Phony Check Scams: Barrister Ben Esq,  my personal assistantin Benin Mr Fednard Marth

Phony Check Scams
Barrister Ben Esq, Mr Fednard Marth
I just want to use this medium to thank you very much foryour earlier assistance to help me in receiving the funds

Have you received an email from Barrister Ben Esq of  saying "I just want to use this medium to thank you very much foryour earlier assistance to help me in receiving the funds", and that they will send you a check to deposit; just contact "my personal assistantin Benin Mr Fednard Marth"?

It is an AFF / Money transfer Scam.   You don't suppose scammers are smart enough to know that "Esq" is an abbreviation for "Esquire" which means "lawyer", and not a last name?  Nope, scammers are generally stupid. They'll send you counterfeit checks which you are supposed to deposit, take out some percentage (typically, 10%) for your work, and then MoneyGram or Western Union wire the remaining 90%. Notice that although you receive checks, they won't let you forward a check to them, only Western Union or Money Gram. There's a reason for this: Western Union and MoneyGrams are cashed immediately and are untraceable and irretrievable. Bank checks can take 1 or 2 weeks to clear!

Of course, since the check is fake, it will bounce a week or so later after you deposit it.  But you have already moneygram'ed the scammers the 90% of the amount, and that is transacted almost instantly.  So you now owe the bank for the full amount. You may also face criminal charges for passing counterfeit checks. See this page for a step-by-step explanation of how the scam unfolds.

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Notice the highlighted passages in the actual scam email below.  They point out some of the additional clues that it is a scam, such as the email comes from a free email account (such as,,, Gmail,, etc.).  Wouldn't you expect a company to have its own website and email address (after all, it only costs about $200/year; every reputable company has its own website these days!) And don't be surprised if the scammers do put the names of real companies, real websites and events in their scams; it doesn't mean anything at all!

Sample phony check scam emails:

From:  [mailto:]
Sent: Saturday, June 23, 2007 12:33 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:

my dear friend
How are you today?

It's has been long I heard from you. Well, I just want to use this medium to thank you very much foryour earlier assistance to help me in receiving the funds,without any positive out come.Iam obliged to inform you that I have succeeded in receiving the funds with the help of a new partnerfrom Paraguay.Everythng was perfectly done because we strike a deal with one of the ladyaccountant who works with the federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) and she rendered a tremendous help to us.My new partner initiated this idea and everything worked out successfully.In appreciation of your earlier assistance to me in receiving the Funds.

I have decided to compensate you with the sum of in a Cashier's$850,000 cheque
(Eight Hundred andFifty ThousandUnited States Dollars).This is from my own share. I did this simply to show you that it is good to do goodthings to the right people always.Presently, I amin Paraguay forinvestment project with my own share under the advice of my partner.Meanwhile, I didn't forget your past efforts and attempts to assist me in transferring those fund despite thatit failed us somehow. I will be sending you e-mail from time to time to know if you haver received your share or not.Now contact my personal assistantin Benin Mr Fednard Marth, his e-mail address is )

Please do let me know immediately if you receive it so that we can share thejoy together after all the suffering at that time. In the moment, I am very busy here in Paraguay because of the investment projects, which the new partnerand I are having at hand so fill free to get in touch with young Fednard to send the cheque to you without any delay.

With My Best Regards,
Barrister Ben Esq ,

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