Saturday, 9 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can she escape World Ventures?

I’m trying to help an elder who committed herself into some two ladies who said they are travel agents offering holiday packages. I was shocked to hear her side of the story that its almost a year now without hearing from them but they are taking a monthly direct debit order from her account of P300. She was traveling the other time so she tried to call and ask them if they can handle the flights and accommodation and travel expenses but they are nowhere to be found!!

The name of the travel agent website page is World Ventures.

We are kindly asking for help if we can stop the monthly transaction with the bank with this people?


This is very sad. Your elderly friend has fallen victim to a particularly heartless pyramid scheme.

World Ventures base their pyramid on supposed travel discounts but here’s a simple fact: 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 or these days just use Airbnb where you can find some remarkably cheap places to stay anywhere in the world.

It’s also not a way to make any money, despite the promises of people desperately trying to recruit other members. The latest income figures that I’ve seen that 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.

I suggest your friend contacts her bank immediately and tells them that the deductions are not authorised and that no further payments should be made.

The battery is dead!

I bought a second hand laptop from a second hand shop in Gaborone. I mentioned to the shop owner that I don’t have electricity yet at my house so I will be charging it at work and use it at home when I knock off. He said his laptops are new from UK and batteries are ok so I dont have to worry.

He showed me the Dell laptop which was in good condition, he plugged in the battery and within a minute the laptop went off and he said he forgot to charge it, but he had demonstrated most of what I needed in a laptop. I asked the seller how long the battery last and he said 1 hour at first, and that wasn’t bad. I then asked him are u sure and he was like maybe 30 minutes. So I handed him 1500 which was charged and I even told him I’m not satisfied about the 30 minutes but hey. I charged the laptop that evening, took it home and it went on for only 2 minutes, 2 minutes! Can u imagine.

I called him the next day to explain and he denied ever saying that it lasts for 30 minutes. And I asked him, why would I take a laptop without a battery when I do not have electricity, the guy denied and said I should read at the back their terms and conditions, which I had done. It stated that incase I return their product they will charge me 25% handling fee, which i did not understand.

I feel robbed.


I agree. You deserve to feel robbed. A laptop battery that lasts for 2 minutes is worthless.

It doesn’t really matter whether a laptop (or anything else) is new or second-hand, it must be as it was described to you. As the Consumer Protection Regulations put it, it must be “as advertised or represented”. It must also be “of merchantable quality” which means “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased, as it is reasonable to expect in light of the relevant circumstances”. That last bit is important. “in light of the relevant circumstances” means that you can’t expect a second-hand laptop to have the battery life of a brand new one. But it should be usable. It must function reasonably well considering its age. It must also be “fit for any particular purpose made known by the consumer”. You explained that you needed a laptop with decent battery life because you don’t have electricity at home. He knew that from the beginning so there’s no excuse. Send me his contact details and we’ll explain this to him, in terms simple enough that even he can understand it.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is this a real doctorate?

I have been instrumental in the advancement of youth women and girls in STEM as well as equipping the upcoming generation with business and interpreanuarial skills. I have won numerous awards for my exceptional leaders and being a pioneer in my proffesion. I received an email from the London Graduate School saying I have just been offered a Honorary PhD by the Commonwealth University but they want me to pay a whopping $5,500 to come and get it in Dubai on a top leadership conference.

Can you kindly please sincerely assist with finding the credibility of this people?


As you’re an “exceptional leader” and a “pioneer” already I think you already know the answer, don’t you?

Real PhDs aren’t sold to people, they’re earned. Most doctorates are earned by lots of studying and research and certain exalted individuals are given honorary doctorates but they’re based on exceptional service or achievement. Neither group need to buy them with money.


It didn’t take long to discover that both the London Graduate School and the Commonwealth University are suspicious. To begin with both seem to share the same address at 34 South Molton Street in London, UK. Interestingly, that’s an address they seem to share with 183 other companies. Yes, it’s just a “serviced office space” where anyone can “rent” an office address for just £450. Given that they share an address I think it’s safe to assume that they’re the same organisation, don’t you?

34 South Molton St, London, W1K 5RG
The address of both establishments. You can buy some clothes while you're there.
Image c/o Google Street View
Another curious thing is that while the so-called “Commonwealth University” claims to be based at that address in London their domain is registered to an address in Nigeria. Isn’t that also a bit suspicious?

Update: The so-called "Commonwealth University" claims accreditation from the "International Association for Distance Learning" who offer a London address, "372 Old Street, London EC1V 9AU".


No surprise, this is also an accommodation address.

This seems to be just a money-making scheme. Personally I think it’s also a firm slap in the face to those people who have earned a doctorate the old-fashioned way through years of study, sleepless nights and loss of family time. It’s also an insult those who have been awarded honorary degrees following their service and achievement. The simple truth is that anyone who buys a bogus qualification is as much of a fraud as the bogus qualification they purchase.

Where’s my car?

I bought a car last year in June until today never received it. The guys are always saying before month end every time when I ask.

I paid P28,000 was still to balance them with P10,000 when the car arrive, the whole car was P38,000. We were communicating on WhatsApp. They were suggested by a friend and they have an agent here so tried to talk to him then he said he can't help because I was dealing with them directly.


This is going to be a difficult one. The most difficult problem to overcome is going to be that you don’t have anything in writing that explains when, how and where the vehicle will be delivered. WhatsApp conversations are fine but they’re not nearly as useful as a printed and signed sales agreement.

I think the best situation is to put something in writing now. No more phone calls, no more WhatsApp messages, this needs to be a letter that explains that you gave them the money in June last year, what exactly the money was for and when you expected the vehicle to be delivered. I suggest you make it clear that after eight months they’ve still failed to deliver the car you paid for they have still not provided it and you are now cancelling the deal completely and require your deposit to be returned to you “promptly” as required by Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations. The word “promptly” isn’t precisely defined but if they haven’t given you the money back after maybe 14 days I think you should complain to the Licencing Department in the local council and suggest that their trade licence should be reviewed. That might encourage them to play a little more fairly.

You can also mention that we’re now interested in the case and if they’d like some free publicity in The Voice, just not of the best type, that can be arranged. Send me their contact details!

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Consumer Alert: International Bread Winners

Consumer Alert: International Breadwinners

Consumers are warned that a pyramid scheme calling itself International Bread Winners is actively recruiting people in Botswana.

They describe themselves as “A network marketing business where by u join with P100 and recruit 2 people and they will be registered under u. this 2 people they also recruit their 2 people. Is a business of 2x2. Everyone who joins must bring 2 people. Then u elevate as more people come on board and move stages.”


When asked whether the scheme has any products that are sold, or whether it is based solely on recruiting other members, they are very clear.


Another responded:


When asked, the promoters of the scheme describe the earnings people can make as follows:
STAGE 1 (INVESTOR)
YOU EARN $1 PER DOWNLINER
YOU NEED 6 PEOPLE TO COMPLETE STAGE 1
TOTAL PAYOUT $6(P60)

STAGE 2 (BRONZE)
YOU EARN $3 PER DOWNLINER
YOU NEED 14 PEOPLE THAT HAVE COMPLETED STAGE 1 UNDER YOU TO JOIN YOU IN STAGE 2.
TOTAL PAYOUT $42 (P420)

STAGE 3 (SILVER)
YOU EARN $20 PER DOWNLINER
YOU NEED 14 PEOPLE WHO HAVE COMPLETED STAGE 2 UNDER YOU TO JOIN YOU IN STAGE 3
TOTAL PAYOUT $280(P2800)
GROCERY $50 (P500)

STAGE 4 (GOLD)
YOU EARN $110 PER DOWNLINER
YOU NEED 14 PEOPLE WHO HAVE COMPLETED STAGE 3 UNDER YOU TO JOIN YOU IN STAGE 4
TOTAL PAYOUT $1540(P15 400)
GROCERY $100(P1 000)

STAGE 5 (COORDINATOR)
YOU EARN $500 PER DOWNLINER
YOU NEED 14 PEOPLE WHO HAVE COMPLETED STAGE 4 UNDER YOU TO JOIN YOU IN STAGE 5
TOTAL PAYOUT $7 000(P70 000)
A CAR WORTH $17 000(P170 000) WITH 2 DIRECT DOWNLINERS
GROCERY WORTH $200(P2 000)

STAGE 6 (COUNTRY COORDINATOR)
YOU EARN $1 600 PER DOWNLINER
YOU NEED 14 PEOPLE WHO HAVE COMPLETED STAGE 5 UNDER YOU TO JOIN YOU IN STAGE 6
TOTAL PAYOUT $22 400(P224 000)
FORTUNER WORTH $50 000 (P500 000)
GROCERY WORTH $250 (P2 500)

STAGE 7 (DIPLOMATIC COORDINATOR)
YOU EARN $8 000 PER DOWNLINER
YOU NEED 14 PEOPLE WHO HAVE COMPLETED STAGE 6 UNDER YOU TO JOIN YOU IN STAGE 7
TOTAL PAYOUT $112 000(P1 120 000)
MERCEDES BENZ WORTH $92 000(P920 000)
INTERNATIONAL TRIPS
GROCERY WORTH $300 (P3 000)

STAGE 8 (EXECUTIVE COORDINATOR)
YOU EARN $40 000 PER DOWNLINER
YOU NEED 14 PEOPLE WHO HAVE COMPLETED STAGE 7 UNDER YOU TO JOIN YOU IN STAGE 8
TOTAL PAYOUT $560 000( P5 600 000)
RANGE ROVER WORTH $150 000(P1 500 000)
HOUSE WORTH $300 000( P3 000 000)
GROCERY WORTH $350(P3 500)

INFINITY STAGE
AFTER STAGE 8 YOU WILL BE RECEIVING $40 000 EACH TIME ANYONE UNDER YOU DROPS INTO INFINITY STAGE.

NOTE:
EACH AMOUNT YOU SEE HERE WHEN YOU DO NOT TRANSFER IT TO YOUR PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNT AND SELL IT TO OTHER IBW PARTNERS IT DOUBLES.
They use the following image to describe their "marketing plan":


Section 9 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act defines a pyramid scheme as:
“where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”
The key thing is that there is either no product being sold or the product is only a minor part of the business. A pyramid scheme is all about recruiting multiple levels of other people and using their joining money to pay the people above them in the pyramid. Those people recruiting others into International Bread Winners are very clear that there are no products involved, just the recruitment of other people.

The Act goes on to say that people:
“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 pyramid scheme”
The penalties for breaking this rule can be a fine of up to P100,000, imprisonment for up to 5 years, or to both.

Consumers are urged not to enter into this or any other pyramid scheme.

Background information

The company suggests that they have an office in London but the address they offer appears to be in a residential complex and the UK telephone numbers they offer are both cellphone numbers. The only other number given is a Botswana-based cellphone number. It also appears that no company called "International Breadwinners" is registered in the United Kingdom.

The domain ("interenationalbreadwinners.com") was first registered to an address in India on 7th January 2019.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Radio show notes - week beginning 18th February 2019

Source: Wikipedia
2019 – 2019 – Predictions revisited

We started 2019 with some predictions of things we felt would happen in 2019. Let's see if they've come true yet.

1. Signing things

People will still sign things they shouldn’t sign, and won’t sign things that they should sign. they won’t read or understand hire purchase, tenancies or loans agreements and, most importantly, investments and insurance contracts. Some will continue to assume (incorrectly) that “verbal” agreements have some value when they later need to take action against someone who has abused them. People will continue to be exploited because of this.

Update: It wasn't really a consumer issue but someone contracted us with a tenancy issue. She'd moved in without signing an agreement. Subsequently the landlord had presented her with an agreement that included a with security deposit (which is normal) but she hasn't yet signed it.  Now the landlord wants to sell property (again that's a normal thing). Should she pay the deposit? Yes, if she wants the assurance of a tenancy and if she wants to stay there if the property is sold. However, if she wants to save some money, she can refuse to sign the agreement. But then she'll have no assurance that she can stay there.

Update: Someone asked: “Can somebody kindly explain to me how car insurance works. We have police report and my insurer says I should pay excess of P3,000?” I bet the "excess" payment is described in detail in the insurance policy. But has he read it recently? Or even at all?

2. Ponzi and pyramid schemes

These scams will continue to promise wealth, comfort and excitement in return for recruiting multiple levels of victims beneath us. But they only one real aim: to make lots of money for the people at the top and at the expense of those lower down. However, they’ll soon face the fact that, for the first time in our history as a nation, their schemes are now illegal. Section 9 of 2018 Consumer Protection Act makes this very clear.

Update: 4 Corners Alliance. I asked one of their recruiters a few questions.

Q: “Do we make money mainly from sales or recruiting.”
A. “From recruiting my dear. But if you want to sell you can still sell and make more”
Q. “But the easiest way is to recruit other people?”
A. “Yes my dear”

4 Corners Alliance is a pyramid scheme.

Update: “International Breadwinners”

They describe themselves as “A network marketing business where by u join with P100 and recruit 2 people and they will be registered under u. this 2 people they also recruit their 2 people. Is a business of 2x2. Everyone who joins must bring 2 people. Then u elevate as more people come on board and move stages.”

This scheme is run in Botswana by a pastor with the close involvement of his wife and daughter. Interestingly the couple were previously promoting Jamalife, another pyramid scheme.

I asked them some questions:

Q. “Do we sell products or do we just recruit other people?”
A. “we dnt sell anything”
Q. “It’s a pyramid scheme?”
A. “nope” (CW begs to differ)

He then said “I’m on duty driving will talk when I’m free.” What sort of duty might that be? It seems that as well as running church, he's a serving police officer.

Update: This has been posted around Facebook, apparently from The President but clearly NOT.


"you just pay the registration fees". That tells you all you need to know.

3. Magical health claims

Peddlers of miracle and magical health claims will find that Botswana is a harder place to sell their dangerous lies. They won’t go away but they will be silenced more quickly thanks to new and more effective regulators.

Update: Green World offer what they call a “medical scanner” otherwise known as the “Quantum Resonance Magnetic Analyser Machine”.



They claim that it can diagnose disorders such as “Anaemia, High blood pressure, Low blood pressure, Nutritional deficiency, Prostate disorder (not cancer), stroke, Low sperm count, hormonal imbalances, erectile dysfunction, ovarian cysts, cardiovascular problems, cerebrovascular problems, bone problems”.

BOMRA, the Medicines Regulatory Authority reported that:
“3 pharmacists were arrested in Francistown for allegedly selling unregistered and potentially harmful contraceptives. The 3 pharmacist (names withheld) were nabbed in a joint operation led by BOMRA inspectors and other law enforcement officers”
They later asked consumer to:
“join us in the fight against counterfeit & unregistered medical products (medicines, medical devices & cosmetics.) Play your part. Blow the whistle!! 0800 600 216”
Green World should beware!

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is International Breadwinners legit?

Is International Breadwinners legit? People at my church are encouraging me to join but I’m suspicious.


No, it’s not legit, it’s a pyramid scheme and the people doing their best to recruit new members are open about it. Let’s begin by explaining what exactly a pyramid scheme is. Section 9 of the new Consumer Protection Act says that it’s a scheme “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”. The key thing is that there is either no product being sold or the product is only a minor part of the business. A pyramid scheme is all about recruiting multiple levels of other people and using their joining money to pay the people above them in the pyramid.

The new Act does on to say that people “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 pyramid scheme”. Did you see that it said that as well as forbidding promoting a pyramid scheme is also forbids people from even joining one?

The penalties can be severe. A fine of up to P100,000 or up to 5 years in prison. Or both.


I contacted some of the people recruiting victims into this “International Breadwinners” scheme and they were very open about how it works. I asked whether people sell products or just recruit other people and one of them, apparently a pastor and someone who claims to be a serving police officer was clear. “we dnt sell anything” he told me.



Another, who I believe is his wife, told me that there are “No products. You just get paid by recruiting”.


The people I contacted who are recruiting others in this scheme are open about it being a pyramid scheme. I suspect they will soon stop once they realise that the church they operate and their career in law enforcement are at risk. Do you want to face the same penalties they now face?

Is this a real job?

I got an offer through LinkedIn for a job in Russia from an individual by the name of Alesandr Boris Oil & Gas Limited. He told me of the available job vacancy at the organization which were 3 vacancies and asked me of my qualifications. I replied with my qualifications and he responded saying that I should forward my CV and necessary documents to his agent who will take care of the whole process for me to be able to come and be permitted to work in Russia. He gave me the email address of the agent who I managed to reach and he told me what documents he needs in order to process my permit to work in Russia, including transportation & accommodation. However the agent says that his services are not free and demands a fee of 1000 dollars. I told him and Mr Boris that I can’t afford that kind of money therefore Mr Boris says I should try negotiate with the Agent the amount I can afford of which I haven't done.

I was hoping if you can check if Alesandr Boris, his organization and his agents are not a scam. I had approached the police and they referred me to Consumer watchdog which is where I got your email address.

Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you advance.


I don’t need to do much research to say with certainty that this is a scam. The most obvious clue is that they want you pay the “agent” $1,000 to get your work permit. This is simply not how international recruitment works. Genuine companies pay for everything when they recruit someone from overseas. They pay for flights and accommodation and they certainly cover the cost of getting whatever visas might be necessary. They pay them. Not you, not the recruit.

Another clue is quite simple. Why would they offer a job in the oil and gas industry to someone on the other side of the planet who doesn’t have any experience in that industry? And another thing. They didn’t interview you face-to-face? It’s simply not realistic.

This is the beginning of an advance fee scam. The $1,000 (which is curiously flexible when you say you can’t afford it) is what this is all about. If you were to pay them they’ll just continue to invent a list of other payments until you either run out of money or finally realise that you’re being scammed. I suggest that you delete the emails and any others you receive like this.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Consumer Alert - Planet Online FInance

Consumer Alert - Planet Online Finance

Yet another fake lender running an advance fee scam. They advertise on Facebook as follows:
"Good Day south Africa
Please take your time to read through this post from the first line to the last before making any comments or questions.
We offer loan to blacklisted client,Business persons,Government employee,workers etc and client that are on ITC.
We offer loan to all SADC member states.(Angola, Botswana, Congo (DR), Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe ).
All loan Application are processed and transferred from our office here in south Africa.
PLANET ONLINE FINANCE PTY LTD, Our obligation is helping the needy to gain financial stability in order to meet with the demands of living. Contact us at::([hidden information]) or call us on 0786168532 + Whatsapp Messages
We give out loans from the range of R10,000.00 to R10,000,000.00, at 3% interest rate Our loans are well insured and maximum security is our priority,
PLANET ONLINE FINANCE is a legitimate and well known lending company based in , SOUTH AFRICA.
We offer loans to individuals as well as organizations who have intentions of renovating houses and institutions, debt consolidation, re-financing and also establishment of business outfits. We give out our Loan in an currency of your choice.
* Are you financially Squeezed?
* Do you seek funds to pay off credits and debts
* Do you seek finance to set up your own business?
* Are you in need of private or business loans for various purposes?
* Do you seek loans to carry out large projects
* Do you seek funding for various other processes?
WE OFFER THE FOLLOWING TYPES OF LOANS:
*Commercial Loans.
*Personal Loans.
*Business Loans.
*Investments Loans.
*Development Loans.
*Acquisition Loans .
*Construction loans.
*Business Loans And many More:
REQUIREMENT NEEDED FOR LOAN TO BE APPROVED.
1: Color Copy of I.D / Valid Passport
2: Latest 3 Months Bank Statement
3: Latest Payslip, C.K/ Business Profile for Business Loan
4: Latest Proof of Residence.
QUALIFICATION:
1. Blacklisted can apply
2. No credit check
3. Debt review or court order can apply
4. ITC can apply
5. other countries outside South Africa can apply
Your Satisfaction and Financial Success is Our Aim.We are hoping to hear from you soon
You can also call us or send message through whatsapp: 0786168532."
The obvious clues include:
  • No landline number, just a cellphone.
  • Not even an email address.
  • No physical address.
  • Astonishingly cheap loans and HUGE amounts of money available.
I contacted these people and asked for a loan of P100,000, based on a monthly salary of P15,000. They responded with:
"Please can you send me ur I'd number along with ur names with ur cell phone number. Let me check if u qualify for a loan in our company".
I responded with a FAKE name and ID number. They responded:
"Let me check if u qualified for ur loan, I will get back to u ok".
Exactly 10 minutes later they said:
"Congregation, ur loan has been approved ok (...) Your monthly installment for 60 months , is 1796.87 Loan interest R 7812.20 Total payment R 107812.20. Your registration fee is R2500. This fee will enable us to register your information in our system and the release of your loan into your bank account. But this fee will be refunded back to you after three working days."
Of course this is what it's all about. The "registration fee" of R2,500.

I asked for their company details and they gave me an incomplete SA company registration number. However, a little detective work showed that no company called "Planet Online Finance" is registered in South Africa and the number they use has also been used before by "Bridge finance loan", an identical loan scam.

Please don't waste your time, money and effort on this scam.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Radio show notes - week beginning 11th February 2019

Source: Wikipedia
2019 – The Year of Consumer Education - Part 2

The big theme for Consumer Watchdog in 2019 will be consumer education. Lots of it.

But where do consumers need to be educated? What are the biggest threats to our welfare? What do we need to know?

We asked the member of the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group what issues they thought we should address. This is what they said.

1. Food safety and hygiene

We've discussed food labelling many times, particularly the use of “Best before” dates and “Expiry” dates. The difference is actually quite simple. Expiry dates matter, they're important, it's illegal for a store to sell something after its Expiry date. Best Before dates just offer advice on when a product will be in the best condition. There's nothing legally wrong with selling something after a Best Before date. But that doesn't make it good practice.

Who should be educating the public on food safety? The Ministry of Health and Wellness? Ministry of Basic Education? The food industry? Consumer Watchdog?

Which stage in the food chain is the most dangerous?

Look in the mirror. We consumers poison ourselves far more often than the food industry does.

Do we ever read the ingredients on packages?

This is the list of ingredients on the back of a packet of Oxtail soup. You remember that oxtail is beef, don't you?


This soup is 0.01% beef. That's 1/10,000th of the packet. That's effectively NO beef at all. None. In Oxtail soup. The main ingredient is something called maltodextrin which Wikipedia describes as follows:
“Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide that is used as a food additive. It is produced from starch by partial hydrolysis and is usually found as a white hygroscopic spray-dried powder. Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose and might be either moderately sweet or almost flavorless (depending on the degree of polymerisation). It is commonly used for the production of soft drinks and candy. It can also be found as an ingredient in a variety of other processed foods.”
Why would you want to consume this product which isn't actually food?

2. Bitcoin (yet again)

Is Bitcoin an investment? No. It's value has dropped from its peak at almost $20,000 to a mere $3,600, a drop of over 80%. Does that sound like an investment? But it's still being sold as a way of making money. It's also surrounded by a huge range of pyramid and Ponzi schemes.

We need a lot more education on this.

3. Medicines and cosmetics

BOMRA, the Medicines Regulatory Authority replaces the Drug Regulatory Unit in the Ministry of Health and Wellness. It's remit covers medicines, medical devices and cosmetics.

But why is this important?


Because of companies like Green World who offer for sale a “medical scanner” they call their “Quantum Resonance Magnetic Analyser Machine”. They claim this bogus device can diagnose disorders such as:
“Anaemia, High blood pressure, Low blood pressure, Nutritional deficiency, Prostate disorder (not cancer), stroke, Low sperm count, hormonal imbalances, erectile dysfunction, ovarian cysts, cardiovascular problems, cerebrovascular problems, bone problems”.
Dangerous lies like this are why we need BOMRA.