Why are they here?
Why do people come to Botswana?
Obviously a lot of them come there because Botswana is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Our landscape, our wilderness, our animals are exceptional. They come to see that and hopefully leave some of their lovely money behind when they leave.
Others come here to invest and make profits and there’s nothing wrong with that either. In fact we need a lot more of that. We need more foreign businesses coming here with their expertise and money. That can only help elevate the general quality and volume of business in Botswana and a bit of healthy competition is always useful.
But that’s not who I mean. I’m asking about the people who come to Botswana and try and steal our money.
If you’re on Facebook (and I know many of you are), you will have seen messages from a variety of people offering you a range of “opportunities”. One I saw recently, from an enterprising Filipino, said this:
“HELLO BOTSWANA! We are looking for the next distributor that would like to start making P200 to P3,200 daily working just to share information about Aim Global business opportunity every day using your Mobile Phone? DOING IT PART TIME and AT HOME. Just comment “HOW” below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. First 10 person will be prioritized!!!! HURRY!! Let Do this 7 heads INVESTMENT. JOIN US NOW and be the next Millionaire in your Country”.
Let’s start with the first question. Who or what is “Aim Global”? Their full name is “Alliance in Motion Global”, a Filipino multi-level marketing scheme selling nutritional supplements. Of course there’s nothing illegal or improper about food supplements like the ones AIM Global sell, they’re just useless for almost everybody. With very few exceptions none of us need to take them. A reasonably balanced diet involving plenty of fruit and vegetables will give us all the nutrients a normal person will ever need. Expensive extras are just a waste of money.
However, and this is common amongst companies offering supplements, their distributors make some remarkable claims. I found one who claimed that AIM Global’s “C247” product could help with 100 different serious medical conditions including asthma, beri-beri, cirrhosis, bone fracture, deafness, endometriosis, epilepsy, hypertension, hepatitis, “toxins in the body”, stroke, migraine and even cancer and “immunodeficiency”. We all know what that last claim means, don’t we?
Another headlined his blog post with the title “Cure For Cancer Is Possible!” before claiming that their products can offer such a cure. These are all lies and the clue is obvious. If such a miraculous, magical product existed, someone would been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine by now, if not even the prize for peace as well. And they haven’t. No single product could do any of those things, certainly not all of them. So it’s safe to assume they’re lying. Like all similar schemes the important thing to note is that the
Dig a little deeper into the into AIM Global and you find all the usual signs of a pyramid-structured business. No mention of products, instead just hints about opportunities to make lots of money and become a millionaire by doing your best to recruit multiple layers of people beneath you to build your own personal pyramid.
Let’s go back to the original question. Why are they visiting us (electronically) us in Botswana? Why would people in the Philippines try to get people in Botswana to join this business? If the business is so successful, why aren’t they trying to recruit people in their own neighbourhood? Why aren’t they recruiting Filipinos? That one I can answer based on personal experience. As someone who worked and lived for a short period in the Philippines, I can tell you with some certainty that Filipinos are a skeptical nation. They lived through dictatorial oppression and they know to be skeptical about scams like AIM Global. I suspect AIM Global have emptied the pool of gullible victims over there and are now exploring new regions to exploit.
But why us?
I know I mention it often but it’s a fact that the Eurextrade Ponzi scheme that hit us hard five years ago was specifically targeted at us in Botswana. They didn’t have significant numbers of victims in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho or Swaziland. They just had victims in Botswana. That should tell us something. The problem is that we have a national reputation for gullibility. We’re known as a nation that is easily scammed. That’s one of the reasons companies like AIM Global are so busily trying to recruit people here. In the last week I’ve denied twenty AIM distributors entry into the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group but meanwhile they’re being allowed into many other Botswana-based Facebook groups and as soon as they’re admitted they’re actively recruiting people.
We have a choice. Are we going to allow companies like AIM Global to abuse us the way other schemes have done? Are we going to allow them to steal our money?
I think we need to be a bit more selective about the visitors we allow into our country. Yes, tourists and investors should be welcomed with open arms but we need to establish some stronger controls about people who want our money. The problem is that the internet and Facebook don’t know anything about national borders. What we need are skeptical border posts inside our heads and a much stronger mental passport control system.