Michelle Abdel and the Lawyer From Hell

Most scammers I’ve come across since I started this odd little hobby of mine will include a fake 3rd party in their backstory. For example, a scammer might say; “I lost my license, so send the money to my roommate and I will have them pick it up.” They do this because involving more people can make the scam sound more legit, but more importantly, it’s usually because they’re lying about their own identity, which means they can’t have money sent to them.

The “roommate” who’s details I’m told to send money to could be the scammers true identity, someone assisting in the scam, or someone else being scammed in a similar scenario, making it even harder to track the crime back to the original source if there are other innocent people are involved.

The scammer always talks about the 3rd party, but I never actually hear from the 3rd party themselves. That all changed with this new scammer. Not only did they have several other “3rd parties” involved, but a few of them had fake email accounts who would also interact with me as they ran their long-con. That or there really were 2-3 other people involved in their somehow profitable(?) scam.

In an attempt to keep this as simple to follow as possible, I’ve made an org chart showing all the players in the journey you’re about to embark on. Hopefully this helps provide a little clarity on who’s who as we navigate the rough waters of this scam.

Now that you’re somewhat familiar with that map of madness lets jump right into the scam!

I was sitting at my desk one morning at work when my phone buzzed, alerting me that I had a new Twitter Direct Message request. For those not familiar with Twitter, direct messages from strangers are essentially like your email’s junk folder. I usually end up deleting 99% of the requests I get, but checked this one anyways and was greeted by this promising message…

I hadn’t been hopeful about much in 2020 up until this point, but Michelle’s promise of something financially optimistic had me intrigued. I put down my phone and sent her an email from a fake account that I’ve been using to talk to scammers for a while now.

A few things to note; my last scam story almost folded several times because they kept wanting to do video calls with me and couldn’t understand why I refused. (Obviously I couldn’t video call with them because I was lying about my identity too.) So this time, I told them right off the bat that I didn’t have a phone. It was a long-shot, but I hoped it would work.

You’ll also notice two green checkmarks in the top-right corner of my outgoing email. This was a Chrome plugin I installed that would tell me when each email I sent had been delivered and read. I figured this would come in handy later on when Michelle inevitably got annoyed with me and stopped reading my emails.

I went to bed that night not knowing if she would reply, but in the morning I woke up to this…

Michelle’s email was a little odd but not totally unbelievable. She hadn’t asked for anything yet either so for all I knew she was a real person just reaching out to anyone for a friend.

I’ve messaged people who I initially thought to be scammers only to realize were actually just real (weird) people and wanted to figure out if she was a fake before I emailed her again, so took the pictures she sent me and plugged them into Google’s reverse-image search…

Two results right away, both saying she was a scammer. And then a third…

I also searched her username on Twitter to see what others were saying about her and found angry replies calling her a scammer, the same message she’d sent to me, and even one post from Michelle, bragging about how many messages she’d been getting (presumably from people she was trying to scam).

At this point I knew for sure that Michelle was a fraud. All I needed to do was create a mask (fake identity for myself) to use during our correspondence and the game was on…

I decided that actor John C. Reilly. would make an excellent Braden O’Henry.

Braden was from the small town of Winchestertonfieldville, Iowa; the fictional town in the 2002 Adam Sandler classic, Mr. Deeds. He led a busy life, splitting his time between his pizzeria and visits to his brother who was in the hospital with the Krippin Virus (KV); the fictitious, fatal illness that crippled the world, turning people into zombies in the 2007 Will Smith movie, I Am Legend.

It’s been a while since I’ve archived more knowledge in education, but I believe $3.7 million dollars is quite a bit. I’d be desperate to get my hands on the money too if I were Michelle.

One thing I’ll point out; up until this point, Michelle had started a new email thread with a new subject line both times she had replied to me. I assume that she had a template of the scam saved somewhere for easy copy + pasting, which also helped her keep track of which stage of the scam she was at with each person she was emailing. Right on cue, I received another email from her with a new subject line…

And there it was — my payout for helping Michelle. 20% of her dead father’s $3.7 million dollars ($740,000) and investment rights to another 50%. Not bad for doing something as simple as moving money into my bank account!

I quickly drafted an email to Craig Donaldson at the Metro Bank of London so we could get the money transferred into my account…

A short time later, Craig Donaldson of the Metro Bank of London replied with a very professional-looking (bolded sarcasm font) business email…

It breaks my heart that people fall for fake emails like this one from the Metro Bank of London, but they really do!

I replied to Mr. Donaldson right away…

Not two minutes after I replied to Mr. Donaldson I got a response stating that he had received my email. A strange and unnecessary email in my opinion, but I wasn’t in charge of running their scam, just mine.

Before I could email Michelle to let her know of the requirements passed on to me from Mr. Donaldson, she emailed me again…

A little while later Michelle responded…

Michelle gave me info for her lawyer and asked me to contact him in regards to helping us draft up the 3rd document needed before we could claim her father’s money from the Metro Bank of London.

She also sent me these two wonderful fake documents; a bank statement from her dead father and the death certificate of said dead father…

I found it comical that Michelle’s fathers $3.7 million dollars had been sitting untouched in a bank account for 16 years and hadn’t earned one cent of interest. I’d be scrambling to get it out of there and into an account where it could earn interest too!

(Authors note: I would like my official death certificate written in a purple Barney the Dinosaur font when I die as well.)

Michelle wanted to know all about my brother, but before I gave her a rundown on my families medical history I needed to email her lawyer at their two separate (and again, unnecessary in my opinion) email addresses provided…

After reaching out to Michelle’s lawyer I emailed Craig Donaldson at the Metro Bank of London, sending him the first two documents that I had received from Michelle…

I then emailed Michelle with a status update…

A short time later, I received another very professional-looking email, this time from Michelle’s lawyer, Lambert Gadai…

All lawyers center-align their emails. That’s just common knowlege.

I responded to the noble Lambert Gadai with the answers to his questions and then some, just to prove how serious I was about helping my dear friend Michelle.

Fun fact: the address listed on my license is to a Papa John’s in Des Moines, Iowa because Michelle’s day of reckoning was here.

No sooner had I emailed Lambert Gadai, I received yet another email from the Metro Bank of London, informing me that they had received my email containing the first two documents…

I shot Craig a reply with the status of the 3rd document…

There was silence on all fronts for a little while, then I received an email from Michelle’s lawyer and FINALLY saw the catch of the scam — He would help us, but I would need to pay the legal fees before he would draft up the documents needed to transfer the $3.7 million dollars into my bank account…

$1,120 seemed like a small amount to pay for $740,000 in return, so I replied to Lambert Gadai and told him I would arrange the payment…

I then emailed Michelle with the good news…

Hidden Gem: recognize my bank account number on the check? 867-5309 has kind of become my calling card with these scams, finding its way into multiple messages. I won’t point it out again, but keep your eyes peeled because those numbers representing that catchy lil’ tune are sprinkled throughout this scam.

I thought Michelle would be thrilled that I sent a check but she made no mention of it in her email. (Perhaps her parents died before they could teach her about email attachments?) So I sent it to her again…

Before Michelle could respond Lambert Gadai replied with another professional center-aligned lawyer email, letting me know the payment should be paid via Western Union — not a personal check…

I heard from Michelle soon after replying to Lambert Gadai…

Michelle then responded, letting me know that she had received my email (much like the Metro Bank of London did… hmmm..).

I always make it a point to misspell the name of the recipient I’m supposed to send money to because they can’t claim it unless they have an I.D. that matches the name exactly. I wasn’t sure if Lambert picked up on my spelling error in the previous email, but he did…

The only thing left to do was transfer the money via Western Union to Lambert Gadai. Simple enough, right?

I was binge-watching The Good Place at the time of this scam, and decided that Michael (aka Ted Danson) would make a fine Western Union employee capable of throwing a wrench in our money transfer plans.

After telling Michelle of the dilemma with Michael at the Western Union, I emailed the noble Lambert Gadai to fill him in too…

Michelle replied first…

And then Lambert replied, with a little less-friendly tone to his center-aligned email…

“All what you said I understand nothing in that…”

I left Western Union and immediately drove to another location so I could complete the $1,120 payment to the noble Lambert Gadai, but unfortunately, hit another roadblock. This time it was an employee named Eleanor Shellstrop (aka Kristen Bell’s character in The Good Place) causing trouble…

Having scammers answer obscure questionnaires before I can send them any money is my absolute favorite part of these scams and I was determined to get both Michelle AND the noble Lambert Gadai to do it.

After emailing Michelle, I emailed Lambert again to fill him in on the latest happenings…

Later that evening Michelle responded…

My real life got in the way of my scam life as it often does and I didn’t have a chance to email Michelle for the rest of the day, so I sent her a quick message before bed, letting her know I would try and figure the payment out tomorrow…

I thought Michelle would try and console me and tell me not to cry myself to sleep. I was wrong.

I had a brilliant idea that night as I lay crying in the dark, hugging my tear-soaked pillow: “Maybe Craig Donaldson at the Metro Bank of London could help me arrange a money transfer! He does work at a bank after all…” So I sent an email to my English mate across the pond first thing in the morning…

I heard nothing from Craig Donaldson all day but that evening Michelle responded…

I replied right away…

The next morning Michelle replied…

I thought Michelle would appreciate me taking matters into my own hands by contacting the Metro Bank of London for a money transfer, and for standing up for myself to prove how serious I was about helping her, but once again, I was wrong…

I hopped in my car and sped to the non-existent Ria Money Transfer store down the road from my pizza place to make the payment to Michelle’s noble lawyer….

I was thrilled that Chidi Anagonye (aka William Jackson Harper from The Good Place) could help us Ria’s Pandemic Payment Plan (whatever that is) and knew Michelle would be too…

A group chat email, you say?? Hopefully Michelle would understand what that meant.

A short time later and after a little Photoshop work, I emailed Michelle and the noble Lambert Gadai together. In the same email. At the same time (insert mind blown emoji here).

Hidden Gem: Google the address listed on the Ria receipt and you will get the Des Moines Police Department.

I went to bed that night fully knowing that I’d wake up to an enthusiastic email from Michelle, thrilled that I completed the payment…

“The Lawyer just called Reverend now and his so much angry…” 

Michelle replied bitterly…

But I wasn’t about to give up this easy…

“Google pictures you took from google…” 

There was a full day of silence but I knew that Michelle had read my email, so I decided I’d better contact the noble and fragile Lambert Gadai and apologize for my behavior…

Shortly after emailing Lambert, I emailed Michelle too…

Lambert replied with a new thread (just like Michelle does… hmmm….).

Note to self: next time someone apologizes to me for something, reply with “received and noted for all is sketched off.” 

Michelle was quick to respond…

And just like that we were back on!

I wasn’t sure how many more stores I could mess the transfer up at before Michelle would quit talking to me, so thought I’d try and steer the scam in the direction of gift cards…

Michelle responded with an alternative payment idea…

This was my first-ever Bitcoin transfer request from a scammer. I wasn’t too familiar with how it worked (in real life and my Braden O’Henry scam life) but was up to the challenge.

Again, I’m not entirely sure how Bitcoin transfers work, but I was told you can track each time money is moved, so searched the Bitcoin account number Michelle provided and found that it had received $26,639.43 in the past two months. I have no idea how much scammers make doing these things but those kinda two-month earnings felt a little high to me for the con Michelle, Lambert, and Craig were running here.

Perhaps the account belonged to another scam victim and they were using it to move money into other accounts? Who knows. That wasn’t up to me to figure that out — my job was to complete one simple Bitcoin transfer…

Jason Mendoza (played by Manny Jacinto on The Good Place) just wanted me to be safe in my Bitcoin payment and ensure that I knew Michelle and Lambert before sending them $1,120. Surely Michelle would understand that…

“I told you before don’t you ever put nother pains to my life…”

I was determined to get Michelle to complete my obscure questionnaire and was growing more and more frustrated that she couldn’t grasp the concept…

That was quite possibly the greatest run-on sentence of all time.

Michelle had no interest in trying to have me figure out another Bitcoin transfer so told me to send the money directly to a bank account, using my phone… The same phone I’d told her several times now was with my brother in the hospital and couldn’t be used to complete money transfers…

Michelle read my email but didn’t respond, so I decided to move forward with the payment anyways and went to the Bank of America(n) to complete the transfer…

The next 5 images are screenshots of the actual Power of Attorney template I downloaded and customized with logos and watermarks for the Hammer Daddy Legal Associates law firm I had just made up. Feel free to skip down to Michelle’s response (unless legal mumbo jumbo gets your motor going).

I thought Michelle would be thrilled that I found a new, competent lawyer who could help us. But again, I was terribly wrong, as Michelle started a new email thread…

Michelle read my email but didn’t respond, so I replied again…

There was still no response from Michelle, so I reached out the noble professionals at Hammer Daddy Legal Associates and asked that they contact her and explain the steps she needed to complete in order to obtain her dead father’s money.

Luckily for me, the good professionals of H.D.L.A. (aka me) sometimes build custom HTML emails for work in real life, so they (I) drafted a professional-looking email that put Lambert Gadai Law Chambers center-aligned emails to absolute shame. I then created a fake email account for my new fake law firm and sent the fake (yet professional) email to Michelle…

Again, Michelle read the email but no response, so I reached out to her lawyer Lambert Gadai and asked that he have Michelle contact my lawyer or else drastic actions would be taken against both parties…

Lambert Gadai read my email (or at least the words he could understand) but didn’t respond either, so the noble professionals of Hammer Daddy Legal Associates stepped in and sent a group email to Michelle, Lambert Gadai, Craig Donaldson of the Metro Bank of London, and myself…

Michelle quickly responded with a new email thread once she realized Hammer Daddy Legal Associates were serious about taking legal action against her…

Michelle doubled down on insisting her lawyer wasn’t dumb and I doubled down on my threats of legal action against the both of them…

Michelle didn’t like my threats, BUT she did respond within 24 hours…

I took a page out of Michelle’s book and replied to her in a new email thread, also including Lambert Gadai and the noble law professionals representing me…

Michelle replied in a friendly new email thread, pleading for me to leave her alone…

It was very convenient of the Reverend David to skip town. I didn’t realize he was the chef at the holy camp as well. He deserved a nice relaxing vacation.

Michelle replied later that evening…

I read Michelle’s reply several times and couldn’t make sense of it. All I knew was that it reminded me of this kid

Again, Michelle doubled-down on the lies, introducing a new character to her crumbling plot…

I knew I might not get many more chances to have her complete the questionnaire so gave the request one more try…

Michelle didn’t go for my questionnaire so I played stupid with her in a back-and-forth sequence of emails…

“I’ve got 99 problems but falling for your scam ain’t one…”

I legitimately have reoccurring dreams about winning a $500 pizza gift card. I assumed Michelle would be thrilled…

Because only businessmen deal with gift cards…

Michelle was still trying to wrap her feeble little head around the Western Union questionnaires…

Even with my solid explanation, Michelle still wasn’t grasping the questionnaire concept…

It was almost as if Michelle and Lambert Gadai shared the same incompetent mind… interesting…

Michelle replied with a new idea…

Gift cards! Just like I asked for at the very beginning of our scam.

Later that evening I emailed Michele with the good news she’d hoped for…

Michelle’s (midnight) prayers had been answered!

Scratch the cards? Sure. How hard could that be?

Using a pen to scratch the cards seemed like a semi-dangerous plan, but Michelle didn’t correct me, so I proceeded with the scratching…

“am tired of all this jokes…”

I had to get those final shots in at Lambert Gadai while I could….

I decided to let Michelle sleep on an empty stomach that night and emailed her the next morning with a change of heart…

$1,500 legal gift cards is quite the gift for someone in dire need of competent legal council, but apparently Michelle thought otherwise, because she replied in a new email thread aptly named “Hell.”

Once I found out Easter Joyce was a very very good and nice person I immediately ran to a MoneyGram to complete the money transfer without any further questions…

Thank you Tahani Al-Jamil (aka Jameela Jamil from The Good Place) for helping us arrange this food stamps payment! (Bonus points to any diehard’s who know what my reference number on the receipt is actually referencing without looking at this hint.)

I thought for sure that Michelle would be thrilled with the MoneyGram Food Stamps payment, but as I’ve come to learn; if I think Michelle’s going to react one way, she usually reacts the other…

“Stop this your madness…” 

I found it incredibly odd that Michelle kept asking me to “please please please” leave her alone, instead of just blocking me like a normal person. She hadn’t been the smartest scammer I’d dealt with up until this point, but she might have been the most polite. I was convinced she couldn’t bring herself to cut ties with me because deep down she still genuinely thought I might actually send her money.

The MoneyGram Food Stamps payment seemed pretty straightforward, but before explaining it to Michelle again I felt it was important to address her drug use that she had just mentioned…

Michelle quickly responded with a drug-fueled rant…

“Go away from me and also leave me alone…” 

You might have noticed something missing from the email above… For the first time since our correspondence began, Michelle didn’t open my email.

I waited a day and emailed her again…

Again, Michelle didn’t read my email. It looked as if she’d FINALLY given up and blocked me. I wanted to say one final goodbye to my dear friend, so drafted up an email for Lambert Gadai and sent it in hopes that he hadn’t blocked me too…

Lambert Gadai read my email but never responded and I was ok with that. I had come to terms with the fact that I’d never have that $3.7 million dollars in my bank account and made peace with it. I like to think that the Reverend David and Ester Joyce Williams lived happily ever after, while Lambert Gadai took me up on one of my job suggestions, finding employment that better suited his decrepit cognitive abilities.

And now a friendly reminder; if you find someone or something online that seems too good to be true, it probably is. If a complete stranger asks you to send them money, gift cards or other financial compensation, they’re probably a scammer. If your bank, government, hospital, local law enforcement, etc. call you out of the blue and ask you to verify personal financial information, they’re probably a scammer.

There are a lot of complex scams out there so PLEASE be smart with the personal information you post online. Think twice anytime your money is involved, and if you suspect you’re dealing with a scammer — please send them my way and I’ll have the noble professionals at Hammer Daddy Legal Associates investigate the matter.

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