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Series of fake emails convinced scholar

An all-expenses paid trip to the US and Spain to take part in an international seminar on ‘Racism and Human Rights’ would have looked great on any scholar’s curriculum vitae.

delhi Updated: Feb 02, 2011 23:30 IST
Karan Choudhury

An all-expenses paid trip to the US and Spain to take part in an international seminar on ‘Racism and Human Rights’ would have looked great on any scholar’s curriculum vitae. But little did this scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) know that he would be falling into a well-laid trap and lose his life savings in the process.

The trap Things changed on December 17, when this scholar got a forwarded email from his friend. The email claimed that a seminar would be organised between December 24 and 29 in New York and January 30 and February 4 in Madrid. “The mail had the logo of Global Watch Institute (GWI, New York). It also said the whole trip would be paid for. There were a lot of grammatical errors in the mail but as it pertained to my thesis I thought of going through with it so I mailed them back,” said the scholar.

How he fell into it In the first reply to his mail, one Dr Patrick Raymond, the secretary-cum-registrar of GWI claimed that all that he needs to do is book a hotel in Madrid. “I said the hotel tariff was too high and I could not pay that much. So they then said that they would pay 40% of the tariff and I wire transferred the amount.” Again in the second email, Raymond allegedly asked for 1095 euros for health insurance. “I again sent them an email, as I could not pay the exorbitant amount. But they said that they would reimburse the money as soon as I reached the US. So I parted with my savings as well as asked my parents send me R1 lakh. I wire transferred the money to them.”

Fake papers In a series of emails, GWI sent him a number of papers that claimed to be from the Department of Justice in the US. They even sent a paper that they claimed the victim had to get signed from the Spanish embassy. “I went to the Spanish Embassy and when I asked them, they claimed that no such paper was issued by them ever and the person undersigned was not known to them,” he added.