Buy Nigeria Crude Oil Without Fraud: How Authentic Crude Oil Sellers Can Find Ready Buyers

Crude Oil Deals in Nigeria Without Scam or Fraid. How, if You’re a Genuine Crude Oil Seller, to Find a Buyer in Today’s Crude Selling Climate

Dear Crude Dealer:

Are You, Perhaps, a (Frustrated) Blco, Flco, Crude Oil Seller or Buyer?

As a rule, there’s ONLY one thing that most buyers of crude oil seek and want most of all: to find an authentic crude oil seller and deal, and one that’s without scam or fraud involved. However, most unfortunately, in today’s international crude oil selling industry, there are far, far too many FAKE crude oil sellers than genuine ones!

In fact, in light of the above FACT, in the context of the Nigerian, as well as the Russian, the Saudi Arabian and other similar international crude selling market today, even the relatively tiny number of crude sellers who are actually GENUINE and AUTHENTIC, often lament that they find it very difficult to find crude buyers who would want to do business with them, as those buyers, they say, would often generally view them equally with great suspicion, and with much scrutiny and lack of trust. Consequently, many crude sellers, gripped with fear and frustration about their prospects of making timely sale of their product, often wonder out loud whether they will ever, ever find buyers for their crude or ever make a timely sale.

Alright, if You’re a Genuine Crude Oil Seller Serious About Finding Able and Ready Crude Oil Buyers, and You Want to Ever, Ever, Ever Make a Sale, Here’s the Harsh Truth of What You Must Do, and Why!

FIRST, KNOW TODAY’S PLAIN OIL INDUSTRY TRUTH: There are two basic kinds of “sellers” in the world of international crude oil selling business today – the FAKE sellers, and the GENUINE sellers! The FAKE sellers are the ones that are by far more numerous and prevalent.

So, as a Seller, THE CENTRAL QUESTION IS: which one of these two Seller types are YOU, yourself?

As an accredited Mandate of several major crude buyers located both in the United States and Europe, I literally can’t count the number of times per week that we receive at our office emails or even phone calls from someone who claims he/she’s a crude oil “broker” or seller’s “agent,” “facilitator” or what have you, claiming to have 2 million, sometimes up to 4 million, barrels of BLCO or FLCO available to sell, per month. Often, this crude is claimed to be already “loaded” in a vessel in international waters ready for immediate transshipment on a TTO arrangement at a discount of $6/3, $8/5, $10/7, $10/4, etc., etc., etc., and the e-mailer or caller asks that we hurry up and “just sign the SPA,” “just sign the Contract.”

These sales messages will always contain plenty of “attractive” phrases like these to describe the supposed Seller or the deal: an “absolutely genuine and authentic seller,” “definitely genuine and reliable,” “trustworthy,” “respectable,” “transparent transaction,” “honest,” and the like. And, more importantly, the message will often be buttressed with a little sweetener like this: “the beauty of this special offer is that the buyer is not required to make any payment or provide any financial instrument until after buyer has conducted a Q & Q and confirms that the vessel is actually loaded” – implying that the buyer is at no financial risk at all if he were to just “sign contract” and enter into this deal. (By the way, the claim that the fact that a buyer has a Q & Q before making any payment on a deal, makes the buyer safe and risk-free, is plain bogus and untrue. But that’s a matter for another discussion).

The image such as the above-described being painted by these supposed crude sellers, is plain boloney, however! Pure hogwash!

Why? Because, as one recent report put it, “unfortunately, the clear reality today is that the business of international crude sales has become heavily infested with crooks and scammers most of whom really have absolutely nothing to sell other than peddling some bogus, worthless documents forged or copied from the Internet, and spitting some fictitious fabulous claims.”

The report adds that “Experts say that these scammers use many Sellers’ Mandates located all of over the world to bring them business. Mandates operating from or for a few particularly notorious countries (such as Russia and Nigeria, for example), are generally considered to be participants in the scam themselves, but foreign mandates are deemed to be for the most part usually innocent victims who often might think that they are representing a legitimate seller from such countries. These international crude oil crooks and fraudsters parade themselves mostly in the Internet as ‘dealers’ in crude oil, but are really merely scammy dreamers just out to dupe others hopefully (for them!) big in the millions and millions of dollars.”

Put simply, the reason that such rosy portrait as the one painted above by these supposed crude sellers, is pure hogwash, is because, while just about every single person who comes to us as a supposed crude oil seller every day (we get at least some 2-3 dozens of them each day) ALWAYS claims that the seller is “trustworthy, reliable, genuine, authentic, honest,” and words to that effect, virtually every OBJECTIVE, CREDIBLE EVIDENCE available, on the other hand, says that something completely the opposite of that is the actual REALITY!

Cases in Point:

== A report by the UK-based ACC Intelligence & Research group, states at p.3 therein that “99.999999% of what you get [from Nigerian peddlers of crude oil selling] is worthless fraud.”

== A report titled “NIGERIAN TRANSACTION SCAMS” published by library.findlaw.com, states that “A fraudulent offer of a contract to purchase Nigerian crude oil typically details the availability of a ‘special allocation’ by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of crude at below market prices… [But] In reality, ‘special allocations’ do not exist.”

== The American FBI’s latest report in February 2011 on Internet Crime Trends, reports that “The highest numbers of perpetrators outside this country [the U.S.] were from the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and Canada.”

== The events reported in March 19, 2011 on the Ghanaweb website, “Nigerian Crooks Out to Dupe TOR US$48 million,” makes a similar point.

== And so, also, is this report, “Common Internet Frauds in Import Export Business. Part IV – Scams from Africa,” reported on the infobanc website, in the section titled “Nigeria Oil Fraud (Bonny Oil).”

THE BOTTOM LINE: So we KNOW for a FACT, that though every single one of the 24 to 36 persons who presents himself/herself to a certain Crude Buyer’s Mandate daily as a supposed crude oil “seller,” would claim that he (or she) is an “honest, genuine, authentic and reliable” dealer, with absolutely no streak of fraud or 419 whatsoever in him, the stark REALITY is actually far, far different. And that, quite to the contrary, NEARLY ALL of such offers and sellers are precisely fraudulent and unreliable 419ers. Or, at the very least, NOT legitimate or genuine.

So, You’ve Got to Provide Us Concrete Proof & Evidence, Not Mere Claims or Words

THE POINT: Clearly, then, SOMEBODY is obviously lying here (and lying big time, too!) when virtually EVERY single crude seller, or a representative of one, claims that the offer he presents is honest and legitimate! Consequently, for the parties operating in the crude industry as Sellers, or their brokers, agents or mandates, here’s the BOTTOM LINE: as a supposed “seller,” you may claim all you want that you (i.e., the supposed Seller) are the HONEST, AUTHENTIC or LEGITIMATE one of the lot, and that it’s the “others” that are the “bad” crude oil sellers who perpetrate the fraud and 419 on international crude buyers.

OK! That’s fine. Go ahead and make all the claims in the world that you please!

But here, however, is precisely the point: in light of the above-stated stark REALITY, all manner or volume of claims by you (or any one else) notwithstanding, the onus still falls heavily but squarely on YOU (the supposed seller), to actually prove that claim to the crude buyer. The onus still falls heavily but squarely on YOU (the seller) to do one thing and ONLY one thing: namely, to physically “show” the crude buyer some clear and genuine evidence of openness and transparency on your part, some credible, independently verifiable and concrete PROOF and EVIDENCE that authenticate your claims about who you say you are, and about your AUTHENTICITY and GENUINENESS as a true crude seller. And NOT just to give, or continue to give, the buyer the same old, all-too-familiar “usuals” – mere lofty claims and words, mere long “grammar,” about how incredibly “honest” or “authentic” a seller you supposedly are.

IN SUM

Back to the original question of this essay: so, as a LEGITIMATE crude seller with truly some oil available to sell, or an agent or broker of one, you really want to be able to readily sell your crude, and to be able to readily find credible buyers who are eager and able to buy from you?

Well, there’s really basically just ONE very simple but critical thing that you need to do, and MUST do, and you’d easily attain that objective in no time. Just provide (get your Seller to provide) the buyer with some good, tangible, readily VERIFIABLE PROOFS and EVIDENCE (and NOT just offer mere claims, words and professions about it) about your bona fides as a legitimate crude seller. And with that done, you’ll sooner find that you’d get yourself sure buys from a steady stream of able and eager crude buyers – almost GUARANTEED!

So, there you have it – that’s our little “secret key” for how you (the crude seller or his agent) get sales in this industry! That’s the simple but never-failing “little secret” for being a successful crude seller or agent in the current international crude oil and oil product market!!

FOR A FOLLOW UP

Wish to Follow Up on Getting a Crude Oil or Petroleum Products Seller or Broker With Workable, Realistic Procedures That a Credible Buyer Can Readily Accept? Please see the instructional information in the author’s resource box below

Letter of Intent (LOI) in Crude Oil Deals – The Legal Traps and Pitfalls of LOI for Crude Buyers

Nowadays, to hear many of the oil sellers and operators, particularly their brokers and agents, who are involved in the international open market crude selling, describe it, this document – called the “Letter of Intent” or LOI, for short – is not only an essential document for doing crude oil business, but one which every credible person or company engaged in crude buying should always use in initiating a purchase. To many of these operators, not only should crude oil buyers use the LOI to initiate their buying orders, but initiating the purchase order in that manner, they say, has always been the usual way by which credible buyers initiate their purchasing projects, as doing it that way indicates, they claim, that a buyer is “serious” and genuinely committed to making a purchase.

THE SELLERS’ RATIONALE FOR DEMANDING THE LOI

This position expressed by one representative of a seller, a Swedish-based broker, in a recent exchange with this writer’s office regarding the seller’s offer wherein the prospective buyer’s mandate resisted the broker’s insistence that the prospective buyer must first sign an LOI, pretty much sums up the traditional rationale offered by sellers and/or their agents for having an LOI:

“Buyer who is serious, ready and able to purchase [crude oil], will sign [an] LOI and all the necessary documents that protect the rights of the Brokers and proceed. There is nothing to lose in signing those documents. This is how it is usually done and this is how it should be.”

In sum, the rationale underlying the Seller’s demand for LOI, can essentially be summed up as follows:

1) That giving an LOI to a seller by a prospective buyer, is an indication that the buyer is “serious” and willing to purchase;

2) That use of the LOI is the usual way of initiating a purchasing proposal by a buyer, and is the right and proper way to go; and

3) That there is nothing for anyone in the deal to lose by a prospective buyer signing an LOI.

HOW VALID, OR OTHERWISE, ARE THESE USUAL RATIONALE BY SELLERS OR THEIR AGENTS?

Ironically, while oil sellers and their agents frequently demand that prospective “serious” buyers involved in crude oil transactions should first offer an LOI, the buyers, on the other hand, are not generally enamored of that idea. Especially when, in effect, what is being asked of them is to provide the LOI upfront to a little-known Internet-generated seller about whom they lack any familiarity with or whose bona fides as sellers they know next to nothing about – other than, perhaps, that they (the buyers) had had some initial communication with the “seller” via an Internet contact. In deed, to this writer’s knowledge, crude buyers, particularly the more established and prominent ones, would very rarely offer an LOI upfront to any sellers to initiate a purchase. And when, especially, the supposed “seller” that’s involved is one that is a virtual unknown to the buyer, or one that is merely an Internet-generated seller about whose bona fides and credentials the buyer knows practically next to nothing, one can be almost absolutely certain that the chances of a crude buyer of substance signing over an LOI to such a seller, is practically next to zero.

Contrary to the sellers’ and their super sales-conscious agents’ familiar claim that “There is nothing to lose in signing those documents,” quite the complete opposite is true – namely, a great deal, in fact, could potentially be lost particularly by the buyer by signing an LOI to a supposed seller. Why? In a word, this is because the LOI is actually fraught with many incalculable legal flaws, traps and pitfalls, much of which could often be prohibitively costly for the buyer, according to legal authorities and contract law experts. (See below for more on this)

In fact, some experts have called the LOI a document whose use is primarily advocated or promoted only by amateurs and marginal dealers or “joker-broker” types in the crude trade business, especially the overzealous sellers’ agents and brokers in a desperate hurry to land some buyers. Mr. Ziad K. Abdelnour, President & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc, a New York-based advisory firm to traders and suppliers of metals, minerals and crude oil commodities, calls the LOI document something that is primarily “used out on the Internet by inexperienced traders,” and by “inexperienced ‘intermediary seller’ who is claiming to be the supplier.”

The point is that the often-heard notion and claims by some sellers or their overzealous agents and brokers that the use of the LOI to initiate a purchasing proposal by a buyer “is how it is usually done and this is how it should be,” may be applicable and prudent only in the minds, the imagination, and hopes or dreams of those sellers, especially the more marginal ones and their brokers and agents who operate on the fringes largely on the Internet. It is NOT a view that is shared by the broad spectrum of credible buyers, more especially when the “sellers” involved are largely unknown and obscure operators.

THE REASONS WHY BUYERS & EXPERTS SHUN & DISAPPROVE OF THE USE OF LOI

They include the following:

1. LOI is used as manipulation tool at the hands of unscrupulous sellers & agents.

Often times, obscure or scam-oriented persons who claim to be crude Sellers, or represent themselves as sellers’ agents, mandates or brokers largely by an Internet contact or communication, employ the LOI merely as a tool to quickly “corner and box in” a prospective buyer to a purchase deal, before the prospective buyer may demand that they provide their business profile or show him something tangible to demonstrate that they are truly legitimate sellers. Such sellers would persistently demand that the prospective buyers hurry and issue them an LOI right upfront purportedly as proof that they are “serious” about making the purchase – that is, before the buyer may probably start raising some probing questions about them or their credentials as legitimate sellers.

Many a time, especially in a case involving a supposed seller who is either a fake seller or does not actually have the supposed crude in hand yet, or, an unscrupulous aspiring seller’s agent or broker who actually has not acquired a crude supplier (seller) yet, buyers may issue an LOI only to find out that there is no seller on the other end. This happens a lot in situations where you have an hungry agent or facilitator who is still struggling to get a real supplier, and by extracting this LOI from an unsuspecting buyer, this facilitator can commit the buyer only for him then to start hustling to find a seller or supplier.

2. LOI is a Legally Worthless Document That Means Virtually Nothing

As a practical matter, in legal terms, the Letter of Intent is a worthless and meaningless document. The LOI is a badly flawed legal document. This is because the document is, as one experienced contract law expert put it, “an agreement to agree which is non-binding and non-enforceable as a contract.”

Ziad K. Abdelnour, President & CEO Blackhawk Partners, Inc, the New York-based advisory firm on such matters, puts it this way: “Giving a Letter of Intent only means ‘Yes I’m intent to buy the goods but I can change my mind anytime.’ A letter of Intent is not a binding contract. [Hence] The Letter of Intent is a total waste of time on a worthless piece of paper.”

So, if a letter or document that nominally or presumably conveys the signer’s “intent” or intention to buy, is essentially meaningless and worthless in legal terms, and is not binding on the signer or anyone, and CANNOT be enforced on him, then why would a respectable crude buyer, in the first place, want to waste its precious time and resources (or that of its expensive lawyers) to engage in such a fruitless exercise for the benefit of a seller? Especially for an unknown or obscure seller?

3. LOI is fraught with many legal booby traps & pitfalls especially for the buyer.

But probably the most damning reason why credible crude buyers would have little or no use for LOI in their buying dealings, is that using the LOI is fraught with many incalculable legal traps and pitfalls much of which could atimes be very costly for, and to the detriment of, the buyer, according to legal authorities and contract law experts.

A fundamental flaw of the LOI, lies in what Vasilios J. Kalogredis, a Wayne, Pennsylvania attorney, calls “the uncertainty and potential risk of any such undertaking.” Kalogredisis, a business contract law expert, explains it this way:

“Letters of intent are often touted as a ‘non-legally binding’ way to get the parties to set forth in writing what the undertaking is among them relative to a transaction. Too often, parties will sign such a document, feeling that they have little or nothing to lose by doing so… [True, that’s] one of the attractive elements of the letter of intent [its purported non-binding nature]. However, courts have found letters of intent to create binding obligations, even if the letter itself does not explicitly state that it is binding… certain provisions within the document may indeed [still] have legal effect.”

Kalogredis calls that basic fact that a document generally viewed by many as a casual and non-binding document, could atimes still become binding under certain unpredictable circumstances, “one of the traps in a letter of intent,” and adds:

“My advice [to parties contemplating having an LOI] is to proceed with caution before signing any such document. As a general rule (and there are exceptions), I urge the parties to go right to the final documents and “dot all of the I’s and cross all of the T’s,” rather than go through this interim step of a letter of intent, which has many potential traps.”

Another contract law attorney, Ivan Hoffman of California, makes essentially the same point:

“Parties to a transaction sometimes intentionally create a letter of intent as an expression of what they intend to agree upon should certain circumstances arise… [whatever happens], the document will not be binding and thus not enforceable until those circumstances arise. Thus, the letter of intent is essentially a legally worthless document. It is not clear to me the reason any party would ever bother to create such a document and yet I have seen it used on many occasions. If parties to a transaction intend to bind each other, then they should create a binding contract, not a letter of intent. If the parties to a transaction do not intend to bind each other, then why bother creating a document that is not binding?

However, sometimes one of the parties prepares a document believing it to be a valid and enforceable agreement only to find, after expensive litigation, that it was not a binding agreement at all but merely a non-binding, non-enforceable agreement to agree, letter of intent.”

4. LOI as a Source or Promoter of Undue Litigation

Aside from the legal problem of the ambiguity and uncertainty inherent in LOI, there is yet another major problem inherent in the document, from a legal standpoint. Namely, precisely because the LOI is basically ambiguous and non-definitive by nature, the document often easily lends itself to different interpretations and understandings at the hands of different parties (or even the courts), and thus lends itself, in turn, to being a fertile source for undue litigation and legal contests for those involved with the use of that document in their transactions.

Lawyers at the Coollawyer.com, explain the legal “paradox” inherent in the LOI, wherein the signing of an LOI, is often prone, not to bringing about less litigation, but more litigation, and put it this way:

“Letters of Intent, legally, are the worst of all worlds. Writing a letter of intent is not to be taken lightly. In law, you either have a contract or you don’t. LOI’s are the legal equivalent of “almost pregnant.” Letters of Intent emphatically state that. They state that they are not formal agreements, and then often proceed to set forth agreed terms of the proposed transaction. Given this paradox, if the deal goes sour, one party can argue [in court] that those agreed-upon points were, in fact, agreed upon – or, in fact, a binding contract. And, in some cases, furthermore, that the party relied on the LOI and has monetary damages based on such reliance.”

The lawyers add that: “This is the legal problem with a Letter of Intent – you can’t legally state you agree to something and then state that you don’t in the same document.”

Famous Case of a Letter of Intent Gone Bad: Court Case of GETTY OIL vs. PENNZOIL

A famous example often cited by legal scholars, was a case involving the Getty Oil and Pennzoil in very early 1984. The parties had signed a “Memorandum of Agreement” – viewed by the parties at the time as a Letter of Intent – for a complex investment and stock transaction, whereby Pennzoil would purchase Getty Oil stock, and set forth general terms of the investment that had been reached in conversations, and also stipulated that the Memorandum was subject to the approval of the Board of Getty Oil. The Board of Getty Oil sooner approved the transaction and both parties announced on January 4, 1984 in a press release, an “agreement in principle” to the terms of the Memorandum. The final agreements for the merging of Texaco and Getty Oil were signed by the parties on January 6 – 8.

However, during the same period, on January 6, another oil company, Texaco, came into the picture as it publicly announced that Texaco and Getty Oil would merge. Pennzoil protested the proposed merger, and Getty Oil filed a law suit for the court to issue a declaratory judgment that it was not bound by any contract it had with Pennzoil.

The long and short of the story, is that the court, after scrutinizing not only the Memorandum, but also the wordings of the press releases and other documents that Getty Oil and Pennzoil had issued over the course of their dealings, found Getty Oil to be “in breach” of the Memorandum of Agreement – the document the parties had viewed as a letter of intent. Thus, a document (the letter of intent) that the parties had started out viewing as non-binding and unenforceable, had changed from being that, to being a final agreement! Pennzoil, on the other hand, ended up with $10.6 billion (later settled for $3 billion) from Texaco for interfering in its deal with Getty Oil.

Moral of the story? If you’re ever contemplating using a Letter of Intent in a business transaction, you had better watched out, it may not be as simple a matter as you might think. You better be very cautious, for it could result in unforeseen and unpredictable consequences!

SUMMARY

Put very simply, as a legal or even business document, it’s hard to image any document that could be as beset with so many near-crippling legal flaws, traps and pitfalls for its signer, as the LOI. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that in the REAL world of international buying and selling of crude oil, while the crude sellers and their army of sales-obsessed aggressive brokers and agents may generally be infatuated with the idea of having the LOI document widely and routinely used by prospective crude buyers to initiate their purchasing offers, nothing, on the other hand, could be more disliked, more unacceptable or unwanted by most crude buyers, particularly the more credible and substantive lot. What is more, on top of everything else of decisively negative nature about this document, the LOI is a document adjudged by virtually every legal expert in the field as a document that is legally meaningless, worthless, unenforceable and non-binding both on the signatory parties or on anyone, but yet has the potential to bring forth immense and unanticipated legal complications and problems for the signer(s).

To conclude, there’s perhaps no more apt way to conclude this piece, than to quote this very fitting statement by contract law attorney, Ivan Hoffman, of California: “[Given that] the letter of intent is essentially a legally worthless document [but yet one that could potentially cause many serious legal problems for the signer]. It is not clear to me the reason any party would ever bother to create such a document and yet I have seen it used on many occasions.”

FOR A FOLLOW UP

YOU WANT TO FOLLOW UP ON FINDING CRUDE OUR SELLERS THAT DO NOT DEMAND LOI? OR, AS A CRUDE SELLER, TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN STRUCTURE YOUR DEAL FOR A NON-LOI OFFER? Please see the instructional information in the author’s resource box below

A Guide to Freight Forwarding

The types of sea shipping

There are many different types of ship used for international sea freight; the differences reflecting the various requirements of importers and exporters, with particular vessels used to transport different types of cargo. Below is a summary of the different types of vessels used:

· Roll-on roll-off, or ‘ro-ro’ vessels are used to carry both haulage and passenger vehicles

· Container vessels are used to transport standard 20′ or 40′ containers

· Tankers are used to carry bulk liquids, such as oil and gas

· General cargo ships will carry all types of loose packed cargo

· Bulk carriers are used for the transportation of large volume, single commodity loads, such as coal, grain and ores

Trade vessels essentially operate in two ways:

· As liner vessels operating on fixed routes, and usually with a standard tariff. This sector is dominated by roll-on roll-off vessels, container and general cargo ships

· Or as charter vessels operating according to the demands of the organsiation chartering them.

The way in which goods are transported onto ships

There are three main ways in which goods are transported on ships:

Loaded in containers

Container shipping dominates international shipments. The benefits of container shipping is the ease of intermodal transit, (ie containers can be off-loaded and transferred directly to a road or rail vehicle); the ability to offer a door to door service; the speed and efficiency of loading / unloading and the obvious financial impact of such and finally, the security of the goods during transit.

There are many different types of container, such as refrigerated and open topped containers, however the most commonly used containers are the 20ft & 40ft containers. Their respective dimensions and capacity are as follows:

20ft: 589cm x 235cm x 239cm (h) – capacity 33.2 cubic metres

40ft: 1,203cm x 235cm x 239cm (h) – capacity 67.7 cubic metres

Break bulk

Break bulk is a term used to refer to any non bulk goods which aren’t containerised, such as goods on pallets, crates, or in drums or sacks. This form of transportation tends to be used for specialist trades, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, or for transport to smaller ports which may not have the necessary infrastructure to handle container cargo.

In bulk

Used for the transportation of large quantities of certain commodities, such as coal, ore, oil etc.

Key international shipping routes

The main international shipping routes reflect the flow of world trade, with sailings being most frequent on those routes where the trade volumes are the largest and therefore demand the greatest.

For sailings into the UK, by far the busiest routes are those from the Far East, especially China. The North Atlantic route, which links Western Europe with the USA and Canada, is also a busy route. Sailings from the Middle East for the transport of oil, as well as routes to India, Australia, East and West Africa and Central and South America are also particularly busy.

Although there are services from the UK to all the main trading economies, if your goods are destined for a country with little trade with the UK, they may need to be transshipped to another local sailing during the final leg of the journey.

There will normally be a number of different options by which your goods can reach their final destination. These can be explored in detail by discussing them with freight forwarders who will have knowledge of the most cost effective and time efficient routes.

The costs of international shipping

There are a variety of factors which will impact the cost of moving goods by sea. Essentially there are two elements: the actual cost of the sea freight charged by the vessel operator, and the costs related to the handling and clearance of the goods at the ports of origin and destination.

Various factors will influence how these charges are calculated:

· The actual ocean freight is usually charged according to the shipping lines standard tariff, although larger shippers and certain freight forwarders may be able to negotiate preferential discounts

· Rates for charter vessels will depend on the supply and demand conditions prevalent at the time of charter

Other factors that will impact the final price include:

· The different rates for specific categories of cargo

· Congestion charges at the busier ports

· Currency adjustment factor (CAF), which takes into account the exchange rate changes during transit

· Bunker adjustment factor (BAF), which takes into account fuel price fluctuation

· Surcharges levied by the ports or shipping lines to cover the costs associated with different regulatory regimes

Another factor relating to containerised goods is whether or not you are shipping a full container load (FCL). Most shipping lines have tariffs based on container rates, making it far more economical to ship a full container. If your consignment is less than container load (LCL), it may be worth consolidating your cargo with that of other importers / exporters, in which case you will only pay for the weight and volume related to your own goods.

Establishing the most cost effective way to transport your goods can be a complicated task. You can either research and cost the various different options yourself, or employ the services of a freight forwarder to handle these issues for you..

Documentation for moving goods by sea

Transporting your goods by ocean shipping, as with most aspects of international trade requires the completion of a wide variety of documents. Below is a summary of the key documents:

Firstly you will need an Export Cargo Shipping Instruction which is a document that you provide to the shipping company which details your goods and your instructions for the shipment. If you employ the services of a freight forwarder they will complete this for you. You will also require one of the following:

· For hazardous cargo, a Dangerous Goods Note (DGN), which details the nature of the goods and the hazards they present

· For non hazardous cargo, a Standard Shipping Note (SSN), which provides the port of loading the information they require to handle your goods correctly.

In addition to the above, you will also require one of the following:

· A Bill of Lading. This is issued by the carrier and shows that the goods have been received. It also provides proof of a contract of carriage and acts as a document of title to the goods

· A Sea Waybill. This is similar to the bill of lading, the main difference being that it doesn’t confer title, therefore making it quicker and easier to use. A Sea Waybill is used where there exists a well established relationship between a buyer and seller or when ownership doesn’t actually change hands, for example when the goods are being shipped between divisions of the same company

For a detailed breakdown of industry terminology you may want to visit the Baltic Exchange website.

Marine transit insurance

Marine transit insurance doesn’t just cover the ocean shipping; it also covers the transport of the goods by road, rail or air.

To ensure that your cover is valid, you need to prove that you have an ‘insurable interest’ in the goods, which means proving that the goods belong to you. A shipping lines liability for the goods they transport is set by various international conventions and doesn’t always amount to the full value of the goods, which is why it is important to ensure that you have your own cover.

Contract of sale & insurance

There are several risks involved in international trade such as loss, damage and delay (such as detention at customs). How the risks are shared between the buyer and seller should be detailed in the sales using Incoterms.

Incoterms are a standard set of terms detailing precisely when responsibility for costs and risks moves from the seller to the buyer, and can impact your insurance costs as the more costs you are responsible for, the greater the insurance cover you will need.

In an ex-works (EXW) transaction, a seller is considered to have delivered the goods once they’ve been collected from the factory or warehouse. Therefore, from that point onward all risk passes to the buyer, as such the buyer needs to ensure that the goods are insured from that point onwards.

In a delivered-duty-paid (DDP) sale, the risk passes to the buyer only when the goods have arrived at their destination and have been cleared. In such a scenario a seller needs to insure the goods up to that point after which the risk is transferred to the buyer. Under a DDP sale the buyer or seller is under no obligation to contract for insurance. There are only two terms in Incoterms (CIF and CIP) which require insurance to be contracted; in both cases it is the seller’s obligation to insure.

Global Economic and Political Issues

In an article written and published by Ed Crooks on January 6, 2011 entitled “America: Riveting Prospects,” he writes about why companies in America are opposed to exporting.

To summarize his article, showcased is the Middle River Aircraft systems plant where the world famous Rosie the Riveter, during the second World War, represented the millions of women that joined the manufacturing workforce making the industry a power house, and compared it to today’s meager offerings. The plant that is now owned by GE, although still thriving has faced some tough times through the years. Although weathered by the storms, the president of GE’s aircraft parts division has hope for a brighter future.

Although some political leaders and some American businesses also have hope in rebuilding growth and employment based on manufacturing, production, exporting and earnings and less on construction, consumption, importing and debt, leaders of some of America’s largest manufacturing companies feel that it will be a long hard road to rebuild production in the U.S. GE’s chief executive Jeff Immelt, however, shares with Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical the dream of restoring industrial America to greatness, especially with unemployment at 9.8 and rising. Liveris has even written a book on the topic of how to be competitive on a global basis, “Make It in America: The Case for Reinventing the Economy.”

Ed Crooks, however, claims that many U.S. companies, overall, has issues with exporting. Although the world offers many opportunities and America is seeing some of the benefits with emerging markets in China, India and Brazil and creating everything from a-z, Barry Botsworth of the think-tank, Brookings Institution, states that although the U.S. is similar to other developed countries in importing, we are very poor when it comes to exporting manufactured goods. Other industry executives agree that the problems with U.S. manufactures run deep. Ed Crooks has given five reasons to support his view and I summarize them as follows:

* American industries are not familiar with selling internationally. According to the chamber of commerce, only one percent of U.S. companies participate in exporting and 58 percent of those companies only export to one other company.

* The United States has been the most inactive entity at signing agreements to participate in international trade. With about 262 agreements around the world and about 100 in negotiations, the U.S. has only signed 17. In addition, the U.S. is severely affected by tariff barriers and ranks number 8 out of 121 ‘tariff-faced’ exporting countries.

* U.S. manufacturers have inefficiently skilled and inefficiently educated workforces which threaten the industry base to fall into disrepair, job opportunities to dwindle and closing of production lines. Furthermore, without a strong pipeline of industrial talent in the future, there will be no capacity for future opportunities, no chance of developing new market segments, or creating the next innovation in aerospace, which will further deteriorate the industrial base of the U.S.

* With the emerging economies furthering skills and facilities, there us the opportunity for them to replace production in the U.S. and other developed countries. An example is Lewis Chenevert of United Technologies that manufacture Otis Lifts and Pratt & Whitney Jet Lines who stated that by the year 2013 he planned to source 40 percent of his business to Poland, China and Mexico because of the low-cost economy.

* Large U.S. companies like to manufacture where they sell which means the American companies make more money in their foreign operations than they make by exporting goods to other countries. This means that U.S. owned foreign companies make about three times more than the U.S. domestic owned companies that export their goods.

I can totally see the trouble we are in and something must be done. As a business we are in the business to make money. However, it seems that in order to make money you may have to hurt some people along the way. Foreign owned business only seems to help the foreign land they are in and it would seem to me that the only winner is the company that manufactures from those countries. It does nothing to help the U.S. economy.

When it comes to which side of the story I reside between the economist and the industrialist, I believe I would have to side with economists. Everyone cannot be in the manufacturing industry and where we run short in that arena we have other tradable skills that we should sharpen. Although we should never give up on the industry or just give it away, we need to find some balance in order to make the industry strong again. I recently heard about a particular product that salons use on natural hair. The product was created by a woman in her kitchen in 1993 and contained no mineral oil or animal fats. She used the best ingredients but along the way operated in the red. Last year it was reported that the company was filing bankruptcy and people were losing their jobs after 5 stores closed. Yesterday it was announced that L’Oreal has acquired the company, Carol’s Daughter. It saves her from going bankrupt, it saves her leadership team, but her production people lost jobs. It will now be available internationally. It seems to me that she had no choice. She is now directing her attention to other services and is in partnership with other companies.

International trade is important, however, how we trade and if we should trade is still debated. In the example that I gave with Carol’s Daughter, she took the path that was best for her. However, we can see that unless we are more proficient at trading we will not be able to quantify any real gain for the masses. As usual, some benefit and others don’t. As Mr. Franklin Vargo of NAM, the nation’s largest industrial trade association stated in the article written by Ed Crooks, “The future is not yet written; it is not black. But it could be disappointing. (Vargas, 2011)”

Works Cited

Crooks, E. (2011). America: Riveting prospects. Financial Times, 1-4.

Vargas, F. (2011). Quote. Financial Times, 3.

Top 5 Tips on Making Money With Your Glamour Images

To those who ever dreamed of being paid for taking glamour shots, I devote this article – discover 5 efficient ways to start making money from your glamour photographer’s skill.

Now I reveal 5 sure-fire techniques of turning your vocation to glamour photography into a lucrative business venture. Just read it and see for yourselves!

Ever thought, “if only I got $1 for every good picture I take…”? Well, here are 5 great ways to make your dream come true – in sums far greater than that!

A glamour photographer has a plenty of opportunities to monetize their hobby to bring in some decent income that can add some pleasant bonuses to monthly cash-ins or even replace a good full-time salary.

Already feeling excited? I haven’t told you the best part – there are multiple ways of making money with your glamour images and your artist’s skill! Let us have a quick insight in some of those effective techniques.

First

You can trade your skill as a glamour photographer. All you need is a DSLR, a studio (rented, owned, home-based, your friend’s – there are many options), a little self-marketing and a HUGE desire to make money. There are many people who would pay nicely for a professional glamour shot; so if you can deliver it, why not earn some extra cash for doing what you do best?

Second

You could take private coaching for beginner glamour photographers. You may not be a pro, but having enough credibility and some fresh, out-of-the-box ideas could compensate the lack of renown. This is not an easy one; however, digital art schools being diploma mills as they are, the market is overcrowded with hungry learners. You only need to step into it and take a niche. There are always people who would pay for knowledge – even if you are not a guru; and there is always something one person could teach another. So why can’t it be glamour photography?

Third

Stock photography is a great opportunity to earn residual income from your glamour images. Resources like iStockphoto, Fotolia and many others would handle all the commercial issues for you, while you enjoy the revenue, getting anywhere from $3 to $5000 per one picture purchased. Saturating a photo bank with quality shots is a time-consuming process, but it can bring a lot of cash to you.

Fourth

If you are knowledgeable about the subject, you could always compile your knowledge into a good e-book and sell it, and sell it, and sell it… Glamour photography is no exception – you can trade your expertise in the form of informational products. This market is smoking-hot, while quality e-books are not a frequent catch. If you manage to produce good content and market it, people would buy, and buy, and buy…

Fifth

There are always magazines out there actively hiring prospective artists. This has much to do with trading your skill and time, but you don’t need a studio – just your camera and inspiration. The employer will take care of everything else. If the very idea of having a boss to work for doesn’t make you shudder, this is the option worth considering.

As you can see, there are literally hundreds of opportunities and resources to make your hobby turn into a little golden stream, which will eventually become a river. Like any other business, it can be successful and lucrative – provided that you are professional, sensible and, most importantly, dedicated!

Dream Meaning – 9 Dreams That Spell Riches Revealed

Dreams have been here as long as mankind.

Back in the Roman Era, striking and significant dreams were submitted to the Senate for analysis and interpretation.

In those days, dream interpreters accompanied military

leaders into battle. Dreams were extremely significant

and often seen as messages from the gods.

People with particularly vivid and significant dreams were

believed to be blessed and were considered special.

People who had the power to interpret dreams were looked

up to and seen as divinely gifted.

We know the bible story of Joseph and how his divine ability

to interpret dreams helped promote him from prison to prime

minister in Egypt.

The story of Daniel is also familiar to many of us. His ability

to interpret dreams catapulted him from slave-boy to first

president in Babylon.

In the Bible, there are over 50 mentions of dreams.

Why?

Because your dreams carry vitally important information…

in coded form!

Gaining an understanding of the hidden secrets your dreams

are trying to tell you can give you a crucial head start in the

game of life.

Put another way, acquiring the ability to interpret (or analyze) your dreams is powerful.

In analyzing your dreams, you can learn about deep secrets you may not be able to find out any other way.

God can give you that special ability to interpret your dreams,

just like HE gave to Joseph and Daniel in the bible.

With this one gift, you can unravel many common dream symbols

and know when:

* money is coming your way… and how to position yourself

to receive it

* an opportunity for wealth, success and happiness is staring

you right in the face

* there’s a warning you should not ignore

* a change of course can bring you spectacular breakthroughs in relationships

* God is trying to get your attention

and much, much more!

Many dreams are prophetic.

They carry signs of warning and advice.

My intention is to explain and show you the biblical meanings of some common dreams. I’ll also give you the exact prayers to pray in each situation.

You will learn about the kind of dreams that signify greatness, prosperity, abundance, wealth, great relationship… and how to pray them into manifestation.

You’ll see real life examples of famous people and the dreams that opened the door to their success, peace and prosperity.

5 Top Tips To Pick The Best Forex Trading Signals

Forex trading signal providers send alerts to traders with specific entry and exit specifications for potential trade opportunities. They send alerts when the market conditions are right for a trader to be entered into.

For technical analyst signal providers, trading styles may vary from short-term 5 minute charts to longer term 4 hour or daily charts. Other signal providers may be strictly news based fundamental analysts or a combination of both fundamental and technical.

Trading signals can be very useful for traders when it comes to identifying potential profiting opportunities in the markets which they otherwise may have missed.

Here are 5 top tips to pick the best Forex trading signals.

Tip one: Select one that gives you signals in time

Many currency trading signals can be very effective and can help you to make consistent profits from the markets. Nevertheless, you have to make certain that they can deliver their trading signals punctually since timing is crucial for currency trading. Always remember that their timing will be highly impacted by the way they deliver the signal to you – for example, emails may take longer to reach you than pop alerts.

Tip two: Providers who offer several ways to get your signals

Another important thing to consider is the method by which your Forex trading signals provider will deliver the trading signals to you. If you cannot commit to spending all day at your computer, you may prefer to get your alerts via your mobile phone rather than via email. Similarly, if you are on your computer for most of the day, you may be better off receiving you alerts as a pop up notification or email. Be sure that the provider that you pick fits your trading needs and lifestyle.

Tip three: Check the performance of the provider

Make sure they post their current and past performance online with complete trade details from entry price to exit. Also, use them for a minimum of one to two months with a free demo trading account to test the validity and success rate of the signals your receive. If everything looks good and their trade reporting matches yours and you are profitable, then at that time make the switch to a live account.

Tip four: Find out about who the signal providers are

This one is a must. You’ll need to be able to learn about the traders and the company behind the Forex trading signals you decide to use. Why? Because as far as you know the person behind a site could be a 16-year-old geek living in his mom’s basement (nothing wrong with living in your mom’s basement, but this may not be the kind of person you want to trust with you money and trading career.)

Tip five: Sign up for just a month first

Choosing the best currency trading signal software requires a good amount of research, comprehension of your trading needs, and quite often it just requires you to look around and sign up for a 1 month subscription to a Forex trading signals provider.

This way, you can test the signals you receive, work out what type of delivery method works best for you and see if you wish to continue using the alerts for future trades.

While Forex trading signals can help you find good entry and exit points for your trades, they are never 100% accurate. This is why it is important that you try a few providers out first to see which ones work out best for you and your trading style – using the tips above should help you to do this.

The Horrors of the Black Death

Gondolas floating through the canals of Venice, Italy collecting the dead, wolves coming down from the mountainside in Spain to feed on the living were the everyday norms in Europe of this time. Ships docking into port with a sick man tied to the helm. Upon closer observation, the residents see the bubo on his neck. They throw rocks and food at the ship so it turns back. They try to save themselves from the Black Plague that has swept Europe and it is one heck of a horror story.

Dead bodies littered the streets. Carts rolled out in the morning to pick up the deceased. Children lay abandoned by their mothers and fathers. Bodies thrown in piles for burning or piled high like a deck of cards for burial. Dogs hunted down and killed as culprits of the plague. Few calamities have caused such horrific human behavior as the Black Plague of medieval times.

Many may wonder what the Black Death has to do with the genre of horror. Well, besides being one of the most horrific things to happen to mankind, many rumors emulated out from the catastrophe, including the existence of vampires. The history of the plague reads like a horror novel. It gruesome details causing you to scrunch up your face at the though of being witness to such death, destruction and mayhem.

Whether called the “Great Pestilence” or the “Great Plague”, the results of the Plague were the same: It killed and it broke the human spirit. The Black Plague is believed to have been the deadliest pandemic in human history. It is noted to have begun in central Asia and was carried into Europe in the late 1340’s via trade ships.

Worldwide deaths have been counted at 75 million. The Plague killed anywhere from 30% to 60% of the Europeans it infected and it changed the world. The Black Death, as we are aware now, is the Bubonic Plague.* It was widely caused by a bacterium named Yersinia pestis and was spread by rats and fleas.

*Please see note there are new hypothesis in regards to the plague. Nervertheless, I have chosen to present traditional history until it is conclusively proven otherwise.

In 1347 A.D., the real culprit, the oriental rat flea, made its way into Europe through the rodents that boarded the trading ships. The three types of plague identified as such are: septicemic, bubonic and pneumonic. The first two were transmitted after contact with the flea, with the latter being transmitted via airborne droplets sprayed from the lungs and mouth of an infected person. The mortality rate was anywhere from 30-75%. All three killed in a most vicious way.

In the bubonic type, symptoms included inflamed lymph nodes in and around the arms, groin and neck. Victims bore horrible headaches, nausea, fever and vomiting. The body would garnish buboes. The pneumonic and septicemic were less seen than the bubonic. The mortality rate for the pneumonic was 90-95%. It infected the lungs, causing the victim to cough up sputum until it was all completely red.

The septicemic plague was most rare and caused the victims body to turn purple due to DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation). The mortality rate was close to 100% and even today there is no treatment.

Prior to the arrival of the plague, Europe was in a cooling period with great crop failure. The Little Ice Age had begun. The Great Famine struck Northern Europe. Food shortages, crop failure and high prices spread the hunger and malnutrition. The typhoid epidemic hit and acted a precursor to what lay ahead for Europe: THE BLACK PLAGUE.

The governments were unable to handle the crisis and mayhem spread: Rumors that Jews poisoned the wells, tales of the end of the world, belief that man had sinned and needed to be punished. Jews were exterminated out of cities such as Cologne and Strasbourg. People with skin diseases were hunted and killed. Beggars, the ill, outcasts, and even man’s best friend, dog, was hunted down and killed all in the name of stopping the Black Death.

The Church began to lose power because the people were unable to believe that their creator could bestow such horrible punishments on the innocent. The Church had no answers and no cures and the monks in monasteries and the nuns who nursed those sick died along with everyone else.

The doubt of the Church and the clergy caused people to follow other religious groups, such as the flagellants. While the Church found them a fanatical and heretical sect, the people of Europe had grown desperate and they sought guidance.

The Flagellants would enter the villages, singing vigorously, attracting people into the center of town square. The Jews of the villages would go into hiding because the movement was completely anti-Semitic. Word had gotten around how they exterminated hundreds and thousands in the areas they visited.

The Flagellants’ dramatic white outfits, garnished with a cross on the back and front of their robes would gain the people’s attention. They entered towns preaching words of salvation. They offered answers and reprise from the horrors of life. After gaining the town’s attention, the Flagellants would violently fall to the ground, each representing a sin of man, such as adultery. Murderers would lie on their backs, adulterers on their stomachs. Each of them held a sin for punishment. Each man destined to take on the punishment to stop the plague.

As they chanted, they began collective flagellation. Their weapons were decorated with spikes and needles. Above their heads rose the weapons and down into their flesh it landed. Their white robes bloodied with every new chant, with every thrust of their weapon.

Lacerations poured blood and after the erotic ceremony was over, the people would touch the Flagellants wounds, sop up their blood on handkerchiefs to rub onto themselves, and others would smear it on their faces, looking for God’s salvation.

Although they were banned by the Church in 1262, the German wing made it appearance in almost every major disaster. They preached that priests were no longer needed for salvation. Their message spread. They continued killing Jews and anyone who got in their way. In 1349, Pope Clement VI announced for their dispersal and arrest. Local rulers could now arrest and execute the fanatics.

After the plague was over, there were Flagellant-free zones and Sicily threatened to kill any that stepped onto their land. Eventually, a younger generation took over and they were fueled by even more hatred and crime. Eventually, their numbers died out.

The plague brought to light the worst of all human behaviors. Besides that, it caused rampant misunderstandings and blatant ignorance on the people’s part. Rumors of vampires spread quickly and many blamed them for spreading the plague.

Common folks believed that those that died of the plague would somehow return to spread the disease. A movement to locate the graves of vampires took hold and many legends claim they used horses to walk over the graves of the dead to locate the vampires. If a horse would not walk over a particular burial site, the grave was opened and the body exhumed.

Once the body was exhumed, it was mutilated so the vampire could not rise up. Corpses were buried face-down, many believing they were unable to rise back from that position. Wooden stakes were planted into the ground above the grave, so when the vampire would come to life, he would be instantly killed.

Boulders were placed over the graves to keep the body in the ground. It was believed that a vampire could not lift the heavy rock to escape. Many were upset when they exhumed the body of a suspected vampire to find that their hair and nails were still growing. Since, there was no understanding of body decomposition during that era, the folks simply thought the vampire was preparing to come back to life.

Possibly, many of today’s superstition that surrounds vampires originated with the Black Death. People started using herbs to keep the plague away. Doctors would roam the streets, trying to cure the ill, dressed in an outfit that held herbs at the beak of a face mask. Since bad smells were thought to thwart the plague, this was then applied to keeping vampires away. Wolfsbane and garlic became favorites in keeping vampires away from the healthy.

Although the plague is a fact of history, one will find it difficult to locate anything more horrific than the pestilence that arrived that year in Europe.

15 Ways You Can Spot Fake or Fraudulent Crude Oil Sellers In Today’s International Crude Oil Selling

Many knowledgeable observers and respected analysts of the industry have noted, for example, that particularly in these hard global economic times, many crooks, scammers and fraudsters with actually no real crude oil to sell, have trooped into the international crude oil selling business in tremendous numbers, seeing it as a fertile ground for them in which, many of them think, they can “strike it big” by scamming unsuspecting or gullible international crude buyers, aided and made easier for them by the Internet and the easier cover of anonymity that it provides. Consequently, clearly, a well-established and settled FACT in the world of international crude oil buying and selling business today, is that that whole terrain is literally teeming and crawling with congenital scammers, and pathological crooks and fraudsters who parade themselves, especially on the Internet, as crude “sellers.” (See, for an example, another article by this writer published by EzineArticles.com, titled “Buy Nigeria Crude Oil Without Fraud: How Authentic Crude Oil Sellers Can Find Ready Buyers.”).

CLUES & SIGNS FOR SPOTTING POTENTIAL CROOKS AND SCAMMERS

Given the above-described distinct reality today, are there ways in which you can spot or detect crude “sellers” who are not LEGITIMATE, or those who are most likely simply scammers and fraudsters with no real crude allocation or crude to sell?

The following are some of the ways and signs:

1. THE “SIGN THE SPA,” “SIGN THE CONTRACT” GAME.

Often, a Buyer may get a seller or his agent who aggressively pushes and presses that the buyer should simply “just sign the contract, just sign the SPA,” and that everything else will work out for the buyer after that. Typically, such seller or the agent will promise virtually heaven and earth, and commit to providing the buyer virtually any and everything whatsoever the buyer asks of him, PROVIDED that the buyer just signs the contract. He will, the buyer will be promised, be immediately provided satisfactorily verifiable POP, or the 2% Performance Bond, or get the seller’s profile, his proof of past track record or past performance in the selling of crude oil or of his creditworthiness, etc., etc – but only “after” the buyer has signed the contract!

Watch out for such scenario by sellers or sellers’ agents! Many supposed sellers like that probably don’t really have any oil allocation or available oil to sell. However, for them, the trick is simply to get some gullible buyer to sign the SPA or Contract. And then once that is done, such fraudsters will often deliberately fault the agreement in some way or the other, and employ that as a ruse to demand a hefty penalty fee of upwards of $100,000 or more from the buyer. The buyer will thus be forced either to pay for a deal that never occurred, or else, to have the buyer’s Letter of Credit tied up, at perhaps greater cost and expense to the buyer, until perhaps he succumbs and pays up the scammy seller’s “penalty.”

2. A SELLER WHO WANTS YOU TO MOVE/PAY FIRST

A good sign that you better employ caution, is when a seller wants you to make the move first on the sensitive FINANCIAL aspects of the deal, such as requiring that you (the buyer) issue the Letter of Credit first before the seller will then issue the customary 2% Performance Bond to activate that LC. A less scam-prone way would be for the buyer (unless it is a well-known seller that’s involved) to have the seller move FIRST by issuing the PB from a reputable international bank, as this will guarantee that the seller has the financial capability to be able to put up the PB before the buyer goes through the hassle of putting up an LC, which could be quite an expensive proposition for any buyer. Scammy sellers are notorious for not being able to put up the 2% PB after the buyer might have first put up the LC simply because, being usually a small, obscure or sometimes even non-existent operation, such “sellers” often lack the funds to afford the PB, thus leaving the buyer with huge expense in banking costs for posting the LC.

3. REFUSAL TO HAVE A TTM WITH BUYER

Buyers may sometimes stipulate that there be a TTM (Table Top Meeting), which is a meeting between the buyers (or their top representatives) and the seller, to be held at a mutually convenient time and place at which place the parties will personally meet, discuss the terms of the deal, and sign the contract. It is not uncommon to find some sellers strenuously resist or refuse that, giving all manner of reasons and excuses for not wanting it.

Watch out though for such! Such posture often arouses suspicion and serious doubt in the minds of skeptical buyers as to what might be the underlying motives of the seller for doing that, and the true character and authenticity of the seller.

4. ONLY NIGERIAN-BASED, NON-FOREIGN SOURCES OF VERIFICATION

When a seller provides a buyer ONLY Nigerian-based sources for verification of supposed crude allocation bona fides or cargo documents, with no credible foreign-based, non-Nigerian sources or authorities provided, that could be a serious warning sign of potential scam. Verification through Nigerian sources (NNPC Abuja or Bonny, the Ministry of Petroleum, Abuja, and the like), are often viewed by international buyers with grave suspicion as notoriously unreliable and subject to forgery, and to manipulation and corruption of the facts and materials.

5. NO VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE OF PAST TRACK RECORD.

In general, unwillingness, reluctance, or inability on the part of the Seller, to provide verifiable proof of past track record and ability to perform, such as credible evidence that seller had ever posted a 2% Performance Bond in any deal in the past, or proof of any previous deals confirmable from a credible foreign, non-Nigerian source, showing where the seller has actually shipped and successfully delivered any crude oil to anybody, and the like. This should at least sound a warning alarm bell.

6. REFUSAL TO PROVIDE SELLER’S PROFILE

When a Seller is adamant against providing a statement of the seller’s profile (for the seller’s company as well as its principal officers). A person who claims that he (or she) really has legitimate crude allocation for which he wants a prospective buyer to pay some humongous sums to him in the several hundreds of millions of dollars, but is reluctant to provide that prospective buyer some profile of himself for some idea of who the Seller is, arouses serious suspicion in a lot of buyers’ mind. This is more so today, especially, in the present climate of international crude oil buying and selling trade, which by all accounts has become ubiquitously populated by fraudsters and scammers.

7. NO EVIDENCE OF ABILITY TO POST PERFORMANCE BOND

Often, some sellers may quickly pledge to a buyer that they will post a 2% Performance Bond as a means of assuring the buyer that they’ll perform the contract, claiming that they’ll do so “once the contract is signed,” but would adamantly bark at any proposal by buyer for them to show the buyer, in advance of the parties entering into the contract, some independently verifiable evidence that the Seller actually has the funds capability to be able to fulfill this 2% PB pledge upon the agreement being signed. As a prospective buyer, watch out! That is frequently a signal that the seller simply lacks the funds, and that he will not be able to post the PB if a contract were to be signed with this seller.

8. IINSISTENCE ON AN RWA

Sometimes, a Seller who says he will post a 2% Performance Bond insists that he’ll do so only on the condition that the Buyer, through the buyer’s bank, will first send a request to the Seller’s bank for an RWA (Readiness, Willingness, and Ability), such as an MT799, requesting formally for the Seller to place the said PB. Watch out! At the very least, this is an indication that this seller is probably not banking with a reputable financial institution that is of the caliber that maintains the highest or world-class ethical banking and financial standards, such as one that is ranked among the top 25 international banks. Among most of such top 25 international banks in the world, doing such RWA is regarded as “solicitation” in international banking protocols, and is viewed in such circles as illegal and hence something they will not engage in under any circumstances. Even more importantly, use of the RWA is viewed in such highly ethical circles as a tool employed by sellers who lack the funds required for the posting of the 2% Performance Bond to get buyers to “sign contract, sign contract,” only for these sellers to rely on financiers by showing them the NEWLY-SIGNED SPA, which financiers will then impose unrealistic conditions that usually cannot be even touched by any reputable top 25 international banks.

9. MANIPULATION OF LETTER OF INTENT (LOI).

Persons who claim to be crude Sellers (or represent themselves as seller’s agent or mandate), but as yet have really shown nothing tangible to demonstrate that they are truly legitimate sellers, but persistently demand that prospective buyers issue them an LOI (Letter of Intent) right upfront even before the buyer can find out who they are or anything about them. Watch out here! Many a time, especially in a case involving a supposed seller who is either a fake seller or does not actually have the supposed crude in hand, or, an unscrupulous aspiring seller’s agent who actually has not acquired a crude supplier (seller) yet, buyers may issue an LOI only to find out that there is no seller on the other end. This happens a lot in situations where you have an hungry agent or facilitator who is still struggling to get a real supplier, and by getting this LOI from an unsuspecting buyer, this facilitator can commit the buyer only for him then to start hustling for a seller.

10. NAMING SHELL SCREEN & LLOYD OF LONDON AS THE SELLER’S VERIFICATION SOURCE.

A seller who names sources like the so-called NNPC “Shell Screen” or so-called “Lloyd of London” as the means by which the buyer may do his verification for the ATS or POP. These entities are FAKE and non-existent, and do not verify anything.

11. DeMAND FOR PAYMENT BEFORE Q & Q.

A supposed seller that asks you to pay any form of money upfront at any time before the buyer conducts the Q & Q. Why should you have to pay for a product when you have not confirmed the product is even there, or its quantity and quality specification? Serious, credible or successful sellers do not have any need to collect fees or payments upfront. As one analyst observed, “Only scammers want to see your money first, because their business is to collect these fees, not to sell oil.”

12. REFUSAL BY SELLER’S AGENT OR SELLER TO ALLOW SOME PHONE CONTACT WITH BUYER

Certain Buyers would often ask the agent of the seller that he arrange a 3-way phone conference with the end-seller so that the buyer can at least establish a contact or verbal communication with the end-seller. This could be very important for a buyer because it may be informative for him to have a verbal communication with the seller. A savvy buyer will be able to assess, just from having this phone conversation and “feeling the pulse” of the seller, a lot about the seller and his familiarity with the business, and a clearer picture of whether the seller can actually deliver what the buyer wants. A seller (or a seller’s agent) who refuses such access to a prospective buyer, however, arouses suspicion in the mind of the buyer as to the agent’s motives and intentions, or the legitimacy of the seller.

13. REFUSAL TO PROVIDE LOADING VESSEL DOCUMENTS

A seller who claims that the cargo has been cleared, but refuses to provide the cargo’s CPA (Charter Party Agreement), ATL (Authority To Load), and Q88 vessel details, should be a cause for suspicion as to whether such a loaded vessel ever actually exists.

14. GENERALLY, UNWILLINGNESS BY SELLER TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE & TRANSPARENCY.

In general, unwillingness, reluctance, and inability on the part of the Seller, to provide some routine practical evidence, or general signs of secrecy and lack of transparency or authenticity – e.g., the purported “seller’s” profile, his past track record of performance in oil sales, being forthcoming with facts and information, showing ability and readiness to post Performance Bond, ready provision by seller of verifiability, and things like that.

15. EXESSIVE CLAIMS AND WORDS, BUT WITH NO SUPPORTING PROOF

In general, purported “Sellers” who only engage in big “talk, talk, talk,” and big claims merely by means of the Internet, but provide little or no “showing” of anything – no PROOF or EVIDENCE about the heaven and earth they claim!

FOR A FOLLOW UP

For a follow up on a specific plan of action by which, exactly, you can spot scammy, crooked crude oil sellers of Nigeria and other crude, please see the instructional information in the author’s resource box below.

Is it Legal to Import Brand Name Merchandise From China?

With all the business education you can find today with just the click of a mouse, I am still amazed at some of the unrealistic expectations people have when it comes to product sourcing. Those who have chosen product marketing as a business model are naively under the impression that most wholesale suppliers will be able to provide them with just about any popular retail product, affordable to them at any price. Reality, however, always seems to get in the way of our ideals. Most current, in vogue, branded merchandise usually have restrictions on the way it is distributed. For example, LV Handbags are never sold “wholesale to the public”, or to just anyone who has a resale certificate. And while there are exceptions, you will never see too many “half off” sales of Louis Vuitton Handbags even at the retail level.

In addition, unsold inventory is not passed along to wholesalers or the secondary surplus market. Excess product that is damaged, is sent to their corporate service centers to be repaired. What cannot be sold or repaired is destroyed. In terms of online retail sales, the only web portal that markets LV handbags is Eluxury.com. Moet Hennessey, one of the leading luxury products group owns Eluxury.com as well as the rights to sell a number of additional products under the Louis Vuitton monique. Moet Hennessey also owns most over the counter retail stores that distribute Louis Vuitton merchandise. Not all brands are as restrictive, but some corporate buying policies can still provide barriers to entry in different ways.

Both Nike and Reebok do not confine the sale of their product to wholly owned corporate retail, or online stores. They distribute their brands to retail giants like Footlocker and will supply most independent clothing or sporting goods stores if they have the infrastructure and the funding to meet their monthly, or yearly purchasing minimums. Most small business start-ups do not have the finances to endure the costs of carrying popular branded merchandise. However, a limited amount of Nike and Reebok merchandise can find their way into the secondary surplus and wholesale market. But, that is mostly shoe or sneaker products that maybe one to two years out of style. You will never find current Nike or Reebok sneaker styles being carried by any wholesale distributor.

Despite some of the strict purchasing obstacles that corporations can provide, it does not prevent some people from giving up on the search for the branded merchandise of their choice. Some will try to bypass a company’s wholesale distribution chain or corporate purchasing restrictions by searching for the original equipment manufacturer. Since most popular retail clothing, apparel, sneakers, and electronics are manufactured overseas, the ever-vigilant Entrepreneur will usually turn to importing as means of securing items that have popular retail status here in the United States.

Take for instance Shenzhen, China. In Shenzhen, there is an enclosed shopping mall called Luohu Commercial City. The mall is six stories tall and sells a wide range of items, including handbags, brand name clothes, shoes, audio-visual products, souvenirs, and digital video discs. All can be had for a price that is about half to one third of what you would pay here in the United States. Some DVD’s can be purchased for four Hong Kong dollars, which translates to fifty cents in United States currency.

The biggest problem with all of the merchants selling their wares within this megaplex of retail activity is the undeniable fact that most of it is counterfeit. And, like the never ending parade of fakery that is part of the Luohu retail environment, finding your way to the authentic manufacturer or wholesale distributor of a particular branded item is like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Paperwork, does not make it authentic! There is a prevailing wisdom among some brand seekers that receiving a certificate of authenticity from a brand name overseas manufacturer will provide assurance that the article is genuine. Supplying paperwork to overseas customers as “proof of purchase” for branded merchandise is basically a fallacy. Any labels, tags, paperwork, or certificates of authenticity that assures the buyer of brand certainty can be faked right along with the product itself. The only individual or businesses that are required to have proof of authenticity, are those who are authorized to resell the branded item, or the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), of the brand in question.

If there is a legal challenge to the authenticity of the product they are selling, then paperwork can be provided to confirm that they are legally sanctioned to sell or manufacture a particular brand name product. To my knowledge, no wholesale supplier of brand name merchandise, either overseas, or in the United States, will offer their customers paperwork stating proof of authenticity. The proliferation of counterfeit items within the People’ Republic is staggering. The replication industry in China, as well as other Asian countries rely on the production of counterfeit merchandise and has become an industrial staple. It is estimated that 8.5 % of the Chinese GNP involves the production of counterfeit merchandise.

In addition, if you are thinking about importing brand name merchandise through online trading forums such as Alibaba.com and EcEurope.com, than I have some less than encouraging news for you. A majority of the trades leads on both forums require extensive research and a working knowledge of the importing business before you ever think about doing business with any of the listed companies. However, I don’t want to be totally negative about trade lead forums. I think that they serve their purpose in terms of finding leads for non-branded general merchandise, manufacturer leads, and industrial equipment purchases. But, I would be very skeptical of anyone who presented themselves as the original wholesaler or manufacturer of American brand name merchandise.

Trying to forge a relationship with someone who claims to have the genuine article can also be a financially dangerous endeavor. Most overseas business to business suppliers require payment in the form of wire transfer or telegraphic transfer (T/T). The purchasing minimum that some suppliers ask for is a shipping container load of merchandise. Wiring cash into an overseas business account can be a recipe for disaster. Once the money leaves your account it is gone forever. If the seller does not deliver, you basically have no legal recourse in terms of getting your money back. The only way to recoup any funds would be for the seller to rewire the cash back into your account. You are basically at the mercy of the supplier.

The bottom line is this. If you want products like Nike Air Jordan, you have to go to Nike and find out how to purchase their products. The same is true with just about any name brand merchandise you want to buy. If you cannot afford a particular product, well, then sell a non-branded item. There are plenty of product niches out there that you can explore. With that being said, I am not the last word when it comes to importing brand name merchandise. Please do your homework and consult the appropriate legal, business and import-export resources.