web design scam text correspondence

Recently, we’ve received a number of different requests for website redesign proposals that had some odd and striking similarities, enough to trigger alarm bells that something wasn’t right. What started as a simple text message turned into a call with the Secret Service (yeah, really). We all know how prevalent scams are online, so it’s no surprise that these extend to specifically crafted web design scams, SEO scams and other scams that directly target photographers, designers and other creative professionals. In the web design industry, we’re all targets. Be alert, trust your instincts and reach out to others in your professional community.

Here’s how the scams work

They’re called the Third Party Payout Scam, the Payment Reversal Scam, the Advanced Fee Scam or the Overpayment Scam. The Fraud Prevention department at credit card payment processor Stripe put it like this:

I can see that you work in web design. Designers such as yourself are common targets for a type of scam known as a Third Party Payout. Essentially, the scammer makes a payment (generally in the thousands) for a project, and pays more than they need so you can then transfer money direct to a third party (e.g. a consultant, graphic designer, etc). I imagine your correspondence with your ‘client’ has been along these line. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, the fix is that the card used is stolen and the third party is actually the scammer. So when the legitimate cardholder disputes the payment the business is left holding the bag on the money retrieved from their account and what they transferred to the scammer.

What’s amazing about these web design scams

  1. How involved they are – by the time any money were to actually make it back to the scammers, a lot of work and time is devoted to each scam
  2. How long they’ve been going on for – these scams have been going on for a while, and they don’t look to stop
  3. The exact scams aren’t changing much – a basic web search will turn up dozens of minor variations on the same web design scams that are being recrafted into seo scams, designer scams and other freelancer scams
  4. The scammers will email you, text you and sometimes even talk on the phone with you – it’s amazing just how easily a scammer can be totally anonymous hiding behind a throw away webmail account and a Google Voice phone number

Here’s how the web design scams went down

The first scam came through from Kent Walter <kentwaltersnr@gmail.com> and seemed strange because it mentioned a budget right off the bat (what clients reveal their budget in a blind outreach email) and asked “are you the owner” – strange. It also referenced another website to copy – pretty unusual. Here’s the full email:

From: Kent Walter <kentwaltersnr@gmail.com>

Good I just want to open a new Indian Restaurant i need a website for my business to grow the site should be up & running by ending of March i don’t want a shopping cart in my reservation page also i don’t have a domain name yet i prefer: DHARMAKENTRESTAURANT.COM My budget is $5000-10000 for the web design i need you to go through this example link site: http://www.indikausa.com, i want the same page as this site i want only English language you will be updating the site for me. I have a private project consultant, he has the text content with logo along with the image artwork get back to me with an estimate including hosting i will like to know if you are the owner or the manager?

Thank you

This person is the scammer: “I have a private project consultant, he has the text content with logo along with the image artwork”

web design scam fake website sitemap

“Kent” even sent through a sitemap drawing of the website he wanted to make – pretty funny in retrospect. And since this time, the website http://www.indikausa.com has been suspended by HostGator. I emailed with “Kent Walker” a few times until I realized the whole thing was going nowhere – he never responded to basic discovery questions. I didn’t suspect this was a web design scam. Until a few weeks went by.

The second web design scam came through a few weeks later – early in the morning as a text message from someone claiming to be Luis Lee at (732) 893-0731. The first text read “good day are you available for a website design.” Our business number accepts text messages and our Google My Business listing allows potential customers to text message us. Here’s where the alarm bells start going off:

From Luis Lee (732) 893-0731

am luis i would love to know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do accept credit cards ?? kindly get back to me with your email so i can send you the job details.

And it gets even more fishy when the email came through from luis lee <luislee23@yahoo.com>

From: luis lee <luislee23@yahoo.com>

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.agroamerica.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.

Note:
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 leetopfarmproduce.com
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be provideing 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 $4000 to $6000

Kindly get back to me with:
(1) an estimate
(2) And will like to know if you are the owner ??

Regards

This person is the scammer: “i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site”

I immediately thought, “There is that same email we received from the Indian Restaurant a few weeks ago. What are the odds.” It became obvious pretty quick that both were web design scams.

But then my brain quickly went to “how do these web design scams work? – how do they play out – what kind of people are doing this?” I have no intentions in vigilante justice. Or intentions of repeating the amazing journey of phone scam discovery that took the producers of the Reply All podcast to India to meet the people behind those annoying junk calls from a phone number a few digits off from your own (episodes one and two – will blow your mind).

Curiosity got the best of this cat, so I played along with the web design scam to find out more.

Luis of course eagerly responded to my proposal

I emailed with “Luis Lee” a few times and even made up a quick proposal based on the sitemap of the Agro America website and sent it off to Luis. I even called him to see if he would pick up. I ended up talking to Luis on the phone, though the connection was terrible and neither of us could understand each other. He did, though, email me right back to accept my proposal.

From: luis lee <luislee23@yahoo.com>

Thanks for your response, I am okay with the estimate everything sound good and i’m ready to make payment now with my credit card, I understand the content for this site would be needed so work can start asap but i will need a Little favor from you and the favor is that I will send you my credit card to charge for the sum of $5850 plus 3% Cc company charges, You will deduct $2750 as deposit for the design of the website plus extra $100.00 as a tip for handling perfect work for me and you will send the remaining $3,000 to the project consultant that has the text content and the logo for my website so once he receive the $3,000 he would send the text content and logo needed for my website to you so work can start asap,Sending of funds would be after money clears into your account and You will be charging my card for remaining balance upon completion of work, Kindly get back to me so we can proceed with payment asap

Regards
Luis

Here’s the scam: “you will send the remaining $3,000 to the project consultant that has the text content and the logo for my website”

Pretty good location for a gacillia nut business

I asked for a name and address of the company, and was given the kind of uncreative name “Luis Lee LTD” and the address 5603 Peacock Ridge San Antonio, TX 78228. As if more evidence of this web design scam were needed, a quick search on that address showed that it had been listed for sale just 21 hours ago.

fake address used by web design scam attempt

I reached out to Stripe to see if they had any interest in at least tracking an IP address from these people. I can turn my credit card payment processor into testing mode so charges aren’t really processed. The great people at Stripe’s Fraud Prevention department told me to do absolutely nothing like that, to stop all communications and to reach out to the Secret Service with details of the web design scam.

It turns out this particular variant on the Third Party Payout Scam / Payment Reversal Scam / Advanced Fee ScamOverpayment Scam has its own name: the Agro America Scam and the Gacillia Nut Scam. Unlike the Indian Restaurant variant where the example website seems to have been suspended, it seems that Agro America is a legitimate business and doesn’t play a part in this scam. The website did send my computer’s CPUs through the roof, making me wonder about BitCoin / cryptocurrency mining. But enough about the scam.

What to do if you’ve been targeted

  1. Unless any money has been stolen from you, the best thing to do is nothing. Delete the emails / texts and never reply at all. It’s unlikely that the scammers are sitting in a room together and will put you on some kind of organized hey don’t contact this web designer again, she’s onto us type list. More likely is that the scammers are an unconnected group of people using the same scam, are totally disorganized and will probably contact you again. So just delete. We played along for a bit to find out more about the scam out of curiosity, but it’s probably not a good idea.
  2. If you want to report the scam, or have unfortunately lost any money, you can reach out to
    • The Secret Service – we were referred to them by Stripe even though no money had changed hands. The Secret Service is responsible for counterfeiting law violations as well as financial fraud including banking, access device, advance fee fraud and computer fraud, financial document counterfeiting, and money laundering. I had a pretty nice chat on the phone with a Secret Service agent who confirmed how widespread these web design scams are and told me that unless money had changed hands, they weren’t too interested in trying to track anyone down
    • FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) – complaints filed via this website are processed and may be referred to federal, state, local or international law enforcement or regulatory agencies for possible investigation
    • Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant

We’ve heard reports from others like fellow web designers Olive Group and Covington Creations about similar encounters. Have you been contacted? Have an update to report?

Updates

Looks like the scammers are moving to Yelp! Is anyone else getting these Yelp scam messages? Seem very similar to other general web design scam emails we’ve gotten dozens of times…

New Message: James H. is requesting a quote

Hi there, please respond with a price estimate. Here are my answers to Yelp’s questions regarding my project:

In which ZIP code are you looking for professionals?
78711

Describe your need:
Good day, am Hanson i would like to know if you can create and handle an informational website design for my new company ? Kindly get back to me as soon as possible with your email or cellphone number so i can send you the job details. Thanks

Thanks for the comments posting the details of all the variants on this same third party payout scam. Hopefully the scammers get tired of spending all this time trying to steal money and put their efforts into something more constructive. Keep up the comments so others can stay alerted!

This stuff never stops. Good thing is that it can be put online so others can find it hopefully before any money changes hands. Just got another of the same scammer emails from leon gregory <leongreg2006@hotmail.com>

From: leon gregory <leongreg2006@hotmail.com>

My name is Gregory Leon and I would like to get a quote for an e-commerce website for customers in Haiti, with the same functionality as Craigslist, but with distinct design. In addition, I want to integrate google translation because Haitians speaks French and Creole. Furthermore, the website will be for small businesses and individuals with goods and services they are interested in selling or advertising via this website. There are additional features I want integrate into the website as well:

Certify SSL, and all traffic to the website will be over HTTPS.
WordPress
Ensure current architecture adequately supports future systems upgrade
Enable electronics gift card payment.
Create ten additional staffs accounts.
Maintain complete ownership of the website and its content.
Mobile-responsive, fast-loading, and able to adapt properly to changing screen sizes
Maintain complete copyright protection of the website and its content
Please send me your quote to include the development, design and a reasonable monthly charge for hosting the website no later than June 1, 2018.

I can be reached at leongreg2006@hotmail.com and by phone at 786-473-4663. Thank you and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Unfortunately, we were in the middle of putting together two proposals and didn’t have the time to catfish more out of Leon. Next time…

This crap never stops. Just got the exact same scam sent it via email from james morgan <jm6994017@gmail.com>

From: james morgan <jm6994017@gmail.com>

Sound good …… I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in 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.agroamerica.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.

Note:
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 yourtopproduce.co
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
6. My budget is $3000 to $8000

These scammers never stop. You’d think they’d start getting more creative. But everyone knows creativity is inversely related to profitability, or something like that.

Just got another of the same scammer emails from
julian johnson <julian4real147@yahoo.com>

From: julian johnson <julian4real147@yahoo.com>

Here is the job details

i have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in USA 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.agroamerica.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.
Note:
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 UlyateFarm.com 4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving 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 $5,000 to $19,000

Kindly get back to me with:
(1) an estimate

Favorable Regards,
Julian Johnson.

Sent from my ipad

I asked for the name address and phone number of Julian’s business, and he said it was

JULLYFARM
USA
OFFICE 1754 Woodruff Road #153
Greenville, South Carolina
29607, USA
+1-785-428-2862

I called the number and spoke with someone I couldn’t really understand. It was a busy day in the office so I didn’t dig much deeper, but I did email Julian to get a life and stop stealing money from people.

blog post author avatar
Written with by Alex Wright

Runs a creative digital marketing, web design and SEO agency in Austin, Texas   |   Likes good looking, fast performing and high ranking websites   |   Doesn't want to understand Snapchat   |   Wants nothing to do with bananas   |   Wishes he were a BMX superstar

371 thoughts on “Avoid Web Design Scams

  1. Wow thanks for this warning. I just encountered the Indian restaurant scam. I was almost ready to tell them to go ahead with payment, but they were going to send me more than double my estimate so I could pay their consultant. It sounded suspicious and similar to another scam I encountered at my old job. I searched for restaurant website scams and your article popped up first on google and right away I knew it was indeed a scam.
    I told them “Sorry , but I don’t do third party payouts. If you would like to proceed anyway you can send the initial payment of (estimate) and we can get started.” Haven’t heard a reply yet.

  2. Today i also received an email:

    from: Gregory Fennell

    My Wife and i just opened a new Restaurant which I now run and I need a website for the business to grow, So I need you to go through this
    example link site:

    http://sullivansquay.com

    I need something as simple as this if possible, I will like you to get back to me with an estimate and the estimate should include hosting and I
    want you to understand that I want the same page as the example site I gave you to check and I want you to know you will be updating the site for
    me. I want the site up and running before I am back to the state and I don’t want a shopping cart in my reservation page also I don’t have a
    domain name yet and I will prefer: HYNESRESTAURANT.NET, My budget is $2000-4000 for the web design, I have a private project consultant, she has
    the text content and the logos for the site with the image artwork, so please go ahead and check the example site and get back to me with an
    estimate also will like to know if you are the owner or the manager and do you accept check as payment.

    Text me here if needed +1(985)306-2983

    I want you to know am okay with the estimate cost and i hope i will get a perfect job from you.I am willing to pay 50% Upfront and pay the rest
    when the project website has been done.

    For Clarification i was warned by my bank not to use my card on pay pal or any other merchant again because they double remit my account twice
    before and I don’t want to go against my banks warning and I wish i can be able to wire the funds to you but am very busy here I am currently in
    Hawaii on a business trip and don’t have time to do all that so in view of this,my account manager can only send check to you on my behalf, I
    tried to persuade him but he said that,he is out of options for now. Let me know your thought about this asap.

    Do you have anybody in the United States that can receive the check on your behalf? If YES

    Kindly get back to me with the persons information below :

    Full Name to be written on check:
    Mailing Address:
    Cell Phone Number of the person receiving the check:

    1. Looks like they have changed their approach a bit. Here comes updated email:

      Prior to receiving your email,someone else had already been chosen for the job, however i personally have an immediate opening for you.

      Here is the new job details below:

      I just opened a new Restaurant which I now run and I need a website for the business to grow, So I need you to go through this
      example link site:

      http://sullivansquay.com

      I need something as simple as this if possible, I will like you to get back to me with an estimate and the estimate should include hosting and I
      want you to understand that I want the same page as the example site I gave you to check and I want you to know you will be updating the site for
      me. I want the site up and running before I am back to the state and I don’t want a shopping cart in my reservation page also I don’t have a
      domain name yet and I will prefer: { hynesrestaurants.org },My budget is $3000-5000 for the web design, I have a private project consultant, she
      has the text content and the logos for the site with the image artwork, so please go ahead and check the example site and get back to me with an
      estimate also will like to know if you are the owner or the manager and do you accept check as payment.

      Thank you.

  3. Thanks for your quick response,Here is the job details below…

    I just open a new Indian Restaurant which i run now and i need a
    website for my business to grow, So i need you to go through this
    example link site:http://www.indikausa.com but i need something more
    perfect than this if possible, I will like you to get back to me with
    an estimate and the estimate should include hosting and i want you to
    understand i want the same page as the example site i gave you to
    check and I want only English language and i want you to know you will
    be updating the site for me. I want the site up and running before
    ending of next month and i don’t want a shopping cart in my
    reservation page also i don’t have a domain name yet and i will
    prefer: KAITINDRESTAURANT.COM, My budget is $750/$1,500 for the web
    design, i have a private project consultant, she has the text content
    and the logos for the site with the image artwork,so please go ahead
    and check the example site and get back to me with an estimate also
    will like to know if you are the owner or the manager and do you
    accept credit card as payment.

    I am from India and would have almost got scammed! Thanks a lot!!

    1. i got same EMAIL…

      i receive check…
      But i don’t knwo how it is scam can you please explain to me….

      What i can do now ??
      Please help me

  4. Currently talking to a guy who contacted me this morning. He’s literally going by a lot of this exact same script. He’s wasted my entire morning going back and forth negotiating this fake freelance job. Kinda pissed about that, but thanks so much for this article. Saved me from an even bigger nightmare.

    1. Sorry you experienced this time suck, Tyler. Super irritating, no? I’ve had heaps of time wasted as well. The only solace I feel is – imagine how much of a time suck is is for the scammers on the other end of the line? They sit there and do this all day long. Ugh. Get a life.

    2. Had a similar one here – I sent him to a questionnaire on my site that I have saved especially for people like him, takes around 2.5 hours to complete and sends them all over the internet to find info required to complete it, The Questionnaire is set up to be impossible to complete in one go, I know I have gone through it to test it and it’s a nightmare,lol when he finally sends it through after much stress on his part and several emails complaining, I send him an email telling him he was figured out a long time ago and I hope he had fun. Unfortunately we can’t stop this kind of thing but we can have a little fun with it and make it a difficult and time consuming process for them, hopefully in the long run this will put them off.

  5. got this email :

    Hello, I need help with my project,I have a specification for the website and which the private consultant will provide logo and other artwork needed for the project. I have a budget of $2000-$5000, Reply me if you are interested in the project through my gmail only (christopherrichard2006@gmail.com ) so I can send you the full job details.

  6. Now they are targeting agencies in India
    Hello

    Sorry here is the new job details

    My Wife and i just opened a new Restaurant which I now run and I need a website for the business to grow, So I need you to go through this example link site:

    http://sullivansquay.com

    I need something as simple as this if possible, I will like you to get back to me with an estimate and the estimate should include hosting and I want you to understand that I want the same page as the example site I gave you to check and I want you to know you will be updating the site for me. I want the site up and running before I am back to the state and I don’t want a shopping cart in my reservation page also I don’t have a domain name yet and I will prefer: HYNESRESTAURANT.NET, My budget is $2000-5000 for the web design, I have a private project consultant, she has the text content and the logos for the site with the image artwork, so please go ahead and check the example site and get back to me with an estimate also will like to know if you are the owner or the manager and do you accept check as payment.

    Text me here if needed +1(985)306-2983

    Thank you.

    Now the next email comes as..

    I want you to know am okay with the estimate cost and i hope i will get a perfect job from you.

    I was warned by my bank not to use my card on pay pal or any other merchant again because they double remit my account twice before and I don’t
    want to go against my bank warning to me and I wish i can be able to wire the funds to you but am very busy here and don’t have time to do all
    that so in view of this my account manager can only send check to you on my behalf, I tried to persuade him but he said that he is out of options
    for now. Let me know your thought asap.

    Do you have anybody in the United States that can receive the check on your behalf?

    Gregory

    3rd Email with clarity about scam..

    A check of $6000.00 has been issued out to the address you provided,which include the private consultant advance payment, Once the money
    cleared in your account remove your upfront payment of $3800.00,your friend can deduct the $200 and send the rest to the private project consultant for her advance fee, she has the text content and the logos for the site with the image artwork, i could have pay her but she does not have facility to check or credit card
    at the moment. Are you clear with that?

  7. just got this a few days ago.

    i have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in WA and the company is based on importing and exporting of Salon Equipment such as Dryer,hair cream,Weavon,Hairdressing,Clippers, 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 .https://avada.theme-fusion.com/classic-shop/.. I have a private consultant that has the text content and logo for the site . the site would only
    be information, so i need you to give me an estimate.

    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….Meimuliproductive
    4. you will be updating the site for me.
    5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
    6. i want the site up and running before ending of next 2 month.
    7. My budget is $4000 to $6000
    8.Are you the Owner

    Follow up after quote sent.

    Thanks for your response, i am okay with the estimate and i wanna proceed so i will pay $2000 down payment for the job using my credit card so work can commence ASAP i understand the content for this site would be needed so as for the job to commence so regarding the content and i will need a little favor from you and the reason why i need this favor from you is because the content creator that has the content and logo for the website does not have the facility to charge credit cards and i also Am presently in the hospital with my son for surgery so i will be glad if you can help me out with this favor.

  8. Thanks for this website. Otherwise I almost being cheated today. Same mail same content same URLS.

    We should forward these things to more people especially freelancers.

  9. My apologies for the delayed response, I have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in TN 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. https://edenscrown.com/… 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 just 10 pages 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.
    Note:​

    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 dustinsalon.com​
    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 $8,000 to $15,000​

    Kindly get back to me with an estimate for the Web Design,​
    Your Full Name:​
    Shop Address:​
    Types Of Credit Card You do Accept:​
    Your Cell Phone #:(so we can communicate via text message:​

    Best Regards​
    PATTERSON

    1. Yep, I just got this same one this morning. Usually, I get the Kola Nut one. The initial email through my contact form was more professional than what I usually get, so I ended up responding. As soon as PATTERSON responded, I knew I’d been had.

      Normally, the first contact is through text so this was different. You can never let your guard down!

  10. We have had the same thing! looking at our analytics we had a few views from Delhi, india around the time the email was sent.

    From: Alex Pritchard
    Sent: Friday, 17 May 2019 10:01 AM
    Subject: Re: Web Design Proposal

    Hi,
    Thanks for the Swift Response, Well i do have hearing problem, that was why i reach out to you via the E-mail. I would like you to review the details and get back to me with any question you may have. Here is the project details, I have a small clothing business for both male and female which i run, now am trying to expand the business and i want you to build an informational website for it for advertisement and to increase my sales rate, so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible https://www.missrebel.co.uk/ the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate, Plus the estimate should include hosting and i want the site to have not more than 5 pages ,since it is informational. And i do have a private project consultant, he has the text content, images and the logos for the site.

    Note:
    1. I want it in English language only.
    2. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as (farms-bj.net)
    3. you will be the one updating the site for me.
    4. i will be providing the images, logos and content for the site.
    5. i want the site up and running before June Ending.
    6. My budget is $4000 to $5000
    Kindly get back to me with an estimate

    Regards,
    Alex

  11. Thanks for the article. This happened to me months ago and it seemed incredibly legit, all up until it was time to submit payment – that’s when I was presented with the ‘We’ll pay you $8k and you just refund us $4k’ sketchiness. I spent considerable amount of time researching the project, preparing a proposal, learning about the ‘business’, etc. I probably lost a total of 4 or 5 hours because I am sure to learn as much as I can about my client projects before just throwing an arbitrary solution and proposal out there for them as it would be a disservice to both of us.

    In any event, I was just contacted by the scammers from Gacillia Nut. I did a quick Google Search of the contacts email address and found this article. You saved me several hours of research and proposal time, so thank you. Will report to the SS. Thank you for taking the time to make our industry a safer place and helping to keep others from wasting their time.

  12. I just got this one sounds very similar

    I run a small agro-company that basically deals with importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa. I’m currently looking for the best website layout design (including hosting) for my booming small scale company/business. I would need a perfect website that has the features of the following website. Please take a look of this https://www.misfitsmarket.com/ . The site should only be informational, so i will only be needing an estimate based on the site above.

    Misfits Market – Ugly and Imperfect Produce, Delivered To Your Door
    Misfits Market delivers ugly, but otherwise perfectly edible fruits and vegetables right to your door. Our mission is to combat food waste and provide affordable, healthy produce to the world.

    The estimate should include hosting and should posses almost some of the page content of the above website. I also have a private project consultant and she will be contacting you with text content and the logos for the site.

    Note:

    1. I want the same number of pages (almost the same content, graphics) with the above sample site
    2. It should only be in English language
    3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as Meyersfarmproduct.com
    4. You will be responsible for the site update.
    5. I will be providing (through my project consultant) the images, logos and content for the site.
    6. I want the site up and running in the next 2 to 3 months
    7. My budget is also flexible.

    I will be waiting to hear back from you soon with an estimate or proposal.

  13. Last week on Guru.com, Someone posted an email to get a quote to develop a web application for the restaurant business, I contacted by email and get replied as below: (Same as Jasmine Griffin received)

    From: engrobertmilan@gmail.com
    Named Given this time: Robert Milan
    =======
    Hello

    My wife and I just opened a new Restaurant which I now run and I need a website to grow the business, So I need you to go through this example link site: http://sullivansquay.com, I need something as simple as this if possible.

    The Most Important features will be:

    – Table booking
    – Online food ordering
    – Invoice system
    – Order management
    – Payment Integration (PayPal and credit card)

    other Highlighting features should include:

    User and marketing friendly interface, SEO optimized, Responsive pages, Aesthetically pleasing and should be in accordance with the latest design and market trends.

    My budget is $2000-5000 for the whole project, My private project consultant has the text content, logo, artwork and all the pictures needed, so please go ahead and check the example site and get back to me with an estimate which includes hosting and domain and I will prefer: goldcoastrestaurant.net

    I will like to know if you are the owner or the manager, Payment will be made only by check in the US, let me know if that is fine or you have someone that can receive for you if you are not in the US.

    Text me here if needed +1(720) 336-9594

    Thank you
    =======

    I provided detail estimation and he agreed with the amount and forced to do check payments only. I informed him, we are fine with check payment and share your location details, within 10 minutes he provided his name and location details as “My name is Robert Milan, 3470 S Poplar St APT 205, Denver, CO 80224, I will be expecting the details for the check receiver”

    As I receive a quick reply, I started to think, something going wrong here and searched on the internet to verify his provided details. I found his all details are fake and I got this website link with all other’s experience as well. Then I decided to follow him, tried to grab more information to catch him if that will help.

    I emailed him like “Oh great, we have a local person in Denver will visit you and collect a check. Can you please share your photo identity proof and address proof, we have to collect as per our company policy.”

    I am waiting for his response, will inform if received answer from him.

    Thanks

    1. I just received this scam email from the same email address (engrobertmilan@gmail.com):

      “We need a website for our restaurant, which will be very simple and have just a few pages, Home page, about us, contact us, a menu page where all the items on our menu will be listed with pictures and lastly a gallery page for our restaurant and outlet pictures. The website has to be responsive for web and mobile browsers on all devices, that is all we need.

      You will be responsible for the design , hosting, domain name and everything there is concerning the website, whatever code or plugins or add on you believe you need just calculate an estimate, i do not need to be bothered with questions of what do i prefer, this or that , you just think of whatever will give us the best result and give me an estimate, the domain name i will like is cafemilan.com or something close if this is not available.

      As for the logo, artworks, photos and write ups for the website, all that is available and with our private project consultant who will be forwarding all that to you, so let me know the estimate and if you will be able to receive a check or you have someone in the US who can do that on your behalf.

      Note: Check is the only form of payment , if it doesn’t work for you then good luck

      Regard”

  14. Today I received a Gacillia Nut scam email from “Sandra Greg” . I’ve gotten so many of these “need a website and do you take credit cards” solicitations.

    Hi Sharon,

    I would not be able to call for now due to some reasons here is the job details, I need informational website on my business. 8-10 pages will be a good fit for me, my company is base on Agriculture products. such products are Gacillia Nut and Cocoa so i need best layout design, the site would only be informational, I need you to give me an estimate should include hosting and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.

    Note,

    1. I want only English language
    2. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as (qualityfarmproduce.us)
    3. you will be updating the site for me.
    4. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
    5. i want the site up and running before ending of next month.
    6. My budget is $6000USD
    Kindly get back to me with an estimate,

    Thank you!

  15. So I haven’t even been on Guru.com for 5 minutes and I’ve already become a potential victim of this scam.

    At first, he was asking for a new website for his restaurant. And then before I know it, he’s telling me he’s going to send me $8,000 so I can pay $6,000 to his “project consultant” because she doesn’t have the ‘facility’ to her credit card at the moment. And I keep the $2,000 for myself. Baring in mind, my quote wasn’t even $2,000. 😂

    Things seemed so real and genuine until this point. So I done some research into web designer scams and found this site.

    Email from engrobertmilan@gmail.com:

    Hello

    My wife and I just opened a new Restaurant which I now run and I need a website to grow the business, So I need you to go through this example link site: http://sullivansquay.com, I need something as simple as this if possible.

    The Most Important features will be:

    – Single Restaurant website
    – Table booking
    – Online food ordering and tracking
    – Invoice system
    – Order management
    – Payment Integration (PayPal and credit card)

    other Highlighting features should include:

    User and marketing friendly interface, SEO optimized, Responsive pages, Aesthetically pleasing and should be in accordance with the latest design and market trends.

    My budget is $2000-5000 for the whole project, My private project consultant has the text content, logo, artwork and all the pictures needed, so please go ahead and check the example site and get back to me with an estimate which includes hosting and domain and I will prefer: goldcoastrestaurant.net

    I will like to know if you are the owner or the manager, Payment will be made only by check in the US, let me know if that is fine or you have someone that can receive for you if you are not in the US.

    Text me here if needed +1(720) 336-9594

    Thank you

    *****END OF CONVO*******

    Once I spent like 3 hours on a detailed quote, he replied in just 1 minute saying:

    I will be sending you a check of $8000 which include the private consultant payment, Once you clear the money remove your payment of $2000 and send the rest ($6000) to the private project consultant for her fees, she has the text content and the logos for the site with the image artwork.

    I could have paid her but she does not have facility to check or credit card at the moment, Are you clear with that? I will also be needing the full name, address and cellphone number of the receiver of the check.

    *****END OF CONVO*******

    I got suspicious when he replied in only 1 minute, meaning he never even read any of my quote plus the $2000 wasn’t even the price I said lol.

    This is probably a common problem within the community that most may know about but I was not aware myself. And if you’re new to web design then it’s very easy to get excited when you get any potential new client.

    Stay safe people.

  16. We have gotten a couple of these as well. Wanting an eCommerce site. In our case it was “MellisaJavon23@gmail.com”. Once they started asking about what bank will be charging my credit card we knew it was a scam. Total wasted of time building a quote.

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