Police in Koforidua has arrested two agents of Qnet, a network marketing company for allegedly defrauding a man for an amount of Ghc4,600.
The suspects are David Boahene, 31, and Abu Bonsare, 26
The victim Owusu Sekyere, 35, the sand winner said, suspect David Boahene who is his sister’s boyfriend under pretenses told him that, he will secure a well-paid job at Quest International company which will fetch him ghc550 a week, that, his life will change.
However, he asked him to pay Ghc4,600 to open a dollar account for him to receive the said weekly amount.
Weeks after paying the said amount, Owusu Sekyere lodged a former complaint at the Eastern Regional Police CID after suspicion that he has been defrauded.
This led to the arrest of David Boahene who admitted collecting the said amount from the complainant but said he gave the money to his boss – Abu Bonsare.
Police proceeded to arrest the said boss on June 7, 2021 but told police that he has used the money to purchase a product online on behalf of the complainant though unaware.
The two suspects were on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, remanded by the Koforidua District Court B also known as Cocoase Court.
Meanwhile, complaints of alleged defrauding by pretense by agents of Qnet in Koforidua are being investigated by the Police while others are in Court.
SEC urged to investigate Qnet over possible scams of hundreds of youth in Koforidua.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been urged to investigate the business module of agents of network marketing company -Qnet Ghana.
About a thousand youth in Koforidua and some West African Nationals risk being scammed by agents of Qnet operating in the Eastern regional capital Koforidua.
The deceptive business module has been questioned by many people including some customers who have paid huge sums of monies to become Independent Representatives of the company.
The scheme of Qnet is being likened to a pyramid or Ponzi scheme.
Many Independent Representatives (IRs) of the company in Koforidua, the Eastern Regional capital are using what appear to be deceptive business modules collecting huge sums of monies to recruit customers as independent representatives.
The Qnet agents involved in this phenomenon include some West African Nationals from Mali, Nigeria, and Burkinafaso who are using similar dubious business modules to lure their victims mostly from Mali, Nigeria, and Burkinafaso under the guise of securing them well-paid jobs in Ghana only for them to be held hostage in rented bedroom apartments to work in Qnet network marketing.
Persons willing to join the network marketing are made to pay huge amounts with the least being Ghc4, 200 to purchase a product online before one can start the business.
Investigations initiated into the operations of Qnet agents in Koforidua by Kojo Ansah a Journalist following complaints of alleged Ponzi scheme and fraud have revealed chilling accounts of how over a thousand youth risked being scammed.
There are close to 10 Qnet agents operating in various parts of New Juaben South Municipality. It is not easy locating the Agents because they operate in rented bedroom houses without any signpost.
At Koforidua Adweso-Mile 50, an agent was found operating from a walled and gated four-bedroom house apartment.
Several desperate job seekers well dressed with some in suits and ties were found seated under tents in the house. A few minutes later, a self-acclaimed pastor came to worship with them and delivered a motivational message.
Ushered into a room after disguising as having an interest in joining the network marketing company, five persons including two (2) ladies were already seated in the room. They had come from different places after an Independent representative introduced the direct selling business to them.
Twenty (20) minutes later, a young man came to the room to introduce the business modules. He first convinced the prospective customers and Independent Representative about the credibility of the company citing numerous sponsorship packages the company gives to FIFA, CAF, Manchester City WHO, UNICEF, ECOWAS among others.
He said medical doctors, Journalists, Musicians, Politicians, and some rich men in Ghana including Kennedy Agyapong, former President Jerry John Rawlings were into the business.
He demonstrated that an Independent Representative could get a commission as low as $225 for the first month and as high as $76,725 monthly commission after four years of joining the network marketing company and advertising its products to other customers who also refer others.
A young man who identified himself as Elvis Nelson Ayittey -Manager and Qnet agent, explained that to be registered as an Independent Representative, the individual must pay at least Ghc100 to purchase a form and pay at least Ghc4,200 for the purchase of a product online and payment of Ghc400 as hostel fee.
This will lead to the creation of an online dollar account to receive payment of commission twice a week.
“To join this company you have to buy a product before. I hope he mentioned the prices to you. The least priced products are the chi -pendant which is ghc4,200 and the bio-disc is Ghc4,300. There is a way that we can do it for you to secure an account but without. Getting the product that is paying ghc2,800. The company operates in 184 countries, 42 are in Africa so they use one common platform. So we are going to create an international account for you so that you can use it to get the product. This business is a form of E-commerce so you can do it to attach any work that you do. If you want to come and stay here add just Ghc400 to the amount to make it ghc4,600 or Ghc4,700” He said
“The advertising of the product is not about the number of people that you are going to advertise. It is a form of teamwork. I started this business 16th of April last year things have changed in my life. I have many people. I have an office on the Cape coast. Every week you will get a commission. If you get 60 people under you, you will make $5000 every week. So try and join. so are you going to fill the form? For the money, you can pay in installment. The forms are from GH100 upwards “The manager said
The Qnet agent has a school attached to the network marketing where youth registered as customers and being transitioned as Independent Representatives are made to register for online Diploma and degree courses allegedly affiliated to Quest International University. He said Diploma and Degree certificates will be awarded depending on the course one pursued.
Quest International University had not replied email sent on January 13, 2021, to verify the legitimacy of this alleged affiliation.
A young desperate job seeker met at the compound of the Qnet agent was full of suspicion. “I don’t have confidence in this business module. I have been scammed before with a similar module. Why should I buy a product that I can see then you say will get commissions”. He said.
At Okorase, a community near Koforidua where another agent was operating with the same modus operandi, the story was not different. Over a hundred youth were seen on the compound of the alleged Qnet agent going through training after paying huge sums of money to purchase a product online hoping to be registered as an Independent Representative to start earning commissions as assured.
The next stop this time around, was a house where nationals from West African Countries were similarly operating as Qnet Agents in Okorase.
They are mostly Burkinabes, Nigerians, and Malians. As soon as they saw the investigation team, the entire room went silent. One person popped up to ask what the team was looking for.
Information gathered indicates that the agents convince their victims mostly from Mali and Burkinafaso that they have secured well-paid jobs in mining companies, COCOBOD, Ghana GAS among others in Ghana.
The victims are asked to pay huge amounts to enable them to commence work upon arrival in Ghana.
After paying the amounts, they are held hostage under the guise of being trained to work online as Qnet Independent Representatives. Mobile phones of the victims are seized to disable them from communicating with their families.
The victims are told to convince two persons each from their respective countries to come to Ghana under the guise of securing job opportunities for them before they could be released.
Few days before the investigation, Police in Koforidua in January 2021, arrested dozens of West African Nationals at Bornya in Koforidua after one of the victims was deceived to come to Ghana from Burkinafaso escaped from the custody of the agent.
QNET has maintained that it is a direct selling company that provides customers around the world with unique high-quality products and services while allowing customers to build a sales business by promoting the products. Qnet sells products online to clients. The company trades products ranging from energy, nutrition, personal care, luxury and collectibles, accessories, cosmetics, vehicles, holidays, and education among others
Independent representatives” (IRs) of the company receive $250 commission after they introduce the products to six people, placing three people on their left and three people on their right, described as two ‘legs’. When an IR introduces a new customer who then becomes an IR if they so wish, the original IR benefits (by receiving bonus points) from the success of their recruit.
These bonus points build upon only one of the IR’s legs. The IR must then introduce the product for a new customer to purchase it and also become an IR to add up to the monthly commission.
Over 10,000 people working under Qnet in Ghana
Qnet claimed that its network had employed 10,000 people in Ghana who earn between 1,000-10,000 dollars per month.
On 22nd and 23rd February 2018, Qnet Ghana organized its first-ever Absolute Living Expo which was attended by many stakeholders and the general public. Government agencies such as the Ministry of Trade & Industry, Ministry of Business Development were well represented.
Ghana’s largest business association, the Association of Ghana Industries was also represented at the Expo which took place at the Accra International Conference Centre.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Business Development, Mr. Joe Tackie, representing the Minister for Business Development said: “We are glad to have QNET in Ghana for the long haul. We are also very glad that QNET’s business module supports entrepreneurship. Having being in existence for 20 years and operating in about 100 countries across the world, we believe that Ghanaians will benefit immeasurably from the health, nutritional and entrepreneurial exploits QNET is introducing to Ghana.”
The Head of SME, at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr. Sampson Abankwa, representing the Minister for Trade & Industry added: “QNET’s entrance into Ghana is opening the space up for more entrepreneurial opportunities for the youth and Ghanaians in general”.
This endorsement seems to have given credibility to Qnet Ghana but its agents are abusing the business modules scamming many youths.
Reaction on Findings of the investigation
Qnet Ghana responded to some of the findings in the investigation as follows.
“Okay Qnet is a business company and every business requires a starting capital……So for sure, you need capital to start with… And become a representative…
No one gets to the top alone teamwork is a key in our business”
On the Quest International University Courses being offered as part of the business module, Qnet Ghana said “Education is part of our business sectors if you meet the requirements you can enroll in any of our Universities… And start offering a course of your choice through digital platform e-learning”
On Foreign nationals holding people hostage, Qnet Ghana explained that “People From far places organizing them confining their self into rooms Is not part of the business model….. But from the understanding of new representative can decide to join hand in hand to find a house to stay in so they can build their business….. Note: Qnet is a Global Business of only you have the understanding you can do business with us from any angle”
Damming Reports about Qnet in some countries
Google search however reveals damming issues about the operations of Qnet globally. Over 100 people from Togo reportedly became victims of Qnet operations in Ghana. They were told by friends that they found jobs in Ghana with a monthly salary of 300,000 CFA francs but were instead made to pay 500,000 CFA francs, held hostage under the guise of training. In April 2020, Police in Abuakwa in Ashanti Region arrested four Qnet agents for allegedly scamming 29 West African Nationals lured to Ghana under the guise of securing them jobs in a mining firm for which they were charged $750 each but later discovered they have been recruited into network marketing.
Qnet first started in 1998 with the name GoldQuest but later changed the name to QNet, when faced with an accusation of being a pyramid and a money circulation scheme in India and also in other countries. But the company maintains that its name changes were purely for business strategy.
The company has been accused in many countries of running a Ponzi and pyramid scheme and were banned in countries such as Afghanistan, Australia, Rwanda, Iran, Sri Lanka, USA & Canada, Syria, India, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Turkey among others Hundreds of its Independent Representatives (IRs) working for it and/or its many subsidiaries have been arrested.
In 2003, Indian police arrested two QI group senior managers in Chennai and froze the company bank account after receiving complaints from more than 50 of its members. India declared both Goldquest and Questnet to be Ponzi scheme companies.
In the Philippines, the Department of Trade and Industry issued a cease and desist order after a complaint from a member.
In 2003, Nepal banned the company from operating in the country, while Bahadur Manandhar, chief of the foreign exchange department of the Nepal Rastra Bank, said GoldQuest was “a hundred percent fraud”. Sri Lanka banned GoldQuest in 2005, claiming that the company had caused 15 million dollars to leave the country.
Similarly, in 2005, Iran banned GoldQuest, after prosecutors found that company activities had “led to the exit half of a billion dollars from Iran”. In Rwanda, the company was a pyramid scheme and was banned.
In 2010 Qnet opened in Turkey with 150 distributors. Police subsequently charged 42 of them with gaining an unfair advantage. In 2011, the country investigated Qnet. The Trade Minister said, about 20 million dollars were collected from the public. 75 Qnet officials were taken into custody.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and India accused Qnet of operating a product-based pyramid scheme. In 2010 Saudi Arabia banned Qnet, accusing the company of theft, falsification, and failure to register, while warning citizens to avoid involvement in fraudulent schemes, mentioning Qnet specifically.
Iran announced the arrest of 30 Goldquest members on charges of defrauding people of more than 5 trillion rials. Thirteen Qnet members in Tehran were arrested. But the company debunked the claim stating that their Iranian operations were simply network marketing.
In Guinea, the action was taken against Qnet in Label and Dixinn. In Saudi Arabia, Qnet IRs were arrested in Mecca, Riyadh, and Najran. In Ivory Coast, Qnet IRs were arrested in San-Pédro Complaints led Turkey to list Qnet as one of 19 pyramid companies.
In Senegal, Qnet recruited 108,000 members charging between 500 and 700 dollars. The official who issued a document of official recognition to Qnet was arrested.
More than 100 youth from Togo were taken hostage under the banner of Qnet in Côte d’Ivoire. The Tanzanian media reported on Dec 15, 2020, that the Tanzania govt was investigating Qnet company for allegedly operating a pyramid scheme.
Meanwhile, Qnet has maintained that it operates genuine direct selling business however some of the Independent Representatives (IRs) flouts regulations of the company which when comes to the attention of the company action is taking.
The Company has also stated that its business module is not an investment. It says products purchased by individuals are for their personal use. However, customers can choose to become independent Representatives and gain commissions from the purchases of people they refer to Qnet products online.