One of the latest e-mail scams going around the Internet appears to be targeted at the wine industry. This scam operates at a slightly more sophisticated level than the now famous Nigerian scam. That scam begins with polite greetings (usually in all capital letters) and ends with with promises to share in a large sum of money if the victim will only help with the transfer of a large sum of money out of [insert country name here].
This latest wine focused scam masquerades as request for a private wine tasting and dinner for a large group from “out of town.”
Here is the text of the e-mail recently received by a San Francisco wine retailer:
I am Bernie James.I want to book for a group of 10 persons arriving from London for the month of November.They will all come in your place as from November 17th,18th, and 19th each for wine tasting and dine .if you are available for my date,send me details about what you offer and pricing.
Contact us via email@example.com
Innocuous enough, no? When the retailer in question wrote back with a quote, this is what they received in response:
Thanks for your reply and assistance so far. Base on trust and confidence, I will make a payment of $2,000.00 to you in advance, this is because I m not sure of what the guests might like to eat and drink as such will cover the cost of their meals, and their transportation arrangement to your place.
Moreover, we were able to make an arrangement with a pre-paid car hiring agent who will supply the guests with vehicles and drivers and other logistics prompting and arrangements for the group, which they will be using in going to your place . So in order not to share the credit card information with a third party, I have decided that only one person will have to handle the credit card information.
More so, the prepaid agent is not yet a credit card merchant therefore cannot charge credit cards. On my own side, i would have sent him his money direct. So once you are in receipt of my credit card details,you are required to charge $8,000.00 in your account then deduct $2,000.00 as initial deposit and transfer $6,000.00 to the prepaid car hire agent whose information I will forward to you once this is confirmed.
NOTE: That the Agent will be providing cars and drivers, purchase of flight ticket and visa, luggage handling, security and other logistics prompting and travel arrangements,
Confirm this message and provide me with your
(1) YOUR FULL NAME
(2) FULL ADDRESS
(3) PHONE NUMBERS for office record.
All checks and balances shall be done with the group leader on the final day.
Get back to me immediately.
Luckily the retailer in question smelled a rat and stopped communicating with Mr. Bernie James, but he is no doubt busy sending e-mails to other retailers or wineries each day.
It goes without saying, but any requests to transfer money should be looked upon with great suspicion and under no circumstances should companies or individuals give out their bank account numbers, routing numbers, or credit card numbers to prospective “customers.” Even if they do have UK cell phone numbers instead of Nigerian ones.
For more information on how to spot fraudulent e-mails, please see this handy guide provided by Microsoft.