Friday 19 November 2010

Old friends

We all like to see old friends, people from our past, people we were fond of and who we perhaps lost touch with over the years. However there are also those old “friends” who we are perhaps keen to be shot of. The ones who borrowed money and never paid us back, the ones who told lies about us and the ones who impregnated our sisters and disappeared before we could break their noses.

Consumer Watchdog has encountered some old friends recently, unfortunately of this latter, you-abused-my-sister variety.

The World Business Guide is one of them. This fake business directory advertises via email this time of year, offering to place your company details in their directory which they claim is available on CD and online. Their email says:
“Ladies and Gentlemen.

In order to have your company inserted in the registry of World Businesses for 2011/2012 edition, please print, complete and submit the enclosed form (PDF file) to the following address:

P.O. BOX 3079

FAX: +31 (20) 203-1129

Updating is free of charge!”
While it’s true that “updating” your entry can be done for free entering your details the first time is certainly NOT free. Hidden away in the incredibly small print is the following:
“The price per year is Euro 995. The subscription will be automatically extended every year for another year unless specific written notice is received by the service provider or the subscriber two months before the expiration of the subscription.”
So in fact entering your details will cost you P9,000 and the bad news is that once you’ve submitted your company details they will claim you’re committed and cannot change your mind. They’ll even set their lawyers onto you if you resist. Of course this is not legally enforceable but very few people enjoy receiving threatening letters from lawyers or have the courage to stand up to them and tell where to stick their directory.

Various authorities have tried to shut these gangsters down but they keep on popping up every year to scam more and more unsuspecting victims.

The crooks behind the Transitions Abroad scam keep on emerging from under a rock as well. There is in fact a legitimate “Transitions Abroad” web site that provides all sorts of advice on working and travelling overseas but their name is being used by some scumbag scammers to steal money.

This is a fake recruitment company who claim to have all sorts of exotic jobs overseas paying enormous amounts of money. Most notably they offer some totally unrealistic jobs on cruise liners offering ridiculously high salaries. Their email says:
“We do full packages such as visa processing, air tickets, accommodation (ect) Earn a salary of up to $8,000USD per month”
As you can probably guess all they need in order for you to be accepted is a bunch of cash up front. Last year they wanted a mere P2,300 with your application. Of course your application will never get you anywhere because this is just another scam.

Even the scammers from the ridiculous TVI Express pyramid scheme are back at it again. When we’ve written about this pointless rip-off before we’ve even had criticism from people in the pyramid in Botswana, including a local preacher, saying we are defaming an honest scheme that helps people better themselves. But these have been no more than liars desperate to prop up their wing of the pyramid. (Q. Do pyramids have wings? A. Only when they’re flying from the authorities.) TVI Express has been declared a scam in Australia and was recently shut down in the US state of Georgia. What’s left of them elsewhere in the world is under investigation by pretty much every regulator.

The most recent TVI News is that all the former member of this silly scheme have jumped ship and joined the equally pyramidical “Pyxism” scheme. Again you have to pay to enter this scam. Their web site explains that to join you need to pay:
“a one off cost of $300 USD plus a $49 USD per year Associate fee.If you are living outside the United States, then there is an additional once off $25 USD processing fee”
Pyxism is exactly the same as TVI Express of course, a pyramid scheme based on worthless travel vouchers. One Pyxism web site includes this incredibly slippery Q & A:
“Is Pyxism A Pyramid Scheme?

No! When you become an associate with Pyxism, your $US300 certificate buys you $US300 worth of discounted vacation, so you are always receiving a product.”
This isn’t difficult to understand. “Discounted vacation” is NOT a product. It’s a reduction in the price of a product, a discount you can almost certainly get elsewhere more cheaply. Whenever my family and I stay in hotels in Jo’burg do you really think we pay the full price? Of course not, we go to our preferred chain’s web site and bid for a cheaper stay. Go to if you don’t believe me. It’s entirely free and you can save up to half the normal price. For FREE.

So our old friend TVI goes away and it’s sibling Pyxism takes it’s place in our affections.

Our advice is that all of these old friends are the type that you secretly are very glad you don’t hear from any more. They are the people you used to associate with but secretly you hated them and you still do. I suggest that you don’t respond to them when they get in touch and pretend your email isn’t working. Or you could just tell them that you never liked them, you’ve really enjoyed not having them in your life and would they please just go away.

This week’s stars
  • Oteng from Lesedi Motors who helped out a passer-by (Me!).
  • Nita at Maxiprest for being “really friendly and helpful”.
  • All the Mmegi readers who contact us asking us to alert their neighbours to scammers.

No comments: