Scores of Ghanaians and some West African nationals risk being scammed by agents of network marketing company Qnet Ghana.
Many Independent Representatives (IR) in Koforidua, the Eastern Regional capital, operating as agents of the company are using what appears to be deceptive business modules to recruit customers as independent representatives.
Qnet agents operating in all regions of Ghana include some West African nationals hiding in secluded areas operating without business operating permits. Some are using similar dubious business modules to lure their victims mostly from Mali, Nigeria and Burkina Faso under the guise of securing them well-paid jobs in Ghana only for their victims to be held hostage upon arrival, forced to work in Qnet network marketing.
Starr News Eastern Regional Correspondent Kojo Ansah on first week of 11th January 2021, initiated investigations into the operations of Qnet agents in Koforidua following complaints of possible scam. Some of the victims either went for loans, sold family properties or withdrew their savings to invest in the business module.
It was quite difficult establishing location of at least six Qnet agents operating in parts Koforidua. They operate in rented bedroom apartments without signposts.
At Koforidua Adweso-Mile 50, an agent was found operating from a walled four-bedroom house. A number of desperate job seekers well-dressed with some in suit and tie were found seated under tents in the house. Few minutes later, a self-acclaimed pastor came to worship with them and delivered a motivational message.
Ushered into a room after disguising as potential customer interested in joining the network marketing company, five persons including two (2) ladies were already seated in the room. They had come after an Independent representative introduced the direct selling business to them.
Twenty (20) minutes later, a young man came to the room, introduced the business modules. .He first convinced the prospective customers and Independent Representative about the credibility of the company citing numerous sponsorship packages by Qnet to FIFA, CAF, , Manchester City WHO, UNICEF, ECOWAS among others.
He said worthy medical doctors, Journalists, Musicians, Politicians and some rich men in Ghana including Kennedy Agyapong, late former President Jerry John Rawlings were into the business.
He demonstrated that an Independent Representative could get 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, individual customer must buy a form of at least Ghc100 and pay at least Ghc4,200 for the purchase of a product online and additionally pay Ghc400 hostel fee.
After payment, an online dollar account would be created for the individual to receive payment of commission twice daily after referring two others to also purchase a product.
“To join this company, you have to purchase 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-dic 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 is in Africa so they use one common platform. So, we are going to create international account for you so that you can use 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 to. 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 at Cape coast. Every week you will get 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
Apparently, 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 pursues.
Quest International University had not replied email sent on January 13, 2021 to verify the genuineness of the 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 similar module. Why should I buy a product that I cannot see then you say I will get commissions” He quizzed.
At Okorase, a community near Koforidua, where another agent was operating with same modus operandi, the story was not different. About 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 Burkinabe, Nigerians and Malians. The agents convince their victims mostly from Mali and Burkina Faso that they have secured well-paid jobs in Ghana for them.
The victims are asked to pay huge amounts to enable them commence work. 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 to 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, Police in Koforidua arrested dozens of West African Nationals at Bornya a suburb of Koforidua after one of the fresh victims 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 giving customers the opportunity 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 collectables, accessories, cosmetics, vehicles, holidays and education among others
Under its business module, 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 up on 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”
Reaction on Findings of the investigation
Qnet Ghana responded to some of the findings in the investigation as follow.
“Okay Qnet is a business company and every business require a starting capital……So for sure you need a capital to start with…. And become a representative….
No one get to the top alone team work 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 themselves 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 franc but were instead made to pay 500,000 CFA franc, 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 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 accusation of being a pyramid and a money circulation scheme in India and also at other countries. But the company maintain that its name changes were purely for business strategy.
The company has being 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 Quest net 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 Jalandhar, 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 as 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 of 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, 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 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 Tanzania govt was investigating Qnet company for allegedly operating pyramid scheme.
Some suspicious customers and newly recruited Independent Represented met at the premises of the Qnet agents in parts of Koforidua said, they have filed compliant at SEC to investigate the network marketing modules being deployed by Qnet agents.
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 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. Qnet Agents are reportedly located in all 16 regions using similar dubious marketing modules. For the Northern part of Ghana, many youths have reportedly lost huge sums of monies to Qnet network marketing firm. “I have more than 5 victims in my external family and over 20 victims in my village, “a resident in Tamale told Starr news.