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A lame attempt at stealing thousands of euros from a photographer

Please don’t let any scammers know about this web page! The objective here is to make these miscreants waste their time on people like me who haven’t been fooled for a second, distracting them from baiting others who might fall for their scam.

I had a significant scamming cycle in 2005 and I was pretty naïve then though luckily and naturally I didn’t send anyone any money. I then had four attempts in 2016 with the horse riding lessons scammer Victor Smith, event scammer Michelle Dormanen, art scammer Albert Spencer and wedding scammer Anthony Martinex. In 2017 I had two more scamming attempts with Richard Matt and Peter Tetteh.

Having become an “old hand at the game” I played around with them, made them think I was falling for their scam, then burst their balloon at the bitter end and told them no, I was not going to send them thousands of dollars, euros, pounds, or who-knows-what.

On June 23rd 2019 I received an e-mail from “Christopher Mecray”, asking me to photograph conferences of his employees at meetings in Paris. The first warning sign is that he wrote from a GMail address instead of an address ending axalta.com. It seems Christopher Mecray is Vice President, Investor Relations of Axalta and naturally I do not wish to cast any aspersions on the real Mr. Mecray, it’s just that when communicating by e-mail, well, you can trust people as far as you can throw them, which often isn’t very far. Here’s the story:


Subject: Request for booking service
From: "Christopher Mecray" <info.es.axalta@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Jun 23, 2019 11:55 am

Dear Sir/Ma, (!)

We are Axalta Coating company based in Spain.

We are writing you this email to make a booking in your organization for 2 consecutive days, We propose from 25th-26th of July, time from 12:00 noon till 17:00 pm on each day for now.

My organization is sponsoring a seminar for its distributors in France & would like to book your service. 2 cameras and two operators. The venue would be communicated to you in due time and total number of delegates is 40.

During our research via search engine, we discover your company will be able to render this services for us. Kindly send us your best price per day and also the total cost for the 2 days. Please get back to us to know you have receive our request.

Kind regards,
Christopher Mecray -
Axalta logo
Business Development Executive,
Axalta Coating Systems Spain SL
Parque Tecnológico de Asturias
Parcela 2, 33428 Cayes-Llanera
Spain
+34 984 93 4500

Hello Christopher,

Thanks for writing, certainly I am free July 25th and 26th and it will be my pleasure taking pictures and shooting video those days!

For this kind of service with myself and an additional photographer I am in the habit of requesting 400 euros per day.

This would include all the pictures we would be able to take in Jpeg format with moderate “development” in Adobe Lightroom, as well as all the videos we would shoot, delivered on a USB key the next day, or I could make the photos and videos available to you through a web service and send you the link by e-mail so you could download them at your leisure.

I have a Nikon D600, which takes pictures at 24 megapixels, suitable for printing at sizes up to 16x20 inches, and far beyond if the resolution is upsampled in Photoshop or some other program.

Please don’t hesitate to ask further questions, and do keep me posted as your plans in Paris take shape…

Very truly yours,
David

Considering he found me through “research via search engine” he should have noticed that I am a man, not a woman and had no need to write “Dear Sir/Ma”.


Mon, Jun 24, 2019 12:47 pm

Hello David,

Many thanks for getting back to us,

I can confirm to you that we are satisfied with your offer and we would like to proceed. Do get back to us with your bank rib and proforma invoice for us to arrange the bank transfer as soon as possible.

Best regards
Christopher Mecray

Hello Christopher,

I am happy you find my proposal agreeable! I would like to know if you would like to have pictures taken, videos shot, or both during the seminars.

I’m sending an invoice, please do let me know if there is anything there that should added, removed or modified…

All the best,
David


Mon, Jun 24, 2019 1:50 pm

>>I would like to know if you would like to have pictures taken, videos shot, or both during the seminars??
YES sure.

Kindly confirm your bank name and bank address for our finance department??

Best regards,
Christopher Mecray

Hello Christopher,

From your answer I understand that we will be called upon to both take pictures and shoot videos. I imagine we could decide on-site what percentage of our time will be dedicated to photography, or videos, or you specify that ahead of time.

All the best,
David


Tue, Jun 25, 2019 10:28 am

Hello David,

Many thanks for the details which i have passed to our finance, i shall write back immediately i have the payment confirmation.

I will specify your request ahead of time.

Best regards,
Christopher Mecray

Hello Christopher,

That sounds fine, please do keep me posted…

All the best,
David


Subject: PAYMENT NOTIFICATION
From: "Christopher Mecray" <info.es.axalta@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jul 09, 2019 10:22 pm

Good morning David,

Am sorry for my late response and delay in getting back to you earlier.
I traveled on a business trip just came back.
I just want to let you know the payment has been made/wire to your bank account but there seems to be a mix-up with the amount.
I will see to the situation and get back to you as soon as I can.
I am looking forward hearing from you asap, so kindly get back to me today.
Thank you and have a nice day.
Kind regards,
Christopher Mecray

Hello Christopher,

I checked my bank account late in the afternoon today and didn’t see a wire transfer from you. Are you sure you used the correct IBAN and BIC information? Keep me posted…

All the best,
David

In this message I saw the first hint that Mr. Mecray is a scammer, where he says there is a “mix-up” in the amount. This is the classic hallmark of a scammer: they send a rubber check for far more than what you have quoted for services and ask you to send them the difference.


Thu, Jul 11, 2019 4:01 pm

Dear David,

The payment was sent to the correct IBAN number and i assured you the money was executed already.

The mix-up I informed you about was that you got the amount that was meant for our event planner which is 9940,89€ while the amount meant for you which is 800,00€ was sent to the event planner.

I believe it is something we can work out as soon as you have the money available in your account so we sort out the difference.

Kindly let me know as soon as you receive the money immediately.

Thank you so much for your time, patience and understanding.

I awaits your quick response today and have a nice day.

Sincerely,
Christopher Mecray

Hello Christopher,

I just checked my bank account again today and didn’t see a wire transfer from you…

All the best,
David

A message like this made me 99% sure that he is a scammer. I’m supposed to send 9,140.89 euros to someone I don’t know? Yeah, right… with this message I understood the photo shoot would not happen and there was no need for me to ask a photographer friend of mine in Paris to come along for the shoot.


Fri, Jul 12, 2019 3:30 pm

Dear David,

Yes, of course you will receive the payment on your bank account soon and i assured you the money was executed already.

To refund difference of the booking, i will give you the event planner bank details to transfer the money online and handle it yourself immediately.

Please, always check your online account daily to know when the money arrives in your account.

I would like to know when you have the money in your account immediately, and I want to make sure that everything is alright.

Thanks again, looking forward to hear from you.

With kind regards
Christopher Mecray

Hello Christopher,

I just checked my account and didn’t see any new funds having been transferred. Perhaps, to facilitate the transfer to your event planner, it would help if you could send me their bank information…

All the best,
David


Subject: Re: PAYMENT NOTIFICATION
Date: Fri, Jul 19, 2019 2:37 pm

Hello David,

Yes, you are correct.

That was the mix-up i was talking about, that you got the amount that was meant for our event planner which is 9940,89 € while the amount meant for you which is 800,00 € was sent to the event planner.

To repay difference of the quote, i will give you the event planner bank details to transfer the refund online and handle it yourself immediately.

We require the best and full job from you. Please give us the best.
Thanks for your cooperation to proceed and please give us the best.
Looking forward to your reply now.

Sincerely yours,
Christopher Mecray

Hello Christopher,

It’s my pleasure, the best is the only thing I do! I’m friends with a photographer in Paris who is very good and I’ll have him come along to share the photography and video duties.

Could you send me the address where your conferences will take place?

All the best,
David

Oh yeah, my heart bleeds for Mr. Mecray for having made a mistake in sending funds to different people.


Wed, Jul 17, 2019 8:06 pm

Dear David,

I will get back to you the bank information of the event planner. You should have received alert you the sum of 9940,89€ we made into your account and kindly check your account online for more update today.

We urge you to kindly check thoroughly your account statement for our payment and confirm money has been received so we can settle the difference today.

Awaiting your feedback ASAP.

Sincerely
Christopher Mecray

Hello Christopher,

I indeed saw that a check for 9940,89€ has been deposited in my account, thanks.

Very truly yours,
David

At this point it would have been pretty amusing to tell him “Screw you, I’m going to keep the €9,940.89, I won’t take the pictures and I’m not going to send you a single penny.” I figure I’ll try that in my next scamming episode.


Subject: VERY URGENT REPLY.
From: Christopher Mecray <info.es.axalta@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Jul 19, 2019 8:47 pm

Hello David,

We made excess payment to your La banque postale account.

Make sure you send the difference of the money to the event planner account today:

Société Générale
Adresse de la banque: 1 Rue André Chénier 92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
Beneficiary name: I. Daniel
IBAN: FR7630003038550005001637805
Code BIC/SWIFT: SOGEFRPP
Reference as: (AC: 093- AX-EVENT 12)
Or MOTIF: AC: 093-AX-EVENT-12

This message is very important.

Register the IBAN to your online bank and kindly refund back the difference today.

Make the transfer online per your daily limit for today and you make another transfer the next day till we are done with the 9140,89€ after deducting your 800,00€ and if you don't have a daily limit, you can transfer all at once.

We further ask you to send us a document of the refund Virement today.

Thanks again, looking forward to hear from you ASAP today.

Have a nice day,
Christopher Mecray

Hello Christopher,

Naturally the first step in preparing to transfer the 9140,89€ to your event planner's bank account was to look at my own account.

When I did so I saw that the French tax officials had confiscated the entire sum of 9940,89€ that you had sent to my bank.

I have owed so much taxes for so long that they must have been keeping an eye on my account, monitoring it for the slightest indication of incoming funds.

I’ll be happy to take the pictures of your conference because that’s just a few hours of work in two days and doesn’t cost me anything but the time.

Let me know what you think…

Very truly yours,
David


Fri, Jul 19, 2019 9:11 pm

Hello David,

There is no problem to comes along with your friends to share the photography and video duties in our upcoming event.
We shall give you the address where the conferences will take place on Tuesday to get prepare for the event.

I sent you earlier the event planner bank details and i have not received the proof of the virement by email.

Could you please send the proof to me and confirm you have done it?

Kindly, make sure you send us the documents of the virement today.

I want to make sure that everything is alright and the refund has been completed.

Thank you so much for your time, patience and understanding.

I awaits your quick response today and have a nice day.

Al the best
Christopher Mecray

A rubber check for 9,940.89€ sent by Christopher Mecray.

The counterfeit check for 9,940.89€ sent by Christopher Mecray, shown in a photocopy my bank sent me on July 26th 2019. In that letter they say the check is being held by the justice and they asked me to explain the circumstances in which I received the check and asked me to send them a copy of the complaint I have filed with the police.

Hello Christopher,

I was planning on hiring my photographer friend to come take pictures and shoot video at your conferences because, as you must remember, you requested a team of two photographers when you first wrote asking me to take pictures on June 25th and 26th and said:
“2 cameras and two operators. The venue would be communicated to you in due time and total number of delegates is 40.”

I just sent you a message saying the French tax authorities have confiscated the entire sum of 9,940.89€ that you sent to my bank. This means I am penniless as ever and thus will not be able to hire my friend to take pictures.

I apologize for not recognizing the danger in sending money to my bank account, to make it up to you for your loss of almost 10,000€ I’ll be happy to come and take pictures at your event.

Fermer X
Détail d’une opération
LIVRET A nº############
Date de l’opération 22/07/2019
Nature Chèque
Mode d’imputation Débit
Montant 9 940,89
Devise Euros
Statut Impayé
Motif
Référence
La Banque Postale print iconIMPRIMER

Let me know what you think…

Cheers,
David


With these two last messages I heard no more from Christopher Mecray: complete radio silence. In my previous experiences with scammers, they would fly in to wild fits of rage when I told them I would not be sending them thousands of euros.

The worst of these incidents happened with scammer Albert Spencer who wanted to rip me off by “buying” a dozen prints of my photographs. The only way I could get him to shut up and stop sending me e-mails was to royally insult him, which naturally he deserved.

I checked my bank account a few days later and still saw the 9,940.89 euros in my account, on the other hand in a section entitled “refused transactions” I saw that what Mr. Mecray sent was indeed a rubber check:


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