Friday, 15 February 2013

They're all liars!

Here’s a free tip for stores, suppliers and in fact anyone who sells things.

Don’t call your customers liars. It’s a bad move.

In the past I’ve written about a scheme calling itself Three Link Connection that people seem to be falling for across the country. The basic idea that this scheme sells is “arbitrage”. That’s a fancy way of saying you buying something cheap in one place so you can sell it at a higher price somewhere else. That’s an old business trick and there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. Plenty of companies make money that way, particularly when they deal with emerging markets like China with their massive, cheaply-employed workforce. They make things cheaply that are sold at a much higher price elsewhere.

The Three Link Connection scheme exploits this idea. This is what one reader told me:
“When we are recruited we are told the company is involved in selling electrical appliances sourced from China. The information is that the company has identified ready markets in Africa for this electrical appliances but do not have enough money to buy stock direct from the manufacturer in China. Therefore when we are recruited we are told the money we invest will be used to purchase the stock that will be later sold in Africa.”
Can you see where this is going yet?

I’ll let other people describe what actually happened instead. These are taken word-for-word from other messages we’ve received.
“This is how they said it works: You buy stock for R5400 and get R12500 after 10 weeks. Buy special and each unit is R4000 then get R10 000 after 16 working days.”

“Its still very difficult to get the whole details, but I think they lost some monies in this thing, was telling me was expecting 55K last month, but apparently tax issues blah blah. They have been hit.”

“I refused to join but my fiancee stubbornly secured a personal loan and invest the whole amount but up to now the she has not received the promised returns in investment.”
Three Link Connection is a scam, a fraud, a deception. They take your money, pretend they’re going to invest it in cheap Chinese products and then come up with endless excuses about why you’re not getting your money back.

This is nothing new of course. A very similar scam calling itself Young Star Investments operated in South Africa and in Uganda a few years ago. It was the same story and the same sort of victims.

A report in Uganda in 2008 said that Young Star:
“sources goods from China or Hong Kong using the money collected from its clients for sale in another country, from which the depositors are paid 30 percent interest on their investment after seven weeks. But five months down the road, most people who deposited their money in the company are crying foul play after realising that they could have been fleeced of their money.”
Sounds familiar?

In fact there’s a connection between Young Star Investments and Three Link Connection. The people behind it.

The founder of both scams, Daisy Mogale, was prosecuted in South Africa for the Young Star Investments scam but it seems like she’s at it again. Knowing she’s been exposed in South Africa she seems to have moved her attentions to us instead.

So far I’ve heard from nearly 20 people who’ve had the courage to come forward and confess that they’ve been scammed by this new scheme. Several of them have told me that they know of plenty of other people who’ve fallen victim as well. That’s been my experience of scams. For every person courageous enough to come forward and talk about how they’ve been scammed there are several others who are either too ashamed or embarrassed to come forward and talk about it.

So what does Daisy Mogale have to say about her scam? Let’s ask her.

One of the local recruiters for Three Link connection, who has presumably now realised it’s a scam and that they’re complicit in stealing people’s money, gave me Daisy’s cellphone number and I gave her a call.

Once she stopped shouting at me down the phone and demanding to know who gave me her cellphone number she gave me her reaction to the complaints we’d received.
“They’re all liars! All of them in Botswana are liars!”
So there we have it. Three Link Connection is legitimate and all of us in Botswana are liars. We know this because my new friend Daisy said so. She wouldn’t lie about this, would she? After all, why would we think she’s a liar? We can’t hold her previous history of scams against her, can we?

Daisy wasn’t the only one accusing a customer of lying. I heard a long story from someone who had bought a car from a supplier in the UK. She paid the local agent a large amount of money for a car he’d shown her online. The problem is that when it eventually arrived it wasn’t the car she ordered. The same model but a different registration number. There were other issues but the basic fact is that the car that was delivered was not the one she ordered. After some argument she rejected it.

Unfortunately the local agent wasn’t too helpful. She could only have her money back when they find another buyer for the vehicle. She’d have to wait.

So the reaction when I contacted the local agent? He accused me of blackmailing him, implied he’d sue me and said that the buyer was telling “a lie”.

Bad move. A seriously bad move. I’m obviously not blackmailing him, I’m just saying that the sort of person who immediately accuses his detractors of lying does not deserve anyone’s money.

That’s no lie.

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