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   Copyright © Ric Einstein 2009

 

 

 

 

 

TORB and the Dom Perignon Scam (23 Oct)

 

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It all started off with a very dodgy looking email I received on Thursday night Sydney time. It was addressed to a UK wine merchant, but it must have been sent to me as a blind copy. It was headed "Order enquiry - Dom Perignon 1998/1999" Sometime ago, there was a Dom Perignon scam doing the rounds of the UK wine trade, so I decided to play along and see what happened.

 

The original email came in under the name  Johnson J but the Hotmail address was from john_johnson20XXX@hotmail.com so it looked like this guy didn't know his first name from his surname name. Given that John Johnson is an Anglo-Saxon name, it looked very suss. The text of the first email was as follows:-

 

I am writting to know if these items are in stock. Kindly get back to me with the prices with stoc availability as below :

Items :

1. Dom Perignon 1998/1999 x Give Price per Box( Champagne Vintage)
2. Ship Via DHL 1-2 days delivary.. door to door
Once I have the prices, then I will forward my Credit card account details for the Total Amount to be charge on my account as stated below :

Visa/Master
Name on Card : Johnson John
Card No : xxxx/xxxx/xxxx/xxxx
Exp date : xx/xx
CCV : xxx

Awaiting to hear back from you .

regards

Johnson John

 

This looked smellier than a week old dead fish that hadn't been refrigerated. For a start, his spelling is worse than mine, and that's saying something. Secondly, who would be insane enough to buy a large quantity of that stuff without trying to get a discount? No one!  Also, only a mug would submit their credit card number on the web without it being secure. I did a search on the internet to see how much Dom cost in the UK and sent the following response.

 

Dear John,

The 99 is in stock. How many bottles do you want? It’s £74.95

Regards Ric

 

Now bear in mind, its about midnight in the UK, but this guy isn't sleeping; it takes about 2 minutes to get the following response.

 

Hi ric,

Ok, I will like to order 24 Bottles..... awaiting the total cost inc delivery / vat .

Note : Are from england or Australia pls.

Johnson

 

 

Now that is interesting. He did a check to see where my email originated, not something a normal person would do. I responded at 10 minutes past midnight UK time.

I am in Australia but have contacts everywhere, so can arrange delivery in the UK. The price of £74.95 includes VAT and delivery. So Total price is £1798.80

 

It didn't take long to get a response. (The numbers below were in full but I have changed some numbers to XXXX's)

 

Thanks for ur reply. Ok, kindly proceed and charge my 2 Visa accounts for the payment of the wines. Due to my Credit Limit, split the Payment on the 2 cards.

CARD 1 - CHARGE 1,000 ON CARD 1

Visa
Name on Card : Johnson John
Card No : 4339-9300-0448-XXXX
Exp date : 09/08
CCV : 374

CHARGE BALANCE OF 798.80 ON CARD 2 Pls.

Visa
Name on Card : Johnson John
Card No : 4339-9300-0448-XXXX
Exp date : 09/08
CCV : 011

My Card addres :

XXX TOWER HAMLETS ROAD
LONDON
E7-9DA

Awaiting the payment status / delivery

 

This fish is starting to smell worse and worse. Charge the bill across two cards! I responded asking for the delivery address. Here is the response.

 

You are making the delivery to same address..
Kindly Run the payment and gets back to me to know the payment status bcos I have made a lots of trasaction today in placing an order.
awaiitng ur reply with Payment Status .

 

OK! This looks interesting. He is in a hurry to have the payment processed. Why one has to ask oneself. Also, the question regarding payment status is another interesting question; and the bolding of the copy is his. (From now on, any bolding in his replies are as per his originals.)  All of this had happened in about 30 minutes, so I decide to let things calm down and see what happed next. One hour and six minutes later, another email from him, and he is not happy that I have not responded. The whole text, except for the introduction and signature is all in caps.

 

"AM STILL WAITING TO HEAR BACK FROM YOU WITH THE PAYMENT STATUS .. HOPE THE TRANSACTIONS HAS BEEN DONE ."
 

I apologised saying I had been away from my desk, but that everything had gone through an hour previously. Two minutes later I get another email.

 

Due to my trip down to Ireland - Dublin tomorrow. I will be glad if possible you can make the delivery to the below addres for me please ..
kindly make the delivery Attn to the mentioned name below :

Att to : SAMUEL OLAJIDE
Unit 1 XXXX  Estate,
XXXX Road
London
E16 4SP

kindly let me now if possible....
Shipment : Kindly let me know how the Wines will be shiped or Transport to the above address.
Bcos I will like to have the Shipment Tracking No
.

 

More interesting and even more fishy! Its now after 2am in the UK and suddenly he is off to Dublin and wants the wine delivered to a third party!  I respond by telling him that I can’t see that being a problem and will advise tracking details when I have them.  A few minutes later I hear from him again.

 

Thanks a lots... my last question is regarding the delivery day and time.

Hope you are making the delivary tommorow...OR when ?

I am just trying to know how easy or faster for you to know once the Wines cases has been dispatched for delivery..while you will be in the Evening in Australia....

Because I will like to know once the wines is on the way for delivary
tommorow while I will be on my way to Ireland ...

So, that I can inform Mr. samuel about the delivery tommorow with the shipment Tracking No or Consignment No OR The courier name pls .

awaiitng ur suggestion or advice..

I DONT WANT MR.SAMUEL TO MAKE A MISTAKE ....in staying in-door without any delivary...

This bit of fish is really starting to stink!   He keeps spelling the same words incorrectly so they are not typos, and his English appears fractured, he's guaranteed not to be an Anglo-Saxon and his mate at the shipping address looks to have an African name. Nigeria anyone?  Its now about 3am in the UK and I respond, "It will be Thursday morning in the UK in a few hours and I will contact my people then. To be safe I will arrange for delivery on Friday, that way I know it will get there on the right day. The address looks likes a commercial address, so I would have thought there would be someone there during business hours." Will he suss that that I am onto him with that comment about it being commercial premises? I doubt it. The response is immediate.

Yes it will morning in a few hours ....I will be glad to have the Wines dispached and delivered tommorow starting from 11am to 5pm Business Hours which is possible for your Delivery Van Driver.

I will be going to the trip along with my Laptop PC....So, Once you have you have the shipment Tracking No, you can send it to my via E-Mail... and I will check my mail instantly on The Coach Bus...

KINDLY PROCEED WITH THE DELIVERY TOMORROW PLEASE.....

AWAIITNG UR REPLY...

Curious; he can afford to spend about US$4,000 on Frog Bubbles but takes a coach from London to Ireland!  He must be afraid of flying. He is also desperate to get deliver in a few hours, so to try and throw a bit of a spanner in the works to see how he reacts, I told him the stock was located in a warehouse outside of London, that’s why I cannot guarantee Thursday delivery and it may have to be on Friday. The response was

 

Alrite.  Its clear to me now.  You can proceed on the delivery on Friday morning to the mentioned address pls.
 
I will be getting back from Ireland in Sunday...But I will be expecting your e-mail with the shipment details later today..
 
1. shipment / Consignment No
2.  Courier Name pls ( City Link or ANC ) or any
 
I will be alert by my Laptop once I hear back from you with the shipment Up-date....

 

Hook line and sinker! He's thought he has caught a fish, but its the other way round. Our friend can almost smell his ill-gotten gains. That night, I received another two emails from my new best mate telling me he had decided to postpone his trip and collect the wine himself at the original address he had provided. I looked the address upon the Google Maps and the work address he gave me of his friend is only a couple of miles away. Coincidence? I doubt it. I should have mentioned that a bit of previous digging showed that his mate Samuel works at a freight forwarding company that specialised in freighting goods to Africa. Are Mr John and Mr Olajide one and the same person? 

 

On Friday morning local time there was yet another email telling me that he had decided to take delivery himself, but even more surprising  there was an email from a Terry Mikel, also in slightly fractured English, wanting to buy 48 bottles of Dom. This time it was addressed to me and the email looked remarkably similar to the original from Mr John. Me thinks he is getting greedy; very naughty he is! 

 

I had fun writing back to Mr John and asked him why he was being so paranoid sending me three emails telling me the same thing. I advised him that everything was OK and that an employee of my UK contact would be dropping the wine off on Friday afternoon. Then I dropped the hand grenade. I told him I had just received another email from someone else wanting to buy 48 bottles of Dom and thought it was a bit strange to get two requests like this in 24 hours. Let the bastard sweat a little over that one whilst he works on a strategy to handle it.

 

Johnson mailed back about 8 hours later (Friday morning GMT), he had probably been asleep. He denied any knowledge of the email from Terry.  In the email he blamed "computer problems" for the three previous emails from him, stating he was having a problem with his PC and that sometimes it sends a single message twice due to the computer settings. The only problem with that statement is that the three messages, although almost the same, had different subject lines and slightly different text.

 

Now the fun begins. Johnson is expecting delivery on Friday at 4.30 GMT. When I woke up this morning (Saturday morning Sydney time,) this email was waiting for me.

 

ITS EXACTLY 4.30PM ...WHILE I AM SENDING YOU THIS MESSAGE REGARDING THE DELIVERY OF THE WINES.

I AM ON MY WAY DOWN TO IRELAND AS I TOLD YOU FOR 3 DAYS.

SO, I HAVE IMMEDIATELY INFORM OF MY COUSIN FOR THE WINES TO BE DELIVERED TO HIS ADDRESS AS BELOW :

Attn to : Mr. Johnson John.
XX Erwood road
Charlton
Se8-7dr.

SO, KINDLY INFORM YOUR PARTNER HERE IN UK TO CALL HIM ONCE HE IS ON THE WAY FOR THE DELIVERY OF THE WINES.

PHONE ( -7962382XXX ) or ( -7024057XXX )

awaiting the call.

 

I decided to let him sweat for awhile. It is interesting to note all three addresses that he has provided as possible drop off points for delivery are all reasonably close together and the centre of the three addresses is the freight forwarding company that ships to Africa.   

 

Meanwhile, there was a response from our second scammer Terry, confirming he wanted the three dozen bottles of Dom that I had offered him, at a cost of  £3060 (approximately US$6,000) and wanted to know how much extra for the freight. Although he said "I wait your urgent reply" my guess is that it will take him 24 hours to respond. He will drag it out over the weekend so that the card details are not given to me to quickly, which will minimise the time between theoretical charging of the card and delivery; he has to take the weekend into account.  

 

If you look at the map below, two of the addresses provided by Johnson are marked. The third address is just below West Ham Park. London to a brick says the address that I eventually get from Terry will also be in this area. 

 

 

 

After giving it some thought, I decided to have more fun with Johnson. In is last e-mail to me, Johnson said,


"I am here in ireland ....hope you got my message on friday b4 I left england. now, I am writting to inform you that, your partner was not at my address yesterday neither the 2nd address i sent to you ..

So, kindly make an arrangement with a courier for the delivery of the Wines on Monday to the address I sent to you .

I will be expecting the Shipment OR Consignment No ... I will also like to know the Courier name pls...”


On Saturday night (local time) I  responded as follows. “My apologies. I got your email this morning and it has taken till a few minutes ago to find out what is going on. The guy who was delivering the wine was involved in a traffic smash. Apparently it made all the news over there, you probably saw it on the news as it tied up traffic for hours. He was rear-ended by a semi trailer and wound up in hospital. Luckily he was not badly injured, but his vehicle is a write off and the Dom went with it. It looks like we can get another shipment out and delivered to you on Tuesday.

What address do you want it delivered to this time? Sorry for the inconvenience, but unfortunately these things happen.”

This story of mine has been completely fabricated, so I really had to laugh when I received his reply.
 

Alrite.... Yes, I hard about it on the BBC news.

You can proceed with the shipment to the new address
I sent as below

Attn to : Mr. Johnson John.
XX Erwood road
Charlton, London.

Kindly let me know if you are making the shipment via a courier or what pls..

I will like to know the shipment courier details ... courier name , Tracking No or Consignment No.

Awaiting to hear back from you .

 

The one thing I cannot work out in all of this is the guy's fixation with courier names and tracking numbers. Nevertheless, I e-mailed him back telling him the Dom would be delivered on Tuesday by the staff, not by the Courier. No doubt on Tuesday it when it doesn't arrive there will be another e-mail. At that stage I will tell him the credit card company has been in contact advising that the payment had been cancelled, and that I had provided copies of all correspondence to both the police and the card company. No doubt that will be the last e-mail we exchange.

 

As I had predicted, on Sunday morning there was no e-mail from Terry, who is dragging it out over the weekend, and as soon as Monday comes, he will suddenly be in a hurry.
 

The most astounding thing is that the London/Metropolitan Police showed absolutely no interest in catching these guys. As it was breaking, I rang the London Fraud Police and they told me it was a Metropolitan Police matter, asked me for the address, and then provided me with the phone number of the local station. I rang the "local nick" and explained what was going on, specifically telling them that the guy could be easily caught. They were not interested. They fobbed me off to an internet site so that I could report all the details via email, and eventually my information would be looked at!   

 

So if you wonder why crime in the UK is rife, here is a good reason. The police are so under-resourced that even when a criminal can be taken, other things take precedent, leaving the bad boys to do what they do with no fear of conviction.     

 

As expected, on Monday night local time (Monday morning GMT) there was an email from our second scammer, Terry Mikel.

 

Good morning, kindly taken payment from my credit card as I instruct you below and reply me back immediately with payment confirmation and delivery details e.g. consignment no. and courier name.

Including delivery its £4,000

card 1 taken £1333.34
card name : TERRY MIKEL
card # : 4339-9300-0447-XXXX
card exp. : 01/2010
cv2 no. : 472


card 2 taken £1333.34
card name : TERRY MIKEL
card # : 4339-9300-0447-XXXX
card exp. : 01/2010
cv2 no. : 899

card 3 taken £1333.34
card name : TERRY MIKEL
card # : 4339-9300-0447-XXXX
card exp. :01/2010
cv2 no. : 635
visa card

invoice address:

TERRY MIKEL
 XX Majendie Road
London SE18 7QB
Tel: 0702 408 XXXX

delivery address:

attn: LANRE OLALEKAN
Unit XX
Boundary Street Shoreditch
London E2 7JP

I wait your urgent reply.

 

I sent an email to Terry asking why he wanted the charge spread across the three cards and why it was to be shipped to a third party. (His response, "I want you to split the payment on the three cards because of the Credit Card limt and also am not available until after 3 weeks......

I wait your urgent reply.")
This answer is exactly the sort of bovine manure expected.  
 

There are a number of things which makes this fish stink even more putrid if that is possible, and notice now that it is Monday morning and the clock is ticking, the matter as suddenly become urgent. Firstly, if you have a look at the credit card numbers provided by Johnson and those provided by Terry, the only difference in the five credit cards is the last four digits. Coincidence? I think not! I wonder what provider is theoretically issuing these Visa cards. If the cards are not genuine, then how is the approval being granted?  If a provider is issuing them, they would have to be as thick as two bricks to not know what was going on; but then they are not out of pocket, the merchant is the bunny that wears the loss.

 

Doing a search of Terry's address  shows there is a heap of property for lease in that street. Chances are he is in a B&B or serviced apartment. The delivery address, surprise, surprise (not) is home to a number of freight forward companies. Also, the name of the recipient looks like it is of the same ethnic origin as the guy that Johnson uses. You can see from the second map, as predicted, Terry is resident (green marker) in the same area as Johnson (just north of West Ham Park and the second near Charlton Park.) That comes as no surprise. His recipient of the goods is a little out of the way (top left of map -orange marker) but its not exactly across town.

 

 

Now if I can figure this all out, I am at a loss to understand how the local police can be so inept and incompetent, or so uninterested that they can't or won't do anything to try and even stop these thieving bastards. Sure, they are going to have a hard/impossible time getting the guys doing the con in Nigeria, but they could certainly  stop, or at least make things bloody difficult for those involved in the scam at the London end. I also have  to wonder what the hell the credit card company is not doing (but should be) in this case.    

 

Update - November 10

 

It seems that our mate Terry Mikel is a continuing, serial offender and has been operating under the same name for some time. This week I exchanged emails with the Credit Controller of a reasonable sized UK company that deals primarily in business to business transactions. They were taken for a few thousand pounds by Terry.

The company wanted to know if I could provide any details which they could add to their own information as they were trying and get the police involved. By the sound of things they also found the police completely uninterested, to the point that the company have contacted the Metropolitan Police Complaints Commission over the inaction.

This company now has a collection of eight different credit card numbers used by Mikel as he must have made multiple purchases. Being a larger outfit with multiple sales staff, its understandable Mikel may have been dealing with multiple contacts.

Here is how this scam works.

All the cards were apparently legitimately issued in the Netherlands. If the cards are used in the UK, the merchant service providers do not check the three digit security code on the back of the card. The sales are recorded and treated as “foreign transactions.”

Some time later the retailer gets a rude shock when the transactions bounce. The retailer is told the reason the transactions have bounced is because the credit cards have been issued in a different name or names, i.e. not Mikel. The registered card holder/s has signed an Affidavit of Fraud stating the credit card was in their possession, and they have no knowledge of Mr Mikel. All of the card holders seem to be from America.

There are at least three countries involved. Netherlands, US and UK which makes it hard to pin down the culprits but surely this must be an organised, orchestrated con, and it is being carried out on massive proportions.

The evidence is bloody obvious. How can multiple people resident in the US get cards in the Netherlands, in some case sequential card numbers, and all of them wind up being used by the likes of Mikel and Johnson John. I am willing to bet that the people signing those Affidavits of Fraud are up to the necks in the scam too.

And why hasn’t the credit card company stopped issuing these crooks cards?

 

Update - December 29

 

Thanks to Dennis at Flagship Wines for this one. A new variation on this theme is now doing the rounds from Ben McMean - and for once they are not using a Hotmail account, although big-orange.com is still a free web based service.

   

-----Original Message-----
From: Mr.Ben mcmean [mailto:bentechXXX@big-orange.com]
Sent: Saturday, 29 December 2007 4:46 AM
To: sales@flagshipwines.com
Subject: Order Enquiry.


Hi,
I need a quote for 20 bottles of Dom Perignon 1996, 1998 or 1999 Vintage 750ML, I need the quote with cargo shipping to Lagos airport in Nigeria West Africa, please get back to me as soon as possible and let me know the type of payment you will accept, you can mail me at: Bentech001@Big-Orange.com I will be expecting your response today..............

 

Update - February 22

 

The latest email on this scam is sooooo sloppy. The guy doesn't know what his own name is!  It has been sent from Jones Harrison but they sign their name J. Moore. As an added switch, they now offer either Visa or Mastercard as payment. 

 

Update - February 25

 

These lowlife scammers have now hit the gold old US of A. Today I received this email. 

 

From: Jimmy Jatt [mailto:jimmyjattXX@yahoo.com]
Subject: CHAMPAGNE ORDER ENQUIRY/PICK UP

Attn:Customer service/Sales
Good Day.This is an order proposal of this item below to be ordered from your store/company pls:

DOM PERIGNON 1998/1999 VINTAGE--------12 BOTTLES(2 CASES)

With regard and if this is available pls do forward me ONLY the Total costs price of this item above,as i will be doing the PICK UP of the items from your location myself with my Courier.

Payment Terms is by: Credit Card:----Master card,Visa card,Discovery Card.. let me know the one acceptable by you for this order.,as all has been arranged well with the bank for my cards to be approved to you when running it for this order.

Thank you.i await your ulmost response asap today

Yours Sincerely
Jimmy Jatt
1XXX Passey Lane
Lancaster,PA 17603 USA
 

Update-  24 June

 

The Dom Scan has brought to light another perpetrator.  This time its from Kenny Kenedy. He is asking the plonk be shipped to EMMANUEL KOLAPO in NY.

 

Link to More Wine Scams

Link to More Scams - Non Wine Related

From Jon: 29 April 08

Great article, I have the same chump trying to buy some CCTV off me now. I've just received the split card email. He's using Mastercards this time, but with the same address he tried with you. I'm going to let him stew for a bit and see what happens.

 

From Oliver West: 1 May 08

We had our own encounter with some fraudsters. They were trying to buy Cristal off our website (as a Southern Hemisphere specialist we get an allocation of Cristal thanks to our support of Cloudy Bay…).

These scammers were using stolen cards to buy the Cristal, then calling us using a relay system (the kind using by deaf/hearing impaired folks making use of an operator who reads us their typed comments) to confirm their orders were on the way. We figured out pretty quickly what was going on and only lost a few bottles of Cristal. The police were quick to do not a whole lot. They claimed they had their hands full, as these same people were doing similar scams involving diamonds. Our Cristal went to a mail drop center via UPS, which was then picked up by Fedex and shipped to yet another mail drop center.

One police officer in Atlanta, GA (this one officer was helpful) actually went to the mail drop center and found a few other alcohol packages from other stores. Apparently the end destination was…Nigeria, via a port in NY harbor.

Oliver West
Southern Hemisphere Wine Center

 

From Wayne: 17 March 09

Just thought I would pass this along.


They called me using a relay (usually for people who are impaired) asking for 24 bottles of Crystal. They wanted to prepay and I just told him would have to wait until Monday. And he kept stating he could prepay. I sent an email out Monday saying I could get it when I started to get emails like yours. Come to think of it I have received a fax almost the same way
 

Wayne

Dubs's Liquors and Fine Wines

 


 


 

Copyright © Ric Einstein 2007

 

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