Are You a Speaker or Entertainer? Watch for Scams.

Beware the red herring!

Beware the red herring!

Yesterday I received the following email. I am including the full body of the letter in the hopes that it serves a purpose in being found in a Google search by wary speakers who are rightfully suspicious of things that appear too good to be true:

Blessings to you from the United Kingdom , I am Bishop Allan  Wilson,The Presiding Minister of The New Covenant Church ,Bracknell United Kingdom. We are pleased to inform you that we would like to engage you to perform and motivate  our church congregation and members of our community at an event scheduled to be held here in New Covenant Church,It also  coincides with the Church’s annual conference and launching of the Church’s new auditorium .

This event is coming up on the 28th 29th and 30th of May 2013. The conference is tagged: ‘Big things: How to start small’. We heard about you from a church member of ours who is also a member of the YMF outreach , she told us you can perform at this event and also will be a huge impact and this fit-in for our event ,we also checked out your website and are impressed by the things we saw .

Please we would like you to convey to us your availability for one of the dates as it can fit in your schedule.  Also, please we would as well appreciate if you get back in-touch  with us in ample time so we can start corresponding the details.

Thank you and expecting to hear from you soon.

 NOTE : We are aware you are NOT based here in the United Kingdom and we will be responsible for your flight and other expenses

 Remain Blessed.

Bishop Allan Wilson
+44 7023011679
Crowthorne Road North
RG12 7AU

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people
for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him
who called you out of
darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9

If you are a speaker or performer, you are likely always hungry for new leads and business, and it is precisely this hunger that scammers prey on, taking advantage of that one moment of weakness that can occur, especially for anyone in the speaking/entertainment business as a “new gig.”

The poor punctuation and vagueness of the letter intrigued me, since at no point in the letter did the writer mention what I might be speaking about. I googled the name. There was no Bishop Allan Wilson, but there was a Bishop Alan Wilson – he even has a Wikipedia entry. Surely someone as educated as this would not misspell his own name.

I next googled the phone number, 7023011679, and that’s where things came apart. It became apparent pretty quickly that I was by no means the first speaker to have been approached. A travelling comedian by the name of Dwight York describes in his blog how his correspondence with this organization would have eventually led to the release of his bank account information by way of a blank cheque needed to assist in the wire transfer of the speaking fee.

It is sad that these criminals exist. From old-school pickpockets to internet scammers, they prey on those who actually work hard to generate an honest income.

The good that comes from this is that it helps reinforce the age-old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Be careful out there.

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