An advertisement on mobile phones published in Tashi Delek magazine turned out to be a scam

Advertising: A couple and a relative of theirs claim to have lost around Nu 122,850 or USD 1,950 after responding to an advertisement for mobile phones published in one of the recent inflight magazine issues of Drukair.

The advertisement, placed by an establishment called the Phone Shop, offers a ‘buy three, get one free’ scheme. The advertisement offers high-end smart phones like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy.

The viewer is told to contact an Elizabeth Johnson and two email addresses, one a free Gmail one, and a phone number is provided.

The advertisement can be found on page 75 of the March-April 2015 edition of Tashi Delek

One of the claimants, on condition of anonymity, said that four mobile phones had been ordered as a result of the advertisement. A total of USD 1,950 was transferred to the Phone Shop by a friend in South Korea in early May.

A few days later, an email was received from the sales manager of the shipping yard that 50 phones costing USD 20,000 had been sent and a tracking number was also issued. Using the tracking number, the buyers found that the phones had arrived in Turkey.

When the buyers informed the sales manager that they had ordered only four phones, they were told that they have to deposit the USD 20,000 as the phones have already been shipped. However, after some communications, the buyers were told that between USD 4,000-5,000 would suffice to ship the phones back to the origin.

The buyers then asked that either the phones ordered be delivered or a refund be issued, following which there were no more responses. A website they had also been visiting to track their phones also vanished.

The buyers then approached Drukair but were sent to Bhutan Observer, which is the publisher for the inflight magazine. They were informed by Bhutan Observer of a disclaimer in the magazine. The disclaimer states that views expressed in Tashi Delek are not necessarily those of either Drukair or Bhutan Observer and that neither are responsible for the financial standing or any other particulars of the firms mentioned in the journal.

However, the claimants say that Drukair should assume responsibility as they published, as they claim, an advertisement for a scam in their inflight magazine. They pointed out that Tashi Delek is considered a credible source for information and that at the same time there should be rules to ensure that advertisements published are verified.

Speaking to this paper, the officiating CEO for Drukair, Rinzin Dorji, raised the particulars of the disclaimer.

The Bhutan Observer managing director, Tenzin Wangdi said that the company is “seriously” investigating the case.

While the company has a screening process and regulations governing what kinds of advertisement can be accepted, Tenzin Wangdi said the company has to first establish whether the advertisement is in fact fraudulent. He said the Bhutan Observer management has already met twice to discuss the issue and that a third meeting will take place today.

While the complainants have not approached the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA), the media watchdog has decided to involve itself. “BICMA will investigate (and) review this matter and will share the outcome of our findings and actions taken,” BICMA director Sonam Phuntsho said. 

It is not known if there are others who have responded to the advertisement. BICMA media focal person, Lakshuman Chettri said that no formal complaints have been received regarding the advertisement.

Gyalsten K Dorji