The Webmaster Scam:
We always like to think the web is an honest and friendly place, but you know the truth. The web is full of scams. One relatively new way for unscrupulous miscreants to mislead and steal from you and possibly place you in a lot of financial trouble. This nefarious scheme starts with a fake web design quote request. We take all requests very seriously, but each request must be checked out and vetted before we actually proceed with a project.
Here’s a recent example of just such a scheme in action. It starts off sound legit enough..
Here is the job details
I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in TX and the company is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa so i need a best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible .http://www.samplesite.com…. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.
1. I want the same number of pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as desireddomain.com
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be providng the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of next month.
7. My budget is $3000 to $8000
Kindly get back to me with an estimate
Hope to read from you
So, does this raise any red flags? It should.
Most clients are not so quick to pull the trigger, whilst these so called clients just about throw money at you. If it were only that easy. So what’s the harm? Well in earlier versions of this scam, the client would send bogus checks or money orders. Today they run it using credit cards. In most cases the third party consultant they mention requires a kickback. If you waste your time going any further than one or two emails it’s your own fault, unless you want to string them along for some fun.
Here’s another one I received today. Still playing this one.
Scammer – “Hello, This is Josh Mary, I am hearing Impaired. can you handle web design for my new company. and do you accept credit.”
Me – “Sure, we can communicate online.
If you are interested, please provide some specific information about your project and basic contact information.
Scammer – “Thanks for your response.
Am so glad you responded so i will be glad if you can create my website for me.Here is the job details for the site i want created. the business is a salon and spa but it still a small scale business so i need a best of the best layout design for it.
Can you handle that for me ?. so here is an example site i want you to check out this site but i need something
more perfect than this if its possible http://indocanadasalonandspa.com... the site would only be informational, so E-commerce functionality is not needed on this site, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the example site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and also i want the site to be on word-press plus
I want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant, whom has the text content and the logos for the site so there wont be any delays.
- My budget is $3000 to $11,000
2.I want the same exact numbers of pages with the example site i gave you to check
- I want the domain name as Josh-spa.com, cos i don’t have a domain yet
- Updating of the site will be by you guys
- the images, logos and content for the site will be provided by me.
- i want the site up and running before ending of Next Three month.
Kindly get back to me with:
(1) an estimate
(2) Are you the owner ??”
Me – “Josh:
The sample site is 25 pages. The estimate for a full WordPress implementation of a similar 25 site would be $8,500 NTE.
Extended SEO work after site completion and maintenance would likely require ongoing charges.
If you are buying that particular theme from a third party, that would reduce the price a bit.
Surprisingly josh-spa.com is currently available. I would require a $500 deposit to begin work. We will need to make payment arrangements, I can do this through PayPal. (I’m just jerking his chain now)
And yes, I am the owner. Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and your expectations for the site?”
Scammer ‘ “Thanks your price is attractive and okay, i will make a 50% down payment and which merchant will you be use to charge my card?”
That’s about where you should call it quits.
Beside getting ripped off for your time, there are kick backs you will need to make to get your full amount. Then, guess what? Once you pay the third party consultant everyone disappears and the card is disputed and refunded or the card was stolen and funds yanked. If you were stupid enough to play along that far, you deserve it. This is a blatant scam that anyone should see.
In many cases, the potential client will be funneling money through you for bogus projects. You may be doing work, but you are also instructed to pay a third party “consultant” or “developer”. The resulting work will never be used…they just want to run the money through you to clean it for them.
That’s why they are happy to pay you in large amounts up to $10,000. Anything higher would send up the red flags at banks. This transfer of bad money to good money makes you an unknowing partner in their crime. Don’t try using ignorance as an excuse because you’ve now been warned. Research your clients as much as they research you.
We never used to have to go through so much but it’s always advisable to get a PO number and the full billing department contact information of any company requesting work. I usually write up a work order, contract and attach a terms of service and deliverables.
Before any of that, I like to establish a relationship with the client at the very least over the phone or in person.
Ask questions and have your ducks in a row. This is business.
Be careful out there!