I had an interesting experience this week.  someone contacted me through the Canadian Association of Professional speakers.  They indicated that they wanted me to come to London England to speak at a seminar on business at a school for the arts – Bird College.  I was flattered but a little confused and sceptical.  I continued a conversation through email on black berry for a few days while I was travelling.  they had sent documents like a letter of invitation and a contract but I was unable to open them until I got home.  the documents lacked the quality of a post secondary institution and some holes were appearing in the discussion as it proceeded.  The email address of the person who contacted me did not match the pattern of the ones on the website and when I followed the pattern for my contact, the email bounced.

I was instructed to first acquire a work permit and present it along with the signed contract so that travel arrangements could be made by the college.  The catch … the work permit money was to be paid to an individual with at least two names – one in the email and one in the return email address.  Over  $1000.00 dollars for a work visa for a one hour speech???  Hmmmm  I sent back an “I’m confused” email and got a phone call from the professor Davis Smith I had been corresponding with.  He had a Chinese accent?  Curiouser and curiouser….  he wanted to assure me that once I sent the money for the visa to this Dr. Lewis that the college would pay everything and I should send the money right away to avoid delays in the issuing of the visa.  I don’t think so…..

It was a pretty good attempt at a scam, complete with scheduled conference call with other presenters at the seminar and a representative at the Embassy.  These folks are getting pretty sophisticated.  We all need to be extra diligent and check and double-check everything I guess.  It is so not in my nature to be suspicious but I have learned a valuable lesson here that I hope others can benefit from.  It is sometime important to look at the world through the lens of the Security BEACH so as to protect yourself and others from the unscrupulous beaviour of others. “Shields Up!!”