MANILA, Philippines?If you have access to e-mail and want to file a consumer complaint with the Department of Trade and Industry, specifically the National Capital Region office, visit its official website, http://www.dtincr.ph.
Just click on the title Consumer Complaint and fill out the online form. Hopefully, that means your problem can get attended to promptly.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about an American network?s investigation on the proliferation of e-mail from widows, orphaned sons/daughters, or bankers of dead African strongmen who need help having the deceased?s millions of dollars released.
E-mail senders ask for cash to pay off some corrupt government bureaucrat in exchange for a hefty share of the ill-gotten wealth. The network found that the United States Secret Service receive hundreds of complaints every month from people who are duped into sending thousands of dollars.
Victims are students and professionals, young people and senior citizens. Many victims get conned because e-mail senders portray themselves as devout Christians, invoking God every second sentence.
Well the scam has been ?Filipinized.? A person claiming to be Maria Elena Fernandez says she was married to a certain Rodolfo Fernandez ?who worked with Philippine embassy in Kuwait for nine years before we left to Philippine where he was re-appointed as a navy officer before his untimely death in the year 2005.?
She says they were married for 11 years but were childless. ?Before his death we were both born again Christian... When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $7.3Musd (Seven Million Three Hundred Thousand US Dollars) in cash concealed in a trunk box and deposits it with a Security Company in Abidjan Cote d ivoire (West Africa) which he declare and register it as family valuables.?
Maria Elena says she is dying of cancer and wants to give the money to a church or individual so it can be used for orphanages, widows, propagation of the word of God and maintenance of churches.
Anyone who responds to her appeal will receive ?legal proof? of the existence of the trunk and ?authority letter that will prove you the present and legal beneficiary of this trunk box (fund).? Probably because fewer and fewer people are getting taken in by outright promises of enormous sums, Maria Elena does not spell out the terms of this partnership.
Bhutto?s campaign funds
Another recent variation of the African e-mail, and one that is closer to the original, uses the late Benazir Bhutto, who was killed during a rally in Pakistan.
The sender of the e-mail, who identifies himself as Rold Faiz, campaign manager of the late presidential aspirant, says he got the recipient?s contact details ?through my personal search to see if you can assist me by providing your safe bank account for this transfer or find a reliable person who will be capable of receiving such amount in his or her personal account.?
He says he managed to escape ?with huge amount of dollars, we intended to use in the rally and I?m on exile in Indonesia with my family for our safety. I deem it necessary to evacuate this money immediately... for my personal use and investment overseas.?
Faiz says he has US$12 million in his possession and wants to hook up with ?a reliable foreigner who will act as the foreign beneficiary of the fund... by providing his/her bank account where the fund will be transferred for immediate investment on any viable project as no one can lay hand or come up to claim it.?
For the generous gesture of lending his/her bank account, whoever agrees to the arrangement will get 25 percent of the amount while Faiz and the bank manager will split the 60 percent. The rest will cover expenses.
Although the dollar has fallen in value vis a vis the peso, $3 million is certainly not to be sneezed at?that is if the offer is legitimate. But, as all those who sent money to the desperate housewives and children and bankers of deceased African dictators found out, theirs were the only bank accounts the e-mail senders were interested in.
When you get e-mail like this, it is best to keep in mind the DTINCR?s advice, although directed at those who get text messages about winning in a raffle of some kind.
Do not give any personal information to anybody you do not know like your name, home or office address and most especially bank account number. Do not deposit money into any bank account whether it is for the release of a cash prize or to get hold of a dictator?s loot.
Incidentally, if you want to verify with DTINCR if so-called promotions are legitimate, text: DTINCR[space]PERMIT[space][PERMIT NUMBER] and send to 2948. You can also call the DTI hotline 7513330.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., Makati City; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org