Ordeal of a businessman: How I lost $110,000 to Chinese fraudsters

How I lost $110,000 to Chinese fraudsters

Until 10 years ago, Mr. Jerry Abu’s business was in full swing. A major dealer in spraying/trigger caps used for the production of pet bottles, Abu imported the goods from China,- from a Chinese national whom he assumed was a reliable businessman. 

That was then. At the moment, Abu virtually goes about cap-in-hand, begging to take care of himself and his family after losing the princely sum of $110,000 to a Chinese fraudster. He said he is still alive by the grace of God and with the help of his fellow church members, relatives and friends.

According to him, the need to expand his business in 2007 led him to a certain Chinese man, Don Din Guo. He met the man on the Internet while searching for a company that could supply him spraying caps in large quantities. Within the first few weeks of meeting his Chinese counterpart online, and having exchanged numbers, they struck the first deal, which was worth $18,000.

Abu said he usually paid money into the Chinese company’s bank account, which was given to him by Guo, and the goods he paid for were supplied promptly. The Chinese company, as Guo explained to Abu, was licensed to export the product. The transactions between the Nigerian and his Chinese partner continued smoothly for the first three years.

Things took an unexpected turn for Abu sometime in August 2010 when he ordered goods from the Asian company. Till date, those goods are yet to be supplied.

From the beginning, the agreement was for Abu to make a part-payment of above 70 per cent for goods he was ordering and to complete the payment when the goods were supplied. It was gathered that both parties had religiously fulfilled their parts. Then the Chinese man suddenly changed the music and the dance steps, according to Abu.

“I had a small company where I manufactured insecticides and some similar products. Since I often needed spraying caps for my finished products, I began to search for companies that could supply me in bulk. That was how I came across the Chinese company, Nigbo Isis Sprayer, on the Internet,” he said.

Abu told Daily Sun that Guo called him sometime in August 2010 and told him that the company had changed the method of payment, adding that they no longer received deposits through the company’s account. He said payments should henceforth be made to his personal account.

Abu said he didn’t doubt the Chinese man for a moment, as Guo had been guiding him on the importation business for three years. He said from that moment, he started paying money into Guo’s personal account, bearing the name Cuili.

He said he didn’t know that Cuili was not the Chinese man’s real name until the bubble burst. Abu said when he made initially payments into Cuili’s bank account, the goods were supplied. With that, whatever doubts he might have had on the new set-up were erased and he was willing to blindly follow his Chinese friend to any length, even though they had never met.

He recalled that: “Anytime I paid into the Cuili account, I would call him on his personal telephone line to inform him and he would confirm it. I was paying through my bank. Then he told me to be paying him through Western Union money transfer, but something told me not to do that for the sake of evidence. However, I was not at anytime afraid or suspicious that he would dupe me.

“Sometime in 2010, I placed an order for goods worth $85,000. He asked me to pay $50,000 before he could deliver it. After paying the money, he refused to supply the goods with the excuse that the order was much. I had to pay him another $30,000, including the $8,000 I was to balance him on the last goods he supplied me.

“After fulfilling my part without a kobo left in my accounts to even feed my family, he came up with another excuse that the production was still in progress. He begged me to exercise patience. At that point, I was worried because that was the first time such scenario was playing out. It was getting to four months after I made the payment.”

Abu said his fears were confirmed in December 2010, when he called Guo to confirm for the umpteenth time the cause of the delay but was shocked beyond words when the Chinese man told him point-blank that he (Abu) had not paid any money to him and as such no goods were to be delivered. He said the Chinese man insisted that he had not got a dime from him.

After overcoming his initial shock, a confused and traumatised Abu decided to take his fate in his hands. In April 2011, he left for China in search of Cuili (Guo) so as to get his money or the goods.

“With the help of friends and relatives, I quickly applied for a visa. When I got to China, I met a Nigerian, Mr. Jimi Eromosele, to whom I narrated everything. I gave him Cuili’s contact. He helped me call the Chinese man without alerting him that I was in China. Eromosele pretended that he was coming to transact some business with Guo. I had to pay a Chinese man to accompany us to meet him. We took a flight, as his location was far from where we were.

“When we got there, the Chinese man that went with us demanded his national identity card, and it was there that I knew his real name was Guo. He also confirmed the account he gave me as Cuili was for his business. While these were going on, he didn’t know I was the one because we had not met. We even took pictures with him.

“It was when we left the remote area to an open place that they told him that I was Mr. Jerry from Nigeria whose money he collected without supplying goods. Of course, he was shocked and scared.

“We told him we were there not to make trouble but to collect my goods or money. He insisted that I didn’t pay him any money and he was so confident about it. Even before I left Nigeria, I knew he had hacked into my mail. All the soft copies I sent to him as evidence of my payments were wiped out, but I had printed most of the copies. I travelled with the hard copies to China. We had to drag him to the police station.

“When we got to the Chinese police station that day, I discovered that he had already gone ahead to the police to concoct lies to them in case I made a complaint. When I narrated my side of the story, Guo said I had no evidence. Then I brought out all my hard copies.

“The police officers asked me to give them 10 more days to carry out an investigation into the matter. From there I travelled to Beijing to inform the Nigerian Ambassador about my ordeal. He asked me to forward the evidence to him. And I did,” Abu said.

Abu said he was in China for two months but said nothing eventually came out of the trip. He also reported the issue to the Chinese Ambassador (Commercial) in Nigeria then, Diana Fu.

In October 2011, Abu travelled to China again for a follow-up, not minding the financial burden the trips were placing on him.

Said he: “When I got there, I went to another station, since Guo kept denying everything and nothing was being done by the authorities. I got the police report, but there was nothing concrete or promising to hold on to.

“Then I went to the bank where Cuili’s account was domiciled. It was the account that I paid the money into. I told the bank to give me my money or that they should produce the fellow that received it. When the situation was becoming chaotic, the bank called the police to bundle me out. When we got to the station, I called the Nigerian Union representatives to come to my rescue.

“I want to say here that many Nigerians are in Chinese jail without committing any offence. If not for Emmanuel Ojukwu, the president of the Nigerian community in China, I probably would have ended in jail. He did a lot when the Chinese people were trying to turn everything against me, even though the police confirmed that I paid money to the account.”

That was not the end of Abu’s travails. He borrowed some money to buy some goods by himself, but he was swindled again. In his first trip to China, he said he successfully bought some spraying caps from another company, Ke Ziqin. On his second trip, he claimed to have deposited $13,000 with the same company and added another $17,000 to it through one Mr. Ademola Olagunju. The $30,000 also disappeared.

Abu stated that despite the promises by the Chinese police, International Police (Interpol), Nigerian Embassy in China and others, nothing has been done to help him get his money or redress his losses.

He, however, expressed gratitude to his friend, Mr. Innocent, who he said was able to help him recover N1 million from the last $30,000.

“At a point, Innocent said he was being threatened to get off the case. These types of fraud are common in China. Even the police there asked to know what percentage I would give them if they helped me recover the money. Now, my children are at home because I cannot pay their school fees,” Abu lamented.

Efforts to get the reaction of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria were unsuccessful. An email sent to the embassy by this correspondent was not replied.

Abu said he had been making efforts to see Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, adding that she might be able to help him out of his ordeal.

“I know she can help me retrieve my money from these Chinese fraudsters. She should please help me in whatever way she can,” he said.

Source: sunnewsonline.com