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A con artist attempting steal thousands of euros from a photographer

In the spring of 2005 I dealt with four scammers, I even deposited the first of the checks they sent me, and for a moment it seemed I had 4,600 euros more in my bank account. Pretty soon after that I realized these people were trying the “advance scam” routine on me.

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 exchanged dozens of e-mails in April 2016 with two scammers: Albert Spencer who said he wanted to buy enlargements of my pictures, and Victor Smith, who said he was interested in horse riding lessons (go figure!). I played around with all of these crooks along as I could, pissing them as much as I could towards the end.

On June 2nd 2106 I received this message from “Anthony Martinex”, where he asked me to photograph a wedding in England. He misspelled “his own name” when taking out his account on GMail, writes with the usual shoddy syntax and idiomatic mistakes, and once again his e-mail address ends with a number before the @ sign. Thus with all my previous experiences I was 94% certain that he is a scammer, the moment I saw his first message. Two weeks later he instantly agreed to my proposal of 1,500 euros for two days of photography plus travel expenses, making me 99% sure he is a con artist. Here’s the story so far:


6/2/2016

Subject: Hello

From: Anthony Martinex, martinezanthony110@gmail.com

hello, i got to check out your profile and your works and i loved it, you are awesome at what you do. i would love you to work for us for a wedding. Do you work outside France? i await your swift response. thanks


Hello Anthony,

Thanks so much for your kind words about my pictures, and thanks for visiting my web site, wedding photography is one of my specialties and a great passion in my creative life!

It will be my pleasure to travel to wherever your celebration will take place, given a couple of weeks notice ahead of time. Do keep me posted…

All the best,
David


6/3/2016

Thanks for your responds and I am so sorry for the little delay in getting a reply back to you as I have been making arrangement for the couple to have a very wonderful wedding as an intermediary.

My name is Anthony Martinez, my address is 108 Brookdale Ave, Greenville SC, I am based in south carolina in USA, my number is (651) 314-9532, but i am a new and up coming wedding planner and also a friend to the couple. i am out of the states now on an official assignment but i will surely be back before the wedding. The brides name is Stella, while the Grooms name is John. I am giving you this whole information so that you would know that i am not for joke here.

I would love you to work for us on a wedding. The venue for the wedding is in the UK (St Ives beach) and the date is 17th of September (this date is Flexible). I would love your professional touch at each pictures taken on that day. Let me know how much your full package Is and how much it would cost you to come over here. The wedding is for a military official, so a body pass would be done to make you gain entrance into the venue and the body pass would be sent to you when it's a week to the wedding.

Please take note, this is a military wedding, and payments are made by cheque. i recommended you to the couple and i know you would give the best. so if you are okay with all i have said and willing to work with us, please give me your full address and phone number so that the money would be sent to you by cheque. Thanks hope to read from you soon.

He seems to begging his case, stressing that “i am not for joke here”, his mention of a “body pass” is a bit burlesque, and no American would write check as “cheque”. The area code 651 is in Saint Paul, Minnesota though this might be a cell phone number anywhere in the US. Anyways, I wrote back:


Hello Anthony,

I don’t have appointments in September yet, and it will be my pleasure coming to photograph the wedding in England! Saint Ives Beach looks like a wonderful location, as it happens I was in Cornwall in 1998 for ten days. I have fond memories of the region: Lands End, the Lizard, Torquay, Penzance and so forth.

I’ll be able to take hundreds of pictures per day, beautifully composed and exposed, capturing decisive moments of the celebration. I’ll bring my computer and a big hard drive, so truly the sky is the limit as for the number of pictures I’ll be able to take.

For this kind of project I’m in the habit of requesting 800 euros per day and naturally transportation between there and Paris will need to be taken in to account, which couldn’t be more than 250 euros round trip. Then there’s the question of lodging, since you are a wedding planner I imagine you will be able to make the necessary arrangements for me in Saint Ives Beach.

My address and phone numbers are at the bottom of this message and military security procedures will be no problem for me.

Let me know what you think...

All the best,
David


6/4/2016

Oh that's lovely, I am so happy you at welling to work with us. A driver would be sent to pick you at the airport to your hotel and to the venue. So trust me everything would be well taken care of. I have gotten your address, what about your name for the address and cheque? Hope to read from you soon. Thanks

Fantastic, I’m indeed “welling to work” with him as he is with me. I wrote back:


Hello Anthony,

I looked briefly at Saint Ives on Google maps, though not so much for the airports. I imagine there's a sort of compromise between proximity and price, which is to say if an airport is closer to Saint Ives it will cost more to fly me there, and the opposite, etc. In any case, let me know which airport I should fly in to and I’ll let you know how much the transportation will cost between here and there.

Please do also let me know how many days you would like me to work taking pictures…

All the best,
David


6/5/2016

You are to be in Newquay airport UK. that is where the driver would wait for you and pick you up to your hotel and to the venue. so how much would that cost you to fly down?

I mistakenly searched for flights to Torquay out laziness and not caring about this slimebucket, and also because that’s another town in Cornwall. A mistake like this will make me seem “more human” and believable to the scammer. I wrote back:


Hello Anthony,

I searched for air transport to Torquay and didn’t find much of anything, which isn’t that surprising to me because I imagine that literally flying in to Torquay is “a caviar” option, for those who are truly pressed for time and don’t care about prices.

What I did find is round-trip flights between Paris and Exeter for 180 to 200 euros, then trains between Exeter and Torquay which are about 30 euros round trip. So to be sure, we could count on a budget of 230 euros for the transportation between here and there. Let me know what you think…

All the best,
David

He wrote back seven hours later, not noticing my mistake between Norquay and Torquay, naturally, because he’s a scammer, not a wedding planner. He doesn’t care because he’s obviously not going to send a driver to pick me up in Norquay or Torquay!


6/6/2016

Ok no problem. That would be added to your cost and you would be paid in full. Thanks


Hello Anthony,

That sounds fine, could you let me know if you would like me there taking pictures for one, two or three days?

All the best,
David


6/17/2016

yes you would take pictures for two days.


Hello Anthony,

For two days of photography at 600 euros each, plus travel expenses that would be 200 euros (if not 300 euros to be sure), could we decide on an entire budget of 1,500 euros overall?

Let me know what you think,
David


6/18/2016

Hello good day,

How are you doing today? That's a perfect price. Your money has been sent your address and i was notified that the Chef,Florist and my Quota has been sent together with it to your address. Please notify me as soon as as you get the cheque. Thanks.


Hello Anthony,

I’m doing fine, and I happy you find my quote acceptable! I’ll indeed let you know the moment I’ve received your envelope, and I’ll send you a scan of the check as proof…

Bon week-end,
David

“Mr. Martinex” is so stupid that it didn’t occur to him that I’ll also send the scan of the check somewhere else, such as the “bank that issued it”. In my experience the check will be written in for an amount four or five times more than the 1,500 euros I quoted, thus more than 6,000€.

Victory!

6/22/2016

Click to see this check in high resolution.

A check I received on June 22nd 2016 for 9,500 euros, “issued” by the Winchester 119 branch of the Santander bank, “paying bank” the Société Générale, dated June 17th 2016. Today’s check has a spelling mistake, the address of the bank in France is Avenue des Olympiades, not Avenue d’Olympiades. So far this year I have received 17,700 euros and 29,500 pounds in counterfeit checks.

The envelope which the check for 9,500 euros arrived in, mailed from Briefzentrum 85, Freising, Flughafen-München (Munich Airport), Germany.

The envelope which the check for 9,500 euros arrived in, mailed from Briefzentrum 85, Freising, Flughafen-München (Munich Airport), Germany. As usual it has no return address and there was nothing else inside aside from the check. This envelope very closely resembles another one in which I received a check for 2,000€: it has the same German “100 Jahre Möhnetalsperre” commemorative stamp & dark blue “Priority / Prioritaire/ Luftspost” sticker, the address label looks the same, as do the orange bar codes along the bottom.

On June 22nd 2016 I found an envelope in my mailbox with no return address, containing a check for 9,500€ and nothing else inside. I will now send a scan of this check to “the bank that issued” it, the Winchester 119 HS branch of the Santander bank, as well as the “paying bank”, la Société Générale. I wrote back:


Subject: Check received

Hello Anthony,

I received a check today in the amount of 9,500 euros, in an envelope with no return address, and there was nothing else inside the envelope. Was this check sent on your behalf? If so it should well be noted that the 9,500 euros is far more than what I quoted for two days of wedding photography at 1,500 euros. I’m sending a scan of this check, please do let me know how I should proceed…

All the best,
David

In the classic manner of a scammer Mr. Martinex wrote back:


6/23/2016

Thanks for your respond and I would be so glad to meet you on this big day. What you have to do now is to deposit the cheque in your account. When it's fully cleared for you to cash out you will take your 1500euro and I am going to send you an account to send the over payment. Because the 7000euro left is meat for the chef, florist and my quota. Do you understand? Thanks for your usual cooperation. Hope To read from you soon

He has a point there in saying that “the 7000euro left is meat”… I’ll say, in fact I’d say it’s dead meat, which is to say worthless, nonexistent! Furthermore, the difference between 1,500 and 9,500 euros is 8,000 euros, not 7,000. I wrote back:


Hello Anthony,

I’m happy to find out this is your check, thanks for clearing up the mystery! I do find it strange however that such a check would have mistakenly been written in an amount far higher than what I quoted for photographing the wedding you are organizing.

In any case I’ll send the check to my bank tomorrow and it will likely clear within a week. In the meantime, feel free to send along your financial coordinates so I’ll be ready to transfer the excess funds…

All the best,
David


Thanks for your understanding. When the cheque is finally clear, let me know so I can't send you the account. Hope To hear from you soon. Can't wait to see you

I hope I never see him and I hope he won’t ever call me either. I wrote back:


Hello Anthony,

I neglected to ask you about how much I should send back to you, I quoted 1,500 euros to photograph the wedding, the check I received is written for 9,500 euros, but you mentioned 7,000 euros. According to normal logic the sum to be sent back would be 8,000 euros, could you clarify this for me?

Also, in preparing for the transfer it’s typically a good idea to first try a transfer of a very small amount like one cent, just to make sure it will work. Could you send me your financial coordinates so I can do this while waiting for your check to clear my bank?

All the best,
David


Sorry that was a typographical error. I meant to type 8000euro. When the cheque is cleared, i would give you the account to send the money just give the banker the account details to do the transfer that would be more easier. Don't bother your head about that. Please we would need the best from you and i have put all my trust in you. Thanks so much

Mr. Martinex isn’t bothering my head about anything! He appears to be taking some basic scammer precautions in not revealing much about himself, above all any financial information, his scamming supervisors/instructors must have told him about this. I responded saying:


Hello Anthony,

Thanks for confirming the amount to send back to you. I’ve never done a wire transfer before, though with your banking information I’m sure it will go smoothly. On the other hand, I doubt this something my banker would do for me, there’s every chance I would have to handle this myself…

All the best,
David


6/24/2016

Ok good. I hope it get cleared soon so that all arrangement could start as soon as possible.


Hello Anthony,

I’ll check my bank account every day next week starting on Wednesday, and I’ll probably see that amount arrive on Friday. Would it be more efficient for me to transfer the excess money directly to your chef and florist? In this case you could send me their bank information, let me know what you think…

All the best,
David


Oh that's good. I am going to send you the chefs account number to forward the money, because the chef and florist are together. So when you get the cash in the account, I would give you the account to transfer the money. Thanks

Considering the news of the day I decided to ask my highly esteemed financial expert his opinions on Brexit:


Hello Anthony,

That sounds fine, I’ll proceed with all that later next week. I read the news today that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Economic Union, which has promptly had very bad effects on stock markets, the price of oil, the value of the sterling pound etc.

I’m wondering if any of this will have an effect on your wedding plans, let me know what you think…

All the best,
David


Yes that's true I heard that as well but it won't affect the wedding. Thanks

Naturally the collapse of the pound sterling will have no effect on a wedding that will not happen, and in any case Mr. Martinex wants me to send him euros. Out of laziness and not caring about someone I couldn’t give a flying heck about I ignored him, until he wrote me on July 1st 2016:


7/1/2016

Hello Henry, (!)

How has been work over there? Hope all is going on perfectly. I have not heard from you for a while now. Let me know what's going on over there. Thanks

I enjoy the way he’s repeating his phrase, “over there”, this reminds me of an American song released in 1917 in the context of World War One, sung by Nora Bayes, “Over there”, evocative of our eternal combat against hopelessly stupid miscreants around the world. I wrote back:


Hello Anthony,

There’s good news and bad news: your check has arrived at my bank, on the other hand they said they can not deposit it in my account because there’s a spelling error. The bank in France is located on Avenue des Olympiades, not Avenue d’Olympiades as printed on the check.

I wish I had noticed that mistake before sending the check, so as to save your time and mine. Could you send me another check with the correct spelling so I can deposit the funds?

All the best,
David


7/8/2016

I hoped this message would make Mr. Martinex send me another fake check, though after a week with no response to the above e-mail I assumed I was “too greedy” and “overplayed my hand”, he correctly surmised that I hadn’t deposited his check and had given up on me.

While I was waiting for Mr. Martinex’ check to arrive I received this message from “Michelle Dormanen” with a typical yet somehow confused approach for a scammer. We exchanged a few e-mails, then eighteen days later I found a check “for 2,000 euros” in my mailbox. It’s most likely that Michelle Dormanen sent it though I decided to give Mr. Martinex a hard time anyways, and ask him about it:


Subject: Check received

Hello Anthony,

I found a check for 2,000 euros in my mailbox today, in an envelope with no return address on it, and nothing else inside the envelope, mailed from Germany. Naturally this sum corresponds much more closely to the 1,500 euros I quoted for photographing the wedding you are planning in Saint Ives Beach.

I’m attaching a scan of the check, please do let me know whether or not it was you who mailed me this check for 2,000 euros…

All the best,
David

All of the con artists I’ve been in touch with over the years have gallantly refrained from interfering with the activities of their scamming brethren. Mr Martinex wrote back:


7/9/2016

Yes the cheque was resent to you. Please make a deposit of the cheque and take your quota. Then I will send you an account to send the extra 500euros

He seems to be “grasping at straws” here, most scammers are interested in thousands of euros, not hundreds.


Hello Anthony,

I’m happy to find out this is your check, thanks for clearing up the mystery! I’ll send the check to my bank Monday and it will likely clear within a week after that.

In the meantime, feel free to send along your financial coordinates so I’ll be ready to transfer the excess funds…

All the best,
David


Ok good. Am thinking I would send you an address to send the money the ought western union to the florist, since it's not a huge amount. Do you understand?


Hello Anthony,

I have the impression you would like me to send the funds to a postal address, though I’m not sure what you mean by “the ought western union” and “the florist”. Keep me posted…

All the best,
David


7/10/2016

I am sorry about that email, I wanted to say that When the cheque is cleared and you have taken your quota, I am going to send you an account to send the overpayment. Thanks you so much. I hope to see you soon.

I hope to see him like, never, I’ve spoken with scammers on the the telephone and it’s such an unpleasant experience that I want to avoid it as much as possible!

I decided to have some fun with Mr. Martinex and let him know that Michelle Dormanen claimed to have sent the check for 2,000 euros, and put the two of them in touch with each other so they can sort things out between themselves (I did the same with Ms. Dormanen):


Hello Anthony,

On June 20th Michelle Dormanen, whose e-mail address is nice.lovely1200@gmail.com wrote and asked me to photograph a conference that will take place in a couple months in Germany.

I hadn’t heard from her for almost three weeks though today she sent me an a-mail saying it was her who sent me that check for 2,000 euros.

Could you check with Ms. Dormanen and find out whether the 2,000 euros is intended to pay for the wedding you are planning, or her conference?

All the best,
David

Mr. Martinex is not only a greedy bald-faced liar, but also a hopelessly and tragically stupid idiot. If he actually cared about knowing who Michelle Dormanen is it would suffice to search Google for her e-mail address, and there at the top of the search results he would see this web page listed, recopying everything he and Ms. Dormanen have written me.

I truly doubt that Mr. Martinex does not know Ms. Dormanen because his check arrived in an envelope that looks exceedingly similar to the one Ms Dormanen’s check arrived in. He wrote back:


No I don't know her, maybe hers is till on it's way. The cheque you have is from my client. Just tell her you have not received hers yet, when you receive it you will let her know. Thanks Henry (!)


Hello Anthony,

Michelle Dormanen insists that she was the one that sent me the check for 2,000 euros. She sent me two messages concerning your e-mails:

“Where did you get the email from? Name could be similar and may not be same person. You wrote Mr. Martinez, why? Has he promised to send you cheque before me?

Let me know how you come across Mr. Martinez. Did you send him a picture of the cheque?

I do not need to write him. How much did you both agreed? You just go ahead deposit the check into your account in your bank. I will provide you with solution soonest on that. Did he request you send the difference to anyone?”

I don’t really know what to do with the check at this moment, except to assume that it was Ms. Dormanen who sent it to me for the event she is planning…

All the best,
David

I feared that Mr. Martinex had given up on me when I told him about the spelling error on his check on July 8th. Telling him about Michelle Dormanen’s check for 2,000 euros renewed his interest in me and whetted his apetite in ripping me off for 8,000 euros. His obsession with destroying the check is amusing! If he wants proof that I’ve destroyed Ms Dormanen’s check I suppose I’ll have to print the scan in color, rip that up, photograph it, and sent him the picture:


7/11/2016

Hello Henry, (!)

What is the current situation of the cheque? Let me know what's going on thanks

I have spoken with my client and they insist they sent you a cheque and they are now worried about someone trying to claim their money. So my client has agreed in sending you another cheque, so I suggest you destroy that cheque with you and she will have to send you another to make things clear. Do you understand? Tell her you have destroyed it and let her send another so that everything could go smoothly. That is a fair deal from for both parties. I don't know her and she is trying to make me look I want to steal her money. So Henry (!), destroy the cheque and we would send you another and let her as well send you another. I want to hear from you soon about the destruction of the cheque. Thanks

A sign of someone with a shaky grasp of a language is repeating themselves over and over, to be sure they’ve been understood. I wrote back:


Hello Anthony,

I understand, and that’s what I will do, destroy that check for 2,000 euros and wait for your check with the correct address of the bank in France to arrive…

All the best,
David

On June 15th 2017 Julie Sandorova wrote me because she received a check for 3,710€ from Jullyanna Marcus in Gabon, Africa, with the same spelling mistake of «avenue d’Olympiades» instead of the correct «avenue des Olympiades» in Fontenay-sous-Bois.

To be continued? It seems so, on September 15th “Richard Matt” of the “Elite Travel Agency” wrote me asking about “accommodations for 6 people for 7 nights”, requesting a quote for what would naturally be thousands of euros that he’d love to steal from me.

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