Overpayment Cheque Scam from Dubai

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Over the last couple of weeks I have been the victim of an attempted Overpayment cheque scam. In such a scam a person or business enters into an agreement to purchase an expensive item or product you are selling, usually on the internet. They will send a cheque to your bank that vastly exceeds the amount agreed. The cheque is a forgery, but before it clears the fraudster will engage you in some long-winded explanation about how an overpayment was made and how you can refund most of the balance, usually keeping a tidy amount for yourself.

According to Hoax Slayer, such scams usually target “high-ticket” items like cars and electronic goods. In my case I was contacted by someone in Dubai, purrporting to be:

Dodgy purchase order from DubaiMustapha Habib
AL Garound Marketing Services
Plot 12 Shekh Quassim Way
Jebelalli Industrial Estate,
P.O.Box 14053
Dubai UAE .
Email: moozety101@yahoo.com

who wanted to purchase 120 Dovado USB Mobile Broadband Routers from me. From the outset my suspicion antennae were twitching for all of the following reasons:

  • he was using a Yahoo email address
  • he showed no interest in technical details about the product
  • from an early stage he was eager to get hold of my bank details including telephone number and address
  • he did not engage in any haggling over the price, quite the opposite in fact giving the impression he was prepared to pay over the odds for a large quantity
  • the manufacturer of the product is actually registered in Dubai – why deal with me instead of dealing with Dovado directly?
  • he told me he would be able to organise the shipping, which made the deal all the easier to conclude

Indeed although I quoted him a unit price of €75 per router, he sent a purchase order citing a unit price of €130. Nonetheless I invoiced him for €9,000 (120 routers at €75 each). On 28 September 2009, a postbank cheque for €55,500 arrived at our bank in Ennis.

As they say: “if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is”, so I googled Overpayment Cheque Scam and discovered that the above sequence of events fitted perfectly with the usual overpayment scam scenario.

whocallsmeFurthermore my contact in Dovado shared a useful anti-scam resource with me: http://whocallsme.com – it’s a site where users can log details and telephone numbers from attempted scams and dodgy telephone marketing practices.

When I enter the phone number from the fraudulent purchase order (+971 553655906) into this website there are reports of almost identical scams originating from that number.

As soon as I sussed that the whole affair was a scam I ceased responding to emails from the fraudster and I have forwarded all the salient details to the Dubai police…without any response from them as yet, I might add. As is routine procedure with such large cheques, the forgery was inspected by the bank’s fraud department, confirmed as a dud cheque and returned unpaid. At this stage I will not find out what tall tale was in store for me at the end of the scam, but I don’t care. I just wanted to document the experience to alert others.

Update 18 Oct 2009
The Dubai Police did respond and have said that they’ll take the “necessary action”.

Update 3 Dec 2009
Many thanks for all the comments posted so far. Given the steady stream of reports of attempted fraud from the same source and the fact that the fraudster(s) have a physical presence in the countries they are targeting, I passed on the details of this particular fraud to the UK’s National Fraud Authority by telephone (0300 123 2040). Eventually some arm of the law might take an interest in apprehending some of the individuals involved. Maybe. There’s a slight chance.

119 thoughts on “Overpayment Cheque Scam from Dubai”

  1. I’m surprised that a man of your internet experience and technical knowhow went as far as you did with this!? I’ve not seen a scam recently (and I see a lot!) that wasn’t a blatantly obvious scam..

    There’s only 1 simple thing to remember about the internet that will keep you safe as you mentioned in your post (with one small correction) – “if something seems too good to be true, then it DEFINITELY is”..

  2. I was hugely suspicious from the outset, so I didn’t invest much emotional energy in this affair. Dovado’s advice was to request a signed purchase order and take it from there. They are partly a Dubai-based company and their confirmation that the address given is a recently built industrial estate inadvertently added a bit of credence to the proposed deal.

    The scam couldn’t work anyway as the bank account isn’t exactly frothing over with surplus funds from which to make any refund, so you’d always be waiting for the bogus cheque to clear. I imagine it relies on banking practices which make funds from cheques and drafts available in advance of clearance. I’m not sure such practices exist anymore?

  3. Thank goodness we were given a link to this blog, Mr Habib from Dubai is presently in contact with us and has apparently transfered £57,000 into our account for an order he has placed on us for £15,000 The reason for the overpayment was not clear. Notification of this scam came just in time for us as we were about to ship the goods. Thanks again for sharing this rather sad tale of the unscrupulous world we live in.

  4. Hi Darrell – I’m really glad my post saved you just in time. I imagine his payment was by cheque in your case also? Thanks for leaving your comment.

  5. He is also using the name of mohamed Sadiq in an attempt to purchase Karting equipment. He uses the e mail address of mohamedsadiq19@gmail.com.

    So beware!!!! He is more than prepared to use whatever resources and e mail addresses he thinks he can get away with.

    It’s about time the police and the banking authorities sorted him out once and for all. Where exactly is he?

  6. Thanks for the comment, stumpy. The name and address on one of the WhoCallsMe reports is:

    Mr M Gebremeskel
    Gulf Merchant Trading Co LLC
    Villa 13, Street 10
    Jumeirah 2
    Dubai
    UAE

    it quotes a Dubai bank account as where he wants some of the overpayment paid back into. IP addresses on the emails and phone numbers that phoned me trace back to Dubai, although I think it’s possible to forge those. My gut feeling is that this fraudster is operating from Dubai.

  7. Thanks for the very useful information. I have found out that there is a company called the Gulf Merchant Group LLP with a Registered Address at 35 Old Queen Street, London SW1. They are incorporated under English Law and Regulated by the Financial Services Authority to conduct Investment Business. Is the Gulf Merchant Trading Co LLC part of the English Registered group? If so, then we should be able to report Mr Gebremeskel to the FSA or has he just hi-jacked the name to give his own little “business” an air of autheticity.

  8. I have had this guy Mustapha Habib try the scam on my company.Same thing,enquiry on goods,then overpayment made into bank but the strange thing about mine was that the payment was made by hand into my actual bank !!! The guy then kept calling to find out if the refund payment had been made.Luckily it had not but others beware.

  9. I think the cheque to our bank was also delivered in person. So I suppose this means that if you’re on to the scam in advance the bank and local police could be alerted.

    Does this mean they’re targeting UK and Ireland businesses mostly?

  10. We luckily found your info relating to this scam from Al-Garound as we rec’d a plausible e-mailed request and a similar ‘purchase order’ attachment from Mustapha Habib yesterday (21st Oct). We sent a pro-forma invoice but had concerns with the P.O. BOX quoted on his e-mail being different from that on the pdf attachment: We were also concerned that his e-mail address was ‘@gmail.com’. We immediately rec’d a response requesting all our bank details in order to make a transfer. We shall not be having further contact with Mustapha Habib and if you would like any more information from me please e-mail or phone.

  11. Just spoken to our bank Manager today and they have had 5 attemped frauds from this guy recently.The basis behind the scam is that you think the money is being transferred by automatic bank transfer from Dubai.Because you think that the transfer into your account is genuine you may then refund the overpayment but they have actually been making the payments by hand into the local Bournemouth branches.Be aware.

  12. @SIMON HEAPS
    Thanks for the further information – very interesting about Banks in Bournemouth as we live there. However, it does explain why in our instance “they” are pushing for the Bank name and Address. Which I will simply just not give under any circumstances. What is also interesting is that we are not a business so it is possible that they are now targetting individuals as well. Here I think that the issue is simply any funds received needs to be checked as to how it was paid in, and if by cheque to refuse it. If by Bank transfer (which the bank will know) then do nothing until the Bank has confirmed IN WRITING that it has cleared. Be warned however with bank transfers as if the Foreign Paying Bank think the transaction was fraudulent they can still try and reclaim the money from the receiving bank, the receiving bank will then try and reclaim the money from the Account Holder – i.e YOU. So get confirmation in writing of cleaance from the Bank, e mail will do.
    So continue to be vigilent.

  13. Well this boy does get about. He is currently looking to scam us, a business, and due to the fact that he probably does not know that I am on to him and that they are i fact UK based it could work out that they could be stung by the UK authorities as they attempt to pay a cheque in. If anyone has had any contact with the UK authorities and has a contact, prior to me breaking off contact I could pass the situation across and hopefully get a least one of their team nicked.

    He has literally just told me that the price is fine and to send bank details for the transfer!

  14. Hi, this fellow has tried to scam me – in the USA. I manufacture UV lamps for minerals and other fluorescent items. Way Too Cool, LLC, 4608 West Bluefield Avenue, Glendale, Arizona 85308 USA Tel 602-547-2234. This fellow placed a $12,000 order with me and wanted me to send the info for a bank to bank wire transfer. Fortunately, I was suspicious enough to check further and eventually found you. I have Dealers who sell my UV Lamps and he also tried to place orders with some of my dealers. I have passed a warning to most of the people I deal with and sent them a link to this website so they could see further information. Thank you for posting this information.

  15. I went to the bank today and they told me that if I had furnished the banking information Mustapha asked for, he would have been able to do an electronic debit out of my account. Mustapha asked for a pro form Invoice and
    BANK NAME & ADDRESS IN FULL
    BANK TELEPHONE
    BANK SWIFT CODE
    BANK ROUTING NUMBER
    ACCOUNT NAME
    ACCOUNT NUMBER
    GRAND TOTAL

  16. Hi, I picked up an e-mail enquiry from this person today, calling himself Gebremeskel M.,Operations Manager Gulf Merchant International Trading Co. LLC. Villa 13, Street No. 10, Jurmeirah 2 Dubai , United Arab Emirates. Tel no: +971553655906 Quick check on the internet, Dubai listed companies shows no such company exists. Advise any person or company to do the basic checks on the net, then ask the person who sent the e-mail to provide their bank name and give at least 3 company references for you to check their credit rating etc.

  17. Just recently we received an email from a David Robinson of AUTOMAC1 MACHINERY CO,INC PLOT 176 SHIEK ZAYEED ROAD YARD 12/14 DEIRA DUBAI.U.A.E
    wanting to buy one of our machines. Our machines are sold worldwide and we do have customers in the UAE. We sent our quotation as requested with our payment terms; 30% deposit and 70% irrevocable letter of credit and within a week we had a reply saying that the money had been transferred but – in his words – Due to errorenious blunder made by the financial department they issued your payment and the shipper’s payment together as they have other goods with the shipper, in a single payment £91,600.00 pounds forwarded into your account, instead of £29,350.00 pounds as agreed. For someone called David Robinson his grammer made me suspicious. The alarm bells rang immediately. We checked our bank and to our surprise there was the sum of £91,600. The odd thing about the payment was that there was no International payment reference, with a large sum as this you expect it to be transacted by a bank transfer. We checked with our bank and they confirmed that a cheque had been paid over the counter at our branch! And that has, to use an analogy, freaked me out. To think that these charlatans have contacts right on your doorstep, it’s quite frightening. My apologies for the long comment but I hope it helps all those who might fall for this kind fraud.

  18. hi,
    Seems like this guy is all over the place.
    Thanks for your blog posts.
    He contacted me under name: David Algaround or David Bello from AL Garound Marketing Services llc with same type of scam. He asked for banking info from our company.
    I tried to fax him this info but his fax did not work.
    I am curious if there is any way to notify UAE police to look for him.

  19. We received an enquiry today regarding some his/hers platinum wedding rings from our bespoke range of jewellery at http://www.danielprince.co.uk – We do receive genuine enquiries from all over the world, but usually from ex-pats, so the quality of English and Grammar is nearly always a giveaway.

    The entire email is here:

    From: Nino Gomez [mailto:nino_emirate@yahoo.com]
    Sent: 18 November 2009 04:50
    Subject: PURCHASE ENQUIRY

    Good day to you,want to make an enquiries about the purchase of these order in which one of my clients is in need to purchase but fortunately discovered it from you. I will want you to send to me the discounted price qouotes for the order.

    His and Hers Platinum Bands with 3 small princess-cut
    diamonds (REF: 04-03-002)

    I will be looking forward to read from you soon because the order is an Aurgent one.

    Regards,

    MR.TERRY
    Marketting Director
    AL Garound Marketing Services LLC
    Dubai , UAE

    Like the Nigerian scams, usually spelling mistakes are deliberate, to make you think you are dealing with somebody with more money than sense, thereby appealing to the dishonest and greedy characteristic that dwells within most people that end up being “victims” of this sort of crime.

    … but as the old saying goes “you cannot cheat an honest man”.

  20. We’ve just received another e-mail from these dubious characters requesting a further quotation ! ! Needless to say we shall not be responding in view of our earlier experience as detailed in the blog above. We contacted the Dubai police after our previous incident but did not get any response.
    Copy of todays request follows…

    Good day to you,want to make an enquiries about the purchase of these order in which one of my clients is in need to purchase but fortunately discovered it from you. I will want you to send to me the discounted price qouotes for the order.

    SPIRATOR VIBRO Large (No Bowl)
    Ref: 10-084

    I will be looking forward to read from you soon because the order is an Aurgent one.

    Regards,

    MR.TERRY
    Marketting Director
    AL Garound Marketing Services LLC
    Dubai , UAE

  21. Thanks Daniel and John – your comments came in within minutes of each other and as you can see the text of the purchase request is identical. Thanks for those.

  22. We have been contacted by Usman Omar – he wanted to purchase some large garden planters – the total order came to £4,200.00 he has ‘wired’ us £32,100.00 in error ! he was from a company called Advent Trading in Dubai – which is a genuine Trading company. After being informed of the overpayment we have contacted our bank to be on the lookout for its arrival.

  23. @lynne stanners
    Keep your money in your pocket and have the bank keep the video surveillance on these guys need to be caught it puts all of us on edge who trade over the internet. If they were a bit sharper they could perhaps catch some more of us, but sadly if there are the likes of us who are suspicious enough to do research they must be catching some people with this amateur scam or I am sure they would not do it. humans are so gullible when it comes to money!!

  24. This guy is alive and well and operating in S Yorkshire. He has just tried to scam a colleague for £40k, and according to the Nat West Bank, they have had several other cases.
    One scary issue that has come to light is the fact that if you use Internet Banking the bogus payment into your account can APPEAR AS FUNDS CLEARED AND AVAILABLE FOR USE when infact they have NOT fully cleared. So honest businesses can ‘refund’ money to this character in the belief that funds have cleared, and end up with a VERY BIG debt to the bank for refunding money that they don’t actually have.
    Nat West pointed out to my colleague that in the terms of their banking agreement it is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that funds have cleared and are available before using them. – And apparently, “Cleared and available for use” statements on the Bank’s internet site isn’t good enough – God help us all!

  25. received an email today from

    Mattew
    Marketing Director
    AL Garound Marketing Services LLC
    Dubai , UAE
    +971555879103

    Scam – wanted same info as above for large quantity of goods,

  26. Someone with similar details contacted us last week to buy £13,000 worth of pumps. Not unusual for us as a business, but as other have noted the buyer was far to quick in accepting our offer and asking for bank details. Today I received an email saying we have been “overpaid” by the transfer of £54,000! I’d sack our accountant if they did that!!

    Anyway, as others have noted, it’s a scam and here are his details:

    Mustapha Habib
    Chabba Trading Co. LLC
    P.O.Box : 27098 Jumeriah,
    Dubai UAE .
    Email : mozety101@gmail.com

  27. Hi all,

    we have been contacted by a company “Gulf coast brokers” from Dubai. Mr Hasan Abu even has called from Dubai once or twice. We do produce some fairly special machines, and he was able to ask and answer to some very detailed questions (which makes me wonder…). Now he apparently overpaid by bank transfer into our German account (my company is in Germany) and apparently is asking for some info from his client to see where the overpaid funds are supposed to be transferred to…. We are rather interested where this will go to! I will keep you posted!

    Henrik

  28. Thanks Henrik – sounds like the same scam, but more skillfully executed in terms of showing a detailed knowledge of your product. If they have initially arranged to conveniently bear the shipping costs, then it’s 100% a fraud.

  29. This posting was a lifesaver. We were just contacted by Mustppha Habib only this time he was claiming to be from Chabba Trading Co LLC, P.O. Box#27098 Jumeriah Dubai UAE Email or mozety101@gmail.com. We never got to the overpayment part of the scam, but when someone wants to buy equipment without a quote and immediately requests our banking information so they can do a wire transfer, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. My father once told me that when
    you expect something good, for nothing. That you usually get something good for nothing.

  30. Hi again,

    as we anticipated, we were just informed from the bank, that the check was not accepted.

    Oh well, the world is bad (Although I always try to think that all people are good in nature, then you have a more positive outlook and are only disappointed once in a while – better then assuming everybody is is a “bad guy” (too many worries.

    the check was actually from some Arizona school authority. I guess somebody went through the cupboards in the US and stole some check prints? This has nothing to do with Dubai at all. I guess it is some croock in the US trying to rip off people.

    Henrik

  31. Thanks for the update @Henrik – I’d agree that these particular scammers could be operating out of anywhere, in all likelihood close to the banks of their targets: in Europe and USA?

  32. Mustapha Habib is at it again. Actually called me on the phone to verify the name of the bank and the trading information.
    Here is the contact information he used in his email.
    I just alerted our bank. He has not sent any funds to
    our bank account.

    Chabba Trading Co. LLC
    Suite 16, Horizon Tower
    Jumeriah,Dubai UAE,
    United Arab Emirates .
    Tel : +971557741762
    Fax :+971 4 2052240

  33. —– Original Message —–
    From: terry jonathan (mrterry.j@gmail.com)
    To: REMOVED
    Sent: Monday, January 11, 2010 11:49 PM
    Subject: PURCHASE ENQUIRY

    Good day to you,want to make an enquiries about the purchase of these

    order in which one of my clients is in need to purchase but fortunately

    discovered it from you. I will want you to send to me the discounted price

    qouotes for the order

    i will be looking forward to read from you soon because the order is an

    Aurgent one.

    Regards,

    MR.TERRY
    Marketting Director
    EMIRATES MARKETING LLC
    DUBAI UAE

  34. It disturbs me to think that there could be businesses all over the World falling foul of this scam that will not have the experience to identify it as such (including finding this site) and then will subsequently be too embarassed to approach authority. There seems to be no way that it can be stopped.

  35. Hi @John Hilton I reckon if a business was stung for a 5-figure sum, embarassment wouldn’t come into it. Surely the business would go after the scammers and involve their local anti-fraud police to try and recover their money?

  36. @John Hilton

    There was little information about this scam on the internet and it was only by doing a proper search that i found this information but like everyone else there was tell tale signs that this was a scam, with reference to getting the authoritys involved i have contacted several sites who are not interested as no crime has taken place( an attempted Crime but no crime )

  37. Luckily i found this web site. Thanks everyone.

    Andy Wilkins

    ———————————————–

    Dear Sir/Ma,

    Goodday to you and how is work? We are a marketing and Purchasing company in the UAE.
    I want to make enquires about the sale of Containers that are for sale in your company.

    Type :

    1. 20ft standard used/new
    Kindly Quote Price

    2. 40ft standard used/new
    Kindly Quote Price

    If you have these products for sale i request that you give me the product details and
    discounted price quote for an immediate purchase .

    I will be looking forward to hearing back from you.

    Best Regards,
    Mustapha Habib
    Chabba Trading Co. LLC
    Suite 16, Horizon Tower
    Jumeriah,Dubai UAE,
    United Arab Emirates .
    Email : moozety101@gmail.com

  38. From SCAMMER David Robinson automac1@yahoo.com – BEWARE

    Dear Sir,

    I just received notification on the payment of $71,600.00U you received was from our financial department, they issued the shipper’s payment along with your payment due to the instruction of your payment and shipper’s payment forwarded to them.

    Due to errorenious blunder made by the financial department they issued your payment and the shipper’s payment together as they have other goods with the shipper, in a single payment $71,600.00U forwarded into your account, instead of $7,300.00 as agreed.

    They have other goods with the shipper and they will commence the inspection and handling as soon as possible.

    Kindly acknowledge the payment as soon as possible to enable us proceed.

    Sorry for the inconvinences this time and hope we do more successful deal in the future.

    Best regards,
    David

  39. We were also tried by friend Habib with the variation that they were buying equiment from the UK and we were to ship to Dubai by Air. Suprisingly £15.000 was overpaid with a reference of the Scottish Football Association (hand written cheque). Very convincing (not)! Of course we did not refund anything, contacted bank who had already bounced the cheque. Email address was gmail one – always a doubt.
    Will try to find who to send info to in the UK.
    Regards, Mike.

  40. Hi

    We had a request for a quote for a small amount and everything seemed genuine, the guy sounded professional enough and had called the office too.

    Then we we got £55,000 transferred, immediately we knew there was something fishy about it. I spoke to the bank and they advised it is up to him to ask his bank to ask for a recall of funds and then we would be asked to approve this. Noone at a company should make these refunds. As it should be left between the banks to sort out.

    I see from the 18th of Nov 09 post he has been doing this for some time, and which business would use a yahoo account? Nino Gomez Emirates Marketing LLC, Dubai nino_emirate@yahoo.com. He sent an email saying it was the finance departments mistake and gave diff bank details to transfer the funds to, we would never ever do this. If we ever have to issue a refund to a company then it goes back to the same details it came from! At the moment the funds don’t show to be cleared, and no doubt they won’t clear.

    Scotland Uk

  41. The ever busy Mr Terry has kindly paid £53700.00 into my bank in response to a £10k invoice I sent him for motorcycle parts. I really cannot imagine how this scam could work when hitting on businesses that should know better but it is disturbing that the false cheque (not yet rejected) was paid in at my local branch in Notts just 5 mins from my house.
    Is there any point going to the police with this?

  42. Hi @Arthur Macdonald I suppose if everyone contacted the UK’s National Fraud Authority by telephone (0300 123 2040), one would hope the scale of this scam would merit some attention. However I get the impression that you’d almost have to be acquainted with an Anti-Fraud detective to get a proactive policing response to this activity.

    After all these scammers have people walking into UK banks on a very regular basis with large bogus cheques. It shouldn’t take too much resources to trip them up.

  43. gerry :Hi @Arthur Macdonald I suppose if everyone contacted the UK’s National Fraud Authority by telephone (0300 123 2040), one would hope the scale of this scam would merit some attention. However I get the impression that you’d almost have to be acquainted with an Anti-Fraud detective to get a proactive policing response to this activity.
    After all these scammers have people walking into UK banks on a very regular basis with large bogus cheques. It shouldn’t take too much resources to trip them up.

    You’d think. But I went to the bank first thing, at that time I just thought is was me who was being targetted, to ask them if they could tell what time the cheque was paid in so they could check their CCTV. You would think I had asked for an overdraft. I don’t think the banks care too much as any money it costs them they can easily recover through increasing their charges without any fear of losing business. And as for the police….maybe if they could install a Gatso camera in the branches they migh be interested. Or am I just an old cynic? Anyway must dash while the credit is still showing in my account so I can order a new MV Augusta or two! One thing I didn’t mention but may be of use to someone somewhere is that the cheque that was paid in was from P&O Ferries??

  44. Amazing that these people are still active with this scam. If you read back through these comments you will see that my company has been approached twice before in late 2009 and this morning we rec’d yet another e-mailed request from Dubai !! We won’t be responding. Copy follows….
    Good day to you,want to make an enquiries about the purchase of these order in which one of my clients is in need to purchase but fortunately discovered it from you. I will want you to send to me the discounted price qouotes for the order.

    BEACH 6.75Kg TUMBLER (excl barrels)
    Ref: 10-021

    I will be looking forward to read from you soon because the order is an urgent one

    NINO GOMEZ
    Marketting Director
    Emirates Marketing LLC
    Dubai

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