Caveat emptor
posted 13-Aug-2018  ·  
1,236 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

With commerce comes fraud, said American businessman Nathan Blecharzyk,

And thus have cheaters, scammers, tricksters and other lying traders come to prey on the people of Catanduanes in recent times as the island’s economy wakes up from its slumber.

First to take advantage were the wily traders from the mainland and beyond, buying low from farmers and selling high to processors and exporters. It took some time before local businessmen were able to sell directly to their clients and cut out the middleman.

Then came the mesmerizing practitioners of the “budol-budol” scam, playing tricks on the elderly to part with their hard-earned bank deposits and jewelry in exchange for bundles of cold cash that later turned out to be cut-out pieces of newspaper overlaid with real bills.

Last year, a group of alleged scammers took a few million pesos from scores of gullible victims through an “on-line paluwagan” that offered stupendous returns on investments. Initially, the investments paid off but later came to a stop as the dearth of new “investors:” meant the scammers could no longer use the new investments to pay for the income of the old ones. Until now, the suspects have yet to return the victims’ investments and no case has been filed in court.

Recently, in keeping with the times and the rise of digital commerce, several customers of a popular marketing website were deceived by the latter’s supplier to whom they had paid cash for new smartphones. The delivered items were beautifully packaged only to yield, when unwrapped, pieces of hollow blocks and stones instead of shiny cellphones.

The government has not lacked in its effort to remind the people to be always wary of things that are too good to be true. Surely, the parade of scams that everyone sees on national TV and the hundreds or thousands of victims who lost their cash and mortgaged their properties in the hope of getting far more must have enlightened most of the people.

But it has not always been the case. When the scammers conjure visions of huge profits, reason deserts the victims.

As the sorry plight of the frozen food dealership scam now shows, the victims readily believed the suspects’ promises of free freezers, electric consumption subsidy and even rental of their stores. Despite parting with their money, they obeyed the scammers’ instruction not to open the goods, which could have enlightened them that they were being fooled.

It is just fortunate that Catanduanes being an island, the suspects had to take the risk of taking the three-hour long ferry ride to the mainland, at the end points of which the police could take them into custody.

Let the buyer beware. That ancient Latin proverb reminds all to take precautions in buying something valuable or risk getting a product that will not meet one’s expectations.

As English poet George Herbert puts it, “the buyer needs a hundred eyes, the seller not one.”

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