Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Fraud/scam using exclusive@the-sun.co.uk - Employee at news.co.uk running a scam

Yesterday I was nearly conned out of £5000 so today I thought I would blog about it to see if anyone else has come across this scam.

While I was walking my dog I received a phone call on my mobile from a so called David Thorne (the number was 07552483964).  He explaining to me that he works for an agency which supplies content for the newspapers The Sun and The Times. He explained that he could offer me a FREE A4 editorial space in a magazine supplement called 'Look a little closer' which would be inserted into every copy of The Sun and The Times tomorrow (or today now).  He explained if I agreed he would get Carol Vorderman to phone me up and conduct a sort of interview over the phone and this content would get added to this magazine.  Apparently there was to be a feature on 'unusual things' and Carol had interviewed 5 other people, but one artist had a car accident and wanted to pull out of the editorial, hence there being a space.  He said normally they would fill the space with advertising but wanted to see if he could offer this slot to someone like myself. Saying I was top of his list of people to contact.  He went on about how much an editorial like this would normally cost and it was my lucky day! How my art work is amazing and totally unique and ideal for this supplement.  I then asked if it was really free and he said that I just have to pay for the interview with Carol for 'about £5000', said he would need to check, but then that money would be reimbursed by the company he works for as an expense.  At this stage I realised he was trying to con me and told him that it sounds too good to be true so must be a con.  He denied this and went on about how if I send him my logo and images today it would be going to print tonight, it would change my life, blah blah.   I then said to email me confirmation that I will get this £5000 back in an email. He said I would be paying either Carol Vordermon direct or her agents.

This is the email he sent me from exclusive@the-sun.co.uk

Good Afternoon Carolyn,

Just a brief written confirmation regarding the editorial opportunity we discussed on the phone for you. Confirming that we have offered you a free of charge full page A4 editorial space in the ‘ Look a little closer ’ magazine supplement, featuring Carol Vorderman, which will be printing this evening and will be a pull out insertion inside every copy of both tomorrows The Sun and Times newspapers equating to a print run of nearly 23 million copies – looking as businesses and individuals that provide something slightly different. Further guaranteeing for you that although you will have to hire Carol yourself on a freelance journalistic basis to produce the content of the space at your own expense (£5,000 – VAT nil ), that you can claim this cost back from us as an expense you have incurred towards producing content that we then print. You will be liable for your reimbursement immediately after the article goes to print, or after you physical ly confirm in writing that we are legally allowed to run the article when our production send you the final copy of proof before print. Images will be need to be provided by yourselves – It would be easiest if you could reply to this email with the images/logos you would like to incorporate into the piece. Please include your space reference as the emails subject when replying with the imagery you would like us to use ( Space ref: sun608 ). The entire supplement will be also be available for digital download and viewing on The Sun and The Times websites for between 6-12 months. You will retain all copyrights to the article for further use prior to print. Please reply with a short confirmation – I will call you back shortly!

Warmest Regards

- -
David Thorne
Supplements Manager
Direct: 07552483964
Switchboard: 020 7782 6000
Email: advertising@newsint.co.uk
Paper: exclusive@the-sun.co.uk

News UK & Ireland Ltd
1 London Bridge Street
United Kingdom
020 7782 6000

Copyright © 2015 News Corp UK & Ireland Limited. All rights reserved. This website is published by News Corp UK & Ireland Limited, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF. Registered in England No 81701. VAT number GB 243 8054 69.


Back at home he phoned me again from this number:  020 7782 6000 which happens to be the same number for News UK www.news.co.uk which is a trading name of News Corp UK & Ireland Limited.  And according to this wiki page a key person is Rupert Murdoch. The news.co.uk website says on its home page that they publish for The Sun and The Times. So it all looked quite legitimate. 

I was still skeptical and told him this and he said "but I have emailed you from The Sun (exclusive@the-sun.co.uk) and I am calling you from the company I work for...  You can see the number on the website".  This was all true.  I then said to him that if this was legitimate and Carol has already done some of these interviews then get her to call me to confirm.  If its worth £5K to her she wont mind speaking to me briefly before I confirm to have this interview done by her.  He then said it shouldn't be a problem and I hung up, assuming I would get a call from Carol.  Obviously I didn't hear from Carol or him again.

This email exclusive@the-sun.co.uk is listed on the contact page of The Sun's website so it is a real email. 

This and the fact that he called me from a number which is listed on news.co.uk made me worry that I was rude to this chap and I had missed out.  But my instinct told me this was a scam. One thing that I found odd was why there was the daily mail url in the signature of the email.

So I decided to find out who Carol Vordermans agent is and get in touch.   Her agent is John Miles MBE and he confirmed it was not a genuine proposal. He actually called the mobile without a reply and he called the 020 7782 6000 which is the switchboard at news.co.uk and they confirmed they dont know a David Thorne.  So obviously fraud. I have since had a conversation with John and he agreed when I suggested reporting it to the police. He wasn't happy as they are using his clients name.  What worries me is if this chap has done this many times and conned many people.  I do hope I am the first..   So I contacted Action Fraud and they decided it was serious enough to file a report.  I am now waiting on someone from the police in London to phone me.

I assume that this person works at www.news.co.uk.  He was very convincing and had I not been exposed to unscrupulous journalists in the past I may well have fell for this.

So if you have had a similar experience, maybe using a different celebrity or different story please get in touch.