It’s a scam!

itsascamI received an email through my contact form today from “Carl” or “Amos.”

Hello, how are you doing today? My name is Carl Amos, I wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards ?? kindly get back to me… so i can send you the job details.Thanks Amos

Sounds good if you’re a web designer, right? Here’s a tip… it’s a scam.

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Just Like Superman 3

Back a few years ago in December 2016 I received a similar email message, except the website product was gacillia nuts.  They wanted a website, provided very few details at first, and wanted to know if I accepted credit cards.

When you respond that you do indeed accept credit cards, you get some more information. Here’s the email I received:

Thank you for your quick response. I have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in IN and the company is based on importing and exporting of Salon Equipment such as Dryer, haircream, Weavon, Hairdressing, Clippers, i need the 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.DEMO_WEBSITE_URL_REMOVED... I have a private consultant that has the text content and logo for the site. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate.
1. I want 10pages 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 DOMAIN_NAME_REMOVED
4. you will be updating the site for me twice in a month.
5. i will be providing the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of 2 to 3months.
7. My budget is $6,000 to $12,000
8. Give me your personal cell phone number
9. Are you the Owner

office-space-printer-scene-amazonHere’s the flags:

  • Usually an “importer” of products, either hairdryers or gacillia nuts.
  • The scam almost always seems to be 10 pages.
  • Only English language.
  • The sample domain name they send always gets an error that it cannot find the server, even though they say in the email they would like a domain “like XXXXXX.com.”
  • Hint in one of the first emails that they already have a graphic designer or project manager that will need to be paid.

Here’s where it gets weird.

I sent a response back to CarlAmos, asking if I should build a site like this? THIS being a link to a website documenting this exact scam. CarlAmos responded with “Yes, that’s it!” and asked for an estimate.

If you pursue this little game a little further, the actual scam comes to light. The scammer, CarlAmos in this movie, has an associate who is a project manager, graphic designer, or content developer. CarlAmos will pay you whatever your estimate is, plus a little bit more via the credit card. In turn, you have to write a check to the PM/GD/CD that works for them. They won’t sign a contract, won’t fill out a 1099 as an independent contractor, nothing. Just cut them a check and keep the rest.

What happens next is how they make their money. You wrote a check to pay their contractor. That check is cashed for real money, not deposited. They will then do a chargeback on the credit card transaction, which withdraws the money from your account, you pay a chargeback fee/fine, and when you try to stop payment on the check (which has a fee associated with it), the check’s already been cashed so they have their money. You’re out the initial payment, the money in the check and the chargeback fee. That might leave a mark…

Luckily I’ve seen this movie before, might have been Superman 3, and knew it was rotten. I’m most likely going to just let this go, and then maybe send CarlAmos this link so they know I’m on to them and they can remove me from the list.

In the past when I’ve pushed them to get on a call to discuss I’ve gotten a response that they have a hearing impairment and rather than going through a relay service, it’s best to communicate via email or text. That’s B.S., they just don’t want to talk face to face and have the curtain pulled back when you can hide behind email.

too-good-to-be-trueBut here’s the reason I posted this today… if something seems a little to good to be true, it probably is. I’m a small web design firm in North Dakota. Sure, I’ve done work for companies in New York, San Diego, LA, Boston, Austin and more, but to get a guy from IN (India?) wanting a website built for him, an importer, just triggered a few warning bells.

Take a few moments to qualify your potential client. Get the company name, look everything up, including the content of the email, and see if anything weird pulls up. Sometimes it hurts to walk away from potential business, but in cases like this it’s a good decision.

UPDATE 7/2/2019 – I got a NEW variant of this scam.

Hello Sir/Madam ,

This David Serrano from Kirkland Shipping,We looking for laptop computers to purchase for our new business branch and want to know if you have them available in stock or can either custom order them for us.We also do have specifications we would like the computers to come with and also if you can tell us how much a laptop with these specifications is going to cost for plus tax…Here are the specifications below

    • An i7 Core Processor
    • 16gb of Memory
    • 1tb of Hard drive or 512 SSD
    • Screen Size can either be 13′ , 14′ or 15.6′
    • Must come with a Touch Screen and a backlit Keyboard
    • Either a windows 10 Home premium or Professional
    • Brands can either be Dell ,Apple,Hp or Lenovo

NB : Also advise me if you do take credit card payment , Thank You

UPDATE 7/23/2019 – This weekend I received a message from another WordPress developer who thanked me for posting this information, and relayed his story, which was very similar to the gacillia nuts request I received months ago.

I need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible.https://attra.ncat.org….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.
FMT3.

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.u
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as farmsproducts.co.
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for thesite.
6. i want the site up and running before my return

The developer got a little nervous and did some Google searches, stumbling on my podcast and blog post. Luckily he realized it was a scam and he pulled the plug. A win for the good guys!

Have you been sent this scam or something similar? Let me know @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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