Monday, July 28, 2008

Lucie, you're going DOWN

Okay, I've survived my weekend and feel sufficiently rested, so I'm ready to tell my tale of scamming and debauchery.

Almost two months ago, I received an email from a young lady named Lucie Signoret. Lucie lives in Monaco, and she and her fiance Bertin are relocating to NWA for his job. They had decided to get married here on December 19 and needed to hire a coordinator to organize everything. We began regular correspondence and discussed everything from color scheme to reception site. She requested a contract and a quote, which I sent her. Then on this past Thursday, I had a UPS envelope waiting for me at home. In it was a bank-issued check for almost $4000. I checked my email, and Lucie told me that she had sent me the check to serve as both a deposit for my fees and the money necessary to begin reserving vendors for the wedding. This was totally in line with what we had discussed. She had previously told me that she had reserved a band that they knew to play at the wedding, and asked me to wire the balance, after I took out my deposit, to the band.

Of course, when I read that now a million red flags appear, but I get asked to do random stuff all the time as a coordinator, so I didn't think much about it. I was actually getting ready to head to the bank to take care of it when my friend, my dear friend, my heaven-sent friend Mandy called just to say hi. I told her what I was doing, and she suggested that I call the bank that had issued the check, just in case--she had just heard about this happening to someone on eBay.

The minute she said it, I KNEW it was a scam. I called the bank, and sure enough, the check was not legitimate. I was SO mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner, but SO relieved that I hadn't deposited the check. (Their hope was that I would deposit the check, withdraw some of the money, wire it, and THEN find out that the check was fake and that I would have to cover the withdrawal myself).

Matt was as worked up as me, and he had me email "Lucie" to tell her it would be the next day before I could get to the bank just to buy us a little more time. Friday morning I was on the computer preparing to submit my wire fraud complaint to the FBI when my cell phone rang. IT WAS THE SCAMMER! He pretended to be Bertin, French accent and all. Said he was so happy to talk with me, thanked me for all my help so far, and oh, was I going to be able to wire that money today?

I was sweet as sugar. "Bertin! I was JUST about to email Lucie! SO great to talk to you, too! THANK you for calling! I JUST returned from the bank! And GUESS what? The check was FAKE!"

Click. He hung up. Gig's up, Lucie.

Homeboy messed with the wrong wedding coordinator, I can tell you that. We are working with the bank that had the check stolen, and submitting the report to the FBI. I'm going to file a complaint with Yahoo since that's the email server they used. The FOOL called me from a traceable number, so Matt the computer whiz found the STREET ADDRESS that he called from (not even in Monaco, but in Benin, Nigeria)(what IS it with Nigeria and wire fraud?) "Lucie and Bertin" have got some dark days ahead if this woman has anything to say about it.

Despite coming close to having been majorly ripped off, I guess no real harm has been done. I feel pretty stupid, but I'll get over it. Meanwhile, I feel for the next legitimate bride who tries to give me a check--I'll probably require three photo IDs and a blood sample before I accept it.


Mellie said...

Wow! That's crazy! You should call Dateline or 20/20 and have them talk to you the next time they do one of their scammer shows! :)

And don't feel stupid...I'm actually glad you explained the scam because I was trying to figure out how they'd get money by giving you a fake check...guess i'd never make a good con artist :)

Sarah said...

You are so lucky! What a great story! Haha - I know it could have been a huge disaster, but since it's all good now it's ok to say that it's a good story - right? Wow, I'm jealous. Nothing that dramatic ever happens to me! :) I guess this only legitimizes all of Matt's "precautions", huh?