Cameroon Bug Scam
Have you ever read an article about someone who has lost a few hundred pounds to someone in Africa and thought "that will never happen to me", well we said the same!
I've always heard that people can stoop to any level to make themselves a quick buck. And like most people I also used to think that it could never happen to me. The events that I have experienced have taught me to be very careful where money is concerned.
I often find myself wishing that I had known about such scams before getting involved. But I also realise that it's impossible to brood over what's happened.
I am are going to share my experiences with you, and raise the awareness of this scam amongst as many people as I can. And besides everything else, I believe that talking about an issue with a person or people can sometimes help you feel better!
What is this?
I don't know if you have heard about insect fraud, but this is what happened to me.
I would define insect fraud to be payment in good faith for insects from other countries in return for nothing. In short - the supplier(s) keeps all your money.
Basically, most suppliers will ask for the shipping fee and half of the order payment before sending any stock. My advice would be to never send this money unless this supplier has been recommended by a friend or you personally know this supplier. Also, make sure that you have received all the stock you ordered and that the stock is in good condition before you send any money! This might seem unreasonable at first but if the supplier is good and honest they should send you the stock first.
Where should you watch out for these insect fraud people?
You will find a lot of people on the insect ad forums stating they can offer people a number of wild insects as relatively low prices! In my experience, they could be situated any where in the world, but the main culprits are from Buea, Cameroon and Tanzania. They have found a very easy way to make a quick buck and not get caught!
Now, if you're wondering at this stage as to whether I have done anything about the scam, the answer is yes. I have filed a police complaint clearly stating what has happened. I've been told that it's unlikely that I will get my money back, but I am still going to pursue my case.
Since I am involved in seeking out these culprits, I have changed names of the people and their related organisations in this article. Apart from alias names, everything else is true.
How They Scammed Us!
Basically, it all started by me placing a few insect ads on some forums asking for male Gongylus Mantids! I was contacted by a number of suppliers, but decided to contact 'Julien' (Marketing Manager of the Naseth Insect Farming Group). He told me that the Naseth Insect Farming Group is a common initiative group made up of 6 biology teachers in the North West Province of Cameroon.
I told him that I would like to receive complete stock before sending any money as I was aware of the insect scams happening. We then came to an agreement that I would send the shipping fee (£50) and he would post out the complete stock before any other payments.
So, he (apparently) posted out the stock as agreed. I was then told that the stock was held up at customs at the African airport. Julien now needed another £50 to help pay for a veterinary certificate for the insects. I sent this as he told me he would deduct this from my order amount.
I was then eager to receive my stock which was sent by E.M.S. I was then told that there had been a shipping error, and my shipment was sent to USA instead of the UK. This just gets better because then an American rang me to clear any doubts I had. But he didn't sound like your average American or African for that matter! He told me that he received the insects and that these would be sent back to the supplier, as he didn't know what to do.
Where are my Mantids?
I received an email a few days later from Julien. He said that he's received the insects from America but most of them had died during travel and the others didn't look too healthy! He now wanted me to pay for the full order, as he needed to buy more insects in.
At this stage I thought "hang on - I'm paying for the complete order and he might not send the stock". So I asked Julien for some references here in the UK. He sent me a few references, out of which there was only one in the UK - in Scotland (as this was the only person he had done business with in the UK). I emailed the reference from Scotland called Tony Smith (name changed) and was told that he owns an insect farm in Forfar, Angus-Scotland. He also told me that Julien was very trust worthy but sometimes had problems with licences!
This partly reassured me and I sent Julien the rest of the money for a fresh order. He then asked for my Licence - WHAT LICENCE? I was never told I needed a licence until this stage. Obviously, I was not happy when he told that I needed a licence for him to send me my stock of insects! Anyway, I asked Julien how much a licence would cost, and was told that it would cost £150! Well, I wasn't paying that out as I was already feeling very vary of this situation.
In the meantime, Tony from Scotland gave me the details of another insect supplier who was one of the "best dealers" he had ever found. So, I thought of enquiring into what kind of insects this "best dealer" could get. When I received his list I was amazed - he had nearly all the ones I was after, plus more!
Mr.Chup and his sinister generosity
His name was Mr. Chup and he came across to be very nice from his emails. I explained my problems with the other supplier (Julien) to Mr. Chup. Chup mentioned that he could get Julien arrested and either the stock sent to me or my money returned. This made me trust Mr. Chup a bit more as he also told me that he could get me the licence I required for only £80 as he had some influential contacts. So I sent him the money and a few days later I had my Licence! Poor Mr. Chup had to pay an extra £20 for this Licence, but he told me not to send the money as he was looking forward to a good business relationship! Aahhhh….
I then sent Julien the Licence but still did not receive my stock. Instead, I got a string of excuses from Julien. Then I was told that he wanted me to send another £50 (what cheek!) as the shipping fee had gone up and they put in some extra Mantids to compensate for my trouble. I told him that I wanted either the stock or a refund, but I got none!
While this happened with Julien, I had placed an order with Mr. Chup. Mr. Chup was very nice and said that I could pay for everything after I had received the complete stock and that he would also compensate me for any insects that died on the next order. It seemed like my luck was changing now!
Mr. Chup sent the order and this was once again sent to the USA through DHL. I had the same man (I think) ring me up saying that he was returning the package to the sender! Mr. Chup received the stock but had bad news for me. This person in the USA had stolen all the mated females and the Oothecas and had left the males only! Mr. Chup told me not to worry as he was going to buy the insects from some friends, but needed a small amount of payment to help him get this. Due to all this trouble this man had gone through, I sent the amount he needed.
No more emails!
Further to this new adventure with insect suppliers, I didn't hear from him for a few days and started to worry. He then got in touch with me saying that his father had died a few days earlier in a car crash and therefore he could not email me. At this point I felt very guilty and also felt sorry for Mr. Chup. I told him to take his time with my order as it must be a hard time for him.
We started to exchange emails again and he told me that a very good friend of his was going to sort out my order - Dr. Den. Dr. Den was going to sort out my order and post it out to me (aaa… bless!). Mr. Chup then asked me for some more money as his friend (Dr. Den) could not send any orders on credit. But Dr. Den only asked for part of the money because he wanted to help both Mr Chup and myself out. At this point I was wondering what to do, but was reassured by Dr. Den that my stock would be posted as soon as I sent this money. I then sent him the money.
After this time - a week passed and I had not received any stock, and Mr Chup had not answered any of my emails! I sent an email saying that I wanted someone (if not Mr Chup - maybe his secretary), to tell me where this stock had gone. Surprise - Surprise! - The following day I had an email from Tony Smith in Scotland with the subject "Bad News". I read this to find out that Mr Chup had died the day he was supposed to send my insects. I was told by Tony that Mr. Chup died while he was sitting at his PC and sending an email to me.
Con or not?
I was very shocked, and did not know if this whole thing was a big con or not!! I then asked Tony Smith for his telephone number so I could talk to him about the whole thing, but he gave me an excuse that he was away for approximately 1 week and that he would send me the number when he got back (how convenient). Meanwhile, he told me to go to Dr. Den who had sent him some insects on behalf of Mr. Chup and that the insects were in top condition!
I emailed Dr. Den only to find out that he wanted the rest of the money before he would send me any stock. I plainly refused and said that he would have to send the stock and only then would I pay him the money (keeping in mind that I have by this point sent out a several hundred pounds) and had not received anything in return!
This scam had now got to stage of constant excuses from Dr. Den for more money. He needed £200 despite the £400 he had received from Mr. Chup on behalf of me. When I refused to comply, he sent me another email asking for shipping and veterinary fees. I then replied back to him asking for £300 worth of stock and for him to use the £100 that I initially sent for my order. Dr. Den was having none of this (not so nice anymore is he?) and said that he would refund my money if I was not going to send the rest of the money. It all got to me so much by this stage that I was ready to ask for a refund. But, as the con goes - I am still waiting for my refund!
It is now clear that all these people - Julien, Tony Smith, Mr. Chup and Dr. Den were all players of the same scam - either in together, or one man pretending to be all four people!
Tony never emailed me again with his number. Julien still hasn't sent any stock that I had paid the full amount for in August 2003! Mr Chup has apparently died and I'm still waiting for the money off Dr. Den who would not want to speak to me again, now that he has my money!
In total I have lost well over £1000 to these people!
I was going to use this £1000 to get all the different species of Mantids that all my customers wanted. This included the Orchid Mantis, a range of Dead Leaf, Giant Malaysian Sheild, Wondereing Vioin and many more including Oothecas and mated females - all at very good prices!
Thanks to the insect scam, I had to start all over again with my breeding programs, which is time consuming. I had no insects to breed with and I could not afford to buy any more. I had to grudgingly inform my regular customers and people who know me from insect shows that I would not be attending or have any insects for sale until I could find my footing again.
Check your facts and don't get conned!
If this all sounds unreal to you have a look at these sites… (Which I sadly came across after I was duped).
Below Courtesy of The 419 Coalition - The Nigerian Scam Defined
- NEVER pay anything up front for ANY reason.
- NEVER extend credit for ANY reason.
- NEVER do ANYTHING until their cheque clears.
- NEVER expect ANY help from the Nigerian Government.
- NEVER rely on YOUR Government to bail you out.
Maybe I have been short-sighted or perhaps I have trusted the wrong people, but I promise all my customers and insect lovers that I will try and get our new site selling your favourite Mantids again!