This time we’ll be look at the start of ‘Procurement scam’. In these scams you’re offered an opportunity to buy some items (normally chemicals, often related to medical things) which you can then sell on to another company at an amazing profit.
Of course the offer is a load of rubbish…
The email’s subject was ‘Re: PROPOSAL FOR [my email address was in here]’ and came from a domain which looked sort of ‘business like’. It went:
I am Philip Roger, Research director At reputable company in United Kingdom , permit me to share with you some business insights .
Please Kindly reply me on my personal email
Note: You have the right to quit by the end of my detailed explanation if you are not interested.
But Trust me, you won’t regret this opportunity.
Best Regards ,
[In here were two more email addresses – both different from the one it was sent ‘from’! One had a fake medical type domain and the other was a Gmail account.]
This came into my business account, but I replied to it from an account I only use for scam baiting. I changed the email in the subject and wanted to see if the scammer would notice (or care) that they’d got a reply from a different account – it turns out they don’t!
Looking at the headers of the email, it also looks like it actually came from yet another Gmail account, but was sent via the dodgy ‘business’ domain – using servers in Belarus.
The domain it was sent ‘from’ was registered in Belarus in July 2022. The fake medical looking one was registered in April 2023 (so a few months ago), possibly in the UK.
Anyway, who couldn’t want to reply to an obviously amazing offer like that… So I did…
This sounds interesting. Tell me more.
A few hours later, I got a reply. This time it came from the dodgy medical looking domain. Its email servers are located in Romania!
Hello Jamie [I use the name Jamie in my scam baiting account],
I’m glad we can connect here.
I’m Philip, a Research Assistant of the Research and Development Department working with Med Pharmaceutical Laboratories UK, One of the leading Bio Pharmaceutical Companies here in England.
I’m looking for a reliable businessman/individual in your region to represent my company in sourcing some of our basic raw material used in the manufacturing of high quality Anti-Viral Vaccines, Cancer treatment and other life saving Pharmaceutical Products.
This may not be your area of specialization but it will be another income generating business out of your specialty. This is because our company is yet to locate any seller to buy from, however, I have been able to discover a local dealer who can supply us with this product.
He is selling at a cheap rate , which is far more cheaper than our previous purchases.
My director is not yet aware that I have found a new seller.
Now THIS IS MY PROPOSAL TO YOU; I want you to stand in as a new local dealer from your country and I will introduce you to our company.
The reason for this is because I don’t want my company to have direct contact with the local agent that sells this extract very cheaply.
This will enable us to work together as partners and make real cool profits. You as the local seller will supply to our company at a good rate which I will inform you later when we are in agreement and This will attract the attention of our company director to buy from you as against the previous rate .
You will be amazed with our total profit .
I will give you more specific profit details when I receive feedback from you if you are interested.
The email sender was from ‘Philip Roger’ but it’s signed by ‘Roger Philip’. You’ve got to love scammers with two first names that aren’t quite sure which way round they really are…!
Philip (or it is Roger?) says he works for ‘Med Pharmaceutical Laboratories UK, One of the leading Bio Pharmaceutical Companies here in England’. Only that company doesn’t exist – as we’ll see below…
Well, that’s quite some email. He wants me to be a local dealer ‘in my country’ as he’s found a cheap seller and wants me to be a go-between. I mean that sounds perfectly normal and above board doesn’t it? No. No it doesn’t. And of course he’s not actually mentioned (and can’t know) what country I’m in anyway!
I’m in the UK, like he claims to be, but I’m not going to tell him that. So let’s play along and see what happens next.
This does sound like a very interesting offer and something I’d be interested in following up.
I’ve not dealt with this area before, but my friends say I’m trustworthy and good at buying and selling things.
What do I need to do next?
Thank you for responding to my message .I’m glad you want to proceed in this business with me and I hope to elaborate extensively about this so you will know it is a nice one and I will guide you through the entire process so we can achieve success in this business.
Zilicon extract v45 is used in the suppressive drugs for HIV, gives good analytical result and prove to corrective cancer cure and helps in the cure of tuberculosis., The Zilicon extract v45 is a new and rare cold pressed and pressurized raw material we need for the manufacture of so many lifesaving drugs right now. It is a rare herbal mixture from rare organic plants which are nurtured under good environmental conditions to achieve great results after careful preparation.
Our company wants a supplier who will handle the supply of this pressurized raw materials we need for manufacture of so many lifesaving drugs right now.
The Zilicon extract v45 will be exported to the United Kingdom where our pharmaceutical company is located. We lost our supplier to this raw material last year and it has hindered production in the company.
I have been able to discover a local dealer who can supply us this product.
**Your Duty: You will act as a Front local seller and will supply to our company at the rate of US$21,000 or less. This will attract the attention of our company director to buy from you as against the previous rate of US$22,000.
The dealer is selling at a cheap rate of US$9,000 per drum, which is far cheaper than our previous purchases.
It is not in line with my work contract to handle procurement contracts, so I seek your consent to act as a front and help execute this project and hand me a commission.
Before I direct you to the CPO and give you more vital information, we will agree on the commission I will get if the contract gets to you and after the supply. I would like to have 20% of the profit after the deal as my commission in this. If you are alright with that then I will draft an MOU so we can sign for it to bind us after that I can direct you accordingly. You will have to send me your full name and address to be able to draft up this MOU.
I will direct you to the procurement department of our company that handles procurement if you agree to give me 20% of the profit as a commission from every $12,000 made from each barrel purchased by our company.
Once we agree on the commission and I receive your address, then we can draft the MOU and after that I can direct you accordingly.
Finally, I would like to inform you that it’s not antisocial or anti government
I look forward to doing good business with you.
More utter rubbish. Zilicon does seem to be a herb which you can get oil from. But there’s nothing online about it being used for anything to do with HIV or TB! It was traditionally used to treat skin conditions…
So I replied…
OK, I think I understand that. So what do I need to do now?
Well I didn’t get a reply after that – but that was actually my fault!
It was my ‘fault’ because I’d reported the dodgy domains to their registrars and had got them cancelled!!!
There’s quite a satisfaction in getting scammers stopped in their tracks. I’m sure this scammer will be back in action by now, using a different domain (or two), but I made their life a little tricky for a while!
How we know this is a Scam
All companies in the UK have to be registered with register at ‘Companies House’. They’ve got a website where you can search for a company and find out basic information about them. I did a search, and to my utter astonishment (not) there is no company in the UK called ‘Med Pharmaceutical Laboratories UK’!
If we do a Google of “Med Pharmaceutical Laboratories UK” we get four results – you’d think a big company would get more than that wouldn’t you?
Of those four, the top results is from a site where people list scam emails – and it’s an identical one as from ‘Philip’ from 2021, only he was using an @aol.com account then, two are from a fake Facebook profile for ‘Philip Rogers’ (notice the extra ‘s’) and one is on a fake LinkedIn profile for a ‘Philip Roger’ (no extra ‘s’)!
On the Facebook profile, it says that ‘Philip’ is a Research Assistant (RA) at Med Pharmaceutical Laboratories UK and it links to a very empty page for that company (there’s not even a logo!) which was created in February 2023.
There are also some photos of ‘Philip’, only a reverse image search shows that they’re actually of ‘Werner Salzmann’, a politician from Switzerland! (His photo is also used on a Quora account for a ‘Dr. Yikes’…)
The url of the Facebook profile also isn’t for a ‘Philip Rogers’, it’s for entirely different name – one that seems mostly likely to have originated in Nigeria!
The LinkedIn profile says that ‘Philip’ is from Malaysia! It also lists him as a Research Assistant at Med Pharmaceutical Laboratories UK, since June 2011 and also as the ‘managing director’ of a Malaysian petrochemical company!
Its profile image is of a very different person. A reverse image search doesn’t turn anything up, but the man does look like he could be from Malaysia.
That’s enough red flags there to signal something VERY red!
More About Procurement Scams
Basically, unless you’re up for some scambaiting (and you know what you’re doing) you should NEVER reply to any ‘offer’ like this.
Procurement Scams have been around for years (as we can see from the search result of basically identical spam from ‘Philip’ from 2021). They seemed to become more popular during/after Covid started as they often use ‘medical’ things.
They use medical chemicals as a target as they sound impressive and if you can help get people whilst getting some money on top – well that’s got to be a good offer right?! Well, NO.
If I had got any further, I would have been asked to pay some money up front, so they could ‘buy’ the chemicals in my name. They then normally want the money via things like gift cards (because all big medical companies use gift card to buy supplies…) or increasingly Crypto.
Both of those payment methods are pretty much untraceable. You’d never get an chemicals and you’d also have basically no chance of getting your money back…
It seems that many of these procurement scams (as well as many other financial based email scams) come from West Africa in countries like Nigeria. And I’m pretty sure this scammer was also from Nigeria.
In my scam baiting, I’ve actually had some interesting emails with a Nigerian scammer, once I’d got him to drop the pretense of the scam and he’d stopped swearing at me! He claimed that scamming was the only way he could get ‘good money’… And sadly it can be a way that people can earn good money. But it can also have devastating effects.
If you’d like to know more about scammers and their effect in Nigeria (and other countries) please watch this video by Babatunde, a great Nigerian YouTuber.