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!

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