If you have been scammed, please post here and share your experience; it may help others avoid the same situation!
#45073 by tmax Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:11 am

I AM THE CEO OF A COMPANY IN THE UNITED STATES. I posted an entry on Tradekey that I was interested in purchasing Gold Bars. I had a prompt reply from what appeared to be a very professional Gold Mining company (Raabo Gold Mine) with postings all throughout the internet. After a representative (Stephen Hien) contacted me using a free internet email address, he sent me a contract for a CIF transaction. They had very specific requirements, 1) They wanted a 12 month contract with the first transaction to be 10 days after the contract was signed with a seal by Kone Somalia . 2) A copy of my passport 3) I was to pay the export taxes, and freight cost. All of this seemed legitimate. I did a research of the company on the internet and found NO NEGATIVE OR FRAUDULENT entries. We agreed to do an initial shipment of 10-kgs as a test and would increase the quantity after the first shipment. That is when this very elaborate scam began.

I signed the contract on November 24, 2010 and then Mr. Stephen Hien sent me the name of a freight forwarder they use in Burkina Faso. This freight forwarder would pay the taxes and be responsible for exporting the Gold to me. The freight forwarder (AGS Burkina) representative provided the information for the money to be wired to their bank account. After they received the money, it took several days to get receipt that the money was received and when the shipment would be sent. Mr. Samuel then promised that the shipment would arrive in four days. Mr Amichia AKA Samuel contacted me the night the shipment was to be sent and stated that we needed to get ‘cargo insurance’. The contract specifically states that the seller will provide the insurance. Nevertheless, the scam continues because now they insist that cargo insurance is mandatory and can only be purchased in the Country of Origin. They gave me the name of an insurance company and informed me that it would cost an additional $25,000 for the insurance before the Gold bars could be shipped to the United States. After I refused to pay this amount for this fraudulent insurance, Mr. Hien contacts me and states they have found another insurance company that will give a discount on the insurance. I still refused to pay this amount and told them I thought this was outrageous especially since I paid for taxes, freight and insurance upfront. They again negotiated and stated that the cost of the insurance and can be extracted from the final payment. That the Gold is at the airport and cannot stay there more than 14 days or the government would seize it. After some time, Mr. Hien agrees to ‘share’ the cost of the insurance and because I have already invested and did not want to forfeit that amount, I agreed to send an additional $10,000 for this insurance. They insisted that I send this money ‘Money Gram’ to expedite and continue forwarding the freight. I sent over the money and AGS Burkina called me the night the Gold was shipped and stated it would arrive ASAP. He then took 24 hrs to send over the export documents and ‘airway’ bill. After several calls, I received the documents, to notice there was no airway bill. Items cannot be shipped without an airway bill. After several days, and no shipment and no response from AGS Burkina or Mr. Samuel, I inform Mr. Hien that something must be done and I must receive my shipment. Again the scam continues. Mr. Hien takes several weeks stalling stating that AGS Burkina misplaced the shipment and they needed to retrieve it and they would do what is necessary to send the shipmen t out. Mr. Hien states that he is going to send a representative from Ghana to ‘hand carry’ the shipment to cover both parties. I agree to wait, only to be informed that the representative could not deliver because he would have to pay additional export taxes for the representative to leave Ghana. Mr. Hien states I must come to Burkina Faso and retrieve the shipment. After several conversations, and I am adamant about not sending ANYMORE money as part of the African Gold Scam. Mr. Hien states that the export taxes must be paid again because now the shipment is over 14 days and the government won’t allow it to ship. I again state that I would not pay these taxes, only to have them state that their ‘partners’ will negotiate the taxes to ½ but I must come to Burkina Faso. After all of this, I agree to come to Burkina Faso but will only pay a certain amount for the export taxes and to retrieve the Gold.

Mr. Hien and a partner meet me at the airport, assist with my Visa and set me up for a night in the hotel. I go to the village to meet their partners and began to see this elaborate scam is more advanced than I thought. I pay the taxes only and go back to the airport to leave with the goods and the next phase of the scam continues. They take the shipment and ‘board ‘it on the plane. As I await new export documents, I miss my flight. I was told that it was on the flight. Once I got to the US, I was informed that the Gold (shipment) was never placed on the plane. After which all communication seized. All in all this is very elaborate scam that has been well thought out and a great degree of this looks legitimate. But just like the Advanced Fee Scam, at every progress level they hold the Gold distribution for more money until you refuse to pay anymore and then they move on. Please beware of this scam that is now in the West African Region (Burkina Faso).

#45074 by Dora Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:21 am
tmax, welcome to ScamWarners, but I am sorry that it is because you have been a victim of a scam.

Many of the scams can very sophisticated and not all take place just over the internet. While I am sorry that you have lost money in this scam, I am glad that no harm came to you while you traveled -- that is a relief.

Can you help post up any additional information regarding your communications with these scammers? Initial emails (with headers minus any of your personal contact information), any documents they may have sent to you, phone numbers they used, etc. All of this can help others from being scammed by these same people too.

I think this thread might be better suited in the Personal Accounts of Scams forum. I will ask a mod to move it.

Thanks for sharing your story and I hope it will help prevent others from being scammed too.
#45183 by GomerPyle Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:12 am
As Dora said tmax, you could have been a great personal risk without ever realising it.

I've got to say that you've been very naive, but I won't hammer you on that score as you've learned in the most painful way that dealing with any third world country you have to be paranoid to avoid being scammed. I'm amazed you didn't think of requiring some means to check the quality/purity of the gold you were purchasing, though your innocence and compliance is probably what helped you avoid trouble.

If you're a small businessman, without getting into prohibitively expensive arrangements, then the simple solution is to get them to put the goods on the desk in front of you in your home country, where you can test, assay and check the goods within an infrastructure of legality to protect both sides.

If you hadn't paid up and gone away quietly it's very likely you'd have found that the scammer could easily 'arrange' for you to have serious problems, and local law enforcement cannot be relied on in third world countries and may often be complicit in fraud when they are offered a cut.

Non-EU citizens should go here to find out about obtaining a visa to work as an au pair in the UK
Whenever payment is requested by Western Union you're dealing with a scammer

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