How to Avoid Getting Caught Out by Online Scams in Cameroon
Many people have been getting in touch with me through my website to verify the authenticity of one company or the other they want to do business. Most of them discovered these companies online. However, out of 10 companies they provide, just about 2 or 3 are authentic. There rest are online scams in Cameroon who want to make them part ways with their hard-earned money.
I have this client with whom after offering a free guide on how to develop his business in Cameroon and Africa for more than two months ask me “How do I trust you with my money?” I felt really bad and asked myself how on earth will this guy ask such a question after I have answered all his worries for no fee for more than two months? Consultancy work that he would was supposed to have paid me for, yet I gave him for free.
I wondered if he would have been able to get this service for free in the US where he’s based (I will leave this for another day). Then I thought again how many of such investors or those interested in doing business fall in the hands of online scams in Cameroon.
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The above prompted me to write this post so as to help investors or people wanting to do business not to fall in the dragnet of online scams in Cameroon. This may just be one of many ways because these online scams use many methods. Let’s talk today on how to verify if a company is authentic or not in Cameroon.
How to verify the authenticity of a company in Cameroon
There are various ways scams target businesses and prominent investors searching for information online in Cameroon. The most common is using misleading sales techniques to make this businesses part away with their money.
Most foreigners and Cameroonians in the diaspora are not well informed about how business activities are carried out in Cameroon. Some of them don’t even know where to go for reliable information. There are very few genuine websites like this where you can get the right information or be directed to where you can get whatever information you want. The government websites are rarely updated or have little or no information available (except the profile and portfolio of the minister). An update is made only when there’s a new minister, director general, board chairman, etc. It may be funny, but that’s the truth.
Most of these investors usually ask these ‘presumed businesses’ about their company documents and business license. They are usually sent copies of fake business licenses. There is this case that I verified yesterday where the online scam sent the old business license which was stopped a few years ago to proof that his business is operation. The business license had a validity of one year that ends on December 2019.
How to verify a fake business in Cameroon
To avoid falling in the hands of online scams in Cameroon who use fake business documents, you need to know the following:
1. Business license validity period
The business license no longer have a 1 year validity date. It is issued on the same sheet of paper with the tax clearance certificate and it is valid for 3 months from the date of signature. In the case where the taxpayer has benefited from a stay of execution or a moratorium, the validity maybe for a month. Note that businesses can apply for business license tax exoneration in Cameroon for the first year of registration. In this case, the business is exonerated from the business license tax for 1 year or 2 years if it was registered in the integrated center for small and medium-sized businesses.
2. Tax clearance certificate
The tax clearance certificate is issued upon verification of the taxpayers’ compliance. That is to know if the taxpayer has paid all his taxes and duties. This means the taxpayer has no tax debt or benefits from a stay of execution or a moratorium.
To avoid falling in the hands of online scams in Cameroon, you will need to ask them to proof that their business is running. One of such ways of knowing it is by them providing you with a valid tax clearance certificate. However, I know that many can still scan such documents, modify and send to you. That’s why point number three is very necessary.
3. Verify the authenticity of the business license
I mentioned above that the business license is issued on the same paper with the tax clearance certificate. In fact your business is considered non-operational if you have a tax debt or you are not benefiting from a moratorium or stay of execution.
If you plan to do business online with a business in Cameroon, you will need to make sure you treat with legally registered businesses. How do you know a business is not legally registered or hasn’t got a license to operate in Cameroon?
It is easy. The tax administration in Cameroon has made it possible for persons requesting the authenticity of a tax clearance certificate to do so online on the website of the tax department. Verifying the tax clearance certificate also means verifying that the company is legally registered. This can be explained below:
- According to the General Tax Code of Cameroon, only taxpayers (natural or legal) who are liable to the payment of taxes and duties can request for the tax clearance certificate. The 2015 Finance Law also clearly states that the tax clearance certificate is the only document to proof that a taxpayer is compliant with the administration.
- The 2017 Finance Law also states the instances where by the tax clearance certificate is required, conditions on which it is issued and the duration of its validity.
- The tax clearance certificate is issued to businesses that have a taxpayers’ number. The taxpayers’ number is issued to a business only during registration in Cameroon. See how to start a business in Cameroon.
If the online verification is validated, it means the person you are doing business with online is actually running a registered business. This means the business owner is free from any tax debt or may have benefited from a moratorium or a stay of execution.
This may not vindicate the business 100%, but it shows that it is possible to trace the business and it’s owner in the case of an online scam.
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This content has been prepared for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, accounting or legal advice. You need to consult your own tax, accounting or legal advisors before engaging in any transaction.