A4 paper is a highly popular product in international trade and for good reason. It is one of the most widely used commodities in the world used for the printing of magazines, forms, letters and other official documents. It is in fact the standard paper size in almost all countries of the world apart from some in North America which have opted for different dimensions. The top A4 paper exporters in the world include China, Indonesia, Thailand, Portugal, Singapore and Brazil. The highest ranking importer globally is Japan.
In this article, we would like to discuss some common scams associated with this thriving business that fraudsters use to rip off unsuspecting entrepreneurs. We will also consider the threats that these online scams pose to international traders, how to protect your business interests and how to report fraud in case you fall victim. We will finally consider how to get started on the lucrative business opportunity.
Common Scamming Tactics in A4 Paper Trade
All forms of business are prone to some level of risk. One of the biggest threats to international trade is getting scammed. This of course arises from the fact that most aspects of the business are conducted without any physical contact and are mostly internet-based.
Thousands of traders from all corners of the world fall prey to scammers every year. These fraudsters are usually experts who have honed their skills over the years and their methods are hard but not impossible to detect. Virtually anyone can get scammed no matter how experienced or smart you happen to be unless you know the tell-tale signs.
Here are some of the common tactics employed in the import export industry:
One of the easiest lures that scammers use is an unbeatable price. This is usually significantly lower than the international average but not too low as to rouse suspicion. And since traders are always out for the best bargain, they easily score their first point.
Many scammers push buyers to make a deposit upfront in order to secure the deal or kick-start the manufacture process. This might be in the range of 30 to 40% of the total trade volume and could bear a fancy label to offset doubt. The supposed supplier will make it seem like you cannot get the product from any supplier without making such a payment.
• Fake Sales Reps
This is one of the oldest tricks in the books, but amazingly, it still works. Some fraudsters pose as agents of real and respectable export companies. This is highly successful because many suppliers take their time to dig into the existence and validity of the company and forget to investigate the representative.
• Fake Companies
Some supposed vendors set up traceable companies in the countries popularly known as wholesale A4 paper suppliers. They might carry out activities with the company for about a year or so to leave a trace and then close it. If they don’t happen to be residents of the country in question, they might take a trip there and buy a SIM card and set up a bank account. Such scammers often operate using Whatsapp accounts registered on that SIM card to ward off suspicion.
The Negative Effects of Online Scams
• Financial Loss
While this seems a bit obvious it cannot be understated especially in the international trade arena. Most purchases made in this field are usually in huge amounts to take advantage of the economies of scale. This makes for massive losses when such purchases turn out to be scams.
• Loss of Confidence in International Trade
Most of the victims of such scams can hardly dare to venture into the import export trade ever again. They begin to view all forms of the trade with suspicion and this hugely limits the potential they could have reached if they had not met with such an occurrence.
• Additional Costs to Pursue Fraud Cases
Pursuing any legal case takes lots of time and money. It is even worse when the case in question involves an almost non-existent company operating abroad. The worst part however is that even after spending so much there are no guarantees that you will get your money back.
• Business Failure
For some small traders this often marks the crippling and eventual collapse of their business especially if it is a startup. Such business people could even be operating on borrowed funds meaning that such a loss is completely devastating to their personal finances as well.
How to Protect Your Business from Scammers
International trade business is one of the most lucrative in the world and for this reason scammers will do everything in their power to get a share of the pie. Considering the high financial input usually injected into this kind of business, it is very important to know how to protect your interests. Take the following points into consideration before initiating any form of trade with an unknown third party:
• Ask for Relevant Documents
Every genuine exporter has some form of documentation from relevant authorities in their country of operation confirming their validity. Always ask a new supplier for their export license and any other documents that could help you verify their legitimacy. Any company or individual that refuses or hesitates to furnish you with these documents raises eyebrows. If in fact a supplier insists that they will only share such information after a financial transaction then you should by all means walk away.
A point of caution though is that some experienced conmen have fake documentation to back up their operations. In order to avoid falling for this, you could go the extra mile to counter check them with the export authorities in their countries.
• Do Not Make Payments Upfront
Negotiations with fraudsters most often revolve around financial matters since they want to make as much as they can as soon as possible. Avoid any trader who demands for payment upfront. There are lots of financial instruments to prevent risky transactions. Make use of Letters of Credit or escrow services both of which offer some level of security for both parties involved by delaying payment until you confirm your goods will arrive.
• Request for a Meeting
Considering the high financial risk as well as the profitability potential in the import export business, you should consider arranging for a table-top meeting with any major supplier. More often than not, those who insist on operating online and give excuses to avoid meeting are scammers.
• Avoid Signing Contracts Prematurely
Some fraudsters might pressure you into signing contracts so as to move to the next transaction level. Certain terms in such contracts might be crafty or even damning. This may make it difficult to take legal recourse in the event of a fraudulent deal. Whenever you feel pressured to sign a contract, take a back seat and conduct a thorough analysis. Avoid dealing with A4 paper distributors who place you under pressure and make you feel rushed.
• Check Online Presence
There are lots of genuine traders who operate without an online presence. But scammers take advantage of this fact to simplify their exploits. It is wise to tread carefully when dealing with any such trader as the verification process is so much more complicated.
But this is not to say that those who have a thriving profile and active web presence are all legitimate. Some go beyond the obvious to create a foolproof scam site. You need to look beyond this and dig deeper to verify that they are who they claim to be.
How to Report a Scammer
Many victims of internet scams hold back from reporting assuming that nothing can be done. While it is true that pursuing online scammers might be challenging, it is not impossible. Additionally, when you report a scam, you help others to avoid falling prey to the same fraudsters or similar tactics.
There are different reporting agencies in place that protect traders from such scammers. You need to identify the particular one that handles such complaints in the fraudster’s country of residence as well as your own home country. Forward all the information that you have to such authorities and follow up with them consistently. You could also post your experience on relevant online sites to help get word out.
How to Start Trading A4 Paper
Buying a4 paper wholesale from manufacturers makes the trade highly worthwhile by increasing the profit margin. This eliminates the middleman from the equation and makes it possible to maintain a competitive edge in this highly profitable venture. However, the most challenging part of it all is getting started.
Even though the advent of the internet has greatly simplified trade and made it possible to create international business networks, it has also created a major roadblock. The web is in fact rife with scams and it is difficult to tell apart genuine a4 paper suppliers from swindlers.
As with any other business, trading in A4 paper requires that you set out a detailed business plan. As the name suggests, a business plan is a scheme that details everything about your trade. This helps you to get a detailed perspective on your intended operations and guides you in formulating an appropriate approach. This greatly reduces the chances of failure and makes it easy to assess performance and improve accordingly.
Even though there are no rules to writing your custom plan, there are a number of details that must feature prominently:
• Vision and Mission
This is the core of any business as it defines your objectives for starting your company. It also specifies your target market, the problems they face and the solution you intend to offer them. More importantly, it shows how your approach differs from that of your competition.
• Market Evaluation
This part of your plan narrows down on your intended market and is particularly crucial for an import export trader. Different countries have varying cultures and regulations that impact on the way trade is carried out. You need to examine these and other pertinent factors in your market in great detail. This will help you avoid unexpected roadblocks along the way and also help you get feedback on gaps in the current supply chain.
• Business Strategy
This covers a wide range of aspects that will determine the smooth running of your operations. In the import business, a major consideration is product sourcing. A4 paper price might seem highly enticing from the main exporting countries but you need to consider the logistics of getting it to the target market.
Factor in all expenses including shipping, insurance and customs clearance in order to determine final price and establish whether you will still have an edge over the competition. A crucial point to note is that A4 size paper manufacturers calculate the price based on order quantities. This means that the bigger your order, the lower average cost.
Another important consideration here is the marketing strategy that you will employ. When venturing out into a new market it is foolhardy to stock up without a serious strategy in place.
Why Tekopapergroup Can Help You Avoid Scams
Tekopapergroup is the leading B2B marketplace in Africa providing a seamless connection between the continent and the rest of the world. It is designed to provide a secure trading environment so as to ensure you have a positive and fruitful international trade experience. This is made possible using advanced verification algorithms that thoroughly assess all member traders. This serves as an assurance that once you join the platform, you are in a safe trading zone.
The marketplace not only helps you to create a reliable network base, it also allows for smooth transactions with your chosen partners. It allows for easy communication with the suppliers, making provisions for the signing of contracts and agreement terms so as to prevent any loopholes in trade.
Tekopapergroup ensures that both parties to every transaction are satisfied before payment is made. This is a further shield to prevent scamming as the set-out terms must be honored before any cash transaction is processed. In addition to this, we also facilitate cargo insurance so as to protect your business in case of any loss.
By joining Tekopapergroup today, you say goodbye to all of the worries associated with international trade. Let this mark your first step to a successful future in this highly lucrative industry.