Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I received an email that invited me to participate in the Euromillions lottery. It wasn’t from the lottery itself but from another site that said I could enter for 2.10 euros per line. Do you think this is worth it?

No, most certainly not.

Firstly the chances of winning any lottery are so small that it’s simply not worth the bother. You must face a simple fact. In all lotteries you will win, on average, less than you pay to enter the lottery. That’s how they make money. Lotteries are designed to work exactly this way.

What’s more, if you pay someone on your behalf to enter a lottery you will be required to pay them for their time and effort. That’s even more money you’re paying just so you can have the same chance of winning as someone who entered themselves, someone who didn’t enter through a third party.

We’ve heard many times of these schemes and they are all worthless. This one looks particularly so. If you look closely at the email you received it came from someone using a Gmail address. This isn’t even a real company that is offering a service.

Their web site, called “Jose’s place” is bizarre. It doesn’t explain anything and the English is barely understandable. It says things like
“We try to respond to our customers in time that can bring satisfaction and building bridges of good relationships”
“Our team is prepared to manage betting on society since several years, and now we launch a betting service in the Euromillions lottery for punters outside Europe, always with the maximum description.”
Do you have any idea what that actually means?

I emailed them to see what they have to say for themselves but I’ve heard nothing back yet.

I earnestly suggest that you ignore this email and every email like it. It’s not going to win you a thing. It will lose you everything you give them, that’s guaranteed.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I received an invitation from the Ideal Concept Foundation to attend a conference called “Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking” to be held in the USA and the UK. It sounds very interesting but I don’t know why they have invited me. They say they will pay for my air fare and accommodation in the USA but not in the UK which I must pay for.

Can this be true? I want to attend but I am suspicious.

You are right to be suspicious. This is certainly a scam, there’s no doubt about it.

Firstly this is not how conferences are organised. Conference organisers don’t just email total strangers and invite them to attend. They certainly don’t offer to pay for air fares, accommodation and “feeding” like they did in the email you received. They also don’t demand money up front, as they undoubtedly will, for your UK accommodation. I’ll bet you that they’ll want to the money for the UK accommodation to be paid by Western Union before you attend. That’s what all scammers want.

The other clues are the same as always. If this is such an important conference then why is it being organised by people who use a free Hotmail email account? Why don’t the so-called “Ideal Concept Foundation” have a web site? I’ll tell you why. It’s because there is no such organisation, it’s been made up by scammers to part you from your money.

This is yet another “advance fee” scam. On this occasion it’s the up-front hotel bill that they are seeking. However anyone who has stayed in a hotel before will tell you that no hotel in the world demands payment up front. They might want to see your credit card upon arrival, they might demand ID, they might want some assurance that you’re genuine but nobody pays for a hotel stay before they arrive. It just doesn’t work like that.

This is as scam, simple as that.

TVI Express update

Last week we advised a reader not to have anything to do with TVI Express, a pyramid scheme that trades in worthless travel discount vouchers. What they really want from you is for you to pay their joining fee and then to recruit other people beneath you who will, in turn, recruit others, each of whom will pay the US$250 joining fee. And what’s in it for you? Well, after you’ve recruited 2 people and each of them has recruited another two, and then all of the next layer have each recruited another 2, TVI Express give you a special gift of US$250. Wow. But isn’t that the money you already gave THEM when you joined? Yes, all you get back is your joining fee, after they’ve got the joining fee from the 14 other gullible fools beneath you in the pyramid. Big deal!

The good news is that word is spreading about them. In May this year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission got a restraining order against three TVI Express distributors forbidding them from promoting this ridiculous pyramid scheme.

See, there are consumer protection bodies around the world that get out there and take the fight back to the enemy. Good for them. Meanwhile please don’t throw your money into any pyramid schemes, you’ll never see it again.

Another pyramid update

Just as TVI Express begins to fade away, another one emerges. Be warned about Pyxism, a TVI replica that is doing presentations around Gaborone at the moment. Keep your money and don’t give it to Pyxism!

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