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A scammer attempting to steal 35,640.34€

At the beginning of April 2016 a man named “Albert Spencer” contacted me requesting prints of my photographs. We agreed on a rate of 500 euros each for ten prints, then he sent me a check for 8,200€. I photographed the check the day I received it and sent it to the bank that “issued” it. The next day someone at the bank confirmed that the check is counterfeit, worthless.

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.

So I played around with this bozo for a few weeks, making him believe that I’d sent the check to my bank, then told him the IRS had seized the funds and that I would not be able to send him 3,200€. He flew in to wild fits of rage, threatening to report me to the police and Interpol.

About five days after I received that first message from Albert Spencer, “Victor Smith” sent me this idiotic message:


Three members of the Garde Républicaine riding their horses on quai de Bourbon on île Saint-Louis.

One of the few pictures on my web site showing horses. Does this make me a horse riding instructor? No, I think not…

4/4/2016

From: victorsmith1003@gmail.com

Subject: Request

Hello,

I want to enroll three members of my family for a horse riding training in your establishment.

Below is the details of all i need.

Number of persons- 2 Adult Males (Age 23, 21) and 1 adult female (19)
Duration of the enrollment- 4 weeks,5 times weekly making it a total of (20 days) at 3 hours daily.
Riding experience- Beginners.
Priority- Leisure.
Starting Date: 21 June,2016 - 21 July, 2016

Please if you can offer us the services,send us the cost for the whole duration and if there is any other information you need,do not hesitate to ask.

I await your response.

Regards,
Victor

This is way off the wall, I have no more than a half-dozen pictures with horses in them on my web site, and there’s no way anyone could imagine that I run a horse riding school. I  searched Google for his e-mail address and there were just four listings on the results page, all of them warnings about scammers targeting B&B hosts. Anyways, I wrote back, saying:


Hello Victor,

Thanks for writing! It will be my pleasure to provide horse riding lessons for your family. I manage a collection of eight fine horses in the bois de Vincennes on the east side of Paris.

I’m in the habit of requesting 100 euros per hour, per person for riding lessons, so for 20 days at three hours each the total would be 1800 euros.

Please don’t hesitate to ask further questions, and do keep me posted as your travel plans to Paris take shape!

All the best,
David

Like Albert Spencer, Victor Smith took a few days to write back answering to my first response:


4/7/2016

Subject: Accepted

Hello David ,

Thanks for the confirmation that members of my family can receive the horse riding lessons in your establishment.We want to proceed immediately with the payment for the reservation.We shall issue a certified bank check to the tune of 18 000€ in your favor as a deposit for the reservation.When you receive the check,you deposit it in your bank so that you will receive the money in your account in some days time.

To achieve this,kindly Provide me with the below information so that we will issue the check payment to you.

1)Your full name as it will appear on the check

2)Your full mailing address where the courier will send the check

3)Direct telephone / Fax numbers

When we receive your data,we will issue out and dispatch a check payment for the full amount in your favor,it will be dispatched to you through a courier service.

Regards
Victor

His mention of 18,000 euros is wild, way out of bounds, and ten times the amount I had specified. I don’t know what to think about what he wrote concerning a “courier service”: someone is going to deliver it in person to me in Paris? I doubt that, anyways, I wrote back, saying nothing about his 18,000 euros:


Hello Victor,

I am very happy to read your message, it will be my great pleasure teaching your family the joys and delights of horse riding, the greatest passion in my life!

You can make the check out to David Henry, and 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. I don’t have a fax machine that’s so 1990s, passé.

Please let me know a few days ahead of time when the courier will come by with the check so I will be able to make sure I am there to meet him…

All the best,
David


There’s an irony as concerns the date on which I received the check: it’s tax day in the United States. Were this not to be a counterfeit check I’d have enough to pay taxes for the next seven years at least.

The check for 29,500 pounds sterling, “issued” by the Barclays Clapham Junction Branch, “For and on the behalf of the Brown Property Group Limited” I received on April 15th 2016. The handwriting looks so barbaric & illiterate, and doesn’t match the signature.

The envelope is stamped “Royal Mail Croyden Mail Centre 11-04-2016, 135039772”.

The envelope which the check arrived in, sent from the Croydon Mail Centre by the Royal Mail, with no return address and nothing else inside. At least the handwriting on the envelope matches the check.

4/15/2016

Victory!

I’m now the proud owner of a counterfeit check for 29,500 pounds!

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 Mr. Smith signed the check. Thus I had 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.

Naturally I sent a photo of the check to Barclays, its “issuing bank” by mail and e-mail, though they never got back to me, they are probably inundated with too many instances of fraud to take the time to respond.

Mr. Smith responded took a few days to respond to the the message I sent on the 16th:


4/19/2016

Subject: CHEQUE PAYMENT ARRIVAL NOTICE

Hello,

This is to inform you that our sponsor (J BROWN PROPERT GROUP LIMITED) has sent to you a BARCLAYS BANK cheque equivalent in pounds sterling. According to UK postal services, the payment will arrive to your place this week. kindly confirm to me via email as soon as you receive the cheque payment. Thanks and i await your response.

Best regards,
Victor

This is further evidence that he is illiterate, or this bonehead doesn’t care to read, or he’s confusing me with his other scamming target victims. I wrote back:


Hello Victor,

I told you in my message last Saturday that I already have received the check, furthermore it’s written in the amount of 29,500 pounds which is far more than the 1,800 euros we agreed on for the horse riding lessons. Please let me know how I should proceed…

All the best,
David

He wrote back:


4/20/2016

Re: CHEQUE PAYMENT ARRIVAL NOTICE

Hello David,

Thanks for confirming the receipt of the cheque payment. deposit it on your account to get the cash clearance. It will take about 3- 5 working days for the cash money to be credited on your account as our sponsor had facilitated the speedy clearance of the cheque into your account. The total amount on the cheque is meant to cover our entire expenses throughout the period. These include: the total cost of our booking which we intend to extend with more 7 days, the cost of the bank charges incurred in changing the cheque value from pounds to euros, the total cost of our flight ticket booking, the cost of our car rental services and the cost of other logistics services which will be taken care of by our pre-paid logistics agent.

Once you receive the money on your account, you have to deduct the total cost of our booking and the bank charges and then let me know the balance left in Euros so that i will forward you the IBAN/Account details of our logistics agent in-charge of our flight ticket booking, car rental services and other logistics services for his payment.

Let me know as soon as possible the total amount in Euros credited on your account for further instructions. We are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause you

I awaits your timely reply.

Best regards,
Victor

To which I replied:


Hello Victor,

I sent your check to my bank today, after it arrives there I will send you the balance according to the rate at the time of deposit.

At today’s exchange rates 29,500 pounds sterling is worth 37,440.34 euros, so after subtracting the 1,800 euros for the horse riding lessons that would mean returning 35,640.34 euros to you. Naturally I’ll check the conversion rates again on the day of deposit.

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

All the best,
David

Sure enough, Victor Smith wrote back on the morning of Monday April 25th, and followed up with a phone call. I have to say it was extremely unpleasant speaking with a bona fide thug on the telephone. The phone number he called from is +44 2476 0421, I’ve noted this number and I’ll make a point of not answering if I see that displayed on my phones. In any case it seems that his last name is Okuagba, not Smith…


4/25/2016

Subject: FURTHER ARRANGEMENT.PLEASE ADHERE

Hello,

I acknowledge the receipt of your email about the money credited on your account which is €37,440.34. I wish to bring to your notice that you should keep the money for the Golf (!) booking fee €1800 as the rest of the money was mapped out for our tour guild. I give you below the account details of our out bound tour guild so that you can transfer €35,640.34 to enable them confirm the flight tickets for the entire guests. Due to the time logistics, make the transfer to the below account:,

ACCOUNT NAME: C OKUAGBA
IBAN: GB72YORK05062343351082
SWIFT/BIC: YORKGB21623
BANK:YORKSHIRE BANK PLC UK,

Hence, I request that you send me a copy of the transfer slip as soon as the transfer have been completed urgently. I will forward our travel itineraries to you as soon as we receive a confirmation from our tour guild.I do hope to have a pleasant time in your facility.,

I await your swift response.,

With kind regards,
Victor,

I let him stew and simmer over this for a few days, then wrote back letting him know the jig is up:


Hello Victor,

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that I saw that your check for 29,500 pounds 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. I’m not sure what you mean about the “Golf booking fee”, though there’s no problem for the horse riding lessons, I’ll be able to teach you and your family no matter what. Do keep me posted as your travel plans to Paris take shape...

Very truly yours,
David

It seems that things have come to an end between and Victor Smith and I as it appears he has philosophically accepted that I’m not going to send him 35,640.34 euros. Barclays bank never got back to me on whether Mr. Smith check is valid or not, though obviously it is counterfeit because he’s not complaining at all about “losing” 29,500 pounds:


Date: 4/27/2016

Subject: YOU ARE IN A DEEP SHIT

Hello,

From this day, you have incurred a huge debt for yourself. this will remain in your record through out your life time.

Thank you a lot.

Regards,
Victor

To which I responded:


Hello Victor,

What will remain in my record for the rest of my life is that I have stolen something cherished and dear to you: The grand pleasure of ripping someone off for tens of thousands of pounds sterling! And I am not sorry for that, far from it, my conscience is clear. On the other hand, in English such a person is not a thief, they are more correctly called a spoilsport or a wet blanket…

Very truly yours,
David

To be continued? As of April 30th 2016 I hadn’t heard from this scammer for a couple days so it seems this episode is over, though 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…

—David Henry

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