Around 6 weeks ago, I was emailed by a company called Max Events (see below)
Max Events Dubai <firstname.lastname@example.org>
We are Max Events, a reputable event planner located in Dubai, United Arab Emirate. looking for professional Photographers to shoot our incoming event which is 26th,27th & 28th ofJanuary 2017 in Sheffield ,England
Behind the scenes images of 50 People during annual meeting for 3 days for Annualreport and company's internal use Includes post-productionand upload to online archive system for either viewing,download or further distribution.
This will be for unlimited worldwide usage for 25 images
Time...Between 12pm to 5pm Daily
Total cost for 3 days including transport, travel, accommodation and meals:..
Kindly email us Quotation for the Jobs as soon as possible
Please get back to us as soon as you received our message
.... Like me, you are probably thinking 'scam' already, but let me explain how this works:
Out of curiosity, I immediately checked Max Events out on Google and confirmed they had a website. So far so good. I then emailed our friend back and asked the usual questions about the event and the job in question. With my questions answered, I then submitted a quote at 3x my normal rate and requested a 50% deposit up front.
Not surprisingly, the quote was immediately accepted and our Mr Farid asked for my bank details, which I duly provided (it's on the quote anyway).
A week goes by and no money is paid into my account, so I decided it was indeed a time waster and forgot about Max Events. After a few more days, I suddenly received an email from Farid, telling me that (shock horror), he had paid the entire hotel conference fee into my account by mistake! However, he went on to reassure me, that this would not be a problem. This is what would happen: I would see £43,800 hit my account in the next few days, and I could simply deduct my entire photography fee (around 10% of the 43k) and transfer the remainder back to him.
What a lovely Christmas present and how kind of Mr F to be so generous!. I immediately contacted the Natwest fraud team to report the scam and was told it's called the 'Dubai fraud' The website is obviously fictitious and simply put togther with stolen content to give the impression that it's a trading business. They trawl your website to discover a little about what you offer - in my case they chose event photography as it fits quite nicely with the hotel scenario of the scam.
Here is the clever bit: They will now 'pay' a cheque into my account for £43,800, which will take the normal 4-7 days to clear funds. The unsuspecting business owner now sees this huge amount of money 'in their account' and faces a dilemma - what to do next?: 1) Keep the money and go on a Christmas shopping bonanza 2) Increase their fee and pay back the company, say 50%? or 3) Simply deduct your quoted fee and pay back the balance. (Probably, the most likely)
For the scam to work, you need sufficient funds in your account to cover the balance of any funds paid back to Max Events, but I guess you can now see what happens:
The cheque will bounce and any amount you pay to this company is Dubai is part of the scam. You will never see or hear from them again and they will move on to the next business owner.
Chris Mann This scam relies on the fact that "cashier's cheques" drawn on an overseas bank actually take weeks to clear - so you may think the money is safely in your account, you send out the "overpay", then a few weeks later your bank tells you the cheque was a forgery and takes the money back again.
Having reported all this to the NatWest fraud team and having sent the entire email thread to the Met's own team, I continued to receive emails from Max Events pleading with me to pay back their funds, so I simply blocked their email. I hadn't seen any huge payment into my account, so i guessed they knew I was on to them.
End of story? .... well not quite. Guess what appeared in my account yesterday? You've guessed it £43,800 (I wonder how long it will take to disappear?) ....... Hmmm, that would have been a nice deposit on the new Porsche! :)
I am sure you will never be taken in by such a scam, but please be warned and tell your friends
Have a safe Christmas and New Year.
Update: 2 days later the cheque bounced. What a surprise!