[16th February 2012]


This Embassy has recently been inundated by requests from many Kenyans seeking assistance to recover monies allegedly paid to unscrupulous Japanese Companies for the purchase of second hand Motor vehicles. In trying to assist the unfortunate victims, the Mission has uncovered the following:

Way Forward

In view of the above this mission recommends the following:

  1. Potential vehicle importers should be extremely cautious before ordering a Motor vehicle from Japan via internet.

  2. All importers should be weary of super bargains or unusually cheap vehicles- for the sweeter the deal the stronger the pain.

  3. Before buying a Motor vehicle online, kindly check from http://www.jumvea.or.jp/ if the online vendor is a legally registered business in Japan. Members of the Japan Used Motor Vehicle Exporters Association (JUMVEA) are legally registered & licenced Used Car Dealers, are vetted for legality and credibility and are committed by Association values.

  4. In case of any further advice or enquiries, kindly feel free to contact us at the Kenya Embassy- Tokyo using our email address: kenrep@kenyarep-jp.com



Many Kenyans may recently have been shocked by media reports alleging increasing cases of importers who are falling victim to online fraudulent transactions involving used motor vehicle imports from Japan. However, a careful look at online motor vehicle trade shows that with the advent of the internet it was only a matter of time before the worldwide web became a booming marketplace for all manner of commodities including cars. The online car market actually involves millions of car deals every year and is a good avenue for buyers and sellers alike. This is because of the systems efficiency and speed and as a matter of fact, the vast majority of online car deals through auction sites are positive transactions.

On the darker side, however the growing online Motor vehicle trade has attracted a rapidly growing number of fraudsters. All manner of Con artists and Scam artists are lining up to take advantage of unsuspecting car buyers particularly from Africa.

Consequently every potential car buyer and seller ought to exercise due caution while taking necessary steps to protect themselves from online criminals. The following tips are particularly useful:
I. BE ALERT!- Firstly, the buyer needs to ask himself if the selected company has a genuine address! One must avoid dealing with car exporters who only provide cell phone numbers i.e. those starting with either +81-80… and +81-90… Kindly note that these are cell phone numbers meaning that the owners may probably not have a permanent address and hence a land line which is quite easy and affordable in Japan. Do not deal with a company that communicates by only email or cell phone. Once they disappear with your cash, you may never track down such phantom dealers.

Secondly, every online car buyer has the duty to do some Homework…or a comparative research. This will help you notice some minor but important discrepancies that could save you much pain. According to the Japan Used Motor Vehicle Exporters Association (JUMVEA), most East Africans are lured by unbelievably low prices from fraudulent online dealers.

Photo-consistency- Photos from a genuine company will be consistent. Before you even begin an email discussion with an alleged exporter, start by carefully examining the back ground for all cars. Genuine car dealers are likely to show the same general background meaning that all the shots were taken on the same piece of land and address. This company probably OWNS the vehicles in their yard!!

Most phony websites claim an incredible amount of amazing stock but have simply taken photos off other websites. Generally such companies own nothing even though they might claim to own 500 cars.

II. TAKE CAUTION!- Odometer fraud is a growing concern in internet motor vehicle business. Odometers have been altered and even digital odometers can be tampered with. The discerning used vehicle buyer may wish to demand for a competent odometer inspection certificate before confirming the order or remitting the money.

III. BE THOROUGH! Potential buyers are advised to always demand multiple photos of the selected car. For instance ask the dealer to show you all photos. If still unsure, ask for more specific photos even from a specific angle. For example, zoom in on the Stereo or the CD changer. Zoom in on the Chassis Number; show a picture of the exact mileage on the odometer etc. You can even ask to see something that is not important like the photos of the door handles.

The catch here is that if the company does not get back to you within a reasonable time, it’s likely they simply do not own that vehicle.

In addition, always read all the communications carefully. If web messages are full of grammatical and spellings errors, this could be a high indicator of a fraudulent website. Though some scammers are very careful, most overseas frauds contain vast grammatical errors and misspellings. If it does not look right... then there is probably something wrong.

Get it in writing. Some fraudsters in Japan will send you a quotation on an email that does not carry anybody’s name! If the client encounters difficulties with the transaction, they cannot say who sold them the car and no one can take responsibility!!!

Always check to be sure that the new dealer you are dealing with is a genuine motor vehicle exporter by verifying that the dealer has the certification of the Japan Used Motor Vehicle Exporter’s Association (JUMVEA). JUMVEA is registered and duly recognized Japan’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (METI).

Apart from JUMVEA, potential Kenyan importers of used cars may verify information on online exporters with the Nairobi office of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) because JETRO has access to a database called Teikoku Databank which contains key data on Japanese businesses.

Moreover, the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Tokyo has some good local knowledge of the country and is always available to advise Kenyans if the company they are dealing with has a history of reported fraud. The Embassy can always be reached via Email: kenrep@kenyarep-jp.com.

Registration- The minimum requirement to conduct business legally in Japan is to be registered with the local authorities. Always request the company to give you copies of registration documents and their official translation. Translations of the registration documents should have been done by a third party translation firm.

Unfortunately, there are some sites that have reported to export cars with undisclosed damage to get quick profits. All motor vehicle importers must therefore be on the lookout for amazingly cheap vehicles as they end up baring the pain of expensive repairs after a short while. According to credible reports, a number of importers from East Africa have reportedly lost millions of shillings due to scams by bogus online dealers/used car exporters. None was aware that they are dealing with phantom companies who will just take their money and disappear without trace.

How do bogus Japanese car exporters scam people?

1) Most advertise very beautiful cars at amazingly low prices.
2) It is not possible to contact the dealer once you send money to them.
3) Alternatively, weeks, even months go by without ever receiving the vehicle from them. Instead they keep giving you excuse after excuse for failure to deliver.
4) If the customer ever gets a vehicle, it is always much lower in value from what they paid for.


Embassy of the Republic of Kenya

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