The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Thursday, March 09, 2006

New kind of phishing scam

There's a new variation of the "advance fee" scam making the rounds. A friend of mine caught this one in his inbox and nearly responded. Since it's being propagated via spam, like other 419 schemes, I thought it worth mentioning here.

The scam works like this: You get a letter from someone overseas who wants to reserve a room in your B&B, hire you as a guide or interpeter, or otherwise engage your services. The scam is targeted directly to you; the scammer is obviously perusing on-line advertisements.

Hello,
I am Bishop Mensah Opoko, an English speaking clergy from Ghana with the Synagogue church of Christ. I will be coming over to UK: London on holidays from the 1st of August to the 10th of August 2005 for a 10 day Vacation with my Albanian wife, daughter and son of the ages of 3 and 5 respectively. My wife Rev.Mrs Cindy Opoko only speaks Albanian and my native language, because her mum happens to come from Ghana.
We will require the services of a Albanian interpreter for 5 hours,12 noon to 5pm daily although this might be flexibly based on your availability for 10 days because I will not always be with them on most occasions due to other church functions which I most attend.
We will like to pay in advance of our visit so she can be assured of an interpreter during her shopping and sightseeing because this is her first visit. An early reply will be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer this service and give me a price quote, and immediately call me on my direct line (+233244-0243879257 and +233244-033930 ) as soon as you receive this email, so we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on our side.

Remain Blessed,
His Lordship,
Bishop Mensah Opoko.

Spiritual Director,
Synagogue Church Of Christ,
10 Nkuruma Avenue, Community 6,
Tema,Ghana.

Tel.+233244-033930 or
+233244-0243879257


The scammer agrees to your price, and sends you a certified check or money order for the correct amount plus some extra, maybe $3000 or so. They ask you to forward the excess on to their travel agent to pay for tickets or some such. Since you've already deposited the check, and the bank assures you it's good, you figure why not? I mean, a certified check or money order is as good as cash, right? Nope.

For some reason, the customer can't make it (family emergency, you know). If you're really unlucky, you're convinced to refund the balance. Later (as much as two years later), it turns out the check was fraudulent, and the amount is deducted back out of your bank account.

A good source of information on this scam can be found at the Chartered Institute of Linguists discussion board. Apparently a lot of interpreters have been getting hit with this one.

It's worth noting that the 033930 phone number seems to be a constant in these scams.

26 Comments:

Blogger my0p said...

There are countless variations of the 419 scams. The 419 (Nigerian letter scam) is well over 20 years old (letters sent via snail mail, fax and then email) One would think about everyone, including some linguists, would have heard of this scam by now.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Spam Diaries said...

Yes, I got one by letter myself a few years ago. It almost inspired me to take up stamp collecting.

You'd think that everybody had heard of this by now, but the spam is still going strong, which means that enough people must be falling for it to make it worthwhile.

The scam described here is certainly not new either, but I hadn't heard that it was being done by email on a large scale until recently.

2:23 PM  
Blogger my0p said...

On the link I provided below, there is page after page here of people who have been conned by the 419ers. At least 1 individual in Florida lost over 300,000! - This crime is amazing in that people continue to fall for it.
http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/Nigerian/nigerian_victims_6.htm

This type of spamming (419) exemplifies why spammers still operate, out of a million or more emails sent, someone does respond.

I have only known about this scam for a few years already, but did not know exactly what it was called until about two years ago or so: Advance Fee Fraud, 419, Nigerian Letter scam, etc.

6:46 PM  
Blogger R2M2 said...

I received one of these too. It was in response to my rental ad. The man said he was a doctor from UNICEF. The e-mail said nothing about a refund, but did say they would pay in advance. I replied back what the rental was and that I would send onto my realtor. I sent to her and she said NO!! It's a scam. I re-read it several times and couldn't figure out why she thought that. I googled the name. No such luck and then I googled the address and I got this blog. He gave the same street address as the sample. The rental website did send an alert in the e-mail, but again wasn't sure why. I am posting the entire e-mail below:

This email is a response to your ad on HomeRentalAds.com
Name: Dr cujoe Esien
Email: drcujoeesien@yahoo.co.uk
Phone Number: 011 44 7024068052
Message: Hello Heather, I am Dr cujoe Esien, a medical gastroenterology and i work with the UNICEF here in Ghana. I will be coming over to Atlanta for a 3-6months working Visit from the 26 of May 2006 with my wife. Could you please send me a more detailed description of your accomodation and What's the cost of rental per month? Unicef will be paying you in advance of our visit so that we can be assured of an accomodation during our stay, because this is our first visit to the States and Unicef is also taking care of all my vacation/visitational expenses. An early reply will be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer this accomodation service and give me a call on my direct line ( +44 7024068052 ) presently am in London for a 2 week working Visit so please as soon as you receive this email give me a call , so we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on our side. Most Respectful, Dr Cujoe Esien. Social Work Cordinator, Unicef Ghana. Unicef Plaza, 10 Nkuruma Avenue,Community 6, Accra,Ghana. Tel. : 011 44 7024068052 Mail to: drcujoeesien@yahoo.co.uk


WARNING: Beware of people that want to give you certified funds/ cashiers checks and ask for a refund of any kind. This is a scam. Never refund any funds to anyone.
For more information about this, please visit http://www.homerentalads.com/scam-alert.htm.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I received this one yesterday. I figured it was a scam, but until I found this site, I couldn't understand how they planned to go about scamming me. Now I'm going to go mess with them!

Hello,
I am Barrister Williams Nkurumah, Principal partner WILLIAMS & NKURUMAH
CHAMBERS, a human right activist from Ghana, (West Africa).I will be
coming over to
Los Angeles CA, on holidays from the 15th of August 2006 for a month
Vacation with my wife.
Due to my wifes size and weight, and the rate at which she gains weight,We will require the services of a personal body fitness trainer while in the States , it is expected that whomever that will render this service will be able to be avaliable for minimum of three hours daily, though the hours could be flexible to suit you despite the fact that my wife is a body shape freak.
your service will be needed from Monday to Saturday excluding Sundays through out our stay.
We would like you to please tell us if you will be avaliable and how your
schedule will be for the whole of our stay in the states.
We will like to pay in advance of our visit so my wife and I can be
assured of a personal Body fitness trainer during our stay because this is our first visit to USA and my wife cannot do without it.
An early reply will be appreciated .Please acknowledge if you can offer
this services and give me a price quote,and immediately call me on my
direct line (+233 242006902)as soon as you receive this email, so that
we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP,as time is not really on
our side.
Best Regards,
Barrister Williams Nkurumah.
WILLIAMS & NKURUMAH CHAMBERS
10 Nkuruma Avenue,Community 6,
Tema,Ghana

3:45 PM  
Blogger latin_panther said...

I got one a few weeks ago.. with a phony photo of his family...http://www.georgiafamily.org/

Hello,
I am Dr Leslie Kokoti, a medical gastroenterology in Ghana.
I will be coming over to USA on holiday
from the 8th to the 30th of September 2006 for a 3 weeks Vacation
with my wife and 2 Kids. my wife told me she will like to be trained on how to
dance
so i will like to ask how much will it cost us for 1 hr aday for 3
weeks privatly and also all your registration fee add it together and give me
the
cost.

My sponsers will be paying you in advance of our visit so that we can be
assured of your services during our stay, because this is our first visit
to the States.

An early reply will be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer
this service and give me a call on my direct line (
00 233 276 908 655 ) as soon as you receive this email, so we can conclude on
all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on our side.

Most Respectful,
Dr Leslie Kokoti.
Social Work Cordinator,.
10 Nkuruma Avenue,Community 6,
Accra,Ghana.
Tel. : 00 233 276 908 655.
Mail to: dr_LeslieKokoti@mac.com

Dr Leslie Kokoti dr_lesliekokoti@mac.com

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a request from Travel-Library for Chez Rogers.

Details are:
Date: 2006-09-24
Time: 11:35:08

Name: pastor Emmaunel kofi
Address: , accra, gh,
Telephone: 233276908655
Email: pastoremmanuel@sify.com

From Date: 2006-10-16
To Date: 2006-10-30

People: 4

Request
**********************************
Hello,
I am Pastor Anthony Jeffrey, a Bishop of Mount Zion and i work with the UNICEF here in Ghana. I will be coming over for holidays from the 16th of oct to the 30th of oct 2006 for a 15 days Vacation with my wife and 2 Kids.
Could you please send me a more detailed description of your accomodation and What\'s the cost of rental per week? My sponsors (UNICEF) will be paying you in advance of our visit so that we can be assured of an accomodation during our stay, because this is our first visit.
An early reply will be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer this accomodation service and give me a call on my direct line (00 233276908655) as soon as you receive this email, so we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on our side.
Most Respectful,
Pastor Emma.
Social Work Cordinator,
Unicef Ghana.
Direct Line: 233276908655

CC:
Unicef Plaza,
10 Nkuruma Avenue,Community 6,
Accra,Ghana.
mail to :pastoremmanuel@sify.com

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I HAVE TODAY RECEIVED AN EMAIL ASKING FOR RENTAL OF MY HOLIDAY ACCOMODATION FROM A DR DONALD OPOKO A MEDICAL DIRECTOR WITH UNICEF AND HIS WIFE TRACY DR OPOKO CLAIMS TO BE THE SOCIAL WORK COORDINATOR FOR UNICEF CONTONOU, BENIN REPUBLIC HIS EMAIL HE CLAIMS IS donaldopoko@yahoo.com. AND HIS TELEPHONE NUMBER IS + 22993582525 HE CLAIMS THAT ALL EXPENSES WILL BE PAID BY UNICEF. I DID NOT KNOW FOR SURE THAT THIS WAS A SCAM UNTIL I FOUND YOUR WEBSITE, BUT HAD MY SUSPICIONS WHEN HE WANTED TO STAY ON THE EAST COAST OF ENGLAND IN JANUARY FOR HIS FIRST VISIT TO THE UK. DONT GET SUCKED IN BY THEM.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THE FOLLOWING WAS SENT TO ME YESTERDAY


Date Sent:
13 December 2006 - 15:45:24
Contact Name:
Dr donald opoko
Contact Phone:
+22993582525
Contact Email:
donaldopoko@yahoo.com
--------------------------------
Message:
Hello,
I am Dr Donald Opoko,a medical director and i work with the UNICEF here in
contonou,Benin Republic.I will be coming over to uk on holiday from the 1st of
January on to the 14th of January 2007 for a 14 days Vacation with my wife
Tracy.

Could you please send me a more detailed description of your accomodation
and What's the cost of rental per week or per night? Unicef will be paying
you in advance of our visit so that we can be assured of an accomodation
during our stay,because this is our first visit to uk and Unicef is also taking
care of all our vacation expenses.
An early reply will be appreciated.Please acknowledge if you can offer this
accomodation service and email me as soon as you receive this email,so we can
conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on our side.

Best Regards,

Dr.Donald Opoko.
Social Work Cordinator,
Unicef contonou, Benin Republic.

Unicef Plaza,
10 Jean Ave,Block 77,
contonou,22921, Benin Republic.
Tel:+22993582525

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had the Donald Opoko letter around the same time as the previous comment. I had my suspicions as to why someone from the Benin republic would want to stay in the North of Cumbria for 2 weeks. I googled his name and found nothing so I replied. Sure enough UNICEF had "made a mistake" with his cheque and he was asking us to cash the cheque and send the remaining onto his travel agent. We didnt do this but wrote back saying that he should cancel the cheque and pay on arrival. The replies we got were increasingly desperate, the English getting worse and worse and the language becoming very emotive. These scammers are obviously prepared to put in a fair amount of work to hook you in. He was due arrive in England today... needless to say, he didnt turn up!!

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi all

I just nearly got scammed by this also. I can't believe I nearly fell for it? I sent a mail back saying that I could make place available but was waiting a response. It's quite believeable until you start to investigate the person and google their name. richard Mensah came up under another scam email and obviously Unicef and Christian Aid have never heard of him. But there are some members high up called Mensah so it is possible to believe. God I'm glad I didn't fall for this one although it would be very tempting to 'have some fun' with them. As one person said to mess with their heads! Would be Gas.

Hello,

I am Bishop Richard Mensah, a Bishop of Mount Zion and i work with the UNICEF here in Ghana. I will be coming over for holidays from the (8th of Feb to the 28th of March 2007) for a 20 days Vacation with my wife and 2 Kids.

Could you please send me a more detailed description of your accomodation and What's the cost of rental per week? My sponsors (UNICEF) will be paying you in advance of our visit so that we can be assured of an accomodation during our stay, because this is our first visit.

An early reply will be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer this accomodation service and give me a call on my direct line (00 233-2850-81537) as soon as you receive this email, so we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on our side.

Thanks and God bless you,
Bishop Richard Mensah.
Social Work Cordinator,
Unicef Ghana.
10 Nkuruma Avenue,Community 6,
Accra,Ghana.
Tel. : 00 233 2850-81-537

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just recd this one:

He did respond with a completed booking form... but I will not be following it up...thenks for your advice in here.

From: Dr Benson Eko [mailto:drbensoneko@yahoo.com]
Sent: 02 February 2007 20:55
To: info@surfives.co.uk
Subject: ACCOMODATION SERVICES NEEDED.


Hello,
I am Dr Benson Eko, a medical director and i work with the UNICEF here in
Benin Republic,Cotonou.I will be coming over to UK on holiday from the 1st
of March on to the 14th of March 2007 for a 14 days Vacation with my wife
Tracy.
Could you please send me a more detailed description of your accomodation
and What's the cost of rental per week or per night? Unicef will be paying
you in advance of our visit so that we can be assured of an accomodation
during our stay, because this is our first visit to UK and Unicef is also
taking care of all my vacation expenses.
An early reply will be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer this
accomodation service and as soon as you receive this email, so we can
conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on our side.

Best Regards,

Dr.Benson Eko.
Social Work Cordinator,
Unicef Benin Republic.

Unicef Plaza,
10 Nkuruma Avenue,Community 6,
Cotonou, Benin Republic,
Tel: +229-972-82525.
drbensoneko@yahoo.com

6:08 AM  
Blogger Spiro said...

Here is the newest OPOKO version:
SUBJECT:Roommate needed...
By Mrs Tracy OPOKO, BENIN REBUBLIC

Hello,
I am Tracy Opoko,Am a manager in a Cotton company in contonou,Benin Republic.I will be coming over to greece on holiday from the 1st of April on to the 1st of September 2007 for (6) months Vacation or even more if you can rent out your apartment for me,please kindly let me know how many months you want to rent out your place.Could you please send me more detailed description of your Apartment and What's the cost of rental per month?Our greece client sponsor will be paying you in advance of my visit,so that i can be assured of an Apartment accomodation during my stay,Because this is my first visit to the greece and sponsor is also taking care of all my vacation expenses.and i also want to know how many months you are willing to rent the apartment for.An early reply will! be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer this accomodation Apartment service.Get back to me so we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on my side.

Most Respectful,
Tracy Opoko.

COTTON COMPANY PLC
36 DEGBAGO CRESCENT
COTONOU BENIN REPULIC
22921


Be careful out there!

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following was sent to me on 20th April 2007:

Hello,
I am Rev. Leslie Arthur. Am an English speaking clearly from Ghana. I will be coming over for holidays from 11th of May to the 21st of May 200 for a 10 days vacation with my wife, daughter and son of the ages of 3 and 5 respectively. I would need a Deutsch interpreter for my wife and kids to help them through their sight seeing and shooping for 3 hours daily for 9 days because I will not always be with them on most occasions due to other church functions.

Please acknowledge if you can offer this service and give me a price quote.We will like to pay in advance of our visit so she can be assured of an interpreter during her shopping and sightseeing because this is her first visit.An early reply will be appreciated.

Remain Blessed.
His Lordship.
Rev. Leslie Arthur.
Tel: +233276756152
Mail to:rev_arthur@mac.com

3:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I run a website promoting privately owned vacation rental homes and holiday villas in Florida: http://www.orlando-villa-guide.com

We just received the following inquiry from "Pastor Opoko":

Hello,

I am Pastor Chidi Opoko, Mount Zion and i work with the America Red Cross here in Ghana. I will be coming over for holidays from the 20th of May to the 5'st of June 2007. for a 15th vacation with my wife and 2 Kids. Could you please send me a more detailed description of your accomodation and What's the cost of rental per week? My sponsors will be paying you in advance of our visit so that we can be assured of an accomodation during our stay, because this is our first visit. An early reply will be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer this accomodation service and give me a call on my direct line ( 011 233-276-850-663 ) as soon as you receive this email, so we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on our side.

Most Respectful,

Dr. Kensington...........
Direct Line: 011 233-276-850-663
CC: America Red Cross
Together,we can save a life
10 Nkuruma Avenue,Community 6,
Accra,Ghana.
mail to : pas_chidi_opoko73@yahoo.com

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! May 2007 and he's still on the go! Under the name of Rev. Arthur he is now supposedly looking for an interpreter in Berlin:

Hello,
I am Rev. Leslie Arthur. Am an English speaking clearly from Ghana. I will be coming over for holidays from 11th of May to the 21st of May 200 for a 10 days vacation with my wife, daughter and son of the ages of 3 and 5 respectively. I would need a Deutsch interpreter for my wife and kids to help them through their sight seeing and shooping for 3 hours daily for 9 days because I will not always be with them on most occasions due to other church functions.

Please acknowledge if you can offer this service and give me a price quote.We will like to pay in advance of our visit so she can be assured of an interpreter during her shopping and sightseeing because this is her first visit.An early reply will be appreciated.

Remain Blessed.
His Lordship.
Rev. Leslie Arthur.
Tel: +233276756152
Mail to:rev_arthur@yahoo.com

1:17 AM  
Anonymous DKeala of Hawaii said...

Just got off the phone with "Pastor Opoko" of Ghana. They are reserved to check into my parents VRBO for two weeks and they over sent us $3,000.00 and asked that I send the money to his travel agent in Ghana for their flight. I am so glad that I searched the internet for the travel agency because once I could not find it I searched for his name and the travel agents name. Both names were found on SCAM LINKS. The travel agents name is Daniel Orji from Global Travel and Tours of 14 Airport Road, Accra, Ghana. But the thing that caught my eye was his signature on the email said "Dr. Ado Vaher" so apparently he forgot that he started out as "Pastor Opoko". Good luck to you all who read this and hope that this helps.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks so much for the warning. I got an email today very similar to the one mentioned. I have a B&B in Hawaii. I thought it was a scam but you helped to confirm it. Aloha, Barbara

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well here is a new name....same scam.

Hello, I am Dr Lampard Garry, a Medical Practitioner and i work with UNICEF here in UK I will be coming over to USA on holiday for 2 weeks Vacation and research. I read about your rent and had decided to make an enquiry if it will be available for rent during 11th of August to 24th of August 2007. Though i had read all details and they are okay with me but i suggest you let me know how much for the total cost of 2 weeks including bills,The cost of rental per week or per day? UNICEF will be paying you in advance of my visit so that i can be assured of an accomodation during our stay, because this is my first visit to USA and Unicef is also taking care of all my vacation expenses. Payment will be done by US cashier Check. An early reply will be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer this accomodation service .please reply me as soon as you get this mail, so we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on my side. please let me have the name which you want to appear on the check, your address and phone number, so that the cheque can be sent to you. Most Respectful, Dr Lampard Garry . Social Work Cordinator, nalampardna@yahoo.com UK.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was contacted by a Garry Lampard (from the UK) to plan a last minute wedding in Denver, Colorado. Also uses an email address garryvine@yahoo. I'm not sure why he took the time to negotiate a contract, etc. and then just blow it off after many emails. WEIRD!!!!!

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UPDATE to the Wedding Planner scam. Mr. Garry Lampard (aka Lampard Garry and Garry Vine) sent me a fake cashier's check for a special event. $3600 drawn on a bank from Oregon but mailed from Massachusetts. The name of Shelley Velasques was used as the remitter.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi everybody, I´m a owner from Tenerife and I was reading tonight something similar and made me suspect because 2 weeks ago I received another e-mail from a doctor from UK who wants to rent my apartment during 3 months ( good bussiness, I thoght ). As soon I asked to pay 25% in advanced he started giving all kinds of scuses? withouth any control abouth date of arrival ( he change it many times .
That´s the e-mail of today:Forwarding a new rental inquiry from: Name: DenzelEmail: denzelrobert@yahoo.com Arrival Date: Monday, April 7 2008 (14 nights)Number of people: 4 Regarding rental property Id#: 53055:http://rentals.loquo.com/english/post/53055 Denzel's NOTES: I am Denzel Robert , a medical director and i work with the UNICEF here in UK. I will be coming toSpain on holiday vacation from the 7th of april to the 21st of april 2008 for Vacation.Could you please send me more description of your accomodation and What's the cost of rental perweek or per night? Unicef will be paying you in advance of our visit so that we can be assured of an accomodation.
Thanks to this blog for the info.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting! I'm a wedding planner & have received 2 emails (nearly identical) for wedding planning services. I was very skeptical about the 1st one I got and told them I would only accept PayPal payments from out of the country...I never heard from them again. I just today received another email request confirming that it is indeed a scam!

6:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was suspicious when I was first contacted by David, but this email confirmed my thoughts....



Dear XXX> CCCCC,
Hope this message finds you well, thanks for the details on the Property. I am satisfied and would like to go ahead with the renting process.. I like to rent the property for one year starting from August 1st, 2008 because i have just been relocated from my office in London to start up a local branch office in your town which as been a great achievement for me.

Once again my name is David Friedman, i am a Christian reserved in Nature, non-smoker also i don't keep pets. Am presently in Manchester for my summer vacation and i will resume directly to my new work location.

I would like to secure the property so that I can attend to other important things.I like to pay in advance for the first month rent and deposit with a U.S Bank check ASAP. So they would be sending you a cashier's check of $7,000 (which is a relocation grant from my employment and i have decided to use it for the deposit of interior decoration and getting furnitures for the place).

You will then have to deduct an initial deposit of $1,750(which is the move in cost) and then forward the lump sum on the check to the interior decorator(who will be responsible for shipping of furnitures, electrical appliances and other personal luggages).

Kindly get back to me with the under listed information in order to proceed with the payment:

1. Name you want on the check,
2. Full contact address to send the payment to,
3. Phone number to reach you today so that we can discuss more.

Regards;
David Friedman.

P.S: Here is my phone number in Manchester:+44 703 182 1292. All Lease/Application would be signed as soon as i arrive in the States

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had posted a townhouse for rent on Craiglist.org. Within 12 hours, I received an email from "Richard Webber". The letter was almost an exact match to the letter from "David Friedman".

Thanks for posting these scams so I did not waste my time, but more importantly MONEY. Times are tough right now and the last thing anyone can afford is lose money.

7:29 AM  

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