Online presence in this digital era is essential to growing your business. But just as personal information is being used by online criminals to blackmail, threat and scam people, business information is also used and targeted for the same purposes. If you have placed your company details on a B2B board or professional networks like Linkedin, it is likely you will be contacted at some point by a scammer in Mali or elsewhere in West Africa pretending to be a business owner, consultant, contractor or a representative of an organization. The offer might sound very enticing.
Currently, Mali is having some serious problems with gold and export fraudsters in the precious metals business. According to international investigators in Mali, thieves are using fake websites and documents including passports, ID cards, business registration records and many others as part of their fraud. Their intention is to lure people into buying gold and other goods at prices never heard of. Most people see these deals as a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a great profit and grow their business and wealth. However, it is extremely important to be cautious with such proposals.
Mali scams have duped thousands of people worldwide, and will continue to grow unless people start verifying and taking international due diligence seriously. Business people and investors need to know that it is nearly impossible to verify an individual or company overseas without the assistance of a trained investigator on the ground in the local country, with the investigative training, contacts and resources to get the facts. Investing without evidence is a dangerous game.
Not only do many people get ripped off and lose their lifetime savings, but also many business people have turned to bankruptcy and ruined their brands. Victims usually come across such scammers through unsolicited emails or social media messages. The scammers claim that they are in possession of gold, gems or other goods that will be sold at almost 50% less than the market price. The promise is that in this way the buyer will have an opportunity to sell it with good profits. Victims are often convinced of the authenticity of the scam because they are presented with forged or false documents bearing the appearance of official government letterhead, seals, as well as other “official” letters.
How to avoid Mali scams?
Perpetrators will establish credibility with the fake documents and will put some pressure on the victims to limit the time frame needed for an investigation. The first step to avoid fraud is to understand that no matter how good the deal seems, there are procedures to follow and this will require some time (approximately 5 to 7 days) with professional help. A local investigator in Mali will be needed to verify business registration and documents relevant to the case.
A background check investigation on the contact or representative is an essential part of the process, as verifying the identity and business and criminal records can provide important evidence. Once this step is complete, a local investigation might be necessary to verify the existence of the gold or the goods being offered. Making an informed decision is critical in Africa.
It is also important to mention that once someone becomes a victim, it is extremely unlikely to be able to recover losses. Unfortunately, embassies and other official authorities cannot act as attorneys or legal advisors for the foreign victims. Remember that prevention is the key to success.
If you have met someone from Mali or West Africa who is offering you a business deal, make sure you verify them and get all the evidence you need! Contact us today for a free quote.
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