The generosity and perseverance of people “desperate” to share a fourth or a third of their stashed millions of dollars with “trustworthy, God-fearing and charitable” individuals is boundless.
Before e-mail, they sent their generous offers by snail mail. But now it seems ordinary e-mail does not get recipients excited anymore, so they have repackaged their offer.
Recently, I received an e-mail from somebody who identified himself as “Sir William Patey, a former ambassador of the United Kingdom.” Like previous offers, he was eager to give me a share of $9.7 million he made in an oil deal with Iraqis. Of course, he wanted my help in getting that money, promising me 20 percent of the amount, the rest to be invested here in the Philippines.
This time, however, the e-mail sender attached an identification card “for you to know whom you are dealing with and please do not disclose my identity because I am a public figure.”
I decided to pass on the e-mail to the British Embassy, which was fortunate. It turned out there was indeed a William Patey, who had already retired from the foreign service but was not likely to be in possession of $9.7 million. From what I gathered, he was a hardworking, honest and decent diplomat who would not have gotten involved in shady deals.
Why he was chosen by the online scam artists is a mystery for Scotland Yard to unravel.
UK Embassy warning
Colin Glen, second secretary of the British Embassy Manila, categorically branded the Patey e-mail a scam and said it was “criminal in its intent and is an international problem.” He said that he had given a copy of the e-mail to the British police so they could investigate.
Glen also warned against many other scams as mentioned in an advisory from the UK government (http://www.gov.uk/living-in-the-philippines#scams), which is excerpted here:
“There is an increasing number of scams in the Philippines purportedly involving the British Embassy or a British national in need of assistance.
“Persons claiming to be members of the UK Diplomatic Service, the British Embassy or our honorary consul have been targeting individuals in the Philippines, asking for money for various services. These may include offering assistance or services related to visas or passports, handling mail or asking for help for people who are in hospital or having difficulties with immigration or customs. In all cases, they seek an advance payment of some form.
“Members of Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service and British Embassy employees are not authorized to accept payments for services. Payments for any services are made to our official account at our offices or, in the case of visas, through our accredited agent VFS.
“We are also aware of a scam involving a request for payment to release a parcel that has been sent via the diplomatic bag. Please note that the British Embassy never accepts parcels for the general public.
“There are also scams purportedly involving British nationals in distress…perpetrated…more popularly through e-mails, text messages, Internet chat rooms and online dating agencies. After gaining the victim’s confidence…someone sends an e-mail, text or makes a phone call to say that their friend…is in trouble and in immediate need of funds.
“The methods used to persuade victims to send money are very convincing…
“Scams come in many forms, and can pose great financial loss to victims. We therefore strongly advise you to exercise prudence and seek the assistance of the British Embassy before responding to the request for help from somebody you do not really know.”
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.