Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

This week The Voice published our press release regarding the Vortex Profits Ponzi scheme.



Consumer Alert: Vortex Profits

Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about Vortex Profits, an apparent Ponzi scheme currently trying to recruit victims in Botswana.

The people promoting Vortex Profits claim that the company is “a remarkable investment platform … with an outstanding track record of 2 years for delivering best of class investment solutions and endless income-generating opportunity”. They suggest that investors can earn returns of between 2.5% and 4% every day by investing through Vortex Profits in Bitcoin, gold or oil.

These suggested earnings are clearly impossible, given that 2.5% per day implies an annual equivalent of over 800,000%. Even more unbelievably, a 4% return per day equates to an annual return of over 158,000,000%.


The facts are that the company was only registered in the Republic of Ireland in September 2017, contradicting their claim of a “track record of 2 years”. Furthermore, the physical address they offer is an accommodation address shared by hundreds of other companies and the telephone number they offer is not even in the Republic of Ireland but is in Sweden.

They claim to have been founded by someone called Griffin Wrights who they describe as a "renowned Entrepreneur" with "countless years of experience being a financial Planner". However, no trace exists of this person before or outside of Vortex Profits.

Given the contradictions and the ridiculous claims about the profits that can be made by “investing” in their schemes Consumer Watchdog suspects that Vortex Profits is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme and we urge consumers to exercise extreme caution when engaging with them.

If consumers are in any doubt they should contact Consumer Watchdog for free advice. We can be reached by phone on 3904582, by email at watchdog@bes.bw or by joining our Facebook group, Consumer Watchdog Botswana.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Press Release - Vortex Profits

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

15th January 2018

Consumer Alert: Vortex Profits

Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about Vortex Profits, an apparent Ponzi scheme currently trying to recruit victims in Botswana.

The people promoting Vortex Profits claim that the company is “a remarkable investment platform … with an outstanding track record of 2 years for delivering best of class investment solutions and endless income-generating opportunity”. They suggest that investors can earn returns of between 2.5% and 4% every day by investing through Vortex Profits in Bitcoin, gold or oil.

These suggested earnings are clearly impossible, given that 2.5% per day implies an annual equivalent of over 800,000%. Even more unbelievably, a 4% return per day equates to an annual return of over 158,000,000%.

The facts are that the company was only registered in the Republic of Ireland in September 2017, contradicting their claim of a “track record of 2 years”. Furthermore, the physical address they offer is an accommodation address shared by hundreds of other companies and the telephone number they offer is not even in the Republic of Ireland but is in Sweden.

They claim to have been founded by someone called Griffin Wrights who they describe as a "renowned Entrepreneur" with "countless years of experience being a financial Planner". However, no trace exists of this person before or outside of Vortex Profits.

Given the contradictions and the ridiculous claims about the profits that can be made by “investing” in their schemes Consumer Watchdog suspects that Vortex Profits is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme and we urge consumers to exercise extreme caution when engaging with them.

If consumers are in any doubt they should contact Consumer Watchdog for free advice. We can be reached by phone on 3904582, by email at watchdog@bes.bw or by joining our Facebook group, Consumer Watchdog Botswana.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is it her fault?

I have a friend who is having a hard time. She bought a mini laptop with Higher Purchase and she had been paying monthly and was supposed to have finished her payments by last year December. The problem is she told me yesterday that they called her some time last week telling her they hadn’t received money from her since August of 2017. My friend had gone to the bank to do a stop order for the installments and had for the first three months had issues with the payments going through because she would receive SMS’s notifying her that payments were unsuccessful. So she would call them to find out what the problem was but would be informed that no, the payments were in fact successful, so even after that time she would ignore the SMS prompts. So when they called her last week she asked why they hadn’t called her since August to ask why she wasn’t paying but waited for so many months, and she was informed that they tried calling her once but that they were unable to. The real problem is that she knows the outstanding balance is due and has to be paid either way, but she has a problem with the fact that she also has been informed that she has to pay penalty fees on top of the outstanding balance, and these penalties date back to August 2017. Should she have to pay these penalties when she has made efforts to make sure payments are made and is it upon her to call them every month to make sure that they have drawn their money?


Unfortunately, your friend is in a difficult situation. Although a stop order is a very convenient way to pay instalments like these, you can’t always rely on the bank to make sure it happens correctly. Here’s a secret that you might not know. Banks make mistakes. Quite often. However, whether the bank made a mistake or the store failed to warn your friend that she had fallen behind with her payments, the responsibility for making sure the payments are made remains with her. The stop order is just a convenience offered by the bank and if she checks the small print of her banking agreement, and also probably of the hire purchase agreement, shell see that it’s up to her to make sure payments are made.

I know it sounds incredibly irritating but it’s up to you, me and your friend to check every month that our payments go through. Frustrating, I know, but that’s how it is.

Meanwhile I suggest your friend speaks to the store to agree a plan to pay off the missing instalments. If you like we’ll contact the store to see if they can be a little charitable about the penalties.

Will I make money from AIM Global?

I need your help, Do you know anything about the company called AIM Global? We are struggling out there to try and come up with ways of earning extra cash but not willing to be scammed. Thanks in advance.


AIM Global is a pyramid scheme based in the Philippines. They claim that people joining can earn large amounts of money, simply by marketing the scheme to other potential recruits. One recruiter claimed that by paying P2,543 to join and then by recruiting just two people, each of whom recruited two more people and every month that was repeated, after a year you would have monthly earnings of over P1.6 million. It’s interesting to note that in this claim they don’t even mention whether there’s a product at the heart of their scheme. That’s clearly nonsense and it’s a very good example of a pyramid scheme, where earnings are made exclusively or mainly from the recruitment of other victims rather than the sale of products.

In fact they DO market a product and that’s even worse than the pyramid scheme. They call this “C247” and they say that this single product can treat 100 different medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, cirrhosis, bone fracture, deafness, endometriosis, epilepsy, heart diseases, hypertension, low sperm count, “toxins in the body”, stroke, migraine and even cancer and “immunodeficiency”. These are illegal claims, forbidden by Sections 396-399 of the Penal Code of Botswana. Anyone making such claims is going to be in dep trouble when the authorities hear they’ve been made.


I’ve also seen AIM recruiters claim that this ridiculous C247 product has been approved by the authorities in Botswana, including the Ministry of Health and the Botswana Bureau of Standards. These claims are completely untrue.

I urge you not to waste your time, effort and money joining a pyramid scheme like AIM Global. You’ll lose it all!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Predictions for 2018

Here are some predictions for 2018 based on our experience of 2017 and the years preceding. I can’t guarantee any of these things will happen, but…

Multi Level Marketing schemes won’t go away

Multi Level Marketing schemes like Amway and Herbalife will continue to do their best to recruit people into their pyramids and when we warn people not to waste their time, effort and money we will be accused of being “haters”, “not wanting people to improve their lives”, and not “understanding passive income”.

Meanwhile the income statements that some countries force them to produce each year will continue to show that only the tiny handful at the top of the pyramid make any money, all at the expense of the multitudes beneath them.

Neither will pyramid schemes

Companies like AIM Global with their ridiculous (and also illegal) C247 product (that they claim can treat 100 diseases) will continue to do their best to recruit people into their bogus businesses. World Ventures will also continue to recruit people with their idea that you must pay to get hotel discounts when you can get those discounts for free elsewhere. Hopefully the forthcoming new consumer protection framework might help us combat them.

Ponzi schemes will continue to flourish

MMM Global has collapsed but there are already rumours that Sergei Mavrodi, its founder (and convicted criminal), is already working on a new Ponzi scam. People will fall for it all over again, even some of the gullible ones who fell for the original MMM scam. Their “serial victim” status will hurt them even more.

Bitcoin will continue to fascinate people

I admit it, it fascinates me. However, the exponential increase in value it experienced in 2017 came to a dramatic halt in late 2017, showing that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can ever increase that way indefinitely. All bubbles eventually burst. The blockchain technology underpinning Bitcoin is certainly something that will play a part in our future but so will gullibility and greed.

Bitcoin, like any conventional currency, wasn’t “an investment” in 2017 and it won’t be in 2018 either.

People won’t read things

In 2018 lots of people will again fail to read things before they sign them. Whether it’s a banking, hire purchase or tenancy agreement, lots people will just ask “Where do I sign” and put pen to paper. They’ll pay the price later on when they realise they can’t cancel the agreement when they want, they’re burdened with massive penalties for defaulting or they realised they signed a pact with the devil. And it will be way too late because once their signature hit the paper they were committed.

People won’t write things

The opposite will also be true. When they DO want a commitment from someone, maybe a tenancy or when they sell a car or lend money to a friend, they’ll forget to get the agreement, all of it, in writing. When things go wrong, they’ll then find they have nothing wave in front of the courts, the police or Consumer Watchdog. There’ll be no proof that the agreement ever even occurred.

Even if they DO sign an agreement they’ll forget “when a transaction has been reduced into writing, the writing is regarded as the exclusive memorial of the transaction and no evidence may be given to contradict, alter, add or vary its terms” (thanks Judge Dow!). So no verbal agreements after the written one. No “but we later agreed that…” arguments are permitted.

Companies will begin to understand Facebook has changed everything

I’ve spent the last year telling people that Facebook has changed everything. I’m not speaking figuratively and I’m not exaggerating for effect, I genuinely believed that every aspect of everyday life changed in 2017 because of Facebook. That is certainly the case in business. Whether companies like it or not (and almost all of them really hate it), we consumers are now in charge. We decide how we complain, we decide how we celebrate, we decide how we communicate to other people about our experiences. And no company can stop us.

And companies need to know that it’s only going to get worse (for them) in 2018. We live in the Consumer Anarchy Age. We’ll express ourselves however, whenever and wherever we feel like it! And there’s nothing they can do about it.

It’ll be artistic

Every year Consumer Watchdog has a theme. 2015 was Travel, 2016 was Education, 2017 was Health and the theme for 2018 is Art. We’ll be exploring the role art, creativity and performance play in customer service but also in problem solving, consumer education and enjoying life.

And we’ll be asking companies why they can’t make the experience of buying goods and services from them a beautiful one. Why can’t their premises be artistic? Why can’t they lift our spirits rather than quash them?

If we can do it, why can’t they?