The man behind that name is very clever, and even if in the beginning I was slightly wary, I didn't want to be prejudiced either...
Here is a selection of extracts from his e-mails:
9th of February:
"Hello Carlo Albertoli
Actually, I and some member of our missionary team will be visiting
London UK from the 23rd to the 29th of March, 2009 for a pastoral
retreat. There will be 4 male and 3 female missionaries, making a
total of 8 people.
So we thought its necessary to make arrangement to hire some one to
take up the job of cooking for us for those periods of time.
I will be glad to provide you with more details about us and further
information in regards to our visit as well as any dietary
Very sensible and reasonable isn't it?
He even has a quaint little website: http://salvation-praise.we.bs/index.htm
12th of February: Meanwhile, I have a couple questions which are not important but just thought I asked......do you have any business insurance policy in place for your business? Are you serve safe certified? Do you have references if demanded?
We proceed to agree a fee for my services. I ask for the payment to be made by card via Google Checkout.
I get this reply:
14th of February:There has already been arrangement to have a cheque drawn from a Uk Bank sent to you. That was the notice I got from the Planning committee. The cheque will be for the total amount payable and should clear immediately. So please have the name and address to make out the cheque sent to me immediately. So you need not worry about.
Details about the location is still sketchy as of now, but you have the full details as soon as they are ready.We just dont want to get anything mixup in our plans. Dont worry I will ensure you have at least 2 days prior to our arrival to conduct any pre-inspection as you may wish.
I decide not to worry because I can think of a few legitimate reason for this to happen.. and anyway I am not going to be providing my services if the cheque doesn't clear..
Furthermore, in the current climate I WANT and I need to believe this is a legitimate request.
20th of February:HELLO CARLO,
I WILL LIKE TO INFORM YOU THAT THE PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE OUT TO YOU THURSDAY THIS WEEK AND IT SHOULD BE DELIEVERED TO YOU BY TODAY OR FIRST THING ON SATURDAY MORNING. I WANT YOU TO KEEP AN EYE OPEN FOR THE PAYMENT AS ITS WAS SENT OUT VIA FIRST CLASS ROYAL MAIL AND IT WOULD BE DELIEVERED TO YOUR DOOR STEP.
I WANT YOU TO GET BACK TO ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE CONFIRMING THAT YOU HAVE RECIEVED MY EMAIL AND YOU ARE TO EMAIL ME AS SOON AS YOU HAVE RECIEVED THE PAYMENT AND MAKE THE DEPOSIT IN YOUR ACCOUNT.
I AWAIT YOUR IMMEDIATE RESPONSE BACK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
The tone is strange, the all bold urgency weird but sort of comprehensible (he "is" a few thousand miles away, he is paying in advance..) so as soon as i get the cheque I let him know.
The cheque is drawn on Coutts! The bank of the rich and wealthy: its clients are expected to have substantial income or liquid assets in excess of £500,000!!! No worries there then...
Again, slightly worryingly the name on the cheque is decidedly not ugandan but , again, there might be several legitimate reasons: a solicitor, a donor, a wealth manager ...
I cash the cheque, keep an eye on the balance and on Tuesday the money is credited!!! Success! I receive another e-mail with detailed travel time and itinerary and other extremely detailed instructions. I am already planning the fantastic menus I will cook for them when this appears in my inbox:
24th of FebruaryDear Carlo,
How are you doing? I am sorry I have a little bit of sad news. There has been a tragedy which had occurred on Monday. Three people from our missionary group were involved in a fatal motor accident while traveling back to the Village from town. Two of them died instantly, while the third person is at the hospital and in a very critical condition. Her left lungs were severely affected and have been placed on an artificial respiratory mechanism. Now the doctors says that immediate response will have to be taken to save her life and that the bills must be paid for them to operate on her immediately. There is not enough money to pay her hospital bills to get her operated on. And on the other hand we have to make necessary funeral arrangement to bury the two dead victims.
Considering this new unfortunate development, we are grieving the loss of our members and doing all we can to save the life of the one at the hospital. And since all these three people contributed financially to this trip to the United Kingdom, it has been decided that two people from the group, (that is me and one other person) will have to stay behind to plan all necessary burial arrangements and to save the life of one of us at the hospital, while the rest 3 people will continue with the plans of making the trip to the United Kingdom. However, they trip will now only last for 2 days.
In line with these new plans, we will need you to deduct charges/fees for cooking launch and dinner for only 3 people for 2 days and have the rest sent back to us. The money sent back is the share for the diseased people and we will need this money to pay for their funeral and also to pay the hospital bills.
It is very important that the money is sent immediately to pay the hospital bills so that the operation at the hospital will commence and the life of the only survival of the accident can be saved. To make it all faster for us to pay the bills, please have the money sent today via WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER to my brother in the United Kingdom using this details:
name: DAVID SHENGE
address: 14 Heddon Street
Please feel free to deduct the western union charges from the money and have the rest sent. Please I expect that you get this done TODAY and get back to me with the wiring information including the MTCN Numbers, Sender's names, Amount sent and Text Questions and Answer (if any).
All inconveniences caused are regretted. Right now the only thing that maters now is paying the complete hospital bills for the operation to commence on time, and to bury the remains of our diseased members. Thanks for understanding and expecting your mail soonest.
Rev Tegah Shenge
F**K YOU "Reverend"
For those who do not know:
- a bank will credit a cheque into an account BEFORE is fully cleared. So what you think is rightfully yours might be taken away if the cheque bounces.. I deposited the cheque on thursday 19th of February, the funds were credited and available Tuesday the 24th of February, but according to my bank the cheque is not going to be fully cleared until Tuesday the 3rd of March!!!
And when the cheque doesn't clear, the money is taken away, no question asked.
The scammers exploit this gap and this is why he had to come up with such a full blown dramatic excuse: there is a limited window of opportunity and I have to literally RUN to send them my cash before the cheque bounces back.
And what about the Mayfair address I hear you ask??
Google it and you'll understand..
One final note:
I am now available between the 24th and the 29th of March...