By Yankuba Jallow
The businesses of Mamadou Alieu Jallow and Mamadou Lamarana Baldeh have now gone bankrupt after investing their money in QNet.
Both victims were shopkeepers whose businesses were prospering but ended up becoming jobless when they joined the QNet e-commerce business. The activities of the different QNet entities in The Gambia looks like daylight robbery. They continue to amass wealth from innocent Gambians, including students.
This pyramid-like-scheme stuck Gambians into tempting fellow Gambians to venture into a business, which we discovered as dubious; yet continuing because most victims were swung into the business by those they trusted. The two victims of QNet are now facing the penalties like many other Gambians who joined the e-commerce business as Foroyaa continues to unravel the nature of the QNet trade in The Gambia.
Mamadou Alieu Jallow took D40,000 from his shop and invested it in the QNet business after he was promised by independent representatives of the e-commerce business that he would be paid £500 (over 30 thousand dalasi) every month.
Jallow, a Guinean national came to the Gambia and opened a retail shop in Serrekunda. He said he used to make about D40,000 every three months from his retail shop. Jallow’s business collapsed and he had to sell his shop. He now sells mobile cell phone credit and cash power on retail.
How Jallow Joined QNet?
He said one afternoon three QNet representatives came to his office.
“They told me if I join their business my life would change and business would expand,” he said.
The father of three said the three did not tell him that they were representatives of QNet. He said three men told him he would become rich after joining their business because they will pay him $225 every week.
“They told me I spend long hours at the shop selling and make D40,000 in 3 months but if I join them, I will make more than D40,000 every month,” he said.
He added: “They told me if I join them I would be paid while I stay home.”
Jallow said after the discussion the three men invited him to their office at the time in Serrekunda at the Plaza Cinema near the Brikama Car Park.
He said he went to the office but he was not convinced to join the business and he went home.
“They used one of my friends at the Serrekunda Market, who was already in the business, to convince me to join. He was sent to me by those three,” Jallow said.
He said it is the strategy of these people that they will use friends to convince friends to join their business.
“They will tell you to convince and bring someone who trusts you into the business,” Jallow said.
He said he agreed to join the business after his friend told him about the business and what benefits he was getting from them.
“They are very deceptive. They will things to tell people in order to convince them to join their business,” he said.
He said he made the payment of D40,000 in two instalments of D20,000. He added that he used to go the QNet office in Serrekunda every day and spend hours there.
Jallow said he demanded to know more about the business and this when they began the induction classes for him.
“You would only be able to attend the induction classes if you make the payment. They will not tell you about the business until you make the payment to them,” he said.
He said during the induction he was told that he was required to convince and bring six people into the business before they start paying him the promised monthly payment of 500 euros.
“I was told that if I bring 6 people I will receive nothing less than 500 euros every month. I was told I may receive up to 1000 euros if the people I bring make quick payment into the business,” he said.
He said he was told that many people are benefiting from the business and now having their compounds, driving expensive vehicles and have expanded their businesses.
“I only come to know about the business after making the payment. I started requesting for my money because I knew I won’t be able to convince anyone to join them but they refused,” he said.
He said they used to play a video cassette for them of a man who used to lecture them on how to make money and how to convince people to join the business.
“The man in the video advised us to target our family members, closed relatives and friends who trust us because the rule is you should target a person who trusts you,” he said.
He added: “I spent with them 3 months and I did not see any progress in the business. I could not bring anyone to join the business because I was not even benefitting from it.”
He said he used to eat from his little savings at the shop.
“I was part of those who were tasked to be bringing food for them. When I am going to class, I used to take lunch for the QNet and others who attend the class. They do not even provide us water,” he said.
Jallow said he only come to know that they are members of QNet during the induction classes.
He said he was given a product – necklace that the QNet representatives said it had medical benefits as it gives energy.
“I did not make payment for the necklace. The D40,000 I paid was not for the product they gave me,” he said.
He said the representatives provided him with some documentation which included an international bank account code for the withdrawal of money.
“The code and the bank details were all forged because they were not working,” he said.
He said when he began putting pressure on them to be refunded his D40,000 he was told he had signed that his money won’t be refunded to him.
Jallow could not get back his month and when he came back to his shop, he had to sell it to another man while he venture in the sale of cell phone credit and cash power.
Mamadou Lamarana Baldeh, a resident of Bundung and a Gambian by nationality is also a victim of the QNet business. The 21-year-old used to have a shop at Nema Kunku, Kanifing Municipality. He spent D95,000 in the QNet business altogether.
Baldeh said he got a direct telephone call from one of his brothers in Mauritania but he did pick the call because he was occupied at the time. He detailed that his brother sent him a voice message vie WhatsApp that he wants them to talk about something very important. He said after a month, his brother sent him another voice message vie WhatsApp informing him that he was working with a company that has that can pay him $225 every week.
“I asked whether job at the company requires documentation and his answer was in the positive,” he said.
Baldeh said he told his brother that he did not have school documents.
“He [the brother] told me the only requirement was to have a national identity card,” he said.
He said at the time he was not having a national identity card but his brother was encouraging him to get one because the company’s business can change his life.
“I asked him the job nature and he [the brother] said it was an online business – that it was an e-commerce business,” he said.
He added: “I told him I was not conversant with the internet but he told me that I will be able to use it because the job was not difficult.”
He said his brother used to tell him that he had travel opportunities through the business. He said he decided to try his luck as he left for Mauritania to the business his brother discussed about.
He said he made the payment which was for the accommodation, food, lodging and transportation.
Jallow said he was told he would be paid D20,000 every month after joining the company. He stated that his brother convinced him to join the QNet business because he [the brother] was do religious.
“My brother was on constantly asking me to meet him in Mauritania for the business,” he said.
Baldeh’s family join hands to raise the money for his trip and the money he was supposed to pay to the company to join them.
He said he left the Gambia without a national identity card because of the pressure his brother exerted on him.
“My brother told me if I don’t go that week I won’t be considered by the company and they will put someone in the place he reserved for me,” he said.
He said their vehicle had a breakdown in Louga, Senegal and his brother in Mauritania called him and ask him to meet someone in St. Louis, Senegal. He explained that after calling the man, whose number his brother gave him, the man, who he later identified as Mamdou Bah, picked him up and took him to St. Louis.
“The place I was taken in St. Louis was horrible. There were many people who sat on the floor on mats while a few were on mattresses,” he said.
He said he never knew it was a QNet business because what his brother told him was that it was an American company hiring people to do online business.
He said the house was a self-containment and the number of people there was very large.
“I arrived there at night but in the morning I did not see anyone. There was only one person left there with me and he told me he was sick,” he said.
He said Mamadou Bah brought him breakfast. After the breakfast, Baldeh said his brother in Mauritania called him with the information that the border between Senegal and Mauritania because there was a lockdown as result of Covid-19. He said his brother further inform him to join the business in Senegal because they were all doing the same thing.
“Mamadou Bah said I must make the payment before I was allowed to go for the interview at the company,” he said.
He explained that this was when he called his family back home in The Gambia to transfer the money because he left it here. He said the money was transferred vie Orange Money. He added that the following day he went to the office purposefully for the supposed interview.
“Anytime I ask about the type of job I was going to do, their response was it is an easy job,” he said.
He said he was taken to the QNet office at St. Louis Senegal with the promised that they were going to interview him.
“To my surprise a catalogue was opened for me and they began to explain the business to me. They told me it was an online business platform and they are a direct selling company,” he said.
Baldeh said he was shown some of the products they sell and was asked to take one. He added that he chose Bio Disk.
“I was told if I bring two people to join the business, I will be paid $225 every week,” he said.
He added: “They informed me that their company works with 99 companies worldwide including QNet.”
He said the people there, who he later came to identify as representatives of QNet, asked him to work with them collectively in order to lure other people to join the business from the Gambia like they did to him.
“They never wanted me to see what they eat. They ensured that I am fed well during my first days there. At times, they used to take me to the restaurant,” he said.
He said after making the payment one Musa Sillah, a Senegalese was attached to him because Mamadou Bah said he was a busy man. He added that Musa Sillah was encouraging him not to give up.
“At this time, I already gave up and I began requesting for my money. This is because what I was told and what I saw were like day and night,” he said.
He said he was given a book and a pen for the induction classes adding the first topic for the class was “Change of Mind-set”.
“Everything about this topic was to manipulate our minds to work with them to deceive people to join them,” he said.
He added that: “I later came to know they were QNet during the induction classes.”
He said he became more furious and began demanding for a refund of his money but Mamadou Bah came to him and calmed him down.
“Different people [within the QNet ranks] came to me encouraging me to continue with them,” he said.
He said he handed the little money he had with him to Musa Sillah for safekeeping.
“Many QNet people followed me until I ended up calming down,” he said.
After he calmed down, he said they asked him to mention 200 names of people who trust him and he mentioned all the names. He said after this he was asked to call them and tell them about the business.
“You must call someone who trusts you and when you are doing the call, they will sit next to you telling you what to say,” he said.
He said he invited over 10 people – some showed interest while others disproved the idea of the business.
“If I call someone who expresses interest but does not have money, they [the QNet representatives] would tell them how to get money mainly by taking loan,” he said.
He said he was able to convince one of his friends Cherno Hadi Jallow in The Gambia who paid the money to him and was eventually handed to Mamadou Bah. He explained that when Cherno Hadi came to Senegal and was introduced to the business, he immediately rejected the idea and demanded for his money.
“The money was given back to him and he came back to the Gambia,” he said, adding “I wanted to come back with Cherno Hadi but they wouldn’t give me back my money.”
He said the food that QNet representatives provide them was terrible adding they only used to eat once in a day.
“There was no breakfast. You provide for yourself breakfast and if you don’t have money then you stay hungry until lunch time. We used to cook for ourselves lunch,” he said.
He added: “They give us one Jumbo and vegetable oil for lunch. We used to contribute to buy the other ingredients needed for the food.”
He said about 20 people used to share the same room.
“Whoever that is lured would come and stay in that compound,” he said.
Baldeh said he was able to convince another friend of his Lamin Badjie. He detailed that Badjie made the payment and signed the documents reluctantly. He said his brother in Mauritania lured another man to join the business through him [Baldeh].
“My aunt and dad contributed to send me D50,000 to buy another product from the company,” he said.
He said he was given 18 Euros as bonus instead of the 100 Euros promised bonus.
“I have never received the promised $225 from them,” he said.
Baldeh said he needed only one person to get to the level of receiving $225 weekly payment.
“This was when we discovered that there were several people who already completed all levels and have never received the $225 weekly payment,” he said.
He said after getting to that level you will only be given $225 once and if you want another payment, you will be asked to bring six more people again.
He said there was discontentment and people began to realise that everything about the business was dubious. Baldeh said he was able to help Lamin Badjie to retrieve his money while for him he has not recovered one butut from them.
He said they were reported to the authorities in Senegal and the police arrested the QNet representatives including Momodou Bah. He added that at the time of leaving Senegal these people were in held under detention at St. Louis.
Baldeh’s family sent him 20,000 CFA to come back to The Gambia.
“I did not receive anything from my D95,000 until today,” he told Foroyaa.
Baldeh’s closed down his shop as his business collapsed. He currently has no job and he is helping one of his relatives at a shop in Bundung.