This is a good bye.
But before you leave, we have a last message for you
if you are still in the world of COVID products.
To you, whoever you may be
It has been now a little more than two years since the pandemic began and our lives changed. I clearly remember the day when one of my co-workers approached me saying that a partner needs a million 3-layer facemasks. Back then, I didn’t even knew what anyone would do with a million masks… but I started to inquire at some of our suppliers and guess what? When we found the facemasks, the client just vanished.
That was my first experience with business during the pandemic and the mounted shitshow that came with it. Remembering the years 2020 and 2021, we must say, we have seen and heard things we could not even imagine before. While we consider ourself the lucky few who just lost miniscule amounts of money to the legion of scammers and jokers riding the waves of COVID-19, we must admit, we lost something equally precious: time and focus. And this took a heavy toll on all of us, the core business, our sanity and our worldview. Looking back one even feels a certain amount of shame. Now that our head is cleared and our focus is back on track, I always ask myself: how could I have been such an idiot? And by that I don’t only mean falling for scams. I think the “joker” phase for us was pretty quickly over, and I realized it very early that these billion-trillion deals are nonsense, despite what others might say. But I consider myself an idiot for pursuing a hopeless cause, spending time and energy wandering a seemingly endless maze of brokers, phoney buyers, scammers and all other sorts of miscreants.
And when I say, I have seen some messed up things, I really mean it. Joker brokers defending their claims of billions of non-existent products like their life depends on it. People with absolute disregard for business ethics harassing you at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning. Scammers trying to get you set up in all sorts of weird schemes like selling SBLCs or other types of bank instruments. And the list is long, too long to detail them in one singular post.
However there were also moments of light, and I also met a few honourable people in this foggy swamp. People I still consider as friends, even though our focuses have changed over the course of the last year. I was also very happy when our site, PPE Consultants, and our PDF guides gained a pretty solid reputation, and lots of people came to me asking for advice, help or for just a few nice words.
Since then my business focus has changed. We imposed a strict policy upon ourselves, that we don’t deal with anything even remotely related to COVID-19 (in other words, no selling, buying or brokering of any deals involving facemasks, respirators, test kits, gloves, COVID medicines etc.). This not only makes me more happy and free, but somehow business is getting better when someone is not preoccupied with all that craziness surrounding the above mentioned products. However, since I know from your feedbacks that my writings have helped many to open their eyes, I wanted to write a final piece for a long time. This should be the quintessence of all my experiences. And here I want to make a short disclaimer:
Now, that I have taken a few steps back, I have changed my opinion about a lot of things, and I might even contradict some of my earlier writings. That’s it, we change, we grow, and as time goes by we see some things in different light. So, please, don’t dismiss me as a liar, just understand, that I too am in a phase of evolving, and since none of us has ever seen something like this messed up world with COVID products, there is no final truth, no gospel that will lead you to success. But I impart you my final conclusions, before I leave for good.
1) Big quantities do not exist. Get used to it.
Okay, this might need some explanation. 100,000 boxes of gloves is a big quantity. But I know many (especially the brokers) are dismissing these as small quantities. I get it, everyone wants to catch the big fish, and what is that measly commission you make on 100K boxes, when there are (supposedly) millions and billions out there. Now let me crush your dream: there aren’t. No company or government has capacity for billion sized lots, and they are also useless, immobile and impractical. If you are chasing these, you are an idiot, and you are just wasting your time. Be realistic, and don’t want to turn into Bezos in a week.
As a rule of thumb, I don’t believe in the existence of any stock that is larger than what can fit into 5 containers. If someone tries to convince you, they have more, ask for solid proof like a commercial invoice upfront, and check customs data. They are a goldmine, and can save you from a world of pain. And if someone isn’t willing to share these with you and comes up with excuses like they need a Proof of Funds, they are scamming. I guarantee it.
2) Proof of Funds equals Proof of Scam
In 99.99% of the cases if someone requires a Proof of Funds from you or “your buyer” they are scammers trying to get the financial data, or clueless brokers with zero idea about how this business is concluded. I have never ever encountered a reputable seller or manufacturer requiring these documents. They are impractical, risky especially when brokers are involved, and have no real benefit. Any idiot can sign up for a Photoshop course and edit a fake document, an MT799 is very rarely used, and giving an “Authority to Verify (ATV)” is unheard of in banking. So, usually a transaction goes either with a deposit (especially when it comes to manufacturers) or with a simple wire transfer. Also, look out for things like LC, SBLC, DLC, escrow etc. These are also enormous red flags indicating scam.
Concerning SOPs I have multiple takeaways. Let me list them below.
1. The more complex an SOP is, the more likely it is a scam. All these LOI, LOA, POF, POL, ATV, BCL, MT799, A2A, ICPO etc. are just made-up broker and scammer bullsh*ts. No real reputable businesses need these simply because they are impractical, halt the entire procedure, and can be outright dangerous when someone just blindly shares them. Legitimate sellers and manufacturers don’t require these usually, and buyers hate to issue these, so why requesting? Well, because most brokers operate on simple terms, and their credo is monkey see monkey do. Don’t believe me? Check out this article that has been written by experts in the oil industry, it’s a real eye opener.
2. If an SOP starts with NCNDA, you are dealing with a broker chain. A seller doesn’t need you to sign an NCNDA, a broker (or better said, multiple brokers) do, otherwise they don’t have any legal means to get a commission… not like an NCNDA has ever protected someone, but still, they believe in it like gospel.
3. DO. NOT. ISSUE. A. PROOF OF FUNDS. EVER.
4) Don’t focus on big brands
Cranberry, Cardinal, Hartalega, Ansell, 3M, Abbott, Roche etc. What do they have in common? They are the brands mostly “used” in scamming offers. Why? Simply because these companies are large and you cannot verify how big 3Ms mask-producing capacity exactly is. What would you believe sooner? A stock five billion 3M masks or from some no-name manufacturer? Obviously 3M.
However there is a trick when it comes to dealing with these brands. Always, and I repeat, ALWAYS verify if you are buying from a distributor. Call the mother company, ask them if your “seller” is indeed an authorized distributor, and if they are not, leave immediately. You’ll either end up with fake goods or no goods at all. (I know there are some small scale sellers for the above mentioned, but in most cases they are also just flipping the product for an inflated price…)
5) Never work with more than 2 brokers.
The more brokers, the higher the chance of failure. I learned this the hard way. And don’t get mistaken, if a broker says something like “his colleagues” or “his co-workers”, or my all time personal favourite, “his team”… well, he refers to other people in the broker-chain. Which all circle like vultures and want a chunk of the commission for forwarding two Whatsapp messages. If you see more than 2 brokers on an NCNDA, don’t sign it, they’ll ruin the entire deal.
6) Don’t let you get sucked into other schemes by brokers and scammers
Oh I see this one regularly. Broker offers me some sort of PPE, I politely decline, and two months later he wants me to buy German Bonds (which have no value according to Germany), Golden Guns (someone has watched too many James Bond movies?), or slightly seasoned SBLCs, whatever these even may be. Don’t fall for this crap, these are all scams. You can buy a German Bond as a collectible item for ca. 1000 USD on ebay, SBLCs cannot be bought and sold like commodities, Private Placement Programs (PPPs, or Bullet Programs, High-Yield Investment Programs etc.) that yield you 20% daily on your investment do not exist etc.
Use your common sense, people. There is this old saying, “Jack of all Trades, Master of None” and this very much applies to these people. They are sharks hunting for prey. If they cannot sell you they scam offers for PPE, they’ll try the same with PPPs, SBLCs, rapeseed oil, German Bonds, Gold, Bitcoin, real estate and whatever they think will give them a nice chunk of commission. (Yes, I’m looking at you Hannah!)
In reality these people are either scammers or simply misguided idiots believing all stuff they hear from other brokers and they blindly forward you every crap that crosses their path with absolutely ZERO due diligence made. You refused my offer for 3M masks? Take my scammy SBLCs instead! You don’t want German Bonds? How about a billion BTCs instead! Thats how they operate, and if you don’t let yourself get sucked into their madness they are actually quite laughable posing all over on LinkedIn as self-proclaimed experts on topics they have zero clue about. Making a living in any of these industries requires years of hard work and dedication, and not spending a few months in Whatsapp groups.
7) Do not touch products you don’t understand
How familiar are you with the Medical Device Directive of the European Union? Do you know what a 510k is? Ever tried to broker a deal for medicine without a WDA or a pharmabroker license? If these all sound gibberish to you, it’s no shame… but you should reconsider if you really want to work with products you don’t understand. And I mean it. If you don’t know what you are doing and are only in for some quick cash, you can easily land in a world of trouble. Let’s say you assist to a deal that is a scam and the buying side is a governmental agency. Or you try to sell goods that don’t have the required criteria to be legally imported into a market. If these things turn out and catch the eye of any authority you can find yourself very easily in a very uncomfortable situation. We have seen that several times, and trust us, the authorities don’t take “I didn’t knew about this” as an excuse. If you’re lucky, you only get a warning… if not, there are brokers who received some really hefty fines. So, is it worth to take this risk? No. What can you do against it? Educate yourself – read all laws and regulations for the products you work with. This especially applies to products that are considered as medicine. These are very heavily regulated (trust us, we have a several decade long experience with them), and the authorities are very strict when enforcing these laws. And you really don’t want to get caught in the crossfire here.
So, this is our final, parting gift for you. A few pieces of advice if you want to get or are already involved in the murky business of COVID-19 related products. It’s not much, but we hope there will be some who take our words seriously and will be spared of all the faults, wrong decision, failure, embarassment and pain we have endured. As the Talmud says:
Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.
Chris & Jacob
The PPE Consultants
This site will exist until the 28th of January, 2023. Afterwards it will be deleted, as we have no intention to carry on any sort of operation in this industry. However, until then, our email address (see below) still operates. If you have any questions, or you want to ask our opinion, feel free to write, we’ll answer. However, and we cannot stress this enough, if you are a broker or a seller, who wants to piggyback on our expertise and contacts, don’t even bother, we don’t care and we won’t reply. But if you are seeking our advice, we’ll be there for you.