As a young business executive in my prime, getting a nice car to move me around has always been on my mind. The feeling is even stronger when I find myself squeezed in between two Agbogbloshie market mamas returning home in a rickety trotro.
And when you find yourself sandwiched between sweaty guys who boldly rest their arms on the seat in front of you, the overpowering odour from their armpits makes you wish the Kasoa-bound bucket of nails had a sunroof through which you could thrust your head for fresh air.
But Kasoa-bound vehicles may not be the only ones habouring people who could cause you perpetual discomfort. On a recent journey from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to East Legon one guy gave me a “scented stunt”! He sat at the window and I sat next to him. Just when the mate started collecting the fares, this passenger stretched his hand rubbing portions of his biceps and triceps in my face. And there was so much traffic, the road was literally gridlocked and no car could move – making what was supposed to be a short journey feel like a voyage to Jerusalem.
Because of these incidents I swore I would grab a car. My first port of call were the garages littering the roadsides. I discovered later that cars sold at these places are way too expensive.
So when news of a new online marketing platform emerged some months ago, many of us were excited to dizzying levels. Naturally so because in Ghana looking for goods to buy or services to engage is akin to taking a gun and hitting the thick forest in search of a rare breed of rattle snake – you could be bitten to death even when you find what you want. There’re fraudsters everywhere.
Unfortunately, these fraudster are now using various online platforms to dupe unsuspecting clients. The Google Trader website is one of such platforms.
I have been compelled to write this article because Google has failed to respond to any of the mails I have sent concerning this problem. Google is a decent website. Its various modules help businesses boost productivity. Google is changing lives across the world. However, they must pay attention to the classifieds sub-site they have launched. On this site individuals and companies can list their products, goods and services free of charge. Interested buyers or patrons could call telephone numbers provided and then a new business deal is established.
Sadly,some miscreants are abusing this opportunity with impunity. In my search for a solution to my trotro discomfort, I decided to visit Google Trader to find a car to buy. I was surprised to find such a big online market where you could find anything from toothbrush to the latest car in town to buy.
I settled for a home-used Nissan Rogue, because two of my friends use this make of Nissan. The car literally glides on the road – it’s a perfect piece of paradise on the inside. The Rogue is often priced at 40,000 Ghana cedis in town. So when I saw one going for 19,000 Ghana cedis I became suspicious and cautiously optimistic. This was when I started doing my background search.
The Rogue was listed as a Tamale-based item. This meant that I had to fly to the North to get the car. I called up the “owner” who sounded like a big man getting some shut eye in a comfortable sofa. But his slow talk did not put me off.
Yearning to drive my own mobile paradise, I called up a friend in Tamale to check on this deal and verify the authenticity of this listing. Nurudeen was supposed to locate the garage and meet the people to wrap up the deal. As a Tamale-born man, Nuru knows every nook and cranny of the Northern Regional capital. He knows the latest khebab joint at Lamashegu and the oldest land guard in the settlement around the Tamale Airport.
To get the car I was so supposed to deposit 50% of the cost of the car, that’s 9,500 Ghana cedis in their accounts and then pay up the rest upon delivery from Tamale.
Back in Accra I was a happy man – My long struggle in trotro would soon be over. I would not have to encounter incidents that make me relish having the trunk of an elephant with which I could take some fresh air into a stuffy trotro.
However, my hopes would soon be dashed. As Nurudeen discovered, no such garage existed. Nuru decided to ask them further questions. After realizing that he had been found out, one of the dealers grabbed the phone, sounding so hysterical, angry, peeved – he cut the line on my friend. They’d not answer their phone anymore.
And these people have various listings on Google Trader. They claim to have vehicles in various faraway northern Ghana towns – from Bole to Bolgatanga and from Wa to Walewale. There are other listings they claim are based at Navrongo, Damango and other places faraway from the Accra-based car buyer.
In fact, almost 50% of listed vehicles are from these scammers.
Put a call through to them and you’ll be “advised” to make part payment into their account and settle the rest when this unknown factor delivers the car to your doorstep. This part payment is about 10-50% of the cost of the car. That means for a Camry with price quoted at 20,000 Ghana cedis, you’ll have to deposit 2,000 Ghana cedis in their account – paying for a vehicle sight unseen!
Try to locate their garages, and you’ll discover they don’t exist. Surprisingly, they do not even know the price they quote for the vehicles. They’d always ask: “What price do you see there”. They have too many fake listings to manage.
You could easily find a 2009 Range Rover – which has a market price of 90,000 Ghana cedis – going for as low as 30,000 Ghana cedis or the latest Toyota Highlander Hybrid – about 70,000 Ghana cedis – going for 25,000 Ghana cedis, all under the pretext of an auction.
Don’t be deceived, it’s all a scam! If you doubt me check these out.