Scam alert?

5 Feb, '08

I received a really weird call last night from someone claiming to be Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Tuwaijri from Riyadh; however, the number displayed on the screen didn’t have anything to do with Riyadh. The sound quality also suggested that it is routed through a very noisy Internet connection. I could be wrong of course, but I don’t think so. Bear with me.

The so called Dr. Al-Tuwaijri tried as much as possible to lay the blame on the “bad lines” and tried to get from me other telephone numbers where he might reach me. I didn’t volunteer any but asked for his number is Riyadh to call him back. He didn’t offer a number. The line disconnected several times but the guy was persistent. I answered the call (this was after 9pm when I do not answer unknown numbers) which again originated from +1202147408158304 (anyone know anything about this number construct?) and after some felicitations which I completely ignored and told him to get to the point, he told me that as Bahrain was selected as the cultural country in the GCC this year, they want to produce a one-hour cultural program about Bahrain which my company – Gulf Broadcast – has been selected to produce! I said brilliant! Give me more information. He dictated a US number to me (+1-408-623 5273) and told me to urgently call Dr. Ebrahim Shalabi who is on the way from California to Bahrain to discuss this matter immediately. I tried to call the number but all I got is voice mail. I left the message then went to bed and forgot all about it.

This morning while we were on location, I received another rather persistent call from another unknown number, this time from +120220719947087 from a person claiming to be a Dr. Ebrahim Shalabi. Again after the now trade-mark felicitations (with heavy Islamic blessings etc) and putting the blame on me for not answering my phone last night as he tried to call me several times, he goes on about how the US customs and security officers are so strict that they took his bags off him when he boarded a plane to Florida from California last night and that they had promised to hand him the bags on arrival at Florida airport. That they didn’t do, apparently, and he is so much in a bind as he now does not have his passport, papers, credit cards, money to board the plane etc. This was when more alarm bells started ringing.

I cut him short and told him that I am busy and that he’s got to get on with what he wants off me. He went silent for a second and explained to me that my company “Gulf Broadcast – GBPS – has been selected to produce the movie”, and that is contingent on his arrival in Bahrain. As he didn’t have his money with him, he has already contacted Noono Exchange in Bahrain and they agreed that whenever someone goes to them and gives them his full name, they will immediately release funds to him in Florida Airport!

Again, I cut him short and told him that I am busy and I do not want to be involved in this at all. If there was anything else I can help him with, I will certainly think about it. The line immediately went dead then and no further calls came through!

I’ve never had anything quite like this double-act. I am almost convinced that it is a scam and am wondering if anyone else (in or out of Bahrain) has come across this before?

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  1. Global Voices Online » Bahrain: Scam Alert | 7 Feb, '08
  1. forzaq8 says:

    its a scam

    the idea is that he use a known name ( A ) and tell you he is sending B , then B would call you later and ask for money , you send money and he gets it , that way even if he is captured by police they can’t convect him because you send it to B and not to A

    he will always call you on the day before the weekend and tell you something about that he can’t contact A and need money urgent and A will return it to you later

    This been running around for gulf Financiers but it seem now he switched targets

  2. mahmood says:

    But the buggers really do their homework well. They obviously got my phone numbers from my business site and took the trouble to even research the money exchangers in Bahrain etc.

    Slick, but the over-emphasis and the tugging at the heart strings and the idea of the victim making ‘quite a lot of money’ is lucrative for a lot of folk.

    Well, I hope this post sends the alarm to whoever reads this blog in order for others not to fall for these scam artists. So email this to your friends if you like!

  3. Balqis says:

    You lucky
    Here in Oman we get only missed calls from African countries after midnite
    If you call them back, they say you have black magic and for a reasonable amount of money they will take it away 👿

  4. AbuRasool says:

    Welcome to the club, Mahmood. Many years ago I was contacted to represent LU in co-organising an academic conference… bla… bla. The guys who contacted me did all the required homework and seemed to know what to say. Until they came up with the tearjerking story (stolen luggage, ids, cards etc). Khataak al-sharr ya Mahmood. 😀

  5. AdamFrom maine says:

    My mother took part iin one of these scames and was out $3,000. Dont remember the names, but it was a supposid inhartiance that she got the pweople wanted her to open a bank account and they sent her a check for 25,000 and she deposited it and tried using part of the money to find out it was a fraudulant check

  6. Anonny says:

    You may find amusing after what’s just happened to you.

  7. AdamFrom maine says:

    Thats crazy, but yeah the police found out about it, got the check from the bank and thats the last we heard of it…Never got a penny back

  8. ASKAD says:

    I was contacted a few days also but the number was from Egypt, the lady knew my name and which bank i deal with, she told me that she is from VISA so she went talking about that i won a free membership in a local hotel here in Bahrain, so she went talking to me trying to get info about how my name was spelled exactly on my credit card, also the number & the 3 digits at the back plus the expiry date, so i just basicly told her that if i had this info i can purchase stuff online and told her to bug off and warned her that ill send her number to the police, so i never got any call again from her. So people please be aware of releasing personal information to anyone on the phone.

  9. ammaro says:

    these guys do their work well; sometimes it’s just random, and at others it’s more well studied. remmeber all those nigerian multi-million emails? i went through with one just to see how far they would go, to try and get an idea of their process. i told them i ran a huge transport company etc etc and within a few days i started getting ‘official faxes’ and phone calls from some lawyer asking for a transfer to process some funds…

    lovely. anyway, in this day and age, it isnt very hard to get all of your information put together from a few browses online.

  10. Janelle Arvette says:

    with what he wants off me


    with what he wants of me.

    with what he wants from me.

  11. jared says:

    A present for you all, with my warm compliments.


  12. Ali says:

    That’s exactly what happened with me few weeks ago. Same story and same names too, except they want to build an Islamic centre and grand Ma’tam in my village! I knew it was scam from the start because there’s no way that a Saudi wahabi would build a ma’tam! When B caller asked for the money I told him I’d do it right away and asked him to call back later. He called more than 20 times and everytime I kept giving him different excuse until he gave up. I felt good because I wasted him some money, even if the calls rate is few pennies.

  13. mahmood says:

    I love the 419eater site, I freely admit that I have spent hours laughing at those dunderheads! It’s good for the soul. Here’s a sample:

    I’m glad I’m not unique in this case, but am still amazed that they invest considerable time evaluating their victims to push at what they think are the right buttons. If they invested their time in their own jobs with such diligence, I am sure they can make a lot more difference.

    Thanks for the correction Janelle, much appreciated.

  14. ehsan says:

    Some technical points for the unwary:

    1- Never trust the incoming caller ID on your phone. Numbers can be spoofed easily and calls routed via VoIP. A good spoofer can make a call from Nigeria look like it’s coming from a mobile phone in Bahrain.

    2- Never trust that the number you are calling is where it’s supposed to be. I can buy a US prepaid anonymous mobile number online from any state, and forward it to another number in Egypt over the Internet.

    3- Never wire money using walk-in wire transfer services. They can be collected from anywhere in the world and are anonymous and untraceable. Anyone with a fake ID can get the money. For that matter, don’t even trust real bank to bank wire transfers because I can open a fake account as well.

  15. mahmood says:

    Bank-to-bank transfers are the lifeblood of business! But of course, you would only transfer to businesses you trust, else there is always the Letters of Credit (which I try to avoid as much as possible as they offer even more loopholes than a bad scammer!)

  16. Capt. Arab says:

    The number used is a call-back service, all calls gets routed via the USA. Good scam which the gullible fall for. I got a similar call some time back about a job offer from BP, and they claimed to be the recuitment agent and their website wa all made out to be geninue. They even sent me a contract to sign with all the benefits. Catch was that I had to pay $250 for some kind of validation of my degrees, which they said would be refunded upon verification, which sounded weird to me. When I contacted BP’s HR they had no clue of the company, and did not have a site in the country that I was supposed to be working in. Scams are getting smarter.. It’s a surprise of how many people actually fall for them..

  17. Mike says:

    I couldnt help but think of the UK Channel 4 show called ‘Fonejacker’ where real people are pranked. Watch the clip below – Mahmood did your phone call sound anything like that? 😀


  18. Suburban says:

    They must be moving north. We’ve been beseiged in Oman by these guys and guys of similar ilk, calling from area codes that make no sense.

    We suspect that Someone from Omantel sold off all the company records, which is how they know who’s employed where and your full name and mailing address. It’s only the postpaid accounts that seem to receive these calls.

    Should the scammer be connected with someone who sounds really “wadi” or who is not the intended recipient they threaten evil Eye and claim that a enemy has placed a curse on them. It got so bad that for a while the TRA were runing cautions in all the daily papers against Hoax calls.

    Bizarre. I guess the Voodoo threat was pretty effective given our prominent African background here, but your guess is as good as mine.

    Glad you got away without being scammed.

  19. ammaro says:

    i wish for once, one of those emails/phone calls offering me millions and millions of dollars would come true…

    but knowing my luck, i would ignore it as if it was a scam. sigh.

  20. mahmood says:

    What a coincidence! Thanks for the link Ebtihal. The guy’s experience is almost exactly like mine!

    I’m glad they are being discovered and their story exposed so that others don’t fall into their trap.

  21. lorena says:

    the 202 is in egypt is the are code for Egypt … wird …byt what tyou think they want from you? money?

  22. Barry says:

    The US number you were given would be a number from the city of San Jose in the Silicon Valley area of California’s Bay Area. Actually, 408 used to be the area code my city was under before the phone company here split the 408 area code into 408 and 831.

  23. billT says:

    Mahmood we get a simular type call at the shop quiet often. First caller wants to buy some garage doors to be shipped to Africa and is willing to pay up front but needs me to talk to the owner of the project. He then calls and tells me they want to do business with us but need us to post a bond before we can do business.

  24. diva says:

    happened to a friend of my father’s. they called and said they were doctors from saudi and wanted to invite him to an important conference and to be an advisor…bla bla bla

    same story!!!!

  25. Mahmood,

    My gut feeling, like yours, was that it was a scam.

    Something along the same lines happenned to my cousin, who advertised a room for rent on the Internet. A response came from a person who identified herself as a female in England who wanted to come to the USA to spend some time. She wanted to rent the room and would send a check. However, she was moving and for complicated reasons could not buy her ticket herself. She said she would write the rent check for a larger amount and could my cousin please buy the airline tickets and send them to her?

    My cousin asked all of us in the family if that sounded legit. All of us told her it sounded like a scam. She did it anyway. Why? Because she’s an idiot.

    She cashed the check first and got the money before she bought the airline ticket, so she thought she was OK. She wasn’t.

    When the bank cashes a check for you and the check clears, that does not mean it is a legitimate check. The bank only does minimal checking of that check. A bad check may take weeks to return. When it does, the responsibility rests on the person cashing the check, ie the victim.

    Here’s how the scam works, as far as I can tell. The perpetrator creates a bad check. Maybe it’s a legit check which has been changed. Maybe it’s a complete forgery. The perpetrator searches for a victim. What he’s looking for is to use you to cash this fake check in a bogus transaction. You’re the cutout. So he offers you something big that you want in exchange for this bad check.

    The hook is that most people erroneously think that if a check clears the bank that it is a good check. The perpetrator is counting on you not knowing that. The perpetrator will ask for some sort of goods, valued at a fraction of the transaction, which can be easily translated into cash. Like an airline ticket.

    It may take three or four weeks for the check to be sent back, at which time your bank will demand you make good on it. In the meantime, the perpetrator will have closed down his Internet address and phone number and moved on to his next victim.

    My speculation is that Dr. Mohammed from Riyadh would have offered you a wonderful job that paid well. Unfortunately, some minor problem would have come up which would have required you to help him out with minor expenses. Maybe forward him some cash to get his bags out of hock with those terrible American customs people. If you were a gullible mark, you’d think that a few hundred bucks were chicken feed compared to the money you’d make on the job he offered. However, after you sent that money off, Dr. Mohammed would disappear leaving you holding the bag.

  26. real omani says:

    we all know that people who came to oman from africa, india or iran are not arabs and never will be. in fact, i cannot wait until this twat with the throne bites the dust so we can kick you out of our arabian lands.

  27. Belinda says:

    Different type of scam.
    I was notified by this man, Brian Cain, on My Space. He had such a nice profile. We hit it off quickly and said he’d be with me in a week. but then he needed money to get here because he said he couldn’t get US dollars in Nigeria. He had a very good line that made since. Over a period of 2 months I sent him money and was expecting him to be her by the last of Feb. Plans changed again. I put on the pressure and then he was gone. Wouldn’t answer my e-mails or get on IM.
    I get these overseas men on My Space all the time and they all have a similar story. Women, don’t believe a word of it. They can have you believing in them just like he did me. You’ll never get your money back. And most of all the broken heart is the worst. Belinda

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