Danish Structural Engineer Jake Knudsen Gets His First Contract to Renovate a Nabors Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Watch for these Phone Numbers: 206-456-0578 and 361-226-4425. E-mails firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
This scam started on July 9, 2017, when J.KNUDSEN joined the Quakertown 50-65 Single, Divorced, Widow/Widowers online Meetup Group. He sent me a message through the Meetup, telling me how beautiful my profile picture was.
“Hey ____. It’s safe to say you’re very beautiful. How are you? Love your picture.” I looked up his profile and it had a photo, Philadelphia as his town, his name with first initial only, and that he joined the Meetup that day. I replied to him via the Meetup, explaining that Meetup is for folks of common interests to get together for events. I asked him what his interests were, what his name was, and why he joined a Quakertown group if he lived in Philadelphia. He answered my questions, then said he had some trouble with his Meetup profile, and could we text instead. We began texting. Here’s his story:
Name is Jake Knudsen. Was visiting his cousin in Quakertown, and the cousin suggested he have a social life, so he opened up his Meetup profile for Jake, and Jake selected this Quakertown group. Jake scrolled through the photos of members, and liked me. He said he went back to Philadelphia, joined the group, so that he could contact me. Said he was Danish, had been here in the US for three and a half years. His father, Donald Knudsen, is in Denmark. His mother is American. They got divorced when he was 12. Mother returned to Florida, where she married her high school sweetheart and had 4 more kids. Jake was married at 38 to a younger woman. They were married 13 years, and had a heartbreaking divorce because she cheated on him. They have a daughter Valerie, 13, who is still in Denmark. Jake is very close to his daughter, talking to her every 2-3 days. After the divorce was settled, he came to the US for a fresh start. He is a structural engineer. He worked for 3 years in Seattle with his Uncle Wolfgang Gedicks, learning the American way of doing things, specifically doing renovations to oil rigs. Moved to the Bustleton area of Philadelphia 6 months ago to start his own independent contracting business, with his Philadelphia cousin Marcus and his Quakertown cousin Henry as partners.
He had landed his first contract with Nabors, a very large oil rig corporation. He would be away in the Gulf of Mexico with his cousin Marcus (a mechanical engineer) and a team of 24 workers for 4-5 weeks. He was scheduled to leave on August 5, and promised me that we would meet before he left. During our texting we had 3 attempts of voice calls. Each one had bad reception, and I couldn’t make out what he was saying. So we stuck with texting. He was loving everything he was learning about me. During our first couple of weeks, we shared more photos, he said his step sister and her 2 boys were visiting him. While they were visiting, a friend of his was struck by a car while biking, and he had to tend to the friend at the hospital. He gave me lots of details. Then he went on a one-day shopping and shipping trip to NYC, purchasing various equipment he would need for the rig. His friend Sebastian drove him. He sent me a photo of Sebastian and his truck. He also sent me a photo of himself holding up a shopping bag from Coach, telling me it was a special gift for the girl who keeps checking on him. Jake ended up having to stay overnight in NYC because of problems with Nabors not giving clearance to some of his men who were going to the rig early. End result: Jake and Marcus had to go down the rig early because drilling was slow at the moment. So, off they went from La Guardia airport to Dallas, then on a 6 hour helicopter ride to the rig. From the airport, Jake phoned me, and I heard every word, including a boarding call in the background.
The next time I heard from him was on the rig by text on his Thuraya satellite phone, which had no graphics capabilities. Said he didn’t have good call reception, but could text. I got the daily report on how the job was going and what happened each day. Our texts were very sweet, with promises of a long relationship once he was back home. He frequently referred to himself as big baby Jake. Lots of terms of endearment: Baby, Sweetie, Lover, Wifey. I kept telling him that I would
feel much better and sure about it once we were meeting face to face, but admittedly, he had captured my heart. I had some doubting friends, and when I explained that to him, he assured me that he would never ask me for money, and that when he came back, “we would surprise all of the doubters and show them that there are still caring and good people in this world of crazies.” He liked knowing what I was doing each day and liked hearing that I was safe at home at night. There was an inspection visit from Nabors supervisors 2 weeks into the job, and Jake was pleased that they were very happy with what they saw. They were so pleased that they paid Jake ahead of time, giving him a check for the job, post-dated August 28, 2017, when the job was to be completed. Jake was so excited that he wanted to show me the paycheck, so he scanned it and emailed it to me, saying “Christmas Came Early! ”. It was a check from Nabors to him for $477,000. I congratulated him. I also knew that “he had invested all he had into job, including exhausting a loan.”
Once all of the testing was done on the rig, Jake knew what equipment and components had to be ordered to complete the renovation. He had 2 shipments coming in, and some equipment did not come on the first shipment. He was dealing with his long-time Swedish friend Mike Olsen in Texas, who was handling the shipping/customs/port dealings. Jake said he didn’t understand an e-mail from Mike about the missing equipment. I offered to phone Mike to get the information for Jake. He gave me his number, and I texted and left a phone message for Mike. Mike called me back about 2 hours later, and we had a nice chat. Very strong Swedish accent, very polite, and spoke highly of Jake. I got the info, and texted it to Jake. Ends up there were unexpected Import Duty Fees for the missing equipment. Mike was going to find out how much the fees were from the UK supplier. Jake shared with me that he thought he’d be alright, that he had $16,000 left, but that had to cover these Duty Fees plus flying the final shipment from Port Lavaca to the rig. This was on August 13, when my brother told me to Google “Structural Engineer on Oil Rig” to uncover all of the similar scams. I confronted Jake with this. He became hurt and defensive. He said that scams work because they are based on real-life. He said he’d tell Mike to no longer communicate with me, because he had never wanted me to be involved in the business. I reminded him that anything financial was brought up by him, and he agreed, said he was sorry, but just felt he could share it with me because we had become so close.
The next morning, August 14, I got a call from Mike Olsen, saying that he got an email from Jake telling him not to communicate with me, but with no explanation. Wanted to know what was going on. I told him it was about scamming. He told me Jake is a good guy, and that we should hang in there. Then he told me about this important information that needed to get to Jake. The Import Duty Fees were $28,250. I sent the text to Jake, but he didn’t carry his phone with him during the work day. At 11:00, Jake texted me “Talk about this later. Heading to sick bay now. Blood pressure very high and having heart issues.”
That’s when I blocked both numbers, before he asked for money.
Other tell-tale signs of scam:
1. Said he had trouble with meetup profile, had to reset password, and when he did, he lost the thread of our communication. I realize now, that there was no “thread”, each communication was in the form of an e-mail, which would still be in his Inbox.
2. Would never give the name of the Nabors rig he was on. Said they didn’t have names, just went by location, but would not give the coordinates. Nabors rigs all have names, and there’s a registry of them on line.
3. Nabors rigs have state-of-the-art telecommunications, and there would be no problem making phone calls from the rig.
4. I contacted Nabors corporate office in TX, and forwarded them the emailed check for $477,000, and their legal department confirmed that the check was fraudulent.
5. I had asked Jake at one point for his home address so that I could send him a card, and he said he’s rather I hand it to him in person when he gave me my special gift.