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Beware! Another Scam


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You won't get your own back on the bots, they are fully automatic, simply acting as webcrawlers!

These things are now a fact of life - I saw figures recently which showed that spam is now almost all of the traffic on the internet. Because some feeble minded types actually read it and act on it enough to make it worth the cost and bother.

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If you are using your own domain in a business context then the spammers will just throw random commonly used prefixes at it - you can't stop it. eg. if my site were  www.sillysausage.com then a spammer will generate [email protected], [email protected], etc.  Most websites act as catchall mail addresses - [email protected] will get through unless the owner has restricted his mailbox only to accept certain formats.

If you want to try hiding your email address on your own website there are various things you can do, e.g. look here:


and here for a general discussion of the methods:


but really it's a waste of time.  Just use some antispam software or make some rules in Outlook to block it and accept you'll still get a bit regardless.

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Talking of scams, I just received this from a friend in the UK.

"I'm not usually one for posting warnings about potential scams but I had a close miss today..................................
I walked into B&Q and some old guy dressed in orange asked me if I wanted decking. Fortunately, I got the first punch in and that was the end of that. Those less suspecting might not be so lucky.
Be careful out of there.... "


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  • 1 month later...
Rather than start a new thread, I thought I would add to this one.

We all know there are a lot of bogus enquiries out there but this one's slightly more subtle than usual and it has just arrived in my inbox.  It's not perfect, but it is a class above the usual religious conventions etc., don't you think?  I like the little personalisations like "France", "Alençon, Normandy", the giveaway being a slight change in font which I have tried to emphasise here.  The request for a discount is a nice touch.  The mention of being a senior accountant working for UNESCO is rather clumsy, though.



My name is Alice Ford,I got your details from
France tourism directory and would like to rent your

accommodation. I will be going on my annual leave on the 14th of April and my

husband & I will be coming to

on holiday for 2 weeks. We would be staying from Sunday

15th of April 2007 to Saturday 28th of April 2007.

I would greatly appreciate

your thoughts and recommendation on a suitable accommodation if you have

availability for 14 nights (2weeks) and the costs. Any discounts for long


I'm 37 years old and a senior accountant, working with UNESCO here in

the United Kingdom. I look forward to hearing from you, many



Alice Ford,

42, Parkville Rd,

London, SW6 7BX



Email:alice[email protected]

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This is indeed a class above the usual. What rings alarm bells for me, besides the obvious change of fonts, is the length and detail. Even my politest of enquiries are not this verbose and filled with info: age, position and company?
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[quote user="Coco"]Am I being stupid?  What is the scam?  I've had several genuine ones like this, with almost as much information - just not the age.  Is the address real?[/quote]

You know I'm glad you asked that because I didn't answer in case people though I was stupid.

Personally I am not worried about the change in fonts because I think the person typing the letter had cut and pasted the place name in to the text possibly because they could not remember how to spell it and the place they pasted it from was in using a different font. Other than that I don't think there is anything wrong with the letter. We have had some quite interesting emails from guests, couples that are having marriage problems and want a romantic break to sort things out and they have explained that in an email.

These scams always seem to work around a stolen credit card or bankers draft or dodgy bank transfer and to me the answer is quite simple, ask them to pay a large deposit by PayPal. If you hear nothing from them and don't get the deposit then you know.

We had one the other week from Oz wanted three rooms for two weeks in high season plus half board. Never had one of these before except for the scam ones there they want to take all the rooms for students visiting Paris (considering we are about 8 hours away by car). I asked for half the money up front by PayPal and waited. A week later the money arrived, I could have lost 1,400 Euros if I hadn't given it a go.

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Coco, here are the givaways:

  1. The fact that "France" and "Alencon, Normandy" are in different fonts suggests that they have been merged into a standard letter
  2. What the hell is "France tourism directory"?

  3. The fact that they give an address but no phone number - no risk of me writing to them, but I might ring them.  The address is genuine, but so what?

  4. The fact that the letter could have been sent to a B&B, a gite or a hotel equally well

  5. The fact that the email does not originate from our website form
  6. The fact that it is a yahoo email address
  7. The fact that a senior accountant for Unesco called Alice Ford uses such flawed and stilted English e.g. "I would greatly appreciate

    your thoughts and recommendation on a suitable accommodation if you have

    availability for 14 nights (2weeks) and the costs. Any discounts for long

  8. The fact that she tells me she is a senior accountant working for UNESCO - so frigging what?  Oh, of course, with an important job like that then you must be genuine.
Individually, not a lot, but together that's a whole load of evidence of someone taking the p*ss, at least in my book. [:)]


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Just for a laugh, I have replied from a disposable email address:

Hello Alice

Thank you very much for your enquiry.  We can accommodate your party and offer a 10%

discount on our normal rates.  Our normal

rate for the Red Room is 50€ but we can offer it to you for 45€

per night including breakfasts and taxes de séjour.

We would be delighted to accept your

booking and provide whatever information is required to make your stay a happy



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I dont think I would say anyone who thought this enquiry is genuine was stupid.

Receiving this email would ring alarm bells for me:

1. The first thing that would catch my attention is the detail. In three years I have never had an enquiry with more than about three sentences. In fact I have often been quite surprised at how short and (not always) sweet the enquiries are, and yet when the author arrives they turn out to be some of the nicest/politest/friendly guests. I have never had anything like the date the annual leave starts, company name (other than if the email used is a company email), position in that company or age (for the sake of it). I sometimes get the relationship of the people coming (ie me, my husband, my parents and our two children). If I get any 'supplementary information' it is usually because it has some bearing on their stay (along the lines of marriage problems mentioned by Quillan): it will be my husband's 70th birthday, is there somewhere we can get a good meal? Me and my wife are in our 70s and not too good on our legs - are there stairs involved? Never information for information's sake (unless it has come up in a telephone conversation) in an intial enquiry. And it has been my experience (I apprciate it is only three years) that when there is additional information simply for the sake of it, be careful.

2. I would have found the change of fonts unusual. But as Quillan says there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. EDIT: Sorry Quillan I have changed my mind - there is no suitable explanation for the change of font, IMHO. I did not appreciate until now that only the word France was different, not France tourism whatever. Surely, in this particular instance, France is not going to warrant a copy and past job?  

3. I always tend to look at the grammar and spelling (I think I got this advice from another place offering guidance and advice to gite, etc owners). This enquiry is very good as most scams go - its author appears to be literate! But the following sentence would worry me - not because of it clumsy grammar, but because of its confused content: it starts off asking advice/recommendations on suitable accommodation, but then asks if you have availability. It also begs the question, why should I know (based on the information provided) what would be suitable: I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and recommendation on a suitable accommodation if you have availability for 14 nights (2weeks) and the costs.

Perhaps I am being uncharitable, or too cynical. I would say too careful. I think it is a scam - the above three points and gut instinct. But I am not sure now, in the throes of his discussion, whether I would reply in hope or not. I do not think, I would have to check (but will not dont worry) to verify it, that I have ever replied in hope to an enquiry that I thought might be a scam and been pleasantly surprised. I once had an email I was convinced was a scam, and I did not reply (various reasons, one of which was point 3 above, another reason being that I received two enquiries from them, but using different email addresses - it was obvious from the one or two sentences it was one in the same person). That person phoned the company (not me, which is more usual) who owned the website on which I was advertising, and they called me to find out why I was not replying. I told them. They responded by saying that given the person had phoned to 'complain' about not having heard back from me was a good sign that it was not a scam. I am not a 'told you so' kind of person, but  ....

I am reluctant to simply reply to anything in the hope its not a scam, mainly because I have had the fear of god instilled in me in about how easy it is to scam, what people can do with your email address and phone number for instance. I do not know if this is grossly unfounded or not. Perhaps I will loose one or two bookings, but I think I loose more bookings because someone else the enquirer contacted as well as me got there before I did [geek][:D] [:@]

EDIT: I started typing this before Cassis's previous two posts appeared. But I think it more than telling we both highlighted the same sentence.

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[quote user="ThomasD"]

I dont think I would say anyone who thought this enquiry is genuine was stupid.


Nor would I.  As I already said, I posted it as being a scam a bit above the normal level.  Nevertheless, plenty in it to set the alarm bells ringing, as you said.

Quillan's explanation for the different fonts also holds water if we accept that this senior accountant for UNESCO cannot spell "France". 

Another possibility for the font size shift could be if they were sending out a standard letter to a load of different locations, that might explain the "Alencon, Normandy" bit.  But then, why fart about with pasting in different places where you claim to have found the accommodation details?

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I wouldn't like to say if this is or is not a scam (although I would say there's around a 60 to 70% chance it is) so I would do exactly what Cassis has now done and replied but with prudence.

As I said the scammers know about PayPal and once you have activated the transfer from your account to your bank PayPal can't get the money back unless you give them permission, so the scam does not work with PayPal and they know it. That’s why at times it’s a good thing to use as I said.

All I am saying is that I had one for a two week stay and thought 'what the hell' and answered and received 700 Euros via PayPal which is now in my bank and nobody has asked for it back. Cassis may be right (and probably is) but you never know.

Cassis - No I didn't spot the France thing but then I have had problems with fonts in Outlook a few times over the years. I'm not disbelieving you, you should do what you think is best. I would say that around 20% of my bookings do not include a phone number and around 5% don't even have a postal address and I have not had a problem yet.


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It's a scam and a silly one.

We have had it twice and both times...in the bin. It may (or may not ?) take experience of letting accommodation to know but that one rung alarm bells for many reasons and I never even got to the end of it before......in it went !!

As for 70-80%...quite honestly percentages don't play any part, it's 100% kosher or it's not...it's that simple.  Anyone not experienced though,  would I believe, easily be fooled.

You may get genuine ones which are sent to several folks, that is simply someone wanting to keep their options open and they will send out several in the hope for a reply with a vacancy or just for the hell of sending the email....just because they can [:)]

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