E-Creator scam in Zimbabwe: How it fooled thousands of people
E-Creator was a company in Zimbabwe that claimed to help people make money by posting fake positive reviews on e-commerce sites globally. The service it provided has been referred to as a Pyramid and Ponzi Scheme in Zimbabwe. It was exposed as a scam in July 2023, when it shut down abruptly and allegedly fled with over US$1 million of its members’ money.
How did E-Creator work?
E-Creator was launched in April 2023 and claimed to be a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) company that partnered with e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Jumia. It offered various packages that required members to pay a registration fee ranging from US$15 to US$300 and then post reviews on products sold on these platforms. The reviews had to be positive and follow certain guidelines provided by E-Creator. The members were promised to earn commissions based on the number of reviews they posted and the number of referrals they brought to the company.
What were the red flags?
E-Creator was a scam from the very beginning and had several red flags that should have alerted potential members. Some of these were:
- It asked for upfront payments without providing any proof of legitimacy or transparency.
- It did not have any official website, email address, or physical office. It operated mainly through WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages, and YouTube videos.
- It did not have any affiliation or authorization from the e-commerce platforms it claimed to partner with. In fact, posting fake reviews is against the terms and conditions of these platforms and can result in account suspension or legal action.
- It did not provide any receipts, invoices, or contracts to its members. It also did not have any customer service or support system.
- It offered unrealistic and unsustainable returns that were too good to be true. For example, it claimed that one could earn up to US$1,000 per month by posting 10 reviews per day.
How did E-Creator collapse?
E-Creator collapsed in July 2023, after two months of operation. It announced on its Facebook page that it had closed down due to the disappearance of its founder, Zhao Jiaotong, who was a Chinese national. It claimed that Zhao had withdrawn all the company funds through EcoCash agents and was planning to leave Zimbabwe with over US$1 million. It urged its members to find him and recover their money.
However, this story was later debunked as a lie by Techzim, a local technology news site. Techzim pointed out several inconsistencies and impossibilities in the statement, such as the EcoCash transaction limits, the lack of evidence of Zhao’s existence or identity, and the implausibility of him carrying such a large amount of cash. Techzim concluded that E-Creator was using Zhao as a scapegoat to cover up its scam and escape accountability.
What are the consequences?
E-Creator scammed thousands of people in Zimbabwe who had invested their hard-earned money in the hope of making some extra income. Many of them lost their savings, borrowed money from friends or relatives, or sold their assets to join the scheme. Some of them even quit their jobs or dropped out of school to focus on E-Creator. They are now left with no recourse or compensation for their losses.
E-Creator also damaged the reputation and trust of e-commerce platforms and online businesses in Zimbabwe and beyond. It contributed to the spread of fake reviews that undermine the quality and credibility of online products and services. It also violated the rights and interests of consumers who rely on honest and authentic feedback from other customers.
E-Creator is one of the many scams that have plagued Zimbabwe in recent years, such as MMM Global, KWD Digital Currency, Dream Africa Network, among others. These scams prey on the desperation and ignorance of people who are looking for quick and easy ways to make money in a challenging economic environment. They exploit their emotions, hopes, and fears to lure them into their traps.
How can we avoid such scams?
E-Creator scam in Zimbabwe is a lesson for everyone who wants to make money online or join any MLM company. Here are some tips on how to avoid such scams:
- Do your research before joining any company or scheme. Check their website, contact details, registration status, legal documents, testimonials, reviews, etc.
- Be wary of any company or scheme that asks for upfront payments without providing any guarantees or proofs of income.
- Be realistic about your expectations and goals. Don’t fall for promises of high returns with little effort or risk.
- Don’t rely on word-of-mouth or social media hype. Verify the information from independent sources and experts.
- Don’t succumb to peer pressure or fear of missing out. Take your time to make informed decisions and consult with trusted people.
- Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. Diversify your income sources and have a backup plan.