This morning I had a booking for one of my courses from a company in Nigeria. I will not be taking this booking as I have come across this scam before....
The first time was about six months ago when a Mr Samuel Breakfast from Zimbabwe put in a booking form for my most expensive course - for the full number of people to fill the workshop. (Eight people - I keep things small to give individual attention.)
He asked for an invoice. I sent it (giving my banking details of course). He then said that to get the money that I needed to write a letter which could be presented to their Reserve Bank allowing funds to be transferred out of the country. I duly did this (including my signature of course).
Now thinking that I had a fully booked course I put on my website that the workshop was now closed (so no further bookings were made), and paid my deposit for the venue etc etc
Two days before the course, after not having seen any sign of the payment despite jumping through all of the hoops for them at the last minute, I called them and asked them how they would be paying (and even if they had managed to organise their accomodation without any hassles - poor fool me, taking an interest).
Result: "Oh we aren't going to be able to come down until next week instead as the money hasn't gone through yet - we'll call you when we get there to make arrangements."
Needless to say, I never heard from them again! (Well, not until a few months later when they tried to pull the same stunt again.) I did however immediatly afterwards start getting a flux of 'bookings' from other African countries such as Nigeria and Kenya - which only stopped when I started writing a letter back saying that I didn't take bookings from outside of South Africa as I was not willing to sign any letters for foreign exchange flow.
What was interesting is about the 'bookings' that followed was:
1. They were for the most expensive courses.
2. They were barely literate in English.
3. None of them had a website - even though the workshop was about internet marketing.
4. E-mails were at Yahoo mail etc
5. They all had Muslim surnames.
(Although the orginal mail from Mr Breakfast did not have any of these features. Is he the one fishing for sops like me before he sends out to his network that he has got a good fish caught?)
Does this smell fishy or what. I suspect that this is a 'business group' which uses companies such as myself to get money out of the various countries. Ie. Money laundering by a criminal network!
Please don't fall for this like I did. I was lucky in that I managed to get all of my venue desposits etc for the workshop back - it could have really been an expensive mistake for a small business like mine.