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Kenyans lose millions in Japan car racket

Posted by Administrator on November 25, 2011

File | Nation Kenyans and other East Africans have lost millions to cartels in Japan purporting to be able to supply them with their dream cars at affordable prices.

Kenyans are losing huge sums of money to international car importation cartels that purport they can sell them affordable vehicles.

At least 30 Kenyans have lost millions of shillings in the scandal involving bogus companies in Japan.

Many more people from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania have fallen victim to the scams, Saturday Nation investigations have revealed.

The conmen employ brilliant tricks to relieve those yearning to drive sleek, second-hand cars of their money.

Investigations by the Saturday Nation established that besides the 30 Kenyans, three Tanzanians, two Ugandans and a Malawian have fallen victim to the fraudsters in less than two months.

Of these, 22 Kenyans, some of them senior civil servants and businessmen, lost Sh13 million in August and September alone after they were tricked by a company called Global Motors Incorporation, which promised to send them selected vehicles on payment of the necessary charges and shipment fees.

The company’s bosses promised to compile orders from Kenyan buyers and after receiving all the payments, they would send the vehicles on a ship that would set sail from Japan on September 30.

From the end of August to the promised date of departure, the fraudsters pressured the victims to make their payments before September 30, saying their vehicles would not be dispatched until all the required cash was wired.

A victim, Mr John Karume, said the “exporter” made a very convincing case that he was a genuine dealer who could send him a car he had identified on the  company’s website.

An honest person

He duly sent Sh1.25 million on September 28, just two days before the deadline, expecting delivery of an immaculate Toyota Prado.

“I didn’t know I was sending the money to a man who wanted to reap where he had not sown,” Mr Karume, a businessman, said sadly.

“But I am determined to fight to salvage even  a part of my money,” he declared.

Mr Karume said he had no reason to think he was being conned as he has imported more than 10 vehicles in his lifetime in the same manner without any problems.

“I found the website of this company to be more appealing than any others I has seen before,” he said.

After identifying a vehicle of his liking, Mr Karume said he got in touch with a company official who identified himself as Mr Atsushi Watanabe, the managing director.

He said he sounded like an honest person who even offered a big discount of Sh162,000.

“After a short exchange of emails and telephone conversations, Mr Watanabe agreed to reduce the amount from Sh1.4 million to Sh1.25 million.

“I had no reason to think twice when the deal looked so good,” Mr Karume said.

He said Mr Watanabe persistently reminded him that the deadline for him  to pay up so the car could be put on the next ship to Kenya was fast approaching.

Eager not to miss the ship’s September 30 departure date, Mr Karume made an electronic funds transfer on September 28.

He said after receiving the money, Mr Watanabe confirmed the departure of the ship and promised to keep his part of the bargain.

“I had heard the last of Mr Watanabe,” Mr Karume said. “His mobile phone was off and his website had been pulled down,” he said.

“Then I realised I had been duped,” said a shocked Mr Karume.

Mr Karume’s story is similar to at least 10 other victims of the scandal that the Saturday Nation spoke to.

Mrs Betty Chege, a businesswoman, says she is going through a traumatising experience.

She still remains hopeful that one day she will trace Mr Watanabe and get her car or recover her money.

She is, however, getting impatient as efforts to recover the money or the car are taking too long to bear fruit.

Heart-wrenching story

“I hate to think that the money could be lost,” she said.

Hers is an even more heart-wrenching story as she was eagerly anticipating the best ever Christmas present from her husband — a Toyota Wish worth Sh675,000.

“The best Christmas gift ever from my husband is turning out to be a nightmare,” she said.

She expected to receive the car early enough for use during the festive season.

Mrs Chege sent the money to Mr Watanabe on August 30, a month before the expected departure of the ship to Kenya.

When the victims learnt that the company’ telephone numbers and web contacts they had been using no longer existed, they quickly arranged meetings to try and find ways of tracking down the fraudsters.

Their first step was to report  the matter to the Kenyan Foreign Affairs ministry, where they were promised the issue could be raised with the embassy in Tokyo, Japan.

They also reported the matter to the local office of Interpol.

On Thursday, local Interpol boss Mary Kaol said that vehicle importation cartels in the business of defrauding innocent people were mushrooming.

“Many people are falling victim,” she said.

“In fact, we are planning to involve the media in educating people on the tricks the conmen are using to steal from the public,” Ms Kaol said.

No longer in existence

The victims also sent a representative to Japan who confirmed that the company they were dealing with was, indeed, no longer in existence.

An attempt to get access to the company’s bank accounts failed after they were informed that this would amount to disclosing clients’ confidential information.

But they learnt that the company they were dealing with indeed had an account with the bank.

Senior project officer of the Japan External Trade Organisation Robert Kimani confirmed  they were keenly following the case.

Mr Kimani advised vehicle importers to deal with companies that were members of the Japan Used Motor Vehicles Exporters Association.

“It is easy to find a company claiming to be based in Japan while its bank account is in China,” he warned.

The Japan External Trade Organisation  was created to promote genuine trade and business with Japan.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Kenyans+lose+millions+in+Japan+car+racket+/-/1056/1279342/-/uf8vqo/-/index.html

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2 Responses to “Kenyans lose millions in Japan car racket”

  1. Herb said

    Sounds too good to be true,it probably is!!!.Sometimes, cheap is expensive.Poleni tu sana.

  2. mtangwa said

    I feel this story is from secondhand motor vehicle dealers in Kenya who have lost customers terribly. They used to import vehicles from Japan en sell them in Kenya at exorbitant prices. Gradually Kenyans started to go for the process of importing on their own. This new trend has become popular to Kenyans mostly those in need of private vehicles to the extent that ”its not new if you did not import it yourself ”. So motor dealers in Kenya have lost terribly to effects of internet connectivity. Scamming is all over but this story was meant to create fear among Kenyans willing to import directly.

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