A good friend of ours at Public Words, a successful public speaker, recently received a speaking inquiry from a prestigious university in the United Kingdom. The request came via email, and there were a number of indications that it wasn’t on the level. The email address was a Gmail account, not the university’s email. The sender purported to be a professor at the school, but there was no record of such a professor in the university’s online database. Of course, he might have been newly appointed, but his command of the English language was so bad that our friend was immediately suspicious.
On further investigation, there was no mention of the conference our friend was supposed to speak at on the university’s website. In addition, there was an unusual request to “get a work permit” from the “British embassy” (via another Gmail account).
All signs seemed to point to fraud. And, in addition, the amount of money offered for speaking was unusually large – the final straw.
My question to everyone is: have you run across anything similar? What’s the point – would the scammer have asked for bank information at a later stage if our friend had continued? If you’ve run across speaker scams like this, please let me know.