Vegard Skjefstad

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My Friend, the Money Mover

This is a long entry, but I recommend that you still read everything – it’s a good read. If I can be so blunt.

I’ve got this friend Brad. Originally from the UK, he moved to Oslo a couple of months ago to live with his girlfriend, who I went to college with. Unfortunately for Brad, the relationship didn’t really work out, they split, but he decided to stay in Oslo. A little short on education he now works as a pizza deliver boy for a pizza place in downtown Oslo.

Brad is quite the internet chatter, and Yahoo! IM is his friend. He tends to spend quite a few hours online each week to keep in touch with old friend in the UK and to make new ones.

Today he met Doreen from the US. What started out as a rather normal conversation ended up with him being employed part time in her company. His job? To receive payments from their clients in Europe and then send the money to the company in the US, getting a cut of all the money he forwards.

Sounds too good to be true?

Brad is not amongst the brightest stars in the sky, to put it that way, but he was clever enough to save the log from the conversation. I’ve read through it and everything looks like a really clever scam of some sort.

Doreen claims to be from the US of A, she has worked a couple of years in her father’s company where she is now in charge of the funding. Her written English sucks big time, and I really hope that she is better with numbers than she is with letters or I’m afraid the company faces bankruptcy before Christmas. The company supplies “native wears to peaple all around the world”. For some reason, all the money they make from selling native wear is moved in cash around the world. Poor Doreen has to fly to the EU every now and then to pick up the money and she is – naturally – getting tired of all the traveling.

Now they are looking for a trustworthy employee in Europe who can handle the money – and what’s a more natural place than Yahoo! Messenger to find honest, hard working people? It would’ve been my natural choice, too.

To prove that he is a good guy, Brad has to perform a simple task: Some money will be shipped to his home address, which he has to give them. All he has to do is to forward the money to Doreen in the US. Sounds like a simple task, even for pizza boy Brad. He also has to give Doreen his phone number, so that her secretary, Mr. Moses, can call him. They get his phone number, but for some reason, they are unable to get through to him. So Doreen gives him the phone number of their company and leaves for a meeting.

Brad, having to leave for his delivery boy shift, didn’t call Mr. Moses. During his shift he gets cold feet about the whole thing and when he gets home from work, he sends me the chat log. What’s in the log is pretty much summed up above, but if you want a first-hand experience, a download link is available at the bottom of this entry.

I took the liberty to do a reverse lookup of the phone number they provided, but it’s a dead end and not listed. A bit strange for a company with clients all over the world, don’t you think? I was about to pay $15 to do a search of unlisted numbers, but I had to pay for the service with a money order, which is too much of a hassle. Unfortunately, Brad never asked for the company name or a web site or anything like that. Good thinking, my friend!

So, what kind of scam could this have been? My guess is that either he would have had to provide them with credit card details, his bank account number or something like that at some point. Either that or he would have had to pay for a shipment of money that had gone “missing” in the mail. No matter what, I positive it’s some sort of scam. I’d call it rather sophisticated, since they personally contact every potential victim – not like the everyday Nigeria scam mass e-mails.

I’m a little bit tempted to convince him to continue talking with them to find out what it’s all about, but I guess the sane thing for him to do is to just to let it slide. Have you ever been involved in anything similar? Please let me know, I want to dig around a little bit in this one.

Download the chat log here.

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