Friday 9 May 2014

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

A friend of mine sent me a parcel from India through Eagle X Courier services. I got a call from a guy called Michael in South Africa telling me that they have my parcel and I must pay custom clearance fee. He gave me the amount to pay which was P4,900. I transferred the said amount. They received the money last Friday and he called to confirm receipts and promised me that they have cleared my parcel from customs and I will get it that Friday.

Later in the day he called again and said I have to pay US $1,200 for delivery charges before they can deliver my parcel. I asked him why should I pay in dollars and why do I pay before delivery of the goods. After some arguments he said he will pay half of the money and I pay the other half which is US $600. I refused and told him that I can only pay when I receive the parcel not before, he dropped the phone and yesterday he phoned and asked me if I had transferred the money. I said no and he dropped the phone on me yet again.

So I don't know what to do how can you help me?

This is undoubtedly a scam. I’ve seen exactly the same situation occur several times before and the story is always the same. You meet someone on Facebook who befriends you, often so much that you begin to feel love for him or her. They then promise to send you a parcel containing a variety of expensive gifts. This parcel is then mysteriously held up in customs somewhere and you can’t get it until you pay the courier company a fee. That payment is what the whole thing is really all about. That’s the “advance fee” that these scammers are seeking.

The bad news is that scammers don’t ever give refunds. Once they’ve got your money it’s gone forever.

However, there is surprisingly good news in your case. For once these scammers didn’t use Western Union, they asked you to transfer money directly to a bank account in South Africa. And guess what? You might be the luckiest scam victim in Botswana. According to the bank in SA when you gave your bank in Botswana the instruction you gave them the wrong account number. It looks like your money is currently in a suspense account somewhere. It looks like you’re getting it back!

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I got an email from Mandy Louw from Express Finance regarding a loan of R300,000 and as I was in need of finance I replied. She send me application forms to fill in I did then. On 20th Sep I paid R5,659.59 and the same day she told me to pay R5,999.96 extra for charges. I have been paying ever since the more I pay for legal fees but no funds deposited are in my account.

I lost all my furniture as she told me to borrow more money from banks and loan sharks which I did. Now I cannot pay all my creditors instead she insist I pay more and more for legal fees and clearance which I did because I need money. The last time I paid was the 20th March and I paid R3,700 and still now they need me to pay already I paid close to R100,000. What can I do?

I’m afraid the news for you isn’t nearly as good. You’ve been scammed. Totally.

I first warned readers about the Express Finance scam in August last year. In fact if you Google for “Mandy Louw Express Finance” the first hit is a link to our blog where we warned consumers about them.

While there is a real company in South Africa called Express Finance these aren’t the people who contacted you, they were imposters. Didn’t you notice that they never gave you a landline number and only used cellphone numbers? Didn’t you notice that they use a Gmail account to contact you? Didn’t you become suspicious that in order to get a loan of R300,000 you first had to give them R100,000?

I’m very sorry to tell you that nothing can be done in this situation, tragically it’s way too late to help.

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