creative email scam

during a little break while speaking to lutheran church (missouri synod) senior pastors yesterday, i looked at my blackberry, and saw a last-minute invitation to speak at a large youth gathering in london – in two weeks. apparently, the primary speaker had pulled out due to illness, and they’d found my information on the ys nywc website (though the email actually came through the contact page of my new website).

i was intrigued, and thought it might actually be possible to go, as the dates were open for me. i responded positive, adding a handful of questions.

but when i got back to my hotel room, i read the message again, and was nagged by a “this is too weird” sense, mainly from the grammar and odd phrasing (i even started to wonder if it were possible that the event organizer was an immigrant for whom english was not his primary language).

here’s the email:

Dear Mark Oestreicher,

My Name is Rev.Mike Gabriel from the LONDON YOUTH Community Here in London UK. We want you to be our guest Speaker at this
Year UK YOUTH EVENT to bring our youth close to God which will take place here in UK.We are writing to invite and confirm your booking to be our guest Speaker at these year.

UK YOUTH EVENT.
The Venue as follows:
VENUE: Skeel Lecture Theater,
Queen Mary, University of London,People’s Palace Mile End Road, London E1 4NS
Expected audience: 3500 people
Duration of speech per speaker: 1 Hour
Organization: LONDON YOUTH CONFERENCE,
Tel: +447024094609
Topic:FUTURE
Website: (currently Updating)
Date:21 May 2010.
Time:6.30pm

We came across your profile on http://www.nywc.com/ and we say it’s up to standard and we will be very glad to have such an outstanding personality in our mist for these overwhelming gathering. With your multi talented speech more lives will so much have fun, Sorry about our late invitation it is due to the fact that one of our guest Speaker had back out because of her sudden illness.

Arrangements to welcome you here will be discussed as soon as you honor our invitation. If you have any more publicity material, please
do not hesitate to contact me. A formal Letter of invitation and contract agreement would be sent to you as soon as you honor our invitation. We are taking care of your traveling and Hotel Accommodation expenses including your Speaking fee.

Stay Blessed

Rev.Mike Gabriel
UK YOUTH EVENT.

on a whim, i googled “rev. mike gabriel uk youth event”, and found this. apparently the whole thing is a scam to try to get money for a “work permit”. it will be interested to see if the dude responds to my questions!

man, someone went to a bunch of trouble on this one, since they included the nywc website and contacted me through my own website.

thanks, google!

26 thoughts on “creative email scam”

  1. Dear Mark Oestreicher,

    My Name is Rev. Bro. Dr. Feelgood from the Intergalactic Planetary Planetary Intergalactic Community Here in Austin TX. We want you to be our guest gameshow host at this
    Year DODECHAPHONIC JOVENES BAKE SALE to bring our youth close to THE LEAGUE OF JUSTICE which will take place here in PARADISE CITY. We are writing to invite and confirm your booking to PLEASE TAKE US HOME where the grass is green and the girls are pretty…. oh won’t you please take us home?! Yeah-e-yeah! Tweet!!!!

  2. I got a similar invite last year. Seems like enough people must be falling for this kind of thing that it makes it worth it to the scammers.

  3. Hey there Marko – Tash’s friend Al here (we hung out in ur suite in LA)

    I got the musician form of that e-mail a wee while ago and it was such a joke… little ole me over here in NZ that usually speaks and plays for just expenses… I hardly follow my music let alone people in the UK! :)

    50000 Pounds WOULD be nice though! :) Blessings

  4. Wait, how was he going to get money from you? That is so odd.

    I got a crazy email from India last year, responded in a positive, inquisitive manner, and never got a response back.

    He never got any money out of me. hahaha

  5. So I already booked my ticket to London. Apparently I’m the next big thing which is always good to hear. I sent them a visa fee of $2000 but I figured that’s a small price to pay to become an international christian celebrity. They told me you were coming too. Can you send in your visa fee because I don’t want to be there alone and I think they are waiting to respond to all my e-mails until your respond.

    um please help me out here. I’m sure it must be legit……………:(

  6. Dude – i think i talked with this guy on the phone not too long ago! I phoned the Dell help desk about by computer. While we were waiting for my computer to reboot (because that’s always the first thing they have me do), he was asking for noted celebrities speak at an upcoming Youths Event in UK…

  7. should have known when it said speaking time for each speaker was an hour…who asks youth/pastoral speakers to go for an hour…that’s dangerous, begging for 1 1/2 to 2 hour long talks

  8. Come to KC and speak. It’s not quite London but it isn’t a scam either. Bring it!

  9. I got this about a year ago after speaking at CYWC, but fortunately Brett Ullman caught on to things right away and warned all the other speakers. I think the way it was supposed to work is they send you a cheque, then tell you the event is canceled and ask you to refund a portion of it by direct deposit before you realize the cheque is bad. I was at camp when the email came in and I was so stoked about a invite to London, when I got home and found out the whole thing was a scam I felt pretty stupid, but the Spirit used it as a good time to point out the dangers of pride and wanting to be seen as successful as a speaker. I hope others realize this is a scam…I imagine it would be most successful at the small time people just starting out.

  10. Thanks for this post…I just got the exact same invite to speak on May 21…got a bad feeling about it even before my team replied to him, and then googled him and found your post…thanks!

  11. Hi Mark,

    I too just got an “invitation,” and Google led me to your site. I really enjoyed all the comments.

    I decided to string the conman along a bit, and replied that I was very excited about coming to London, but that he should be aware that my comedy act before the 3500 young people would be in Yiddish. “No problem,” he replied. Then he went on with details about work permits, etc, all in attempts to pfish out my credit card and/or bank info.

    The best thing about this is that I now have some great new material for my act!

  12. I just got a similar invite, and was seeing red flags all over but couldn’t quite figure out what the scam would be and couldn’t find any info on Google. A friend sent me to this blog and that helps clear things up. Thanks! I wanted to go to England so badly, but knew it was too good to be true.

  13. i got it too as i am a small time comedian….

    Dear Alan Graves,

    My Name is Rev.Mike Gabriel from the American YOUTH Community Here in NEW YORK. We want you to be our guest Comedian at this Year AMERICAN YOUTH EVENT 2010.We are writing to invite and confirm your booking to be our guest Comedian at these year.

    AMERICAN YOUTH EVENT 2010.
    The Venue as follows:
    VENUE:American Conference Institute
    41 West 25th St, 9th floor
    New York, NY 10010
    USA.
    Expected audience: 2500 people
    Duration of speech per speaker: 1 Hour
    Organization: AMERICAN YOUTH CONFERENCE, Topic:LOST AWAY YOUR SORROW
    Website: (currently Updating)
    Date:20 June 2010.
    Time:6.30pm

    We came across your profile on
    http://www.hahaheehee.co.uk/comedians/
    and we say it’s up to standard and we will be very glad to have such an outstanding personality in our mist for these overwhelming gathering. With your multi-talented speech more lives will so much have fun, Sorry about our late invitation it is due to the fact that one of our guest Comedian had back out because of her sudden illness.

    Arrangements to welcome you here will be discussed as soon as you honor our invitation. If you have any more publicity material, please do not hesitate to contact me. A formal Letter of invitation and contract agreement would be sent to you as soon as you honor our invitation. We are taking care of your traveling and Hotel Accommodation expenses including your Speaking fee.

    Stay Blessed

    Rev.Mike Gabriel
    AMERICAN YOUTH EVENT 2010.

  14. I received the same email several months back, but with a different venue that I contacted. They had no clue about these emails going out in their name. Crazy.

  15. Hi, Jeremy Breland passed along your website to me. I was contacted by the same Rev.Mike Gabriel this past week-end. I am a Christian Comedian…I sensed a scam and was so happy that Jeremy passed along your info to me! My e-mail was sent this past week-end on July 3rd…so this is going on even today. Thanks for the scoop….

  16. I just got the same email! I wish I was like Liam Neeson in “Taken” and I could go find this guy!! What a terrible thing to do! using the guise of a youth event. ARRRRGH!

  17. I just got the same email. I was suspicious because the phrasing sound very similar to other Nigerian-scam emails. Also I wondered why there was no website for the youth organization – and the Reverand was emailing me from
    a Gmail account.

    I did a quick Google search and found thos post. Thanks for the post, Mark.

    Most amusingly, I can’t imagine that my sense of humor would be suitable for Christian youth. But clearly things are different in London! Moving there promptly.

  18. Here’s my question……Is there really a Queen Mary University?

    If so, maybe these people should get Scotland Yard to search out these scammers. Their brand is being tarnished.

  19. thanks for the posting – I just received the same message for Aug 1, 2010 date – did some searches because it just seemed too odd to be real and luckily stumbled into this before spending too much time on it – thanks!
    Steve Cordes

  20. Hey Marko,

    I got the same email. I had a booking already in Houston, Tx for that Sunday morning, so i couldn’t even think about accepting the offer. So … i sent the guy an email explaining, etc. and saying that i’d be available for next year, if they so desired. Today, i went back and googled the guy’s name. I applaud him for the intricacy of the scam. Quite impressive.
    Nothing like “being wanted” to make a guy lower his defenses. I’m heading to Nigeria in a couple of weeks to perform at a school there. I hope it’s not a scam! Blessings!

  21. I’m not a speaker but a professional photographer. I got a similar email two days ago with a follow up response today. Flying business class (lucky me). The $3000 (US funds) for one hour of shooting would have been the best hourly rate I’ve ever received… ;-) Thanks for this posting.
    Jeff

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