How to verify companies doing business in Benin andhow to verify information?
Here is a paragraph from an alert posted on the U.S. Embassy in Benin web site:
|businesses should be particularly cautious about unknown Beninese "companies" promising them big business deals. Unfortunately, a number of Nigerian criminals, increasingly in collusion with Beninese, use Benin as a base to defraud U.S. companies and citizens with "419" scams (e.g. advance fees), so named for the relevant section of Nigerian law. Potential U.S. investors should contact the Economic Section in Cotonou or the Commercial Section in Abidjan before sending any money or products to potential "partners" in Benin or sending "registration" fees to any purported Benin governmental agency |
The worse country for this particular fraud is Benin followed by Cameroon, Togo and Nigeria.
They use mobile phone numbers as it allows them anonymity. Those usually begin with 9 after the country code (229 9
xxxxxxx). They will sometime use listed numbers for their fax. Most of those will be from a fax service or cybercafe offering such fax service.
They will use mostly fictional company names. You can do a search in the online phone directories.
Scammers will also use mostly free e-mail addresses such as yahoo, hotmail or one of the many variation from mail.com such as @minister.com @justice.com @consultant.com @lawyer.com etc.., The complete list is posted here:
They sometime register domain names with corresponding email addresses.
Here are some legitimate links:
- The Benin Chamber of Commerce (CCIB) web site is http://www.ccibenin.org
- The Benin government web site www.gouv.bj
- The Benin online phone directories http://www.beninphonebook.com
- PASP - Projet Appui au Secteur Privé (French). www.economiebenin.org
- PASP - English version. Limited content compared to the French site. www.pasp-bj.org
- A.D.EX - l'Association de Développement des Exportations http://www.exportbenin.org
- CBCE - LE CENTRE BENINOIS DU COMMERCE EXTERIEUR (French) http://cbce.africa-web.org
- Cameroon Government web site: http://www.spm.gov.cm/acceuil.php?lang=en
*FraudWatchers doesn't do recommendations so the above sites are merely meant as a guide.
Benin institutions and government ministries have French names although scammers who often don't speak French, being from neighboring Nigeria, will make up English names such as BENIN FOOD AND **** ADMINISTRATION CONTROL (BFDAC) which is a total invention.
The Benin Chamber of Commerce web site list rules on exporting to Benin (French) http://www.ccibenin.org/index.php?op...=107&Itemid=84
Paragraph 6 translates to:
|6/ No licence, nor product registration fees are required of foreign enterprises who wish to export their merchandise into Benin. |
Here is a Google translation of that page.
All businesses must registered with the Benin Chamber Of Commerce. Their list is available here
The document in question is entitled (FICHIER DES ENTREPRISES / CCIB)
It's an alphabetical list of businesses so there is no need to know French.
If the name of your contact is there, that would still be far from definitive since scammers often steal the identity of real companies. And there are legitimate companies that will scam you as well.
The above information is only meant as a primary research tool and not as a substitute for a proper due diligence. This is doubly important with west African countries such as Benin where criminals specialize in scamming foreign businesses.
At FraudWatchers, we are not qualified to do that type of in-depth research.
The following thread contains additional details on this fraud: http://www.fraudwatchers.org/forums/...ead.php?t=1666