Friday, 26 April 2013

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I hope you will be able to help me as u have helped others. My boyfriend sent me a parcel from the UK. I paid for most of the charges demanded but they’re now asking for security charges which I can’t afford. They now demand payment for storage because they still have the parcel. What can I do in this kind of situation?

[The reader forwarded a series of emails from a shipping company claiming to be in Malaysia and demanding money for a range of things, including US$570 for “Airport Tax And Customs Charges” and after she had paid that, $1,450 for an “Anti Terrorist Certificate”, all to be sent using Western Union. Once she paid that as well, so far a total of over P15,000, they then demanded “Storage charges”. They told her that the parcel her boyfriend had sent contained a laptop, “Jeweries”, a camera, wristwatches, phones, a large amount of cash and an invitation letter to the UK.]

I’m terribly sorry to give you bad news but you have been the victim of a scam, there's no doubt about it.

Firstly there’s no such thing as an "anti-terrorist certificate" required by the any authority around the world. The only time you’ll hear about such a thing is from scammers.

Also real courier companies use their own email domain, not a free domain like this company does. Real courier companies can also spell correctly. The emails you sent over were riddled with spelling mistakes, which is not what you would expect from a genuine company in the UK or Malaysia. Also, genuine companies use landline numbers, not a redirectable British cellphone number like these people. Real companies transfer money using bank-to-bank transfers, not Western Union. There is, of course, no trace of this courier company in Malaysia, who also operate only using cellphones.

And above all, why would a package travelling from the UK to Botswana go via Malaysia?

Unfortunately nothing about this is real. The courier company is a fake, the package is fake and your “boyfriend” is fake. He doesn't really exist, his identity is just part of the scam. Unfortunately your money has gone, never to be seen again.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I saw a post on Facebook saying that if you lose your cellphone you can dial *#06# and it shows a unique 15 digit number. If your phone is stolen you email this and your details to Your phone will be “traced within next 24 hrs via a complex system of GPRS and internet.”

How true can this be please?

It's a mixture of truth and partial truth. Dialing *#06# IS one way to find out the “International Mobile Station Equipment Identity” or IMEI number of your phone. This is a unique number identifying your phone and can be very useful in blocking your phone if it’s stolen. Everyone should record the number somewhere safe just in case. It probably won’t help you get your phone back but it can stop a crook using it. Many phones also have other ways of telling you the IMEI number.

However the email bit is no use at all. The email address is actually that of the Commissioner of Police in Chennai and he or she is unlikely to be able to help you and me. Unless we find ourselves in Chennai of course.


A reader commented that her daughter attended a golf/fishing/playball camp at World of Golf. She said “the administrators, staff and team leaders were absolutely brilliant, so welcoming and friendly. The children came away happy and bubbling with enthusiasm. It's wonderful to see activities like this being run for children in a clean, safe environment with the professional guidance present and aware of the individual children's needs. Really impressed!”

Well done to them all!

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