It’s a scam!
I 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.
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:
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
Here’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.
But 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.
Have you been sent this scam or something similar? Let me know @BeBizzy on Twitter!