Saturday, 24 November 2012

Paul Temple and the Dr. Kumar Case (2)

Waiting for the truckload of money to roll in we decided to check whether it would cost money to cash a cheque. And of course it does, and a bit too much to verify something that is already for 99 % sure: to confirm that Dr. Kumar is a scam artist.
Our Dutch bank charges for sums up to € 50000 the amount of 0.1 % of the amount with a minimum of € 10 and a maximum of € 50 plus € 2.30.
Since 0.1 % of € 4390.60 = € 4.39, which is less than € 10, we would be charged for € 12.30.
If the check would bounce (and who believes this?) we would be charged an extra € 25.
Total costs : € 37.30.
And on top of that we would loose € 3620.60.
So for a client who has got no intention at all renting our property for € 770, we would have lost € 3657.90. Who reacts to this sort of nonsense?
As soon as we are in Cluny near our bank we will try to find out whether they can confirm our suspicions at less cost.
Talking about a Euro crisis!

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Saturday, 17 November 2012

Paul Temple and the Dr. Kumar Case (1)

Since this series of ten blogs was written some time ago when the whole scam took place, some blogs are written not knowing what would happen next. Hence remarks like "Hopefully tomorrow we will know more..."

On a regular basis we receive emails from people pretending to be potential gîte guests, who want to rent 2 gîtes at the same time for a long period, e.g. 2 months. This sounds quite attractive from our point of view, but very often the word SCAM flashes at you as soon as you have a good look at the email. An inquiry from a British person in Glasgow, with a Sierra Leone or Nigeria phone number? After the tenth email with addresses like that, and the continuous mentioning of "your lovely property" a whole collection of bells should start ringing. Several websites we advertise on regularly come up with scam warnings and explain how these scams work. The scams often concentrate around the winter months, periods which are normally not very popular with tourists. We are closed in winter, hence not much chance with us.
Recently we received a mail from India which had SCAM written all over it, and we decided to check this one out.
Dr. Manas David Kumar, (Consultant Gastrointestinal Surgeon), Tata Medical Center, 19 MAR (E-W), New Town, Rajarhat, Kolkata 700 186, wrote to us :

"Hello, I write to inquire for accommodation in your facility. Can you accommodate us for a 2 weeks' vacation period?
Arrival Date: Saturday 8th September.
Departure Date: Saturday 22nd September.
14 Nights.
We need 2 double rooms or an apartment that can sleep 4 guests. Total number of guests is 4. (2 couples). Let me know if you have availability. Kindly send the total cost. We will make advance payment before we come with secured certified Cheque issued from European Bank. Do you accept Advance payment with cheque?"

We answered the email the way we do with normal inquiries, with our tarriffs and how payments can be made. As soon as Dr. Kumar had coughed up € 192.50, the gîtes would be his for those two weeks.

Kumar's answer came rapidly. There appeared to be a third party in this game, a British "prepaid logistics agent", whatever that is. Kumar had to pay this agent (through us, of course!), and we had to pay the agent, deducting our part of the bargain, i.e. the rental for the gîtes.

After a few more mails all became clear: Kumar would send us a cheque for € 4390.60, we would deduct our € 770, and we were supposed to send on the remaining € 3620.60 to the logistics agent. Is anybody prepared to pay € 4400 to rent a property for € 770?

At this very moment we are waiting for Kumar's cheque. If everything goes by the book, we will cash the cheque at the bank, and straight away forward the € 3620.60 to the agent. A week later the cheque will bounce, the bank takes the full amount off our acount, and some have lost, others have gained approx. € 3600.

Just to show that this guy did his homework: the address is correct, and in that hospital there is actulally working a certain Dr. Manas Kumar Roy– Consultant Gastrointestinal Surgeon. Most likely our Dr. Kumar is using his learned collegue's name to hide behind. We have informed the hospital that someone is using their good name to organise a scam, but we have never received a reply.

Of course we are not the only potential victim. These guys are sending out hundreds of similar emails. I found Kumar's letter advertised as a scam on the site of a hotel in Tallinn (Estonia) [the scam alert has been removed by the manangement; the hotel however stille exists!]. They only need one greedy, not too clever proprietor to take the bait, and Mr. Kumar would have earned in half an hour more than he ever would have earned by manually working for a far longer period of time!

We hope to find out pretty soon how long it will take the bank to verify the cheque, without making any costs on our side.

Hopefully, this saga will be continued soon!

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Bhutan in the Morvan

The Kagyuling temple in La Boulaye
For years now the Morvan, and hence Burgundy can boast hosting one of the biggest Buddhist temples in Europe.
This temple can be found in La Boulaye and attracts apart from practising Buddhists also a fair share of tourists. The temple was founded by a community of monks who are practising a form of Himalayan Buddhism. The building stands out in the Burgundian landscape, although it is certainly not out of tune with it.
One of the yearly attractions is the period when a number of monks is creating a mandala over a number of days, a sort of square mosaic of approx. 0.5 m x 0.5 m made of coloured sand.
In this blog one can read in more detail about these mandalas.

The making of a mandala
In the near future La Boulaye can boast having still another Himalayan attraction. In the year 2000 the Conseil Général (General Council) of Saône-et-Loire bought the Bhutan pavilion of the Expo 2000 in Hannover for the sum of € 280 000. Since the purchase the pavilion has been stored in boxes and crates in a warehouse near Mâcon, waiting for a building permit. The association "Himalaya en Bourgogne" wants to use the pavilion as a cultural centre about the Himalayas. This centre will have nothing to do with the temple of 1000 Buddhas Kagyuling, however. The building permit has been given, and most likely assembling the building, which was erected without using one screw or nail, will start before the end of 2012.
The only thing "Himalaya en Bourgogne" still has to do is find somewhere 1.2 million euros in order to finalise the project.
Well, maybe while they are at it, would it be possible to incorporate a small Asian supermarket in the same building?
Because that is certainly something we are in need of!

The former Expo 2000 pavilion of Bhutan
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Saturday, 3 November 2012

A distorted picture

As a child I was a great fan of Jean Dulieu, a writer and illustrator who was the spiritual father of Paulus the Gnome, a character who lived in the woods and had various animal friends. One of those friends was Gregorius the Badger, a rather stupid animal who spoke dyslexic. This writer later read his stories on radio, in a weekly broadcast, where he was doing a different voice for every character in his stories; Paulus, Gregorius, Salomo the Raven, Uhuburu the Owl, Eucalypta the witch, etc.

Apart from Paulus, I occasionally read the Dutch translation of Rupert Bear, where Bill Badger was playing a role as one of Rupert's friends. However, I never really got the hang of Rupert, and stuck with Paulus.
When comparing both badgers not the likeness is striking, but the difference.

Bill Badger
As a great believer in Dulieu's knowledge on the subjest of gnomes, witches and badgers, I discarded Bill Badger as a phony character; real badgers should look like Gregorius.
Until .... we saw a dead animal on the soft shoulder whilst driving down the road . We often find dead copyus or river rats alongside that stretch of road. Not entirely convinced it was a river rat, we stopped on the way back to have a good look. And lo and behold, it was a dead young badger. Unnecessary to say that my trust and belief in Dulieu has suffered a severe blow...

Een echte das
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