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Scammers attempting to empty a photographer’s bank account

Apparently a new currency has been invented: the “Nigerian Euro”.

The first cashier’s check I received, for 5,000 euros. It arrived in an envelope with no return address, and there was nothing else inside the envelope.

From all appearances, they came from the same “checkbook”.

The second cashier’s check I received, for 4,600 euros. It also arrived in an unmarked envelope. Both of these checks were “issued” by the Hibernian General Insurance / Allied Irish Banks, in Dublin, Ireland. This check is numbered 25 after the one for 5,000 euros.

For a few months in 2005 I had many exchanges by e-mail with three scammers who asked me to photograph their weddings. We agreed on dates, locations and prices, then they sent me checks for 4,600, 5,000 and 8,000 euros, about eight times what I had requested.

Please don’t let any scammers know about this web page! The objective here is to make these miscreants waste their time on people like me who haven’t been fooled for a second, distracting them from baiting others who might fall for their scam.

I was fooled for a week or two, and even deposited the first of those checks I’d received, and for a moment it seemed I had that 4,600 euros in my bank account. Then one of scammers wrote saying there had been a mistake in writing the check and asked me to send the difference to some address in Nigeria. The moment I saw “Nigeria” I realized what was going on, checked with my bank, which confirmed that the check was counterfeit, and charged me $50 for fraud. In the following weeks and months I played around with the scammers, acting like I’d fallen for their game and did my best to collect as many checks written in Nigerian euros as I could.

It’s been so long since I’ve had Nigerian euros that I’d forgotten how hungry I am for them. At the beginning of April 2016 I received this message from Albert Spencer:


Date: 4/2/2016

Subject: ART INQUIRIES

At least the postal code matches what he gave me for his address in London.

64 Newman Street in London, as shown on Google Street View in April 2016. I don’t really know much about London though looking at the over all map of the city it seems that 64 Newman Street could much more clearly be said to in the central west sector of London.

Hello Artist, [!]

I am Albert from the UK. I saw your online art gallery on the art directory and became interested in purchasing some art paintings from you for my new Office apartment in East London.

I saw some of your artworks/paintings on your online gallery and became interested in buying some wonderful still life/abstract/expressionism and contemporary paintings from your gallery.

Kindly get back to me with recent kinds of paintings on frames and canvases that you have and indicate there prices as well.

I wait to hear back from you as soon as possible.

Regards

Albert Spencer
albert.spencer055@gmail.com
Address, 64 Newman Street.
City, London.
Country, United Kingdom.
Postal/Zip Code, W1T 3EF
+447062081116

Why am I writing about all this?

A day or two after I made this web page someone wrote Albert Spencer after he’d send her his message saying he was “interested in purchasing some art paintings.” She wrote back telling him to get lost, and put me in the BCC line. Thus I have proof that I have come to the rescue of at least one person.

Aside from that, as someone wrote on the 419eater site, “Every minute the scammer I’m communicating with is spending on me is a minute he is not scamming a real potential victim.”

He repeats himself and is grammar and syntax is so screwed up that I suspected something was up and searched Google for his e-mail address. On the first page of the search results was a page on the 419 Scam web site, listing scammers e-mail addresses, and another for the Interfraud site, which shows the messages these bozos send out, as well as their e-mail addresses.

Another clue indicating that Albert Spencer is a scammer is that a time stamp on his e-mail responses show that he received my messages in some time zone where it is nine hours earlier than when I sent them, indicating he’s writing from somewhere far to the west of Europe, in a time zone that corresponds to California. This might mean he isn’t writing from Nigeria, or it could be that the clock in his computer is way off, or he could be a Nigerian writing from California. In any case, I once again decided to have fun with this moron and wrote back:


Hello Albert,

Thanks for writing, and thanks for visiting my web site! Any of these photos make fantastic enlargements that generally take on a “3D look” on when printed on glossy paper; I offer prints of my pictures at 30x45 inches (76x122 cm) at 500 euros. Let me know what you think…

All the best,
David

Mr. Spencer took a few days to respond and I began despair that I wouldn’t receive some counterfeit checks written in euros, until he wrote back saying:


Date: 4/6/2016

Hello david,

Thank you for getting back to me on such short notice, I will like to see prints from your gallery with sizes 76x122 cm precisley,i already went through your gallery online and could see some wonderful prints on it.

Please kindly respond to me with some recent prints with mentioned sizes and cm...

My wife and i wait to hear back from you with the requested prints..

Regards
Albert

to which I responded:


Hello Albert,

I’m not sure what you mean when you say, “I will like to see prints from your gallery with sizes 76x122 cm”. Prints of that size are expensive enough to have enlarged and shipped that I will not send you such pictures without appropriate remuneration on from you.

If for some reason you would be coming to Paris it would be my pleasure to show you one or two prints at that size so you could see the visual quality of such enlargements.

Rest assured, any of the photographs shown on my site can be printed at 76x122 cm on real photographic paper (with all the archival qualities of any print made in the 30 years), or much, much larger as ink-jet prints.

Please do let me know what you think…

All the best,
David Henry

He wrote back saying:


Hello,

You said you offer prints of your pictures at 30x45 inches (76x122 cm) at 500 euros and i said i am interested in ordering prints from your gallery i size 76x122 which is 500Euros, i would like to make purchase of prints from your gallery in that particular size of 76x122 which is the largest print size...

Are you not okay with this?? Coming to Paris is out of the question because i never prepared for it and besides i have so much workload in between finishing my new office apartment...

I wait to hear back from you

to which I replied:


Hello Albert,

Five hundred euros per print at 76x122 cm, including shipping to London is perfectly fine with me! The best way to handle this is by check, written in my name and mailed to my address below.

The best way to let me know which pictures you would like is to copy the page’s URL address, or the caption to the right or at the bottom of the picture, paste it in to an e-mail message to me…

All the best,
David Henry

He wrote back saying:


4/7/2016

Hello Henry, (!)

Hope you had a good night sleep, i am glad to read from you so early and after a careful obersavtion of your gallery my wife and i have decided to purchase the below list of prints from you..

www.davidphenry.com/Switzerland/index.htm#WoodPile
www.davidphenry.com/france/France011.htm
www.davidphenry.com/france/France017.htm
www.davidphenry.com/france/France007.htm
www.davidphenry.com/france/France002.htm
www.davidphenry.com/france/France020.htm
www.davidphenry.com/England/England025.htm
www.davidphenry.com/England/England024.htm
www.davidphenry.com/England/England008.htm
www.davidphenry.com/Switzerland/index.htm#Pathway

Kindly let us know the total selling price with shipping included and i checked for your Full address details but couldn't find it so kindly let me have your full name as required on the check and your address details with a phone number from you as well..

Wait to hear back from you..

Albert

I have my address and phone number in the signature at the bottom of my e-mails so I have no idea why this idiot is asking for my “address details with a phone number”. I looked over those photos and saw there’s really no visual or thematic coherence between the images, further supporting my hypothesis that Albert Spencer is a scammer. I wrote back saying:


Hello Albert,

You have made a fine selection of some of my favorite photographs and I'm sure these pictures will decorate your offices in an entirely pleasurable way! You have indicated ten photographs, so the total would be 5,000 euros including shipping.

I will send you the prints by airmail no more than two days after I receive your payment, please do confirm the address to which I should send the enlargements; the check should be made out to “David Henry”.

My phone number is 06 33 65 51 19 though when calling from outside France one needs to dial 336 33 65 51 19, or 0336 33 65 51 19, or even 00336 33 65 51 19.

All the best,
David Henry

A few hours later he wrote back saying:


Hello Henry, (!)

your details are received and will be forwarded to my account officer and will get back to you soonest..

Best Regards
Albert.

to which I replied:


Hello Albert,

That sounds great! I’ll let you know the moment I receive your mail, and you’ll have the prints about four days after that…

Thanks for everything,
David


So the fix is in, with a bit of luck I’ll be the lucky owner of a counterfeit check written in euros. Naturally I’ll scan it and send the image to “its issuing bank”, and put the scan on this page also.

About five days after I received Albert Spencer’s first message, Victor Smith, victorsmith1003@gmail.com sent me an idiotic e-mail requesting horse riding lessons, touching off another round of exchanges with a scammer.

On April 15th I received a check in plain white envelope with no return address and nothing else inside. The signature is illegible, or in any case it doesn’t look like Albert Spencer or Victor Smith signed the check. Thus I have no idea which scammer sent me the check.

I wrote both of these nitwits saying “I received a check for 29,500£, was it you that mailed it to me? This is far more than the [5,000/1,800] euros I asked for, what should I do now?”. What would be highly entertaining would be if both claimed they’d sent the check, then I’d have the pleasure of letting both scammers know about each other, and asking them to work things out between themselves.

Albert Spencer wrote back, saying:


4/18/2016

Subject: Re: Check written in pounds

Hello,

The check is not from me, I was about mailing that the payment check will be sent this week, in sum of 5000Euros, so the check you received is not from me..

Will inform u as soon as my payment check is been sent to you..

Thank you Henry (!) for your transparency (!)
Albert

So he’s politely not interfering in the activities of his scamming brethren, and it appears the 29,500£ is for the horse riding lessons. On the other hand, he expressed no surprise at the inordinately high sum the check was written for. (Fake) checks written in tens of thousands of pounds (euros, dollars, whatever) are all part of normal daily business life for him; indeed he wrote back telling me in advance he sent me a check written for an amount far more than what I quoted for ten prints of my pictures. It’s amusing to see a scammer speaking of “transparency”!


4/19/2016

Subject: Re: ART INQUIRIES....

Hi David,

How are you today? My Account manager just informed me that a payment Check has been issued and sent to the address information you provided, Unfortunately the Account manager erroneously sent the wrong amount which is meant for payment to another customer due to be paid at the same time we paid you...

The amount sent to you was 8,200Euros (Eight Thousand Two Hundred Euros) instead of 5,000Euros (Five Thousand Euros) as we both agreed on.

I am really and truly sorry about this erroneous mistake, As soon as you receive the Payment Check Kindly have it deposited into your bank account and as soon as the check clears you will deduct your money for the Art Paintings and Refund the Difference back to my Account Manager by bank transfer....

I patiently wait to hear back from you..

Best Regards.
Albert Spencer

I’m intrigued by his syntactical construction of “erroneous mistake”, I figure it’s a mental lapse of honesty, while his request that I refund the difference by bank transfer is intended to hide the fact the funds will end up in Nigeria. I wrote back saying:


Hello Albert,

I haven’t received your envelope for the moment, to prepare, could you let me know where I where I should send the excess 3,200 euros?

All the best,
David

Albert wrote back on April 19th, saying:


Hello David,,

Thank you for the swift response, as soon as you receive the payment check, kindly notify me so i can have my account manager's account information sent to you so as soon as the check is cleared into your account you will have the excess money transferred into his account.....

Enjoy the rest of your day...

Albert


Receiving this check on the day it was written is highly suspect. Click to see this check in high resolution.

A check I received on April 20th 2016 for 8,200 euros, “issued” by le Crédit Coopératif on the account of La Sauvegarde Règlements Sinistres. The check is dated April 20th 2016, the day I found it in my mailbox. Once again the signature doesn’t match the rest of the writing on the check.

Once again the writing on the envelope matches what’s on the check. It has no return address and there was nothing else inside aside from the check.

The envelope which the check for 8,200 euros arrived in. It has a blue Royal Air Mail sticker, a British stamp for £1.05 and some silly orange bar codes, but… I have every impression the envelope didn’t go through the post, because there’s no postmark. I could peel off that stamp and use it in England if I wanted to!

Fittingly enough, the building looked quite Sinister the day I looked at it.

The building at 76, rue de Prony on April 21st 2016. The structure is undergoing such complete renovations that only the walls and floors remain, and there’s no chance that La Sauvegarde Règlements Sinistres has had an office there for the previous month at least.

4/20/2016

Success!

I have now in my proud possession a check for 8,200 euros!

Today’s check is apparently for ten prints of my pictures that I quoted at 5,000€. What’s amusing is that the city where “the bank is located”, Nanterre, is misspelled as Nanmterre. No French person would ever make such a spelling mistake, and if checks were printed with such an error they would never allow them to be released for use.

I searched Google for La Sauvegarde Règlements Sinistres, and it appears that they did have an office at 76 rue de Prony in Paris, though it seems they closed that location on March 4th, three weeks before the check was written on April 20th 2016. I went by that address the next day to see for myself, and found the building in such a state of deconstruction that there’s no chance that any business has been located there for the six previous weeks.

The amusing thing about this check-sending instance is that its envelope has a Royal Air Mail sticker, a British stamp, and some inane orange bar code stripes, yet no postmark on the stamp or elsewhere on the envelope. This leads me to believe that someone dropped the envelope off in my mailbox, which is fine, whatever. On the other hand it was Victor Smith who wanted horse riding lessons (not Albert Spencer), who said he would have his check delivered by courier. In any case why did either of these dimwits bother with such an unsuccessful attempt at making it seem like the check had been sent by mail?

It’s confirmed, the check is counterfeit!

I sent a scan of the check to “the bank that issued it” and the next day M. Buot wrote back:


Bonjour Monsieur HENRY,

Nous vous confirmons que ce chèque n° 4272548 de 8.200,00€ n’a pas été émis par notre client La Sauvegarde Règlements Sinistres. (We confirm that the check # 4272548 of €8,200.00 was not issued by our client La Sauvegarde Règlements Sinistres).

Cordialement,
Gervais BUOT
Responsable administratif
CRÉDIT COOPERATIF
CENTRE D’AFFAIRES PESARO

On April 21st: I wrote Mr. Spencer this message:


Hello Albert,

I received a check yesterday in the amount of 8,200 euros, in an envelope with no return address, and there was nothing else inside the envelope. What’s strange is that the check is dated April 20th, the same day I found it in my mailbox. Was this check sent on your behalf? Please do let me know how I should proceed…

All the best,
David

Albert Spencer wrote back the same day:


Hello Henry, (!)

Yes the check was dated upfront prior to the delivery Date which is 20th of April.... Kindly proceed to your bank and deposit the check into your account and get back to me as soon as its been deposited....

waiting to hear from you as soon as possible..

Albert

To which I replied:


Hello Albert,

I sent your check to my bank today, after it arrives there I will send you the balance of 3,200 euros.

Please do send along information on how I should return these funds to you in the meantime, to facilitate matters...

All the best,
David


Hello Henry, (!)

How are you doing and how was your weekend? i hope you get an update from you bank soon..

Albert

I left him dangling in the wind for a few days, then responded, letting him know the game is over:


Hello Albert,

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that I saw that your check for 8,200 euros cleared my bank last Monday. The bad news is that the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) snapped up all of those funds as soon as they became available, because I have owed them thousands of dollars for many years.

This settles my debt with the IRS, but I’m sorry to say I won’t be able to pay you back this year, probably not next year, either. Although I’m just about completely broke I will be able to make a compensatory gesture in your favor, the ten prints of my photographs, though at 30x45 cm, which I will be able to afford at this moment. Let me know what you think…

Very truly yours,
David

This fool is so stupid that he believed my story about the IRS, thinks that his “money” could have actually arrived in my bank account, and refuses to understand the jig is up. He wrote me a couple hours later (and called nine times from a masked phone number, calls that did not answer):


4/27/2016

Now the stupid scammer is threatening me, saying he’ll report me to the police or Interpol

Henry, (!)

I have been expecting to hear from you for a while and i must confess i am highly disappointed in you Henry(!), what is my concern with you owing the IRS, the relationship between us is strictly business and i need the 3000Euros with you for an important Project i am sorry about your IRS problem but i need the money urgently which is why i have been waiting on hearing from you since Monday..

I am sure you don't want me to Involve the Police on this because i have friends that works with the necessary authority in France..

I need my Money David, and i am very serious about it as well as the prints i ordered from you.. [ten minutes later he wrote:]

If you don't want me to involve the interpol or French police, I need you to refund part of my money now!! I'm trying to help you here!!!!

I have your house address and all and I will report you to the French police or interpol if I don't get my money before today end!!!!

I am serious!!!!!!!!
Albert

Yeah, right! I’m so amused at making a scammer scream with pain and anguish. Since he’s fallen for my story about the IRS I decided to push his buttons some more:


Hello Albert,

With a bit of effort I suppose I could send you about 100 euros per month, this is the most I could afford aside from my weekly and monthly expenses.

On the other hand I could send the ten prints right, please don’t hesitate to send me your address, where I could send you checks, and the prints...

I thank you for your understanding,
David

This seems to have sent the imbecile in to wild fits of rage because in intervals of 30 minutes he sent me these four messages:


Henry, (!)

I don't want 100euros a month! I want all my money, I don't want your prints anymore! You're a fraud! You only wanted my money!!! I promise you if I don't get my money by the end of today I will report you to the French police/interpol I promise you!!...

I want all my money 8200EU..you must take me for a fool

Thank you!

I promise you Henry (!), if I don't get my money back I will make sure I report you to the French police and Interpol nd charge you with Fraud!!!

Send me my money! I have my account managers Account details ready!!!!!

Henry! (!)

Who do you do business this way? I am a customer and you're trying to defraud me?? It's not nice! I need my 3000Euros now!! And send my prints! You gave me a price for the prints I agreed and now you don't want to return my money from the excess money I beg you, I will report you to FBI/interpol/french police if I don't get my money back right now!!

I am waiting for your reply

Henry (!) why have you decided to threat me this way? Why!! We do business and you pay me back with deceit! This is not fair!!! Please refund my 3000Euros and send my prints!!! I need my money or I will report you I don't want to do anything bad!!

This is too rich! I responded, saying:


Hello Albert,

If anyone should be reported to the police or Interpol it’s you, not me. I find it highly suspect that you sent me a check for 3,200 euros more than what I quoted for the ten prints. If you don’t want to lose 8,200 euros then you shouldn’t send a doubtful check for that amount.

If there’s anyone you should contact it’s not the police or Interpol, I suggest that you get in touch with the IRS and tell them that the 8,200 euros belongs to you, not me, and that you would like those funds returned to you.

You can facilitate this matter by providing the IRS all the necessary information about yourself: First and last name, nationality, passport number, postal address, e-mail address, telephone numbers, IBAN/SWIFT/BIC numbers, etc.

I wish you the best of luck,
David

This shithead still doesn’t understand that I have not fallen for his scam. He wrote back:


Henry why have you decided to threat me this way? Why!! We do business and you pay me back with deceit! This is not fair!!! Please refund my 3000Euros and send my prints!!! I need my money or I will report you I don't want to do anything bad!!

I am very disappointed in you!! You think you have defrauded me!!! I'm calling the French police immediately... we shall see..

I'm a law abiding citizen and never sent you a doubtful check I have proofs...

To which I responded:


4/27/2016

Hello Albert,

In a way you are right in calling me a thief and a fraud because I have indeed stolen something cherished and dear to you:

The grand pleasure of ripping someone off for thousands of euros! On the other hand, in English such a person is more correctly called a spoilsport, or a wet blanket, sorry about that.

As it happens, I have evidence disproving what you have said about your check below [above]…

All the best,
David

I didn’t hear from this dipshit the day after that message, so by midday on April 29th I figured he had given up on me. Then later on that day Mr. Spencer sent me this message:


4/29/2016

I am right on your case Henry!!! you cant steal from me and go free!!! never!!!!

To which I responded:


Hello Albert,

I haven’t insulted you yet (as you truly deserve to be) because I’m not that kind of guy. On the other hand, considering that you so royally refuse to understand that I have not fallen for your scam I feel obliged. So here goes:

You have shit for brains and your intelligence is no higher than a small pile of horse manure!

Considering that you believed my idiotic story about my sending the check to my bank, and the IRS confiscating the funds, I can only figure that you are no smarter than the average garden snail!

You must be as stupid as a bucket of wrenches not to understand that I lied to you: I didn’t send your check to my bank.

The day I received your check I took a photo of it and sent that to le Crédit Coopératif, the bank that “issued” it. The next day Gervais Buot, an employee at the bank, confirmed that the check is counterfeit and is worth nothing.

If you were any smarter than a termite you would understand that I have stolen nothing from you, your check is still on my desk! Perhaps I’ll frame it and put it on my wall one day as a souvenir of my dealings with a hopelessly retarded scammer.

I advise you not to have children (hopefully you haven’t already) as the future and outlook does not look particularly bright for them, as for inherited intelligence, and also as for what a bad father figure you would be. You are someone who should most certainly not be followed as a role model…

All the best,
David


To be continued? Who knows, in response to my insults Mr. Spencer sent me a message April 30th with nothing in the body except for a link to a page on Georgia senator John Wilkinson’s web site, since removed, which was most likely a phishing page. Certainly I’ll make new web pages chronicling everything the next time I’m a target of a scamming attempt, which seems to be starting once again on June 2nd 2016, when I received a message from Anthony Martinex, using martinezanthony110@gmail.com as an e-mail address…

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