Of Ghani’s greed and our gullibility

Published: April 15, 2014
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A quick Google search of the images revealed that the pictures did not belong to the people named on the site. That was when I knew it was a scam.

Greed is a disease that infects us all and there are plenty of scoundrels in Pakistan who take innocent people for a ride. However, as people have become more aware of these scams and are less gullible now, these lowlifes have evolved and become more sophisticated.

What I will narrate below is perhaps one of the most high-tech and elaborated scams I have come across so far.

I, myself, was about to fall prey to this fraudulent scheme and hence I know about its logistics first-hand. Fortunately, we had the common sense to understand, at an early stage, that something was wrong with the scheme and hence not much was lost.

A few days back, my wife received a call informing her that she had won a Toyota Corolla GLI in a raffle. Since such shady calls and text messages have now become a norm in Pakistan, my wife told the caller to buzz off and hung up the phone.

However, the caller, who sounded educated, called again and told my wife that it was not a joke. He explained that a couple of months ago his company, named Ghani Foods, ran a promotion drive at Metro supermarket and coupons were given to everyone who had purchased their oil, for a lucky draw. The lucky winner would win a car – a Toyota Corolla to be precise, and in this case, the lucky winner was my wife. This was indeed correct, as my wife did purchase a product called Ghani Oil and had taken part in the lucky draw.

Furthermore, the caller confirmed my wife’s name, my name, our home address and her Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) number; all the information which my wife had provided with the coupon. We started believing that it was a legitimate call. To further prove his credibility, the caller told my wife that if she were to visit their website, Ghanifoods.com, and enter her first name along with her mobile number, she would see her record in the account, proving that this was no scam.

So we accessed the site and entered her name and password, and sure enough, there it was; she had won a Toyota Corolla.

A screenshot from Ghanifoods.com

My wife was asked to come to Karachi to collect her car ‘within three days’. It was the within-three-days deadline which raised a few red flags for me and I became suspicious. My wife told them that it would not be possible for her to come to Karachi on such short notice. Upon this, she was informed that the car could be delivered to Islamabad but she would have to pay for the delivery charges.

She was provided a number of a transporter, who was to arrange the delivery.

Suspicious as I was, as soon as the call hinted towards advance payments for the delivery, I became thoroughly convinced that this was a scam. Just to be completely sure, I searched their website and clicked on the ‘about’ section.

Pictures of three so-called ‘members’ of the Ghani Foods management, along with their designations, were seen posted in the section – Farooq Azam, Managing Director (MD), Syed Sharjeel Kazmi, General Manager (GM) and Muzhar Mehmood, Marketing Manager.

A screenshot from Ghanifoods.com

A quick Google search of the images revealed that the pictures did not belong to the people named on the site. The picture of the so-called MD of the company was in fact of a Gulf-based Indian billionaire named JR Gangaramani and the alleged GM’s photo was of the famous Indian billionaire, Aditya Birla.

I don’t how many innocent people have been fooled by such unscrupulous scammers. However, I would urge the media and the concerned parties to launch an investigation into this scam and request all users to share this story via social media, so that innocent people do not become victims of these scoundrels.

Companies like Ghani Foods take advantage of people who do not know any better. At a time when we should be looking out for one another, such companies are making fools out of gullible poor souls.

Syed Muhammad Hussain

Syed Muhammad Hussain

A GIKI alumni working for ‘Big Oil’, has an opinion about anything and everything especially religion, sports and politics. He tweets @hussainpak (twitter.com/hussainpak)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.