Saturday, 19 January 2013

Paul Temple and the Dr. Kumar Case (10, epilogue)

Although this series originally was meant to contain 8 episodes, in the end it turned out to have two more.
Click here for the complete series, , to be read in reverse.
In the previous episode I wrote that we never heard from Dr. Nelson again. That is certainly true, but still the scam had not yet come to an end.
Some days after the last mail from Dr. Nelson we received another one, from a certain Engineer Wilson, coincidentally (?) having the same address as Nelson. We asked him for € 2460 and received a cheque for £ 7000.

This is how it all started
This was also a stolen cheque, like the others we received, and also in this case we managed to contact the owner. Neither the police nor the bank was interested.
After a while Wilson phoned us, asking why we had not forwarded the money to his logistics agent. We told him that we had never received any details, and promptly they arrived.
We waited a few days, and in the meantime we searched the internet for Mr. Frederick A., the logistics agent. Mr. A had a Facebook account, and we also found him in the telephone directory. The guy we found happened to be a Nigerian student. Coincidence? We cannot prove it, but to us it seems that this "agent" most likely was using his own name and his own bank account!
After some more days we told Wilson that there had been a problem with the cheque; our bank would not give us any details, could he please send a new one?

The first stolen cheque (from Dr. Kumar)
Again we thought this was the end of the story, and again we were wrong. We received another cheque, from the same stolen chequebook, this time for £ 6500.
After a while we told him that his second cheque also had bounced; that both cheques were stolen, and that we would cancel his reservation. We would only consider a booking if he forwarded the money required to book, without any extras for his agent. Wilson could not get enough. He wrote the following mail:

"Hello, Good day. Sorry I have not been able to get back to you as we have been busy discussing with our sponsor. It is obvious as the cheque payment method could be accepted as you stated in your mail. Please we are very interested in your hotel and we are asking if you have credit card or equity line so that the money will be deposited into your account. Thanks as we await your early response. Best regard, Robert."

Would this be sufficient for a birthday party? (Mr. Churchhill)
By this time we started to get a bit fed up with good old Robert, and we answered him thus:

"Dear Mr Wilson Thank you for your continued interest in our accommodation. I would like to briefly recall where we are. Firstly, your sponsor sent me not one, but two stolen cheques, so I find it difficult to believe that the credit card currently on offer, is not stolen as well. Secondly, I am not sure if you are aware, but your logistics agent in Enfield, London (Mr A.) is known as a Nigerian scammer and is currently under investigation by the Metropolitan Police fraud squad. If you want to maintain any form of credibility, you need to find new business partners. In summary, your cancelled reservation remains just that - cancelled. Yours, Sue"

The first cheque from Engineer Wilson
And finally it stopped. While I am writing this, it has been almost three months since the last email. Since then we neither received scam emails asking for accommodation, nor for organising birthday parties. Even emails asking for help with smuggling big sums of money out of obscure countries has ceased.

Summarising: the first mail that triggered off this scam chase came in on 7 May 2012.
We "received" a total of £ 44740 (approx. € 55750). I did not take into account Wilson's last cheque.
Total sum required for birthday and gîte bookings: € 37470
Total loss for us : € 18280, had we been so stupid to fall for all 3 scams.

the second cheque from Wilson : all is well that ends well?
We sent the last mail out on 8 September 2012. We strongly believe now, after all we know, that this scam is NOT run by a number of independent small-scale scammers, who haphazardly get hold of emails addresses and stolen cheques. The whole thing smells of quite a big organisation, centrally managed using a number of scammers, and structurally capable of stealing chequebooks and possibly even credit cards. It is also evident that neither the banks nor the police are the slightest bit interested in stopping these people.
As far as I am concerned, I am quite pleased that this whole thing ground to a halt. Having said that, it is a pity that my collection of stolen cheques stops at a paltry four pieces....

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