As business owners, especially in the tourism industry, we often receive inquiries and requests for services from potential clients around the world. However, not all emails are what they seem, as I recently discovered with a suspicious email that landed in my inbox. Please find it pasted below ash the end of this article.

The email, purportedly from a Mr. Gabriel Dawney, claimed to be part of a private wine club in the United Kingdom called "TERROIR ELITE CLUB." Mr. Dawney expressed interest in visiting our tour operating business in Rome, along with 19 other members of his club, to explore wineries, estates, breweries, museums and other regional attractions together with other activities such as guided tours, visits, leisure experiences or adventurous activities.

Same email was received a year ago, the sender however had a different name: Mr. Tony Novick.

While the offer seemed lucrative at first glance, there were several red flags that raised suspicions about the authenticity of the email. Upon closer examination, it became apparent that this was likely a scam attempt targeting unsuspecting businesses like ours.

First and foremost, the email lacked personalization and specific details about our business. Instead, it followed a generic template that could easily be mass-mailed to numerous recipients. Additionally, the urgency expressed in the request for a quotation and total cost for the visit raised suspicions, as legitimate inquiries typically allow for more time for planning and coordination.

In addition there is no visible "to:" address, and my address was in the hidden "bcc:" field, presumably because this was sent to many hundreds or thousands of emails hoping one or more would bite and if you plug the address that Mr. Dawney/Novick/whatever gives into Google Maps it returns a barbershop

Furthermore, the email address provided for correspondence, "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.," did not match the purported sender's name or the name of the wine club mentioned in the email. is a free email from a Russian domain that is often associated with spam and fraudulent activities, further casting doubt on the legitimacy of the inquiry and it is a domain not used in Europe or North America.

As a seasoned tour operator, I am well aware of the various scams and fraudulent schemes that target businesses in the travel and tourism industry. These scams often involve requests for services, fake bookings, or attempts to obtain sensitive information for malicious purposes.

It is crucial for businesses to remain vigilant and exercise caution when dealing with unsolicited inquiries, especially those that seem too good to be true. Here are some tips to help identify and avoid falling victim to email scams:

  1. Verify the Sender: Always verify the identity of the sender and cross-reference their contact information with reputable sources if possible.

  2. Watch for Red Flags: Be wary of generic or poorly written emails, requests for urgent action, and inconsistencies in the information provided.

  3. Use Secure Communication Channels: Whenever possible, communicate with clients through secure and verified channels to minimize the risk of data breaches or phishing attempts.

  4. Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts and proceed with caution.

In conclusion, while email scams targeting businesses are unfortunately commonplace, staying informed and vigilant can help protect your business from falling victim to fraudulent activities. By remaining cautious and taking proactive measures to verify the legitimacy of inquiries, we can safeguard our businesses and maintain trust with our clients.

If you encounter suspicious emails or inquiries similar to the one described above, it is essential to report them to the appropriate authorities and take steps to protect your business and clients from potential harm.



Here's the email received:


How are you? I hope this mail meets you well and in good health. I"m writing to make an inquiry.

I am one of 20th members in a private wine club in the United Kingdom that we call "TERROIR ELITE CLUB". 20 of us are going to visit your place and we are staying in a house around your area.

From there we will travel around and see different places and especially we are going to see some wineries, estates, cellars, Vineyards, breweries, distilleries, Museums and extra virgin oil facilities so we wonder if it's possible to visit your facility on FRIDAY, 26TH OF JULY, 2024 and maybe taste some of your wines, beer, spirits, extra virgin oil or any other of your regional products?

However, We are also free to undertake in any other kind of tours, guided tours, visits, leisure experiences or adventurous activities.

If you will be available on the requested date, urgently send us your quotation and total cost for the 20 persons coming to your facility for "TOUR" or "VISIT" on FRIDAY, 26TH OF JULY, 2024.

Finally, if our date is not suitable for you, get back to us since our date of visitation is still flexible.

Thanks in advance

Yours Faithfully,

Mr. Gabriel Dawney

Address: 42-44 George St,
London W1U 7ES,
United Kingdom

NB: All replies and correspondence to be forwarded to "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."