Cinema Admits All

Stop! It's Scammertime

26/02/2010
Stop! It's Scammertime

Every so often when traversing the glorious commercial connectivity of the internets, you get a brief reminder that sharks lurk and drift in the shadows beneath the browser chrome.

We had one of those occasions recently when looking to hire a location for a production. I should mention at this point, that if someone asks for a deposit upfront via Moneygram or Western Union transfer, it's a scam.

19th Century Scammer Gregor MacGregor

Scammers really aren't anything new. The image above is a related fragment from the scam of an early 19th century scumbag, Gregor MacGregor.

In 1820, Greg had the profitable idea of making himself a prince of a fictitious country, Poyais.

Well, why not eh?

He then set about conning people into buying shares of land, some of whom (about 240) took the voyage to settle this fertile central american land of plenty.

180 of 240 optimistic settlers died once reaching their destination, finding nothing but jungle and fever. Greg made a lot of money off the back of peoples optimism, and then snuck off to France.

What we encountered was far less dramatic and likely perpetrated by people less fortunate than ourselves (certainly less than the privelaged military status of Gregor MacGregor allowed).

Still, that doesn't mean we can't string them along and have a little fun, now does it ;)

Read on for the fun part.

U Can't Touch This, It's Mine!

U Can't touch this, it's my money

This started when we were looking to hire a property (a simple, residential house) for a film shoot. This can be tricky on a budget, as you're essentially looking at borrowing someones house or trying to rent for a day or two.

We advertised on some sites for suitable properties, and there were 2 good responses from Terry Morris and Chris Wood. Great! We arranged to view the locations, and things took a dip for the dark pretty quick.

The scam works by making people send money using a method they think is safe. In this case a wire transfer. However, the con men simply fake the signature and withdraw the money in another country. Leaving the victim high and dry.

This is the email response:

  • From: Terry Morris
  • Date: Fri, Feb 22, 2010 at 2:33 PM
  • Subject: Re: flat/house needed for 2-3 days
  • To: Mike J Hadfield

You have to do what i asked for before you can be able to view my property because i have been fooled several times by so many tenant and My Property is Located at X and You have to prove that you can afford the rent before you can View my property.Viewing my Property is not a Problem but i will like you to do a thing. I guess you will understand this.. It's in the policy my Solicitors has told me and i wish to abide by it.. I won't get any money from you now. So you will do a thing to make me believe you really need the Property.I have been fooled several times and I had to travel a long journey with my Solicitors to meet people who wants to view my property and at the end of the day they tell me they want to stay in the property for a month before they would pay me. I don't want this to happen to me again so My Solicitors has advised me that I have to be sure that who so ever is renting my property should be capable of paying the cost of the rent.

You will go to the nearest WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER around you,Send to your Friend send the sum 500pounds in western union. The money is still within you. I am not ready to get money from you as i have said. All I need to see is the western union money transfer copy of receipt giving to you.Scan the western union receipt and send it as an attachment to my email just for me to view it and be sure you are ready to get the Property. after viewing the Property, and you really like it, You can go to the western union location agent or bank around here to get the 500 pounds back and we can reach an agreement on how you will move into the property. I will refund the Western Union charges back to you during the Viewing day. If you don't understand, Here is an examples of how to do it....

SENDERS NAME....................YOUR NAME

RECEIVER' NAME...................YOUR FRIEND NAME.

AMOUNT SENT.....................500POUNDS.

and scan the copy of receipt to me in an email just for me to view it.and then i can pick you up and show you the Property. Terry.


Classic Debunker Houdini

Shit.

A quick search of the emails revealed the senders IP addresses to come from Lagos, Nigeria.

Double-Shit.

Another quick search revealed the scam called the 'wire-a-friend scam'.

Shittin-Triples

Apparently it's caught out many facebook users (lawls).

Once we had them pegged, we had some childish fun emailing them nonsense for as long as we could to give them the runaround.

Scams are easy to see with hindsight, here are some things to look out for.

Spot the Scam - What to look for.

  1. Bad English - Sounds harsh but it's true, the english in the above is all over the place.
  2. No Website - Specific to this scam, but properties always have a site, or are hosted on a 3rd party site.
  3. IP Address - Ok, so this one is not for everyone as finding and tracking an IP address from an email is a technical task. With a little looking you can find out how though.
  4. Strange Requests - If a request is not the norm, or unusual (transfering a deposit, friend is stuck in a country and needs money) ask for details and check em.
  5. Money Transfers - Never, ever use any service that is a wire or gold transfer like Moneygram or Western Union. These are pretty much always a scam.

Ah well, no harm done...

Keep an eye out fellow internet peeps, and remember never to send your money or details to anyone online.

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Mike J Hadfield
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