a warning to my peers

Ryan Breymaier has one hell of a tale to tell…

So I had an interesting experience this past week and though I came out of the whole experience feeling pretty sheepish, I’m not proud enough not to share it publicly to save anyone else falling for the same game.

First, for the record I have changed names as this is a public site. However I am more than happy to share them (and all contact details) privately with anyone who wants to drop me an email [email protected]

Around six weeks ago I was contacted by a guy called Adam through the contact page on my personal website. He told me he works for a property management company that has a large number of private investors. He said that one of these investors wants to promote the company brand as they prepare to open offices through Europe in the next couple of years by sponsoring various sports entities. He said the investor had specified sailing and the Vendee Globe and he asked me to provide a proposal for a 3 to 5 year projet by email.

Nicola and I found his company site online, it checked out OK, he is even named on the site so we worked on a proposal a budget and sent all the info off. Then we heard nothing. We chased the guy by email and eventually got a reply from another person, Bill, saying that Adam had been taken ill and that he’d taken on his workload concerning the sports sponsorship projects. Bill was also on the company website so we didn’t doubt his story.

Bill asked us for all the information again and after that said he wanted to meet us. He was evasive in that he only wanted to talk on the phone but unlucky for him we’re at Nicola’s house in the British countryside = no phone reception. After a couple of emails he confirmed they were interested in our proposal and that we needed to travel to Paris to meet and discuss the next steps including putting a contract together, payment schedules and communication plans.

It started to get exciting, though it seemed to be moving suspiciously fast and so I remained on my guard. However, as anyone who has looked for sponsorship before, they will understand that all avenues have to be taken seriously, just in case…. they are serious!

The arrangement with Bill was that we meet a colleague of his in Paris because he was stuck in meetings in Milan. Thus we were due to meet with Charles, just two days later. So 1000 bucks later we had flights booked and made our ways to Paris from England last friday.

We met with Charles in the Louvre Hotel and the first little alarm bell rang when he showed us his business card showing he worked for a different company to Adam and Bill. Though his company was still a property investment company (we checked it out online later and he is named on it). As the conversation proceeded more alarm bells started when he admitted he hadn’t looked at any of our proposals sent to Adam and Bill nor did he understand anything about the project or sailing. So I had to do my little presentation speech again, wondering at the same time how he was supposed to provide contracts…

Charles then went on to explain that he represents a group of private individuals including politicians and famous people who have money (hundreds of millions) they need to invest for tax avoidance reasons.

Then as if we were in a spy movie, he started looking around the room carefully and lowering his voice he said that for him to help us, we would have to help him. He said he and his colleagues (Bill and one other un-named) would require a commission which in itself didn’t surprise me.

Rather than want to learn more about the project he asked for the top price for a 6-year IMOCA project and immediately calculated his hefty commission on that amount.

Then he said we’d have to pay his and Bill’s commission for the full amount to a Dubai account. Ding Ding Ding Ding! Alert Alert! Alarm bells just got louder!

The confirming oh jeez these guys are taking me for a ride moment was when he said that his third un-named partner was going through a nasty divorce right now and needed his part of commission in CASH in a SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX!

That’s also when I heard Nicola try to retain a snort of laughter…

He must have not heard it because he went on to conclude that I needed to provide a HALF A MILLION DOLLARS in a cash in advance and only then could he release the full amount to an escrow account for a 6-year Vendee Globe project.

By this time both Nicola and I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. Its a good job that hotel bar had low lighting. Maybe that’s why he chose it.

I kept nice and told him that I couldn’t provide his cash and when he understood that we’d understood and were not willing to mess around he brought the meeting to a prompt end saying he’d get back to us this week.

I am telling this story because I know that many of my peers are looking for money for various sports sponsorship projects. Like me, some of you have been looking for years with no joy so any new lead is considered potentially a serious sponsor.

We all have a great plan, a great communications proposal and we all work hard to network and promote what we do. This kind of experience costs time and money and there’s nothing more deflating than to realize you’re being conned.

Of course none of this experience can be reported to authorities, I have no proof since what they requested was all verbal and nothing in writing. However at least by telling my story I hope I can stop someone else from going through the same.

As I said to Nicola on our way to meet the guy, “Don’t get your hopes up when its too good to be true, because most likely its not”.¬†Unfortunately I was right this time.

On the plus side, we did have lunch in a fancy restaurant while we were in Paris so the day wasn’t entirely wasted.