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Not sure if this is a scam or not. Please Help

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Joined: 03 Apr 2005, 4:24
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr 2005 04:46    Post subject: Not sure if this is a scam or not. Please Help Reply with quote

I need help. I'm an exporter of rapid diagnostic tests from the Philippines and I received 2 offers from the Cotonou, Republic of Benin via The first lead I got from an Alibaba "wanting to buy" trade lead, I sent a quotation to this company, and shortly after I received an order for 55,000 strips of pregnancy tests bec. they told us that they found our prices "attractive", I confirmed the order by sending a proforma invoice, the company acknowledged the receipt of the proforma invoice is now asking for samples. Our company policy for samples is that the courier charges is charged to the client. But the client insists on us sending the samples and we pay for the freight bec. they have no Inbound courier account number so the samples would be freight collect. I am a little bit apprehensive of the legitimacy of this order bec. of the numerous scams in the internet esp from countries like Benin & Nigeria. Do you have any examples of this kind of transactions that turned out to be scams?

The other order lead I got from a person who posted a lead that they are an importer of biotechnolgy products and that they were mandated by biotech companies to import for them. I sent them a quotation and after submitting the prices to their board, he e-mailed me his large order and told me to send him a proforma invoice, the quantity was for 7,000,000 pcs for products worth about USD 3 Million. Is this a new scam. I desperately need answers. Can you help me.?
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr 2005 08:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi ecsy. You are quite right to suspect foul play, and well done for that.

There are many very legitimate companies in Africa, but unfortunately one has to be very careful indeed.

Personally I don't have any specific examples of what you are offering up here, but here is what I would say.

(1) If a company will not pay for samples, after accepting a pro-forma invoice, then you should be very wary indeed. I would simply insist it is the way that YOUR company does business and if they won't accept it, hard luck on them.

(2) Always be very wary of being approached by buyers wanting unusually large quantities of anything. Test them first. Ask where they found you and ask exactly which product(s) they want.

(3) Where did you advertise your products? Is it normal for your business to be approached by email? Unsolocited approaches by email are rife, and there are many scammers wanting to take advantage.

If they are scammers they may be looking to send a fake cheque/bankers draft to you, or to try and use your banking account as a channel for money laundering (though I'm not too familiar with how they operate the latter).

In any event, be very careful. Are they using free email accounts like yahoo or msn? Can you find any information about the companies they represent? Google is your friend in these respects. Do their phone/fax numbers match where they say they are from? If they are able to purchase very large quantities, why would they use free email? That is certainly dodgy.

If you give us these details we can do some background checks for you if you wish, but I think I may have given you enough to make a start on your own.

As with any business dealings, check the client out thouroughly. If you have ANY doubt whatsoever then do not deal with them.

Should you need any further help, come back and we will be pleased to assist.
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr 2005 13:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

PM recieved, evidence gathered and a PM is waiting for you ecsy.
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr 2005 14:40    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having received a PM from ecsy, I was able to drag out various bits of evidence from copies of email communications and go hunting Smile

Hi ecsy,

Ok let me pull out the evidence against these guys.


This is a free email provider. is a favourite place for scammers to setup their addresses. No legitimate company would ever use a free email provider to operate their business from, they would register thier own domain name and pay for email hosting.

2) "We are one of the leading importers/suppliers..."

Ok. Lets put them to the Google test:- STE. FIRSTAR GLOBAL CO. SARL
Doing a search on google for "FIRSTAR GLOBAL"+BENIN Comes up with only minor hits, both of which are in trade websites. The first one is in the Chinese Food Manufacturers Directory and the company seeks "red and white wines". Quite a bit different from what you are offering. In addition, the contact details of the company are: Stanley Abbas, Carre 58 Vog, Missebo , COTONOU , ATLANTIC ( Benin ), Tel- 229- 31- 3701 Fax- 229- 31- 3701
So, it appears the company has moved locations and phone numbers, but the person remains with them? I smell a rat.
Next we have the second entry in google which is out of date, but safely available in the google cache. This trade site is the Iran Exporters Directory and again we see the company asking for "Laptops/Notebooks and peripherals". Contact details here are:- Mr Stanley Abbas, Phone: 229313801 Fax: 229323746

3) Different email names and signatures "STANLEY SABBAS" vs "STANLE ABBAS" vs "STANLEY ABBAS".

Well spotted. This is VERY common with scammers as all they are doing is copying and pasting information without reading it. This is another sign that it's a scammer as no good company would allow such an untidy image be put forward.

4) "... 14 local distributors ... about 50 workers ... 6years."

Any legitimate company working for so long in Benin would be mentioned in trade journals and websites all over the internet by now. What does theirs not show up?

5) Becca Finance

The Bank Of Africa is real enough, here is their REAL address details:
Banque of Africa Bénin (BOA)
Adresse : Avenue Pape Jean Paul II
Boîte postale : BP: 08- 0879 Cotonou
Téléphone : (229) 31.32.28
Télécopie : (229) 31.31.17
Télex : 5079/5087
E-mail :

As for Becca Finance Google finds only one hit from a diary of 1824? This is clearly not right if Becca Finance were operating for any length of time in Benin.

6) Other information found on

Yes, as you have noted there are many different types of scam and Import/Export scams seem to be on the increase.

7) Request for samples.

I'm not sure what the game is here, but the scammer may be trying to test you to see if you are actually a real company. As I have already said, if this not your normal business operation, don't do it.

8 ) "as a matter of urgency, as being demanded by our local clients"

Another typical scammer ploy. There is always urgency in the air. The scammer wants to rush things to their conclusion. This is typical because the longer the transaction takes, the more likely it becomes that it won't work.

Ok that about covers it. As for trying to authenticate the company itself in Benin, that might prove very difficult or even impossible to do. However, looking at all of the evidence here, I am 100% sure that you are being scammed.

I hope that I have made enough of an investigation for you to determine for yourself that this is indeed a scam. Furthermore I would, now that I have seen all the evidence for myself like to issue you with an official ScamPatrol warning...

You are being scammed by this man and the company he purports to represent. He is bogus and a con man, looking to steal from a reputable company such as yours. Do not deal with him, cease communications and ignore him.

I would like your permission to publish this message in the thread out on the forum so others can see it and learn from it. I wish you well in your business and in your life. You are sharp and have spotted a very well executed scam, and saved yourself and your company. You should be proud of yourself.

Private message published with kind permission of ecsy.
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Joined: 10 Nov 2004, 10:01
Posts: 64

PostPosted: Mon 04 Apr 2005 15:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

see also this topic:

Ask your chember of commerce if the African business is genuine!!!!
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