The import-export international system might not be a walk in the park for many business people. Unfortunately, many scams can damage such processes and the victims are the companies. When a company wants to break into a new market, such as Africa, they are exposed to a variety of obstacles. Some of them are sugar coated with amazing opportunities. But, as we know, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
So, if you want to get involved in an import-export type of business, you need to keep an eye open for such traps. Especially when it comes to the African market which is so wide and has specific needs and strategies! As a foreign investor and business person, you will have to stay informed and alert regarding all the norms and regulations to keep your company safe. Scammers will be mostly focused on your products and they can make a profit with them.
So let’s see how to avoid import-export scams from your business:
BE AWARE OF ONLINE SCAMMING
Before dealing with any other type of scams, it all starts online. There are many scam websites to look after when you want to break into the African market. The local scammer will assume that you are not familiar with the legislation and they will take advantage of that. Also, they will try to make you great offers when you expose your case and look for advice on the matter.
If you receive too many emails from a particular individual or company, it is usually a bad sign. They will also give you unnecessary details to detour you and make you see just their solution to your problem or situation. Staying alert not only saves your company but also your finances. So, here are some aspects to look after when you are trying to figure out the import-export process online!
The B2B portal
It is a very popular portal for international business people worldwide. Most exporters will consult the B2B portal when they want to break into the African market. They will post questions, announcements or simply information about their business. B2B stands for “business to business” e-commerce, and even if there is legit information on the portal, there are many scams as well.
A well set B2B portal and the account can be very similar to an online store. Sounds interesting? Of course, it does! But there are shady aspects to it as well. Local announcements found on the B2B claim to be interested in a variety of products. The most popular ones are beauty products, foods, devices and gadgets, and clothes. But the range goes even further than that, and you will be overwhelmed with the number of possibilities that you will have. That is why you have to pay extra attention to details.
Do not make payments before you verify all the parties involved. Don’t start investing in business activities with people that make you offers that seem too good to be true. And don’t give away personal information in the name of unjustified trust between you and a potential partner.
Companies that do everything for you
This scam is not so popular, but it does have its shares of victims among international companies. Exporters have to face a wide range of new legislation and norms when they want to break into a market. And this is the case when it comes to the African market as well.
When a company assures you that they will deal with all that for you, it might be appealing! Most of these companies are legit because there is a demand for them and they always have clients. However, there are also companies that will just take your money and give you nothing more than a hole in the budget.
One way to make the difference is by not rushing to make payments before you get some information.
Study their website, call their office and ask the right questions before paying them. Also, check online for possible testimonials and reviews that they might have. A real company will have a variety of real clients to give you an honest impression of their services. All you need to do is find those people and talk to them or read their reviews.
Ghost companies usually cover their tracks pretty well. You will not be able to find any more information on them, besides the information they give you. And this is always a bad sign. Import-export scams are very easy to make so, be aware that you might be walking on shaking the ground.
How to check if a website is legit
The main and sometimes the only interaction you will have with your partners on international trading will be online. It means that their website is probably the main information you will get unless you dig deeper. And sometimes it doesn’t take too much to spot a fake website. Here are some easy ways to check if a website is legit:
– Read their content carefully to see if there are any simple grammar mistakes
– Look for the owner of the domain by paying attention to their link and researching it well online. Or you can introduce their link into website scam checker such as whois.net. African scams are usually based on a fake website.
– Call the numbers on the website, ff they don’t have any contact numbers, this is already a red flag!
MOST DANGEROUS AFRICAN COUNTRIES WHEN IT COMES TO SCAMS
Not all the African countries are the same in matters of scamming companies. Some are safer than the rest while others are a real trap to fall into. Nigeria is by far one of the shadiest ones when you do import-export business. One of the reasons for this is that Nigeria is a highly populated country.
In 2016 its population reached 185,989,640 which also means that Nigerian scams are more frequent. While the majority of Nigerian companies are legit, there are always exceptions. Nigeria is the largest U.S. partner regarding trading with Africa. The connections are so tight that the U.S even considered making serious investments in the country. This environment led some local companies to promote services that they can’t cover. They will tell foreigners that they can help them with the import-export process for a small fee.
But after the payment is made, there are no more services. Nigerian scams are not limited to import-export business but also to a variety of other domains. And you can be easily tempted to fall into one of these frauds because they are wrapped in a very realistic perspective.
Benin is a respectable country in Africa, but some companies give it a bad name as well. Scammers from Benin are orientated on import scams. It also happens because Benin is importing a lot of goods from several industries. They need foods, technology items, clothes, and even construction materials.
They will make up names for companies as well as for official authorities such as Contract Awarding Committee. Also, their names will be spelled with acronyms so that you can’t verify them for instance, WADECO, WAADA or BEFDAC. If you search such names online without getting any satisfying results, chances are they are not real.
All these details are meant to confuse you and keep you focused only on the fake benefits that they claim to bring you. They might even ask you for fancy presents that they should give to certain officials in your name to ease your trading. But this is a bribing strategy, and it is illegal so don’t let them lure you in!
Cameroon scammers are specialized in export fraud rather than the import type. They offer services that never happen and charge for them in a very deceitful manner. But most often, they will offer fictional commodities that you will never receive after the payment is made. Their offers get to be very desirable and affordable to attract new clients. Cameroon scammers will pretend to sell everything from food to clothes and other products.
Always double check when dealing with such a situation to make sure you don’t become a victim of fraud! The export scam can be easy for them, but you can also see it coming and prevent it. Remember that authorities don’t use email for official trading. Also, some offers do require some warranty but never a payment in advance! The best thing you can do is to get in contact with your embassy in Cameroon before finalizing any transaction.
They will be able to confirm or not the legit aspect of it before it is too late. You can also search the photos they attach to their offers to see if the products are theirs or not. Fake photos will be present on other websites online, and you will be able to tell the difference easily.
What to Do If You Think You Are a Victim of Fraud
First of all, inform the authorities in charge! If an offer or a transaction seems shady, let the African government know about it in detail. Also, make sure to report scam calls as soon as they happen because time might not work in your favor.
It is also a good idea to be active on forums and talk about your situation. You might find other potential fraud victims out there and exchange valuable information. As well as you will help others that might fall into the same trap as you. Such actions contribute to making the system safer with your case and experience. Keeping an experience like this to you will not serve any good purpose in the long run.
Remember that everyone can become a potential victim. So, if it does happen to you, don’t be too harsh on yourself! What matters is to learn from such an unfortunate experience and make your business better. Over time you will find it easy to spot the scammers and stay away from them. Especially in such a complex type of business is as import-export trading.
The Most Common Types of Frauds
When you do business in Africa, the list of frauds can be very innovative. When one gets too old, scammers find a good substitute for it. With the power of the internet that we have nowadays, trading is easier but also difficult.
This paradox is due to the amount of information that you can find, in comparison with the increased possibility of being scammed. But there is no need to worry. All you have to do is stay informed and in touch with the right websites and authorities. It will keep you safe and successful in your field of trading. Here are the most common types of frauds to look after!
– Pro forma invoice: this scam helps them get your personal information and use it against you. When it comes to import-export frauds, this type of scam is very popular. If you do provide the pro forma invoice, they might get funds out of your account easily.
– Free sample: it might make sense to send a free sample to your potential client or partner, but it can also be risky. The scammers will promise an important sale after you provide them the free sample. And they do this with many companies which make them rich!
They will not place the big order, but they will resell the free sample and make a good profit on it. Your sample will not be identified easily once it reaches the African market. This is because most likely, they will change the information, wrapping and even the name of your product.
– Credit card: besides not giving your credit card information you shouldn’t consider payments via checks either. Especially if you don’t know your partner well enough to trust them with such information. Checks can be easily forged, and credit cards can be faked.
They can steal your credit card information and make expensive purchases in your name. Meanwhile, they will promise you access to the African market, but this will never happen.
– Shipping scam: Many companies claim to offer you an easy and affordable shipping process for your goods. So easy that you don’t have to make any effort. But in reality, a company that offers that is nothing more than a fake shipping company. Which means that they will receive your goods and keep them. You will get no cut of the sales and no recognition on the African market. But they will get rich by reselling your products that they didn’t even pay for!
While these are the most frequent types of scams, they are not the only ones. Keep an eye open for new ones because they tend to appear every year. And because they are new, people get more vulnerable and easy to fraud. It is a great idea to double check every transaction you make online. Check for the goods you want to buy as well to see if they are genuine. And be active online to gather as much information as you need to feel safe.
A Safe Way to Do Import Export Business on the African Market
While these risks are real and can be challenging to spot, you don’t have to fight with them alone. In your favor comes the Waystocap system. It will not only keep you away from scammers, but they will guide you through the entire process. Waystocap is a developed system that takes care of importers and exporters in Africa. They provide valuable information to their clients and also protect their transactions.
Through this system, you can do everything from purchases to transactions and shipping. They also take care of your legal needs and add insurance to your goods. Waystocap is going to put you in contact with legit local companies to fulfill your business goal. They will filter the scammers from the good partners that you can have and save you a lot of time. It is not only useful to keep you safe but also to help you along the way.
Depending on the type of goods that you import or export, you will find the best opportunities for your needs. And more often than not, companies have different needs that don’t fit into the same standard strategy. Waystocap will offer you options to overcome your challenges and obstacles. The possibility of getting scammed completely disappears by following the Waystocap system. And they will not ask you to pay unnecessary fees before you see any results.
If you do have a personal concern regarding a certain website or local company, you can address it to Waystocap. They can do the checking for you and simply give you the final result without stressing you and your team. With Waystocap, you will only have positive experiences when trading in Africa. Africa offers a multitude of real and legit business opportunities that you deserve to explore and enjoy!