Tag Archives: scams

Cryptocurrency – Should Government monitor stupidity?

I have been following reports about an alleged cryptocurrency scam that has been going on and has left many in tears after losing unmentionable sums of money. Listening to pundits on radio interchangebly calling the scam bitcoin and blockchain was the lowest moment for me because it showed a total failure to understand what cryptocurrencies (cryptos) are.

The scam promised depositors a 40% return on their money monthly hence attracting many fly by night, get rich quick addicts. They borrowed money, invested their savings, gathered their relatives to co-invest, sounds familiar? They were being sold tales of how the money is invested in cryptos and multiplies very fast as a result.

A Cyptocurrency is a digital currency that uses cryptography for security (like the water marks you see on paper money) thus making it difficult to counterfeit. Examples incude Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ripple, Stellar among others.

Cryptocurrencies enable normal execution of financial transactions online. One can buy or sell using Bitcoin for as ong as the other party can transact using the same medium. Microsoft, AT&T, Expedia, Norwegian Air and Travala are some of the globally known brands that accept Bitcoin transactions.

Lack of regulation aside, cryprocurrencies are looked at as the future of currency.  Being a new concept, the scammers are always awake to exploit the ignorance of the masses. The scams are no different from the Black Dollars con where one is given a box full of dollar size papers and some liquid with the promise that you can print your own dollars at will.

Some indicators of scams are;

  • The lure for high returns amidst minimal risk on the investment. Imagine the promise that these Ugandans got of 40% returns monthy. Which business can guarantee this? Maybe selling cocaine or heroin.
  • Being pushed to urgently make a decision after a pitch. The agents are designed to make the sale in a manner that doesn’t give you time to have a second thought.
  • Information expecially online is usually not easy to come by but in cases where you find it, not much can be deciphered. I saw this with One Coin when it was initially marketed to me.
  • If it is too good to be true
  • When you do not understand the actual business and how it brings in the money.

Media pundits have blamed the Government for not regulating the Cryptocurrencies. They forget that the growth of technology is much faster than governments can keep pace. Imagine Mobile Money which has been a part of our economy for over a decade still has not got the full regulatory mechanism in place. We only hope to see that happen probably next year. How about cryptos which are not only new age but ever changing in design?

One would think that the gullible victims are the poor unemployed Ugandans looking for a way to make a quick buck but that doesnt explain the presence on the list of some top military officials who put in millions as well as a good number of corporate employees.

So, other than blame cryptocurrencies for what is going on, we should be focusing on the scams and the perpetrators who try to hide under the noble innovation of Cryptos and Blockchain. The funny thing is that the victims are now looking for the next scam to join.

Nothing substitutes eaarning through legitimate hardwork especially if your goal is lasting wealth.

James Wire is a Business & Technology Consultant based in Kampala

Twitter – @wirejames

Email – lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com

Identifying Fake job Opportunities

Monday November 13th 2017 will go down as a very sad day for many young and ready to work youths who got conned into believing that they had got job offers with Java House in Kampala, Uganda.

The unemployment situation in Uganda is so dire that it has led to lots of frustrations among many youths. Most are either unemployed or under-employed. I know of a Business Administration degree holder who is woking as a brick layer at a construction site. What hurt most about the Java house ordeal was the word making rounds that the applicants had parted with nearly UGX 1 Million shillings to be considered.

This same frustration is the one leading a number of other youths to blindly opt for jobs in the Middle East under suspicious arrangements only to end up as slave labour or even sex peddlers.

In all this, how does one identify that a job opportunity is most likely fake? I share some of the telltale signs that should flag off suspicion in your mind in the event that a job offer is being made to you.

  1. Money Payment: Any job opportunity where you are urged to part with money is most likely fake. They might try legitimising the payment in various ways but genuine recruiters never ask money from the applicants since they are usually paid by the company contracting them to recruit on their behalf.

  2. Offers of an abnormal salary: When presented with an offer whose salary promise is way above the average market rates, always think twice. Let us take the example of a front desk officer (or receptionist) who on average earns between UGX 300,000/ and UGX 600,000/. For someone to tell you that there is an offer for a similar job that is giving a starting salary of UGX 2,000,000/, a red flag should immediately go off in your mind.

  3. Sounding too good to be true? Whenever you see an opportunity that sounds too good to be true, then probably it isn’t. You might see an advert stating a seven figure salary, all sorts of benefits like a car, life and health insurance, housing allowance, communication allowance etc, all these for an entry level graduate job. Most likely, this is a red herring. Do not waste your effort pursuing such since the next level might be a request for you to pay some money for special consideration.

  4. They contacted you: There are cases where you receive a call or email with an offer for a job. You have no clue about the company in question but they seem to know enough about you. Before blushing and rushing to dance to their tunes, it is important to find out how they got through to you. If you are an experienced professional with an impeccable track record, it is very likely you could be easily contacted. However, if you’re a fresh graduate with hardly no professional record worth talking about, take a step back and ensure that you’re not being led into a job scam aimed at ripping you off.

  5. Instant Job Offers: This could come in the form of an email or even after a staged interview. Take a step back my brother/sister, things just do not come easy lately. As the next steps are spelt out to you, analyse them and see if they are typical of a con being shoved your way. Most likely, after such a job offer, you might be requested for some processing fees which you might gladly pay, afterall you’ve got the job. If they do this to 100 interviewees with each surrendering processing fees of UGX 20,000/ they will casually walk away with UGX 2,000,000/.

  6. Unclear Job Requirements: Job offers that are never specific in their requirements are always aimed at attracting as many applicants as possible to apply and these are usually scams. The job might not require experience or even a level of education and yet at the same time offer a very abnormal salary and benefits. This smells like a scam from the word go. Flee!!!

  7. Adverts printed on photocopy paper and pinned on roadside poles or walls of buildings: The majority of such offers are scams with the target of the scammer being the application fees that are usually charged. They have a tendency of taking applicants through a series of interviews while demanding for payment at each level. Their fees are usually pocket friendly to the individual but because they tap into a very big pool of applicants, they earn lots.

  8. You’re called at odd hours: Professional recruiters are not likely to engage you outside working hours. When you are called say at 10pm in the evening, or on a sunday over a job opportunity, those are red flags already. Do not let your desperacy mask these red flags. Tread carefully.

  9. Abrupt change of interview location: A few years back, a young man called me and wanted directions to a place he’d been called to for an interview. He narrated to me how the recruiter had called him early in the morning and given him directions to an alternative location. A google maps search indicated that the new interview location was in a very questionable neighbourhood. I advised him to abort the trip. This young man probably survived being robbed or even a kidnap. The moral of this story is that never proceed for an interview whose venue has been altered at the last minute.

  10. Interview Location: What does it look like? Is it the kind of place that inspires confidence? Is it an established office that you are likely to find if you returned after a month? A while back, there was a story of a young lady who went for an interview which was conducted in a home. Unfortunately, she was raped in the process. Be on the look out, avoid being led like a stray sheep, you just never know the motives of the recruiter.

  11. Smooth Talking: When confronted with a smooth talking recruiter, do not allow to be swayed by their talk, there-in lies their trump card. They usually string up a series of lies that easily give you a false sense of comfort. Just ensure that you do not abandon your sense of basic reasoning as you interact with them and do not be shy to ask the tough questions, even when they might create some discomfort.

  12. Secrecy: When a job offer presented to you demands that you keep its details a secret, run immediately if you can. Crooks usually in an effort to keep their illicit activities under wraps tend to utilise secrecy as a weapon. By the time you realise you’ve been ripped off, they have disappeared and can hardly be traced. This might have been the case with the Java House applicants.

Take great care as you look for that job opportunity.

James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda.

Follow @wirejames on Twitter.

Email lunghabo (at) gmail (dot) com