Fraudulent Online Vehicle Sales and Tips for purchasing vehicles online

As an update to I-111414-PSA, released November 14, 2014, the FBI is issuing additional information and warnings regarding the fraudulent online sale of cars, recreational vehicles, boats, and other outdoor equipment. Criminals are posting online advertisements of items that are not, nor have ever been, within their possession.

From May 2014 through December 2017, the IC3 received approximately 26,967 complaints with adjusted losses of $54,032,396 related to these types of fraudulent sales.

TECHNICAL DETAILS

The fraudulent advertisements usually include photos matching the description of the vehicle for sale and a phone number or email address to contact the supposed seller. Once the initial contact is established, the criminal sends the intended buyer additional photos along with a seemingly logical explanation for the item's discounted price and the time-sensitive nature of the transaction. Common explanations given by the perpetrators include (but are not limited to):
  • Seller is moving to another location or being deployed by the military
  • Seller received the vehicle as part of a divorce settlement
  • Vehicle belonged to a relative who has died
The criminal makes the fraud appear legitimate by deceptively claiming partnership with reputable companies, such as eBay, and using the names of these third parties with whom they have no actual association. The criminal assures the buyer that the transaction will occur through a third party's Buyer Protection Program; the criminal then immediately sends an email to the buyer with a fraudulent toll-free number that impersonates the third party. The buyer is told to purchase prepaid gift cards in the amount of the agreed upon sale price and is instructed to share the prepaid card codes with the criminal. The criminal notifies the buyer they will be receiving the vehicle within a couple of days. After the transaction goes through, the criminal typically ignores all follow-up calls, text messages, or emails from the buyer or demands additional payments. The vehicle is not delivered and the buyer is never able to recuperate their losses.

DEFENSE AND MITIGATION

The FBI recommends that consumers interested in purchasing items online ensure they are purchasing from a reputable source by verifying the legitimacy of the seller and their actual possession of the merchandise. Below are some consumer tips when purchasing vehicles online:
  1. When it comes to making any purchases, be cautious of items being advertised well below their market value. Remember, if the deal appears too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Use the Internet to research the advertised item and the seller's name, email addresses, telephone numbers, and other unique identifiers.
  3. Use the Internet to research the company's contact information and its shipping and payment policies before completing a transaction. Ensure the legitimacy of the contact information and that the company accepts the requested payment option.
  4. Avoid sellers who refuse to meet in person or who refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase. For high-priced purchases, insist on speaking to the seller over the phone to establish their legitimacy.
  5. Ask for the vehicle's VIN number, license plate (if possible), and the name of the individual to whom the car is currently registered.
  6. If you are suspicious or unsure about an email that claims to be from a legitimate business, locate the business online and contact it directly. Criminals take extra effort to disguise themselves and may include familiar or recognizable words in their email address or domain name.
FILING A COMPLAINT

Individuals who believe they may be a victim of, or have knowledge of, an online scam (regardless of dollar amount) can file a complaint with the IC3 at www.ic3.gov.

When filing with the IC3, please be as descriptive as possible in the complaint and include the following information:
  1. All identifying subject information: names, phone numbers, email addresses, IP addresses, and any websites used.
  2. Account names, numbers, addresses, and financial institutions that received any funds (e.g., wire transfers, prepaid card payments).
  3. Description of interaction with the subject: dates, advertisement websites, vehicle types, means of communication, payment methods, and anything that stood out as odd or suspicious.
Complainants are also encouraged to keep all original documentation, emails, faxes, and logs of communications.

Because scams and fraudulent websites can emerge and change very quickly, individuals in the USA are encouraged to report any possible Internet scams and fraudulent websites by filing a complaint with the IC3 at www.ic3.gov

Baldmin wins Tanzanian gold processing contract

Baldmin Projects has been awarded a multi-million-dollar contract in Tanzania to design, manufacture, install and commission a gold process plant, which will be processing 250 000 tonnes a month. The project will cost over $18,5 million.

Baldmin Projects is a engineering company incorporated in South Africa. It specialises in mineral process plants, mining equipment manufacture, equipment refurbishment and plant maintenance. According to Baldmin managing director Engineer Costar Takawira, the project is expected to have an 18-24 months life cycle.

“The Tanzanian tender was awarded after successful completion of a 60 000 tonnes-per-month gold processing plant at Mazowe Mine in Zimbabwe worth $15 million and refurbishment of Sabi Gold mine which had been idle for more than three years. Sabi is now producing and the team is working on the plant upgrades so that the mine will be able to produce as it used to a few years ago,” said Mr Takawira. Baldmin also intends to put up a model plant for small scale miners in the Midlands area.

“We are currently working on our newly developed small plant for artisanal miners which will promote conventional methods of gold extraction and make sure the mining is formalised. We came up with the concept as means of boosting gold production in Zimbabwe hence creating more employment in the informal sector by introducing mechanisation that will help the small scale miners to increase their output,” said Mr Takawira

Mr Takawira said Baldmin Holdings’ vision is to create employment in Zimbabwe and work with the Ministry of Mines in creating opportunities for small to medium scale miners. He said the company’s vision is to be the most preferred supplier in the mining industry and to also penetrate the African market, providing cost effective solutions to both small scale miners and commercial mines. A new block of offices, warehouse and workshop are under construction in the Waterfalls area (Harare) to enable the company to carry out after-sales services.

Tanzanian, Zambian currencies are likely to come under pressure next week


DAR ES SALAAM, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Tanzanian and Zambian currencies are likely to come under pressure next week, but other African currencies should remain stable.

TANZANIA

Commercial banks quoted the shilling at 2,250/2,255 to the dollar on Thursday, weaker than 2,240/2,245 a week ago.

"The shilling is under pressure due to demand from the oil sector and other importers. If the demand continues to build up, the local currency could trade in the 2,260 levels next week," said a trader at Commercial Bank of Africa Tanzania.

ZAMBIA

The kwacha is likely to come under pressure against the dollar as the supply of hard currency dries up.

At 1115 GMT on Thursday, the currency of Africa's second-largest copper producer was quoted at 9.8000 per dollar from last week's close of 9.7800.

"The surge in supply we saw at the start of the year is ebbing, leading us to believe the currency may come under pressure," one senior foreign exchange trader said.

GHANA

Central bank support is expected to keep Ghana's cedi steady against the dollar, as the bank tries to match rising demand for dollar from both local businesses and offshore investors, analysts said.

The cedi was trading at 4.5500 to the dollar compared with 4.5490 at last Thursday's close.

"We expect the cedi to continue its stable trend in the coming week -- within the 4.54 and 4.56 band", Raphael Adubila, Treasury officer of the Accra-based Northstar Home Finance.

UGANDA

The Ugandan shilling should trade in a stable range after the central bank sold dollars to limit the local currency's depreciation.

At 1046 GMT commercial banks quoted the shilling at 3,625/3,635, compared to last Thursday's close of 3,650/3,660.

"There's a positive sentiment in the markets from central bank action, I think it will keep the shilling on the stronger side," said Faisal Bukenya, head of treasury at Exim Bank.

KENYA

The Kenyan shilling is expected to trade in the same range against the dollar in the coming week as the market looks to a central bank rate-setting meeting on Monday for direction, traders said.

Commercial banks quoted the shilling at 102.85/103.05 per dollar, compared with 103.10/20 at last Thursday's close.

"We've seen inflows from horticulture ... some direction could come out of Monday's meeting," said a trader from a leading commercial bank.

ref: nasdaq.com

Colorado energy firm that uses rice husks to power villages in Africa, Asia attracts $20 million from Shell’s venture arm

Husk Power Systems - Husk Power Systems, based in Fort Collins, developed mini grids that provide about 250 to 300 users power in a remote area. The grids get power from solar, battery and gasification of corn husks. The company currently operates 75 grids in India and Tanzania and offers electricity to users on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Energy company Husk Power Systems, which is building renewable energy systems to power remote villages in Asia and Africa, made two big announcements Wednesday: It picked up $20 million from investors, and it’s moving its headquarters to Fort Collins.

CEO Manoj Sinha, who cofounded Husk in India in 2008, said he looked at other U.S. cities but Fort Collins rose to the top because of industry collaboration and access to talent. The company moved into Colorado State University Powerhouse Energy Campus, a facility that once housed the Fort Collins Municipal Power Plant and includes the CSU Energy Institute. About 13 companies call the facility home. Nearby is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

“All these factors need to come together to make a decentralized form of power generation, distribution and mobile enabled payment system possible with intense focus on promoting productive uses of power,” Sinha said.

Husk is using a mix of solar energy, batteries and a biomass gasifier that uses rice husks as fuel. Each decentralized microenergy grid can power 250 to 300 users at a time. Users plug in when they need some juice — like a pay-as-you-go utility. Costs would change throughout the day — cheaper during daylight when solar is available, but more costly at night when rice husk power kicks in. On its site, Husk says that its energy costs to customers are 30 percent less than other alternatives.

Sinha said that each microgrid costs about $100,000 for everything, including distribution and smart metering. The power plant becomes operationally profitable within six months, while the break even on capital costs takes six to seven years — and that’s with no government subsidies.

The new funding comes from a trio of European investment firms, including Shell Technology Ventures, the venture arm of oil and gas company Shell; plus Swedfund International and ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies.

Sinha plans to use the money to ramp up the local office — including hiring a chief financial officer, a chief technology officer and electrical and computer engineers. He hopes to ramp up to 10 employees in Fort Collins this year. Its move into the CSU campus gives it access to a mini-grid lab built by the Energy Institute and a community of other energy companies.

“We are excited to work with Husk Power Systems, a company that embodies our mission to create energy innovations that have global impact,” said Bryan Willson, executive director of the Energy Institute. “They have found a way to provide access to electric power to the poorest segments of society, even in the most remote locations in the developing world.”

The company also has about 125 full-time employees in India. The goal is also to expand the number of mini-grids — currently around 75 serving 120,000 people in India and Tanzania — to 300.

“We always say that we are not just providing electricity but a tool that our customers can use to generate extra cash by opening an ice cream-making machine shop, an agro-processing machine shop, etc.,” Sinha said.

Right now, expansion plans target poor African and Asian communities with no electricity, but the model could work in America, where security issues are more of an issue than off-the-grid communities.

“Moreover, mini-grid provides a very secure way of accessing energy and gives 100 percent control to the community as how to go about doing that,” Sinha said. “Main grid is vulnerable to potential hacking and blackouts/brownouts; mini-grids are not.”