Business News of Friday, 18 October 2019
Prince Akwaboah, Officer in Charge of Auctions at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has emphasized that Customs is the only organization mandated to auction confiscated cars, therefore, the general public should desist from engaging persons who lure them into buying auction cars.
“As far as it is an import, customs is the only organisation mandated to auction those cars. There is no other organisation which auction confiscated vehicles,” he reiterated. Speaking on the most authoritative Maritime and Port industry programme, Eye on Port, Prince Akwaboah, Officer in Charge of Auctions at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority said customs does not conduct online auction, which is one of the means some fraudsters use to defraud the unsuspecting public and advised persons who want to buy cars not to solely depend on documents presented to them but verify from customs.
“You need to go to customs collections and then send both car and documents there and let customs do physical inspection on the car, check the documents from our system to authenticate it before you commit any money,” he cautioned.
He also stated that highest bidders are sometimes not given the items being auctioned because most people are not committed to pay the amounts they quote during public auctions.
“The assessment of the vehicle is that the duty component that the owner refused to pay is what the law asks us to collect. Now somebody comes and then knowing that it is his car and finding it difficult to let it go will come to the auction and bid an unreasonable amount. For instance, a Toyota Corolla which could cost about GHS 30000 on the market, he will price it at GHS 50000. It is obvious that he will not come for the item. So now it is not the highest bidder but the reasonable bidder. Anything above the reserve price, the auctioneer has the discretion to let it go,” he revealed.
Prince Akwaboah, said the Division’s auctions are conducted publicly and in a transparent manner which is in accordance with law.
“The fact is that the items available for auctions are not many and the demand is high so I will urge everybody who wants to get an auction car or whatever kindly come to the auction grounds where the auction is been conducted and then participate,” he added.
Tebon Zumah, the Treasury Manager at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, who was also engaged in the live panel discussion on Fraud related to the auctioning of cars and goods at the Port”, emphasized that the Port Authority does not operate a mobile money account and also does not auction public goods and cars at the Port.
He advised the public not to be induced by cheap prices of cars being offered to them.
“The potential victims should watch out. When they give them those sweet offers which are so cheap, they should be very careful. They should take the first step by making a move to the port to find out,” he advised.
Charles Asare, the Superintendent of Police, of the Marine, Railways and Ports Unit revealed that his outfit receives reports of several cases of car fraud on a regular basis.
He disclosed some modus operandi of car fraudsters and entreated the general public to be cautious.
“There are others too who are able to generate Customs Classification and Valuation Report, by going into the customs’ website. Fraudsters can now access the information of cars whose duty have been paid and they use that information to generate CCVR and then they print the information using the chassis number then they will approach you with it and if you are not careful they will sell the car to you. At the time you realize, after you take the documents, they are all fake,” he revealed.
Online Selling Platforms
Felix Charles Asare also called for operators of online selling platforms such as OLX and Tonaton to put in place stringent measures for persons who advertise sale of cars on their platforms.
“For these owners of the website where people can download and do business they should be asked to do more because of the way people are abusing the system. They should be asked to actually get more information on their clients,” he stated.
Tebon Zumah entreated members of the public who are made offers to buy cars not to hesitate to crosscheck the authenticity of those offers before parting with money.
“They will tell you to not tell anybody because the auctioneer just wants to help you. If you keep on talking about it ‘alarm will blow’,” he disclosed another mode of deception by these fraudsters.
Access to Car Terminals
The panelists on the programme called for tighter security at the various terminals where cars are kept to prevent fraudsters from luring members of the public to those terminals.
“If you get to the safe bond, freight forwarders are allowed entry and importers are also allowed entry. Our freight forwarders most of them have to go there with passes and they are allowed to go there with importers to check up on the vehicles. This is an area where people take opportunity of the loopholes and lead innocent victims who want to buy cars and physically point cars to people to choose from,” the Superintendent of Police, at the Marine, Railways and Ports Unit said.
The panelists also called for the regulation of the activities of clearing agents as mostly the unregistered ones who engage in fraudulent activities are unable to be tracked.
“If you are a registered agent or freight forwarder and you allow a floating agent to use your company to do stamping and there is a problem the sanctions should be very high,” the Policeman said.
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