Archive for April, 2011

Adventures with a Cameroonian Scammer: Part 2

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Continued from part 1… On Monday, September 28, 2009 I received the following response to my proposal.

Dear Brent Curry,

I hope you enjoyed your weekend.

After our meeting this morning, the committee were so happy about your product and we will be happy to see you handle this contract.

Now I will like to know your price per Treadmill Bike also I want you to know that this contract is lot one of ten meaning that it will continue till lot ten, if you happen to win this contract you will have the opportunity of winning the rest.

And your chances of winning this contract is to work according to my proposal, Like I said I am the chairman of this contract award committee, just to say that I have the authority to award the contract to any supplier/company that I considered creditable.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,
Chief Simon Ngwa Achu

To this, I responded:

Wow! That’s great news. I understand that you are ultimately looking to acquire 50000 bikes, so if we divide this into 10 lots, I would suggest 5000 bikes per lot. My typical price per Treadmill Bike is $2500 Canadian. For 5000 bikes, that would be 12.5 million Canadian dollars, or 5.1 billion Communauté Financière Africaine Francs. Which currency would you like to pay with?

Let me know how we should proceed.

Attn: Brent,

Thanks for your prompt reply.

Please I want you to give me the price in US$ because the committee will like to pay in United State Dollar also I want you to know that the lot one of this contract is 50,000 bikes.

Let me know if you are the one to sign this contract that will enable us discourse in person concerning the remaining lots.

Regards,
Chief Achu

Oh my goodness! So if we win the contract for all ten lots, we could be selling 500 000 Treadmill Bikes? That’s fantastic news! The price per Treadmill Bike in US dollars is: $2288.

Yes, I am the one who would sign the contract for this deal.

Looking forward to further instruction.

At this point, I had not mentioned to my wife that I had passed on our phone number to Chief Simon. Therefore, you can imagine her surprise when the phone rang the next morning at 6am. On the other end, was a man with a thick accent claiming to be the former prime minister of Cameroon! We had a brief conversation. Chief Simon’s main objective seemed to be to speak with me in person to confirm that we were ready to take this deal to the next level. I assured him that I was and hoped that we could return to e-mail correspondence in the future. For the rest of the week, I made a point of unplugging our phone before going to bed. In the ensuing days our voicemail registered numerous missed calls left in the middle of the night. I wasn’t sure if my new business associate didn’t understand the concept of time zones, or if they were just a non-issue for the political super-elite.

The e-mails continued…

Attn; Brent Curry,

It was great talking with you this morning.

I am happy to deal directly with you as it is my intention to treat directly with someone that has power to make decision, to enable us quickly finalize in the arrangement.

This supply is a government contract sponsored by the CPDM Cameroon.

I am contacting you in this business at this level on personal basis because I want to make personal profit out of the contract.

Concerning the specification/model of the treadmill bike; I confirm that the model you presented is good and we are ready to work with it.

Like I said during our telephone conversation, the first lot of this contract will be 10,000 pieces of Treadmill Bikes. My plan is that you will give me a Treadmill Bikes at the rate of $2280 and when submitting your tender it will bear $2380 and after the contract has been awarded to you and you received the payment for the supply, you would return to me the additional money of $100 per Treadmill Bike.

I believe I have made things clear to you.

Apart from quantity, quality and duration; there are other conditions set out by the award committees that every supplier wishing to tender has to fulfill in order to qualify to tender.

The award Committee has decided that any company wishing to participate in this tender must be registered in Cameroon according to CAP 37 of OHADA Uniform Act, and the company must have been in existence for at least one year.

The payment terms is optional; the first option is, if the company attached to her bid an attestation worth 30% of the contract value from any Cameroon financial institution; the company will receive 100% payment up front immediately the contract is signed. Another option is, if the company chooses to tender without an attestation; the company will supply the goods before receiving any payment.

If we agreed to continue in this project, My part is to assist by making the payment condition easier for you. Since I am the one that contacted you in this business and due to you may not have any contact with a financial institution in Cameroon; I would provide you money worth 30% of the contract value to obtain the attestation from any Cameroon bank. But if you chooses to supply according to the second option; I would as well provide you money to handle the supply and when you received payment you return to me the money and the over-invoicing.

Due to my position as a politician in administrative post and the Chairman of this contract award committee, I am not permitted to operate personal business. Your part in this business is to register your company and submit your tender to avoid anybody knowing that I am having personal relationship with you; then I would award you the contract.

Like I said I am the chairman of this contract award committee, just to say that I have the authority to award the contract to any supplier/company that I considered creditable. Please I would like that you consider this transaction absolute confidential.

You can give me a call on this telephone no +237 766 306 90 at any time . I wait for your prompt reply.

Regards,
Chief Simon Ngwa Achu.
The CPDM Congress Hall
P.O. Box 150 Bamenda, N/W Region,
Rep of Cameroon ,
Tel: +237 766 306 90
E-mail:chiefachu@gmail.com

Hello Chief Simon,

I think I have discovered a potential hole in this plan. The Treadmill Bike is already advertised on my web site for $2500 Canadian. Anyone could do a quick currency exchange calculation and determine that that price translates to $2288 USD. When the awards committee sees that I am billing them at: $2380 per Treadmill Bike, they will get suspicious.

To reconcile this issue, I have put together a bonus package that we could include with each Treadmill Bike. I have managed to negotiate a bulk discount on these items, so I expect the actual cost of each bonus package will be $28.76 USD. This would bring the total cost for each treadmill bike to $2316.76 USD. If we charged $2380 USD per Treadmill Bike that would still leave you with a personal profit of $63.24 USD per Treadmill Bike.

I think you will really love the items that I have found for the Treadmill Bike Bonus Package. They include the following:
1 X-Wing Fighter Collectible Helmet
1 pair of Harry Potter Quidditch Goggles
1 Hello Kitty Backpack
1 pair of Peter Pan Getaway Boots
1 plastic Bicycle Basket with Plastic Daisies
1 pair of Handlebar Streamers

I have modified the promotional poster to depict the additional items that would be included with each Treadmill Bike.

Let me know your thoughts.

Treadmill Bike Promo for Cameroon with Bonus Package

For Chief Simon’s response to the Bonus Package Proposal, stay tuned for Part 3!

Adventures with a Cameroonian Scammer: Part 1

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

In May of 2009, I received the following e-mail:

Attn: Director,

My name is Chief. Simon Ngwa Achu. former Prime Minister of the Republic of Cameroon.
I came across your profile as I was searching for a competent and reliable supplier/manufacturer who can handle a contract supply of Comfort Bicycle, and I learned that your company is into such business.
Regarding the contract, this is a contract supply of 50,000 pieces of Comfort Bicycle to the CPDM as an effort to reduce the global warming threat. This contract is sponsored by the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM). The duration of the contract is 14 months (Fourteen months) from the date of acceptance.

The specification is as follows:
Frame: 20” inch frame
Fork: 700C CS9217 Steel
Headset: VP-H692W
Stem: HL-Alloy Adjustable Ext 110mm
Handlebars: MTB -155 620mm x 50mm Rise, Steel
Grips: Velo VLG-185AD2 Black Rubber Gel
Brakes: Promax TX-107L Front & Rear Alloy Linear Black
Brake Levers: : Shimano STEF 50 Alloy
Front Derailleur: Shimano TZ-31
Rear Derailleur: Shimano TX-30
Shift Levers: Shimano ST-EF50 21 Speed Rapid Fire
Freewheel: Falcon FW-70 14-28T Index UCP
Chain: KMC Z51
Crankset: 28Tx38T x48Tx170mm Silver Alloy
Bottom Bracket: YST BB-612 UCP
Pedals: VP 990S Plastic Body
Wheels: High V Profile 700C Alloy Silver w/ Front Quick Release
Tires: Kenda 700 x 40C Black w/ White line on Both Sides
Saddle: Velo VL-3061 B93 w/ Silver Bumper
Seat Post: SP-233 300mm Alloy Silver

I am the Chairman of this Contract Award Committee and I have the authority to award this contract to any reliable supplier/manufacturer that fulfills the contract conditions.
I am contacting you in this business on personal basic because I am interested to make personal profit out of the contract. I would like to know from you about these three things mentioned below.

1) I want to know if you will be interested in this contract.
2) If you will be able to handle the supply within the time frame.
3) I want to know if you will be interested to co-operate with me in
over-invoicing the total contract in my favor as I want to make a personal profit from this contract.
Let me know your response in the few questions then I will explain to you more about the contract and how we can proceed.

If you are interested, I will also like to have your direct contacts for easy communication.

Regards,
Chief Simon Ngwa Achu.
The CPDM Congress Hall
P.O. Box 150 Bamenda, N/W Prov,
Rep of Cameroon ,
Tel: +237 971 728 64
E-mail:chiefachu@gmail.com

This e-mail was strange for a number of reasons.  First of all, a quick web search revealed that Cameroon has never had a prime minister named Simon Ngwa Achu.  However, a man by the name of Simon Achidi Achu did serve as prime minister from 1992 to 1996. I figured if I’m about to make an internet fortune, who am I to let a little detail like a middle name stand in my way? Of course, the real Simon Achidi Achu was born November 5, 1934, which would make him 74 years old at the time of this correspondence. I really had to admire this old man’s vigour!

Another odd thing was the degree of specificity in every component that the CPDM is supposedly looking for in their global warming conquering comfort bikes. From the Falcon FW-70 14-28T freewheel to the Velo VL-3061 B93 saddle with Silver Bumper this was going to be one tricky bike to source. Or would it be? Another quick web search revealed one bike that matched these specifications exactly. It was the 21 Speed Women’s Tonino Lamborghini Urbano Trekking Comfort Bike pictured below.

21 Speed Women's Tonino Lamborghini Urbano Trekking Comfort Bike

Selling online for $199, this is your quintessential department store bike. And yes, in case you were wondering, Tonino Lamborghini is the son of the famous Italian industrialist, Ferruccio Lamborghini, creator of the world renowned Automobili Lamborghini. Sadly, this bicycle seems to be representative of the kind of cheap product Tonino is recklessly attaching the family name to these days. I’m sure Ferruccio is rolling over in his grave. But I digress.

Knowing that this was just a scam, I thought it would be interesting to see how Chief Simon would respond to a slightly different offer. Here’s what I wrote:

Hello Chief Simon!

Thank you very much for contacting me about this opportunity. As it turns out, I do not have the means of providing 50,000 comfort bicycles with those exact specifications. However, I have recently received a shipment of 23,000 Treadmill Bikes from my supplier in Taiwan. You can read more about the Treadmill Bike here. The Treadmill Bike has received rave reviews from urban cycling enthusiasts and has recently appeared on Canadian, US and Japanese television.

Because the treadmill bike is such a unique product, the price is higher than that of most comfort bicycles. The bike retails for $2500, but I would be willing to offer a substantial bulk discount so that you may achieve the personal profit that you surely deserve.

The best way to reach me is through this e-mail address. I’m very much looking forward to doing business with you. Let me know how we should proceed.

A few days later, I got this response:

Attn, Mr Brent Curry.

Thanks for your mail

I would like to use this opportunity and briefly introduce myself to you once again; my name is Chief Simon Ngwa Achu, I am the former prime minister of the republic of Cameroon also the chairman of this contract award committee.

This supply is a government contract sponsored by the CPDM Cameroon.

I am contacting you in this business at this level on personal bases because I want to make personal profit out of the contract. My plan is that after we have agreed on the price, I will tell you the amount you would add for me when submitting your tender and after the contract has been awarded to you and you received the payment for the supply, you would return to me the additional money.

There is no illegal formality in this contract as everything you would do concerning the contract will be legalized and according to the contract terms.

Due to my position as a politician in administrative post, I am not permitted to involve in any personal businesses, as it is against my oath of service. Anybody in my position will as well utilize this kind of opportunity; it is possible for me to ask money from any company that want me to award her the contract but I considered it none confidential as I would not like anybody to take advantage of me in future.

The reason I chooses to work with you is not because there are no company in Cameroon that can handle the supply, but due to I do not want any Cameroonian to know anything about my transactions to avoid anything that would sabotage my office; in this regards I would appreciate that everything we discussed or might do in future must remain absolute confidential.

Concerning the specification/model, I want you to understand that I am a politician and do not know much about Bicycle; I can confirm any model you presented as long as the product is good and you are ready to work with
me according to my proposal.

Like I said I am the chairman of this contract award committee, just to say that I have the authority to award the contract to any supplier/company that I considered creditable.

Apart from quantity, quality and duration; there are other conditions set out by the award committees that every supplier wishing to tender has to fulfill in order to qualify to tender.

The award Committees has decided that any company wishing to participate in this tender must be registered as a CPDM contractor; and the company must have been registered with the CPDM for at least one year.

The company must attach to her bid an attestation worth 30% of the contract value from any Cameroon financial institution.

The payment term is 50% advance payment immediately the contract is signed and the balance will be covered by L/C certified by any first class bank of your choice in the world.

Another option is that the company may choose to supply half of the goods before receiving any payment; in this case an attestation from financial institution is not required.

I want you to understand that these conditions are not a problem as I have plans to provide money to sponsor the contract if we agreed to work. Since I do not want anybody to know my transaction with you; the part you would play in this business is either you register your company with the CPDM or contact any existing company with the CPDM to handle the contract with you. But in the case of using an existing company you must make sure that in no circumstance that you should let anybody know that I am working with you.

I would like that you study this proposal very well and get back to me.

Regards,
Chief Simon Ngwa Achu.
The CPDM Congress Hall
P.O. Box 150 Bamenda, N/W Prov,
Rep of Cameroon ,
Tel: +237 971 728 64
E-mail:chiefachu@gmail.com

This was getting exciting! I had a foot in the door with the CPDM, but at the same time, I knew there would be lots of other companies bidding on this prestigious comfort bike contract, so I made sure to include a nice visual in my next e-mail.

Hello Chief Simon,

I’m sorry for the delayed response. I have been working hard to put together an eye-catching presentation for the awards committee. I’ve attached an image which will hopefully inspire the CPDM to select the Treadmill Bike for their comfort bicycle contract. I firmly believe that the simple, elegant design of the Treadmill Bike is the perfect
fit for the diverse environment of Cameroon.

Treadmill Bike Promo for Cameroon

Could you please put me in touch with the people who will be deciding on this contract? There is lots more I could say about the competitive price, comfort and performance of the Treadmill Bike.

Stay tuned for Chief Simon’s response to my proposal in part 2!

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