mainlogo2

 

TITLE: The Artful Dodger
SCAMMER NAME: Ben Kuruneri/Ben Okezie
SCAMMER LOCATION: South Africa
SCAMBAITER: Shiver Metimbers

 

Another "art" scam once more. It runs on similar lines to the ones already published and initially I was not going to bother publishing it, however I thought I would publish because of the revealing interaction between my fake scammer (Ali Gee) and the real scammer in the last part of the story.

First comes the now familiar scam introduction letter from a Ben Kuruneri:

 

From: Ben Kuruneri
To: Derek Trotter
Date: February 21, 2006
Subject: KEEP IT SECRET (BUSINESS)

25 WALMER STREET
AREA CODE 6001
PORT ELIZABETH
SOUTH AFRICA
TEL:+27-73364XXXX
FAX:+27 7616 5XXXX
EMIL:benkXXX81@yahoo.co.uk

BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

ATTN: SIR/M

I am certain you will be surprised to recive this mail from me, indeed, I sincerely apologize for the embarrassment this might cause you. However, I wish to state, that it is sincerely necessitated by my present plight and I pray you will readily be of tremendous assistance.I am Mr. BEN CHRISTOPHER kuruneri, from Zimbabwe and the son of Mr Christopher kuruneri who until recently was the Honorable Minister Of Finance in the present Robert Mugabe Government in Zimbabwe.

Precisely, on The 24th of April 2004, the security goons of President Robert Mugabe in what was an excessive and unprecedented use of force arrested my father while still a Government Minister at our family house in Harare. He was arrested on the allegation that his building of
a Thirty Million Rand (i.e. US$ 8 Million) beach front mansion in Llandudno , Cape Town, South Africa was in contravention of Zimbabwe’s regulation on Foreign exchange control.Though, my father has repeatedly made it clear that he did not in anyway contravene this regulation, maintaining, that he was funding the housing project from funds he made through his business ventures and consultance work outside Zimbabwe prior to his becoming a minister, and that the funds were never held nor transferred from Zimbabwean banks, charges, are yet to be laid against him in a court of law. For the past weeks since his arrest, my father has been held in solitary confinement and under severe inhuman conditions in the gulag of Mugabe despite several efforts and calls for him to be charged before a competent court or be released.

However, my family is undoubtedly aware of the underlying political intrigue and vendetta that is involved in this case than meets the eyes. It simply has to do with my fathers uncompromising stance against the oppressive polices and unwholesome activities of President Robert Mugabe, besides, my father’s recent rising popularity within the ruling ZANU-PF party, and around the country and his touting as a possible successor to President Robert Mugabe. My family was aware, that Mugabe was very uncomfortable with this situation and knew, that it was matter of time before he moved against him, but, unfortunately, lest did we anticipated it in this most bizarre and barbaric manner.Being aware of Robert Mugabe’s anticidents, to say,that my father and the entire family entertain great concern and apprehension about his life and that of the other members of our family, is to state the obvious.It is obvious from his actions, President Robert Mugabe is out destroy the family both political,fiancial and otherwise.

Presently, I have moved with the rest of my family into South Africa, where we have managed to gain asylum. However, the tactic support for President Mugabe from the present South African Government, coupled with the proximity of both countries makes our continued stay and hope for a future in South Africa most risky and uncomfortable.In the meantime, I have been mandated by my father, to explore avenues and make every necessary arrangements immediately to move our only left fund, since others has been seized, out of this country and also make arrangements to resettle the rest of my family in any of such country. At present, i am desperately seeking your assistance
in helping me transfer the sum of Fitteen million five hundred thousand united dollars (US$ 15.5m) being the total sum deposited with a security and finance company here in Port Elizabeth South Africa to your country for viable investment.
Unfortunately, under the recent South African Financial intelligence center Act (FICA) and the
Exchange Control Regulations as a refugee i am highly constrained from personally transferring this money out of South Africa.However, this could easily be effected with the representation/assistance by a nationals of a different country apart from nationals of the Southern
African Development Countries, SADC, hence my writing.
For your assistance towards the successfully completion of this transaction, you will be entitled
to 15% of the total sum involved, a further 5% of the total money will be set aside to cater for the
expenses that might be encounteredin the course of the transaction, while the remaining 80%will be for my families investment purposes.Please then, could you be of any assistance in lieu of
this transaction, i kindly request that you contact me as soon as possible through the email address or telephone number below for further discussion.
However, against the backdrop of my safety and that of my entire family, I hope you appreciate more than ever the essence for the confidentiality of this transaction. I have attached at the end of this mail, some media reports concerning this present predicament of my family to aid you with further insight.

http://www.suntimes.co.za/2004/03/21/news/news01.asp
http://www.newzimbabwe.com/pages/kuru3.1599.html
http://www.newzimbabwe.com/pages/kuru.1566.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/04/26/wzim26.xml
http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/Zimbabwe/0,,2-11-259_1518150,00.html

Do accept my highest considerations. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

BEN CHRISTOPHER kuruneri

 

 

As reliable as ever, Derek Trotter steps up to the plate:

From: Derek Trotter
To: Ben Kururneri
Date: February 24, 2006

 

Dear Mr. Kuruneri,

Thank you very much for your very interesting email, however I am afraid that I will be unable to help you at this time. These next three months are by far the busiest and most profitable period for my company and I cannot give any time to anything other than finding new artwork for our galleries especially wooden carvings.

You may already know of me since it was you that contacted me. My name is Derek Trotter and I am the director of Trotters Fine Arts & Artist Scholarships. We are dealers in fine art and ethnic art from all over the world. We run eight art galleries and two scholarship centres here in the UK. We also offer scholarship donations to aid up and coming new artists who may otherwise not have the financial means to be able to produce or improve upon their work. Our scholarship payments range from between $25,000 and $150,000 depending on the potential of the artist.

I am sorry but I am unable to enter into your business proposition at this time, however if you have any contacts in your part of the world who may be artists that you think may benefit from our financial help then I would be very interested to be put in touch with them. We are especially very keen on promoting new artists with experience in wood carving and will be happy to offer a very generous $25,000 to $150,000 scholarship package to young or old artists with good potential who may benefit from our help.

You may see some of our latest recipients and awards on our website (just click on the "visit this page" link on our homepage).

If you know of an artist who could benefit from our financial help and who would be prepared to produce work for us to sell or promote then please do let me know.

Again I am sorry that I am unable to help with your proposition at this time but I wish you luck in finding somebody to help you.

Sincerely,

Derek Trotter
Director
Derek Trotter Fine Arts

 

 

From: Ben Kururneri
To: Derek Trotter
Date: February 25, 2006
Subject: Re: KEEP IT SECRET (BUSINESS)

THANK YOU SO MCUH FOR YOUR RESPONSE AND SINCERITY , SO IF I GET ARTIST DO I HAVE ANY COMPENSATION IF YES I WILL FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL BE A CONTACT OR REPRESENTATIVE FOR YOU PEOPLE HERE IN AFRICA

SO WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST?

KURUNERI

 

 

From: Derek Trotter
To: Ben Kururneri
Date: February 27, 2006

Dear Mr. Kuruneri,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Yes, of course we are happy to pay the usual agent's fee of US $4,270 when we receive a sample of your artists work and that can be paid to you in whichever manner best suits you.

If you are able to find an artist who would benefit from our help then please do let me know and I will forward details to you on how the artist can apply.

Sincerely,

Derek Trotter
Director
Derek Trotter Fine Arts

 

 

From: Ben Kururneri
To: Derek Trotter
Date: February 28, 2006
Subject: Re: KEEP IT SECRET (BUSINESS)

Hi Mr. Trotter thank you so mcuh for your mails and business interest .

But i would like to inform you that i am so busy to do such transaction with you , nothminding there are alot of artists here both scupturers and painters. But it will take me a whole lot of time to go for such business because i have projects at hand and i need to leave this place for some reasons.

But i have a very good friend with one of my names as his name, he knows much about the community and he can have time for the business. He can organise some artists to be under your umbrella so that they can supply you works for sales.

I will give you his contact so that you can write him or when i speak with him i will advice him to contact you. His name is Mr. David Ben Okezie he is a church man too.

So write to me through this address and i will let you know what he says or he will write you direct. You will have alot of works from here , i do see some of the artists in display.Reply to this particular mail box.

I will help you as much as i can at the moment okay.

Thanks,

Kuruneri

 

 

A few days later, the "artist" a Mr. Ben Okezie gets in touch:

From: Ben Okezie
To: Derek Trotter
Date: March 2, 2006
Subject: The artworks transaction, Mr. Trotter

From ; Mr. B.D. Okezie

Mr. Derek Trotter i am a friend of Ben Kururneri , he told me about your business offer to him and he gave me all the information you gave him, so i am here to declare that i am interested to do the business with you.

I have some couple of artist arround upcoming ones who will be interested to work for you.
I have gone through the last information you gave him , so i will speak to an artist this week about the conditions to see if any one them can afford it.

I am ready to sponsor the transaction because most of these artist are not bouyant enough to foot such expenses. I want a situation whereby i will work with you here as a representative so that all the artists will fall under one umbrella.

Concerning the shipping expenses of any artwork i can do that as soon as you supply sample , but i want every transaction with any artist to be co-ordinated by me.
Should we discuss terms now or should everything be until any artist i will bring to you proof him/herself as competent for the jobs.
Send a sample let me consult them immediately.

Kindly advice Mr. Kuruneri that i have spoken with you and i will wait for your urgent response, i am the one to do the transaction with you not Mr Kuruneri.Forward every important information to me direct from now henceforth.Should i send photos of available artworks here , even the works itself for your evaluation?
I will be glad to hear from you , have a good day.

Yours sincerly

David Ben Okezie

Something to note at this point which will become important later on; Ben Okezie and Ben Kururneri are in fact one and the same person. The emails are coming from exactly the same computer, and as will be revealed later on, Ben will even admit to it. I suspect the name change is so that I do not associate Ben Okezie with the scam email from Ben Kururneri if at some point if as the "victim" I should realise the initial email was a scam.

 

 

To sae some space I won't go through the full "instruction" procedure here yet again, but I present Ben with instructions for two carvings. Ben mentioned he had two artists available for work, so why not get two carvings for the price of one scammer!

From: Derek Trotter
To: Ben Okezie
Date: March 3, 2006

Dear Mr. Okezie,

Please find attached to this email the sample items which we would like your artists to submit to us.

Kind regards,

Derek Trotter
Director
Derek Trotter Fine Arts

I attach many sample images of the two items, taken from various angles. A couple of smaller versions are presented below:

 

 

From: Ben Okezie
To: Derek Trotter
Date: March 3, 2006
Subject: very important mr. trotter

Attn:Mr. Derek,

It is now important that you give me your direct phone number and office address for sending the works after producing.I went through the website i could not get any phone number to call you anytime , i can give you my direct phone number if you want .

It may take us four weeks or above to complete and send the works because of numerous works at hand, but if you don't mind we can send you some available works for evaluation and at the same time we are going to do your samples.

Thanks,

Ben

 

 

From: Derek Trotter
To: Ben Okezie
Date: March 4, 2006

Dear Mr. Okezie,

Thank you for your reply.

I thought I had already given you my private telephone number however I shall repeat it again: (UK) 0044 8707 65X XXX

Kind regards,

Derek Trotter
Director
Derek Trotter Fine Arts

 

 

From: Ben Okezie
To: Derek Trotter
Date: March 5, 2006
Subject: Re: very important mr. trotter

Expect my call soon.

Regards,

David

 

 

A whole month goes by with no contact from Ben. I thought he had given up on me, but I was wrong:

From: Ben Okezie
To: Derek Trotter
Date: April 6, 2006
Subject: Re: very important mr. trotter

Hi Derek,

The jobs are ready and i am comteplating sending the dog work first and i will send the pix of the other one for you.
You will valuate the dog work and make payment as you said.

Give me your postal address according to how it will be send via fedex or d.h.l

I will give you call within the week

REgards,

David .B.Okezie

 

 

From: Derek Trotter
To: Ben Okezie
Date: April 7, 2006

Dear John,

As you have requested, the address of our head office is below.

Please mark the package for the attention of my secretary Miss. Paula Jervis. I am usually out of the office most of the say so Miss Jervis will advise me the moment your package arrives to that I can see to your case immediately. Note that we have several different departments in our building so it is very important that you address the shipment exactly as below:

Miss Paula Jervis
D.T.F.A.
16 XXX XXXX XXXX
XXXXX
XXXX
XX XXX
England
United Kingdom

Please advise me of the tracking number and carrier so that I will know when to expect the delivery of the package. Payments usually require 24 hours notice to process, however if I am aware of the probably date of arrival I can ensure that your particular payment is processed as soon as possible.

VERY IMPORTANT: Mark the item value as US $20 and also as a gift because if it remains unlisted the import tax ay be very substantial in which case we will be unable to collect the package.

Please do take great care in packaging the item because unfortunately in the past we have had items delivered to us that have been damaged due to poor packaging. We are unable to accept damaged goods.

If possible please forward us a photograph of the sample before you ship it. This is not important, but if you send us a picture before you ship it then it will help my board members prepare more efficiently for your donation/scholarship payment.

Sincerely,

Derek Trotter
Director
Derek Trotter Fine Arts

 

 

Some days later, Ben forward me some shipping info.

From: Ben Okezie
To: Derek Trotter
Date: April 12, 2006
Subject: Re: very important mr. trotter

Attn:Mr. Derek

I have send the dog sample, it was sent today, it was also unfortunate that i have packaged it before you asked me to send a pix of it.
It will arrive between 2-3 may and i will send the other sample by tuesday next week and it will arrive between 5-6 of may.

This is the tracking number:P.E 522 74X XXX XX

I will send the second sample on tuesday, have a happy easter holidays.

Thanks,

B.D. Okezie

A quick check reveals that the shipping for this single item came to approximately US $160. Great!

 

 

From: Derek Trotter
To: Ben Okezie
Date: April 20, 2006

Dear Mr. Okezie,

I acknowledge receipt of your email, thank you.

Sorry I have been unavailable for the last few days however I am currently sending this email to you from Scotland where I am at an art exhibition. I shall be returning tomorrow (Tuesday) so you should be able to contact me at that time.

Kind regards,

Derek Trotter
Director
Derek Trotter Fine Arts

 

 

Ben's first carving finally arrives.

From: Derek Trotter
To: Ben Okezie
Date: April 26, 2006

Dear Mr. Okezie,

Just to confirm to you that we have received your first carving at the office, thank you.

I shall be in touch as soon as the second carving is received.

Kind regards,

Derek Trotter
Director
Derek Trotter Fine Arts

Ben's first carving weighs in at an impressive 11 kilos:

 

 

Ben lets me know the second carving is on the way.

From: Ben Okezie
To: Derek Trotter
Date: April 28, 2006
Subject: Re: very important mr. trotter

Mr. Derek i will send the work today and as soon as i do so i will let you know, i will send two accounts where the samples money should be transfered to .

You told me within twenty four hours of receiving the samples you will make payment. So i will call you and send the account as soon as i send the second sample.

I hope the second sample will arrive after five to ten days of the arrival of the first sample. So you need to understand that, i sent the first one with the nmae of Paula care of your name . I will do the same thing with the second sample and i will sent the receipt to you.

Thanks,

Okezie

 

 

From: Derek Trotter
To: Ben Okezie
Date: April 29, 2006

Dear Mr. Okezie,

Thank you for your email.

We are now awaiting the second item. As explained you previously, we cannot work out the payment until all samples are received. I will of course let you know immediately that the second sample arrives. I assume that it will be quite soon?

Kind regards,

Derek Trotter
Director
Derek Trotter Fine Arts

 

 

From: Ben Okezie
To: Derek Trotter
Date: May 2, 2006
Subject: my accounts details mr trotter

These are my account details for the payment, you have to transfer the money into these accounts , divide the total amount into two and transfer to these two accounts

1. BANK NAME: FIRST NATIONAL BANK(FNB)

ACCOUNT OWNER: MR. BEN DAVID OKEZIE.

ACCOUNT NUMBER:6206387XXXX

BRANCH NAME: CARLTON CENTRE

BRANCH NUMBER:250XXX

SWIFT CODE:FIRNZAJXXXX
COUNTRY : SOUTH AFRICA

2.Bank NAME: ABSA
ACCOUNT OWNER: BEN DAVID OKEZIE

ACCOUNT NUMBER:915405XXXX

BRANCH CODE :632XXX

SWIFT CODE : JJ ZA

COUNTRY : SOUTH AFRICA

Thank you Mr. Derek for your response, hope to hear from you soon.i hope the presence of the two will determine the contract for me.

As i said the payment should be made to the two accounts, have a day .

I also looking forward to come for exibition with you in a near future.

Thanks,

Mr. Okezie

 

 

I do not bother to reply to Ben, deciding to wait until after the second carving arrives.

Nearly two weeks later, the carving does indeed arrive, and it's even larger and heavier than the previous one, standing at over 21 inches high and weighing a very heavy 16 kilos.

According to the shipping receipt, this carving cost approximately US $240 to ship:

Nicely done Ben, and your reward will be.... me totally ignoring your messages for a while!