Last week, I got an e-mail from someone named Dave Wayne. Mr. Wayne requested information on my image consulting services for his 17-year-old daughter, Anna. He was in the real estate/construction business in the UK, but his daughter would be staying with his sister in the US.
Something seemed a bit “off” with the language. For someone with such an obviously Anglo-Saxon name, it was obvious to me that English was not Mr. Wayne’s native language. Still, it’s not unusual for me to get inquiries from people from other parts of the US and abroad, who want to book my services while they are in the area, so, I returned his e-mail and referred him to the “Services” page of my website.
He responded by saying that my fees were acceptable, that he and his wife wanted to book eight sessions with me for their daughter and that he wanted to know where I lived.
I e-mailed back asking for more information on his daughter, where his sister lived in the US, etc., and got the following response from Mr. Wayne.
Sounds good , thank you for your email once again and hope
you are having a great day? I'm delighted to know we are in agreement
here and I'm happy to know you are able to take Anna with
Lessons. I Just spoke to my wife about your total rates and at this
point, I'm most delighted to say we have a deal and have also informed
my child, so she can't wait to meet you to get started.
I want you to know that my wife and I had initially hired a private
instructor for Anna and she was supposed to take her for 5
which we already paid her upfront for but just before we concluded on
lesson days and time, she lost her Husband and decided to quit teaching
and take proper care of her family two boys and a girl. We concluded
and she has agreed to have my money sent to any alternative teacher
who'll be handling Anna with the lessons. I could have
had my sister
receive the funds for me and pay you after each lessons as the case
maybe but my sister at this time is 8 months pregnant with her first
child and i don't think her husband who's out of town will appreciate
me giving her any extra activities if you know what i mean.
I've just concluded with Anna previous teacher to send
you all the
money she owes me to you since am not in the States to cash checks,
she'll send you a Certified Check. I will need your First and last name
to issue check to you and your address where check will be sent to. If
You receive the check go ahead and deduct your money for Anna
lessons as agreed at ($800) for upfront payment for 4weeks. The
Teacher owes me $6,150.
Pls i will need you to take your fees as agreed and pls help us have
what's left sent to Anna travel agent as the money will
be used in
securing her flight tickets/BTA and travel documents down here
. Since we're not available to handle all this.
If this is fine with you, I'll need you to provide me with your
name as to be written on the payment(Check), your Address (where the
payment will be sent to) and your phone number and I'll instruct to
have the payment issued and sent out to your location asap and am sure
you understand and i will appreciate the help alot thank you.
Do have a great week ahead and get back to me so i can make relevant
arrangements, also anytime or day of the week that suits you best for
lessons works just fine with us as Anna schedule for
now is fully
open. In a week or two from this date my child will arrive in my
sister's house, so two days after she arrived lessons can get started
if you available. In addition, lessons can be held in any place you
thank you for your help and understanding, looking forward
in working with you.
Now I knew that my initial suspicions were correct. This was a SCAM!!
The first thing I did was to e-mail back saying that I was unable to work with them.
The second thing I did was a little research. This is just the latest version of Phishing from those ever-resourceful Nigerian Phishermen, whose ultimate goal is to steal your identity. This scam targets personal shoppers and coaches, language tutors, image consultants and those who provide personal, one-on-one services.
The “certified” check they want to send you is always offered in an amount significantly larger than the agreed-upon fees. When the check arrives, usually via UPS or other legitimate mail service, it looks genuine. When it is deposited, the victim’s bank contacts the bogus bank to collect the funds. Now the scammers have access to the victim’s account, and, if the victim sends a check for the difference, the scammers now have more than enough information to steal his/her identity and open fraudulent accounts in the victim’s name.
The third thing I did was to run all of this by a close friend of mine, a retired FBI agent, for his take on it. Here’s what he had to say:
“Hey, you are right – an oldie but a goodie. Another twist on Phishing. They have gotten more subtle over the years as the old “I am a former member of the Iranian/Nigerian government” was too blatant. They also need English lessons, which is the biggest clue. You are RIGHT ON! They obviously researched you on line, which is not hard these days, i.e., ZABASEARCH.”
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