By Yankuba Jallow
More victims of the alleged QNet scam scheme continue to reach out to Foroyaa with explanation as to how the e-commerce has scammed them.
The victims include an engineer from Nigeria and some women traders.
Benevolence Owhokwu, a Nigerian said he met Sulayman Jallow, the proprietor of Questnet company at the Gambia Immigration Department where both of them were for residential permit.
Questnet is an infinity millennium which belongs to the QNet world and it is located at Farato. It is registered in the Gambia to sell watches and jewelleries online. The company is accused by many people of amassing wealth from innocent Gambians with the unfulfilled promise of helping them transform their lives.
Benevolence said he was sitting next to Sulayman Jallow on the same bench. He said Jallow asked him what his work was and this was when he told Jallow that he is an engineer from Nigeria, who came here in search of a job.
“He [Sulayman Jallow] told me he is a lawyer working for an international company based all over the world. He said their company would be able to help me with work; that their company will be able to take me to Europe to work with them,” Benevolence said.
He said they exchanged contact and a week later Sulayman Jallow called and invited him to their office in Farato.
He stated that Jallow refused to explain the business to him via telephone and was insisting that he [Benevolence] should go to their office.
He said when he went to the company at Farato, Sulayman Jallow and his people told him that they have a partnership with CCM Engineering Supply Job company in the United Kingdom.
“They gave information about CCM and asked me to Google it. After goggling it, it was real and it was what convinced me to join,” he said.
He said he was convinced because the information he saw in the internet about the CCM company.
Benevolence was asked to pay a hundred thousand dalasi (D100,000) for the company to prepare his work permit, international diplomatic passport and pay for his accommodation. He explained that he was asked to make a deposit of D50,000 here in The Gambia and would be required to pay the balance when he got to the United Kingdom.
He detailed that on his way home, Jallow followed him to where he was waiting for a taxi and encouraged him to make the payment; that it was a life-changing opportunity which has the capability of making his dream come true.
“I called someone in Nigeria who is a Godfather to me and I informed him that I have an opportunity now to work with an engineering company in the UK and I asked him to assist me with D50,000 which is Naira 500,000,” he said.
He said upon receiving the money, he handed it over to Sulayman Jallow and he was issued a receipt of payment.
“I said I will bring a referee and he said I should not bring a referee. They said it is only when I am travelling to the UK that I will bring a referee as someone who would serve as my surety – guarantor, but in this first transaction, I should not bring a referee,” he said.
The receipt of payment which he provided Foroyaa is dated 17th June 2021 bearing the serial number 000531 issued by Questnet Gambia Limited for the purchase of Chipendant 4 product.
“I asked them to write Europe CCM Company job because I don’t know what is Chipendant 4. I told them I did not come to buy any product. He [Sulayman Jallow] told me to relax because what he put on that receipt was just for formality. He told me to forget about the Chipendant 4 because it is not important; that I should relax,” he said.
Benevolence said he was not too skeptical about Jallow because he was always mentioning the name of Allah whenever he uttered a word.
“I have done business with Muslims before and Gambians too and they acted well before. With that mentality, I see Muslims as straightforward people and this is why I trusted him,” he said.
Benevolence said the form was filled by one Ramatoulie working in the company, adding the company never allowed him to read the content of the contract.
“Sulayman told me he was in a hurry to catch up an international meeting. He told me to relax that everything will be fine. He did not give me a copy of the contract. He told me he will give me a copy to read,” the victim said.
Benevolence said he was asked to work for QNet for two months while his papers were being processed. In addition, he was also asked to work with them for further one week to know more about the CCM company in the UK.
“I came the following day and requested for the paper, but he [Sulayman Jallow] refused. He told me that the papers were in Senegal and the Whiteman is working on them; that they wanted to take them to Europe to prepare my papers,” he said.
He said he joined their induction session in which he was told the company was QNet and began introducing him to what they called “network business” that offers education and health products.
There and then, Benevolence decided to quit and began asking them for refund of his money, but the company wouldn’t do so.
“I became angry and started arguing with them. They calmed me down and told me I will travel,” he said.
He said he came the following day and they asked him to become loyal and submissive to them in order to start teaching him how to bring more people in the business.
“I told them so you people are scammers – you people are fraudsters. You told me you are in partnership with CCM company and convinced me to join and now you want to teach me how to scam others – never,” he said.
Benevolence became uncompromising on the company and maintained his demand for a refund. He said the company laid down some conditions before they would help him to travel. He said one of the conditions was that he must bring two people from Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone or any other African country to join the business. He said the second condition was these two persons must each deposit D50,000 to the company which would sum up to a hundred thousand dalasi. He said the third condition was that he was going to bring 200 names and 50 should come from his neighbours, 50 from his family, 50 from his friends and 50 from people in the street.
“It was there that I came to realize that they were scammers and I quarreled with them bitterly insisting that I will not bring anyone into the business,” he said.
Benevolence began regarding the company officials and he shared with Foroyaa a 58 minute recording in their so-called training.
He reported the matter to the police and Sulayman Jallow was invited to the Fraud Unit for questioning. Benevolence said Jallow produced the contract document which he signed.
“Everything there was about networking and pyramid scheme. I told them I never know Chipendant 4 before and I don’t need it because it is for the sick. I did not come for Chipendant 4,” he said.
He said Sulayman brought out the paper he said was in Senegal for processing and showed it to the police.
He recalled that Sulayman Jallow told him that he is a lawyer and he appeared to him as a very gentleman.
Collapse of Businesses
Some of the victims are married women who were doing petty trading such as buying and selling of textiles, food stuff and so on. Their businesses all closed after they joined QNet.
Mama Hydara used to buy clothes from the market and resell them to people in her community – Wullingkama. She was introduced to the QNet business by one Neneh Galleh Barry.
“I took thirty-six thousand from my business and invested it into QNet after I was told I will be able to recover it in one week,” Hydara said.
She was told after purchasing the Amezcua bio disc product which QNet is selling, they will pay her D12,000 every week. In addition to the payment, she was asked to bring three people to join the QNet business which she did. She brought her closed relatives who all joined and made payments.
She began asking for the promised weekly payment of D12,000 which she was told at the time of joining.
“My business collapsed. Imagine if you take D36000 from your small business, do you expect that business to continue?” She quizzed.
Hydara joined in 2018 and since then couldn’t resume her business.
Mama used to pay over D70 every day to go to the QNet office at the Kairaba Avenue from Wullingkama for more than one year. QNet offices open every day and it is always filled with people. QNet organises induction classes for them. All classes focus on how to lure people to join the business.
“I used to go there every day. I was very optimistic that if I get my money and the promised payments, I would have expanded my business but all my hopes were shattered.”
She said QNet officials, who the company would refer to as independent representatives, deceived her and contributed to the downfall of her business.
“Things are hard with me. My business collapsed and I am not engaged in any business or work,” she said.
Hydara’s ordeal did not only stop with her because she also brought three other people into the business, who made their deposits into the company.
“We all tried our best to get back our money, but to no avail. This is a real scam,” she said.
On why she referred to them as scammers, Hydara said QNet made her believe that their business is a life-changing venture and has the capability of helping her business grow.
“Joining QNet resulted in the collapse of my business,” she said.
She said the one who introduced her Neneh Galleh Barry also became a victim of QNet.
Mama’s friend Zahra Jawara was also a victim. She was introduced to the business by the same Neneh Galleh Barry. She paid D34,000 for the purchased of the bio disc product from QNet with the promise that she will be paid D12,000 every week. Like Mama, she also took two people to join who she personally paid for with the anticipation that she will be able to recover her money in one month. Until today, she couldn’t get back her money after realizing that the business was a rip-off.
Zahra said the scam affected her business and she is still struggling to overcome the situation.
All the victims pleaded with the Central Government to help them recover their deposits at QNet. The helpless victims called on the police to investigate the activities of QNet in order to know what they are doing to innocent Gambians.
Sulayman Jallow of Questnet was contacted by the reporter for his side of the story. Jallow said the engineer was told about the business and he joined voluntarily.
“He purchased a product from us,” Jallow said.
He wouldn’t answer any further questions put to him by the reporter.
How Do QNet Companies Operate?
The three registered QNet Companies have offices in diverse places in the Gambia as far as Basse. The companies’ offices do not have sign board to show or explain what they do.
They do not advertise their businesses in the conventional platforms like newspapers, radios or television stations. People join through them or friends. It is a pyramid-like scheme where people register through the one who lure them into the business.
People gather at QNet offices every day from morning to evening and the majority of them are young people. Students are the most vulnerable and there are many students who joined because of their educational classes, but the company would conveniently convert them into agents to lure more people to join the scheme. They train them on how to bring more people into the business under the pretext that it has life-changing potentials.
The National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA) have confirmed to Foroyaa that there is no QNet group or company registered in the Gambia to offer education to students. However, the different companies are amassing millions from students for business management classes. Some of the victims are now at home suffering from their victimisation.
People who join are promised weekly payment of $225 equivalent to 11,250 dalasis – a promise which is never fulfilled.
This is because some of them pushed their parents to take loan in order to pay QNet to do classes with the anticipation that they will be able to recover their payments within a month. Their parents are still struggling to pay their debt. The students are not going to school because their parents cannot pay for their tertiary education at the Gambia College, University of The Gambia and other tertiary educational institutions.