to resuscitate the policy yet they don’t have any proof that I instructed them to stop the policy. They closed it because they say i wrote a letter instructing them to close it but they can't provide the stated letter.”
The important thing is that it is a customer’s job to monitor the payments, not their employer or their bank. It's the Custoemr's job to check bank statements and payslips to check they are making the payments they must.

In this case, the solutions is to pay the missing instalments. She still has the money after all.

4. World Ventures (yet again)

“Is it legit?” The Norwegian authorities say not. They found that 95% of all money earned is from recruiting other people. It's another pyramid scheme.

World Ventures base their pyramid on supposed travel discounts but discounts aren’t products. And anyway, there's no need to pay to join a discount when hotels give them away for free. You can get discounted hotel stays in South Africa but visiting booking.com, bid2stay.co.za where they give away discounts for free. Or consider something like Airbnb.

Regarding World Ventures, the latest income figures they published for the USA showed that two thirds (actually 68.7%) of all the income went to the 3.7% at the top. The median annual income was a mere $33 (around P330). And that was income, not profit.

5. How to complain (in 2018)

A customer had a problem with a takeaway.
“I was contacted by one of their managers for the poor service I had received. When I got their I ordered the same food and asked to see the manager. The lady took her time and I went to buy a drink, I came back she still took her time and when she came she did apologies for the mistake they did but she was not interested in helping me and started interrogating asking silly questions about why I had to run to social media and wat not. I received no help concerning the poor service I had received. These people have no respect for us as consumers. Now I think it's time I took my case to consumer affairs.”
It’s 2018. How should we complain?

However the hell we want to!

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my policy?

I been having an education policy with an insurance company for the past 3 years and they were deducting P300 directly from my salary. The policy was supposed to mature this year. So when I called enquiring about it I was told I have closed the account in 2015 and it stopped deducting. Now they say I have to pay all the instalments in order for me to resuscitate the policy yet they don’t have any proof that I instructed them to stop the policy. They closed it because they say i wrote a letter instructing them to close it but they can't provide the stated letter. Surprisingly they have all my documents except that one.

I didn't notice that the deductions stopped because they were deducting from the salary and I didn't pay attention to the salary advice. They even did not consult me to come and claim my termination benefits now they say the policy used that money up as a default penalty.


I think you probably know what I’m going to say.

When you agree to a savings scheme like this, or an insurance policy or even a bank loan, the responsibility for paying the instalments rests entirely with you, the customer. If something goes wrong and your employer’s payroll system stops deducting from your salary or the bank stops making your monthly payments it’s still your job to notice that the payments have stopped, even if the error wasn’t of your making. You are the one that signed the agreement, not your employer or your bank.

It really is incredibly important that we all check our payslips and bank statements to ensure that we’re honoring our obligations.

In your case it’s more complicated. Surely if this insurance company says that you instructed them to close the policy then they have a record of that? If they don’t, what sort of filing system do they have?

I suspect that the solution to this is simple. You WILL need to make up the payments you missed if you want the policy re-established, there’s no escaping from that. But let’s see what they say about that letter that doesn’t seem to exist.

Is Jamalife real and legit?

Yes, it’s real. Is it legit? That’s more complicated. If you think pyramid schemes are legit, then yes, it’s legit. However, if like me, you think pyramid schemes are scams run by crooks who exploit the na├»ve, then no, it’s not legit.

Jamalife describe themselves as “an online cum offline network marketing organization and was born out of the need to build up people financially all across the globe to the point of experiencing high quality life in all areas of living”. Which means exactly nothing.

On the subject of products, they talk about “Human Capital Development”, “Food Security”, “Online mail”, “Flight and hotel booking”, “Assets and Property acquisition” and “Financial empowerment”. Again, that’s just meaningless nonsense.

Like all pyramid schemes they require their victims to recruit multiple layers beneath them. With this scam they call their levels Builder, Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, Crown diamond, Ambassador and finally Crown Ambassador. Within each of these levels there are sub-levels the victims will need to progress through if they want to get to the top. Once you get to the top of “Crown Ambassador” level they say you’ll get R3,900,000 and a Range Rover worth R2,210,000. Sounds great but how many people will you need to recruit to get to this level?

I did the maths. To get to this level the network beneath you would need to consist of 16,777,214 people.

The good news is that for once Jamalife is a pyramid scheme that’s honest about its business model. They say "any rewards or earnings that are offered from Jamalife Helpers Global through the Business Plan is the result of members referring or signing up other willing members". At least they’re honest.

One more thing. At the time of writing this, their web site is unavailable and that’s very often a sign that a pyramid or Ponzi scheme is about to collapse. You’ve been warned!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

A genuine funder?

I need your assistance here Sir, of recent I came across this other company on Internet as I was searching for possible funders, I requested for an investment amount of $50,000. We have been communicating via mail till today when I receive their approval confirmation. What scares me is that their procedure was so simple and they never requested any security nor any clause that talks of in case I fail to return the money. I'll send you the agreement letter they sent me and please confirm for me if the company is legit or is just a scam.


There's no doubt about it. This is a scam.

The first clue is the simplest. This isn't how funding works. It's not how getting a loan works. Genuine lenders don't offer large amounts of money to total strangers they met on the internet. Genuine lenders don't lend money without extensive checks, interviews, form-filling and evidence that the borrower can make the necessary repayments. Anyone who's taken a genuine loan will confirm this. It's never easy.

In your case there are other clues. They say they'll lend you around $50,000 (around P500,000) but at only 3% interest? That's unbelievable. Furthermore, they say that the total interest over the five year loan period will be just $3,906? Genuine lenders can do basic arithmetic.

This is actually nothing more than an advance fee scam. There is no loan, no lender, no funder. Nothing you've been told is true. The way is this works is that the scammers seduce you with the offer of a very cheap loan but just before this fake loan is paid to you they'll demand a payment from you first. Sometimes it's a tax or duty, other times an account opening fee, maybe a penalty of some sort. Again it's all fake but that's what it's all about, that fee they make you pay in advance of getting the fake loan.

I'm glad to hear that you haven't sent them any money yet because often when people contact us with stories like yours it's too late and the money has already been sent. And everyone should know this. Scammers don't offer refunds!

Another broken second hand car

About 3 weeks ago I purchased a 2nd hand car for P48,000 from one dealership in Mogoditshane. Within 3 days it showed an engine light in the dash board and then on the 5th day showed another one.

I took the car to more than 5 car technicians and mechanics who made their computer diagnose and found different problems. The last diagnosis report found that it's the computer box which needs to be replaced. I have also fixed the car on so many things, include the engine mountings and plugs.

I have come to decision of returning the car back to the dealership in Mogoditshane. When I include all the minor services I have spent around P8,000 extra on the car. I have all the necessary receipts of some of the expenses. And please advise if a refund is due to me how I will be refunded the purchase price and for the services.

All the problems and expenses have been communicated to the dealer who has asked us to do more diagnosis on the car and insisted its fine. Eventually he asked his mechanic to look at it on 1st May and found all the problems we complained about.

The agreement was that the warranty is only one month if it has an engine problem. And my one month ends on 13th May I guess that's why he keeps pushing I drive the car even if I insist it has problem so that my one month to elapses.


I suspect you're right. The dealer is stalling you and hoping the month will expire before you take action to protect your interests. You need to write him a letter saying that the car is not "of merchantable quality" as required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations and that you require him to honour the warranty that was included in the sale of the vehicle. Make sure that letter gets to him as soon as possible and definitely before the 13th May. On the same day you should also go to the Consumer Protection Unit and lodge a complaint with them. Ask them to call him so that he knows they're on the case. With a little luck these two actions will encourage him to do the decent thing!