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

397 thoughts on “Avoid Web Design Scams

  1. Yet another one: “James Speight” (workerspayroll11@gmail.com) claiming to need a Children Charity website.

    Their ‘pitch’ is:
    We need a website for our new Donation organization for children, It will have a few pages which include home page, about us, gallery, contact and a Donate page integrated with PayPal Payment.

    The website has to be responsive for all devices and browsers and load time must be fast, we want someone who is fast and pays attention to details, an estimate can be sent to workerspayroll11 at gee mail if you know what i mean, if you are available for this project.

    1. I have just now been contacted by a person “Jeff First” from guru.com (a freelance website) saying exactly the same and asking me to contact on ”
      workerspayroll11 at gee mail” with an estimate/proposal externally.

  2. Our company was contacted yesterday by christopherskaggs01@gmail.com. As with all above, the poor English and weird request sent our scam meters running. We’re a tutoring service, and they asked for tutoring over Christmas for three children. They then said that the “private driver” would pay, but didn’t have a CC reader. The emailer said he would pay a $300 gratuity to us for having to deal with the private driver. Very similar to situations above, but it looks as though they’re tailoring it to specific companies to try and make it more convincing.

    Original email as follows:

    “I want to book and appointment for my daughters as a surprise package for my girls before they will resume back to school, They will be coming for Math (Geometry) and Science (chemistry) Can you teach them this subject privately? And also want you to know that they just back here to stay with my mother due to the death of my late wife, and they will be coming along with their private van driver and i’ll appreciate if you can secure this appointment for them for me, waiting to hear back from you now.

    Here is the name list of your students that will be coming for the lesson & they all my family..
    Names :Kate W.Skaggs …(9th grade)
    Annie Skaggs .Maria… (8th grade)
    Jessica E. Shaddix … (9th grade)
    and can you get back to me with total estimate for 2 times in a week teaching 3(Female) Ladies for 5 weeks for 2 hours with the type of credit card you accept”

    Really… who uses middle initials for their kids?! Thanks so much for posting all of this info on the website… made it much easier to confirm it was fraudulent.

  3. Thank you for posting this incident. I had the same email conversation. Name is KELVIN COOK. Email is kelsportswear@outlook.com.

    “Here is the job details I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in Minnesota and the company is based on importing and exporting of Sport wears such as running jacket, jersey,dance wear,socks, boots etc for both adult youth ladies and girls so i need a best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ? The site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on my want below, the estimate should include hosting and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.

    WHAT I WANT-

    I need a very simple informational website that shows the products that I sell.

    (4 main pages)

    HOME PAGE

    ABOUT US

    OUR PRODUCTS (gallery) – about 25 products for now and adding 5-10 new products every month. I want the product to be classified into 4 pages , which are

    Male : Adult and children , Female : Adult and children. so that the customers can get full details.

    CONTACT US – with a form to fill out so that they can get in contact with me.

    Domain Name i want- “kelsporstwears.com” or anything along that line.

    TIMELINE- this should go “live” in 3 months.

    Note:

    1. I want only English language

    2. You will be updating the site for me.

    3. I will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.

    4. I want the site up and running before ending of next two month.

    5. My budget is $1000 to $6000

    6. No shopping ability

    7. The site will be mobile friendly

    8. I don’t want sitemap

    9. I have 25 product to be on it.

    Kindly get back to me with:

    (1) an estimate

    (2) your cell phone number

    (3) And will like to know if you are the owner ??

    (4) Do you accept credit cards as payment ?

    Regards,

    Kelvin Cook
    Cook Sport Wears”
    ……………………………………………………..
    I sent to him documents to fill his credit card information and signature. I called him but couldn’t understand what he was talking about 😀 After that the last email I received;

    “The favor i need is that i will be making upfront deposit payment for the project and i want you to add the sum of $4,270.00 to the amount of check you will send to you . So when you receive the check and send your account, you will send the $4,270.00 to the project consultant that has the text content , imagery and the logo for my website.

    Once he receive the fund, he would send the imagery and logo needed for my website to you immediately.
    I want work to start immediately and everything should work out fine.

    I want you to assist me with this because they are not set up for credit card payment and does not accept credit card as form of payment and my current state of health does not allow me to go to the bank myself to make the deposit. ”
    ………………………………………..

  4. Here are a list of scammers I’ve received lately:

    Joe Moore – joemoore152101@gmail.com : “Kindly find attached samples of logo and brochure, the color code are yellow and white and get back to me with the total cost cause the full text and image of this project is coming from the project consultant.”

    Herbert – 1herbertjacksonautomobile@gmail.com
    Phone: (929) 352-5169
    “Hello I’m Herbert do you offer website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards?
    Thanks
    Herbert”

    1. OMG Joe gets around. A friend just referred this guy to me! After several exchanges and him saying we can’t talk because he’s hearing impaired (#eyeroll) I sent “Joe” a contract but felt funny about the whole thing and all of the broken English. So I did what I should have done days ago and Googled the fool. Thank you for posting this Linda!
      For anyone else hit with this one…His request was for a logo and brochure for a furniture import export business called Victory Furniture.
      Boo hiss at this BS!

      1. I just received the same message from the same name, I’m glad that I came here. I would have wasted a lot of time.

    2. Ole Herbert Jackson just contacted me with the exact same wording, “Hello I’m Herbert do you offer website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards? Thanks Herbert”

      I checked the IP right off the bat and it looked to be from Roanoke VA area but who knows. I should have done a web search for his email address right off the bat too. Would have saved me some hours and yup, he wanted me to copy another site for the most part but “more perfect”.

      No money changed hands, nor would it have. I’ve seen this one before. Selling a car on CL and someone wanted to give my three times my asking price and have me forward the extra to someone else, a Nigerian Prince I presume.

      1. I received emails from Herbert Jackson with the same wording yesterday. Thank you for posting this, I was suspicious and this confirms it is a scam.

        He said his business is Collision Repairs Specialists.

    3. Hi,

      I got new email which says:
      ————Start of Message from Scammers————
      Herbert Jackson
      7:41 PM (11 minutes ago)
      to usa

      Hello I’m Herbert do you offer website design l have a Auto painting company business and i need an information website to promote my business also if you do you accept credit cards?

      Thanks
      Herbert
      ————End of Message from Scammers————

      And I clearly understand one thing, I just got subscribed to paid listing of yelp business for more website design leads and I think thats how these scammers got my email id.

      Anyways, they are working hard to get email ids & contact numbers of web design company.

      Once again thanks for the post.

      Good Luck
      Team Zauca

  5. Just got one of these – with the exact verbiage as the agro import/export.. I had a feeling it was spam so I’m glad this was here! Just so it’s on record somewhere for others, it was from mrs.debbiedouglas@gmail.com

    I only messed with “her” long enough to see if they’d send me a bogus address of a place that just went on the market as mentioned in other comments, and they did… on to the next!

    Thanks for writing this!
    ————
    In case anyone else needs this bumped up in a google search, here’s the “ask”:

    Thanks for your swift response and i have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now 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 http://www.onesbestfarmproduce.net
    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 $20,000 to $34,000

    Kindly get back to me with an estimate

    1. “Hello,I’m Debbie .How are you ? I’ll like to know your free available date in February for my family reunion (4 hours photo coverage).Do you accept credit card payment ?
      Thanks”

      I didn’t even respond, just googled the email and this came up. I’ve gotten several myself with this same “family reunion at a hotel” scenario. Always prepay with credit card.

  6. I had one of these people contact me today using nearly the same message. The domain was Edwardthefarmproduction.com and the website design was supposed to be based on attra.ncat.org. It is too bad these people can not focus all that effort on a legit business modal.

  7. Probably the wrong thing to do, but once I went ahead and agreed to the deal and got the card information. I then called Visa and told them the story and gave them the card info. They put me on hold and called the card owner. He still had the card in his wallet, but it was definitely not him trying to pay me. They cancelled the card immediately.

    I emailed the scammer and told him that I decided to take $2000 more than originally agreed and keep it for myself. He said that was fine with him, just send the other money as agreed. I told him “No. I have to let it season for 90 days because for all I know this could be a stolen card. I send you the money, then the bank takes all of it from me when the real cardholder files a complaint. I’m going to put it in savings and not touch it for 90 days. Then, after 90 days, if no dispute has been filed, I’m going to keep all of the money anyway.”

    The guy went nuts and accused me of being a cheat. It was a good Saturday. I was entertained for a while, and I took one stolen credit card number off the market. My small contribution to society.

    1. Ha ha ha!! 😀

      I noticed that the first thing they ask is “do you accept credit cards?” In my 20 years of doing business I’ve never had that be the first thing they ask. Another pattern I see a lot is they always ask to pay a third party (to trick you into getting cash wired and sticking you with credit card fraud). They usually choose web design because it’s a very convenient to say that the text and images come from a project consultant. However, don’t rule out other types of projects. The last scammer told me it was for blank t-shirts, (which makes no sense because I don’t mention t-shirts anywhere on my website; I’m a graphic designer), and he wanted BLANK t-shirts.

    2. Steven, thanks for posting this! I turned off the auto payment on an invoice I just sent and asked my scammer to send me all the info so I could process the payment manually. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

      1. Just got a fishy sounding text from 256-365-7960. Googled the phone number and found this article.

        Text read:
        Good Day.
        My name is Mr Paralez, I would like to know if you do a Website Design Services. Regards.

  8. Thankyou I just got the agroamerica one. 20 page job quoted, but that’s as far as I got. They first contacted me on instagram. I knew it seemed to good to be true! I said I do accept credit card but only via stripe. I should have known considering my services for website don’t cost more than 5k 🙁

    1. What a nightmare! Thanks for sharing this. Imagine falling for this type of scam and the trouble it would cause, it is frightening. I only found this article because I get about 5 gmail enquiries a day for “sponsored posts” on one of my blogs and find it suspicious so searching brought me here.

  9. I went along with a few exchanges with the scammer, and eventually got to the point where he asked me to pay the “consultant”. I can’t imagine who would be okay with that.

    Ultimately this was a good exercise for me to trust my instincts. It felt off from the very start, but I kept giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    1. Yikes! I have a cleaning and organizing business and was approached by Christopher Skaggs first by text via the same phone# 315-625-1740 – which is how I found this post. We moved the conversation to email (jo77yce@gmail.com – he also gave me another email address ksluke@gtmc.net which he didn’t end up using). He told me a very elaborate story about being out of the country with his wife who became ill while they were traveling. Plus either he or his wife were in a wheelchair. They had recently purchased a house (he eagerly sent me the address which I checked on Zillow which was sold this month so it checked out.) He needed help with unpacking and organizing services to be completed by the end of December. The clincher was that he wanted me to pay his “Private mover guy” for him after he advanced the payment to me. This all did not pass my gut check. I gave him an inflated rate and he didn’t balk. Then I Googled his phone # and it brought me here. Thanks so much for posting this. SO helpful.

  10. Guys please beware about such scams , I got the same content
    The emails used for scaming designer are lessmauritzdup@gmail.com and katehenry986@gmail.com.

    I am sharing the chat with you guys what I recently had with them

    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

    My Reply:
    Hello Mauritzdup,

    Yes, I can help you.
    Going through the details on the site which you had shared with me.

    Will come with definite and concrete plan.

    Again His Reply:
    What is your budget first?

    My Reply
    Hello Mauritzdup,

    It will be around $1000-1300$.
    If you are fine with it we can proceed.

    His Reply:
    Thanks for the response back, I want you to know that i’m okay with the
    estimate cost and will be glad to give you the opportunity to do the
    job for me. I hope I will get a perfect job from you and I would have
    preferred to pay you by pay pal or credit card machine but I was warn
    by my bank not to use my card on pay pal or any other merchant again
    because they double remit my account twice in the past and I don’t
    want to go against my bank warning. I will gladly mail out the payment
    to you by check. I am located in USA and it does not matter the
    Country you are provided you assured me a good and quality job. I need
    your name and address or your representative name and address in USA
    to send the payment to so that i can make an upfront payment and you
    can proceed on my web design. I also understand you will need the text
    content with the logo and other document files to start work on my web
    design asap as you know the document files are with my project
    consultant and she will have them send to you via email… Thank you

    My Reply:
    I have to check , if my colleague in USA can provide me with there bank details.
    As I belong from India so I was expecting PayPal. Well PayPal is not a option for you . Will certainly send you the bank details of a person in USA to whom you can send the money.

    His Reply:
    I can only mail check to USA only

    My Reply:
    I am located in USA.I always prefer to deal with Check and Money
    order. Contact your relative or business representative in USA that
    can help you receive the payment. I just need the name and address of
    that person and I will send the check to him/her. The check will
    cleared in the account within 24 hrs. Then he/she will transfer the
    money to you and get started.Just send me the name and address of your
    representative in USA, I need the name to be on the check and the
    address to courier the check to.Please get back to me as soon as possible. I am just interested ingiven the job to you.Thank you.

    My Reply:
    Then it was general conversation on sharing your numbers

    And the next day same email comes up with the same requirements.
    Then it clicked my mind Ohh I am falling in this trap from getting scammed .

    God has saved me . Thanks to almighty lord ,I did two emails to get the work which eventually turned in to scam…….

    1. I have got the same email. I have send my friend’s name, addressand contact number. Then he mailed me that he will be sending him greater amount of money and after clearing your money, send the remaining amount to 3rd person. I found this fishy and reached here after browsing. I emailed him that the deal is cancelled but I didn’t receive any reply. I worry, I have sent him my friend’s contact number and address. What should I do? Kindly help me.

  11. Yep, I just got hit with this today. I could tell it was crap:

    Name
    Roberto Jefferson
    Email Address
    bworldwild@gmail.com
    Where would you like to start?
    Website Package
    Website (if you have one)
    https://zdca.thehybridcreative.com/.
    Comments / Questions
    I have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in AL 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://zdca.thehybridcreative.com/… 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 15 to 20 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 solutionrobertojsalon.com.4. You will be updating the site for me 2 times in a month. 5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site. 6. i want the site up and running before ending of 2 to 4 months. 7. My budget is $6,000.00 to $17,000.00

    Regards
    Jefferson

    Sent from my iPhone

  12. There is a recent Scam that is going on targetting web design and mobile Apps companies.
    The Spam goes like this:

    The email owner while replying to our services of web & App designing email sends over this email.

    hodongnguyen@ratchetmail.com
    Fri, Nov 1, 3:23 AM (5 days ago)
    to me

    WoW
    HOW DO I CLAIM MY MONEY
    IS THERE PHONE NUMBER I CAN CALL
    —-

    Sincerely,
    Ho Dong Nguyen
    +1-571-399-8400
    +1-240-462-6813

    ALARMS: NO BODY PROVIDES THEIR DIRECT NUMBER MOSTLY ON THE FIRST EMAIL.
    OUR EMAIL WAS ASKING HIM WHETHER HE NEEDS A WEBSITE OR A MOBILE APP. But looks like the email owner is a chinese and is trying to portray as if he is from the united states.
    Also he has given US numbers which when called went over to other legitimate companies having no relation to this chinese person.

    So we have marked his email as SPAM but the guy is trying to Dupe us into a SCAM involving his money or will of his father etc.

    So stay away from such emails ” hodongnguyen@ratchetmail.com

  13. Thank you for posting this. We received an email from Chris Skaggs be26rnice@gmail.com wanting design and printing for a brochure for DHARMATJ INDIAN RESTAURANT. I spent a little time responding to him but it just started sound more and more fishy. Then I found the same names listed here. Thank you for sharing to bring awareness to this craziness.

  14. Thanks for this article. I was contacted yesterday by Michael Mcgettigan  and I knew right away it was a scam (I used to get scam emails for my B&B and recognized the style), but I didn’t know how the scam would work. I played along for a little while to see what he would do, but I’m done with playing now. The one thing he did answer was when I asked how he found out about my business–he said he found me on Indeed.

    Here’s the message I got:

    I have a business located in CA and the company is based on importing and exporting of Office Equipment such as Printer , Scanners,Laminating Machines,Dictation,Computer,Adequate Light,Desk,Multipurpose Machine,Software,Fire-Safe Bix,Network Router,Telephone,Paper Shredder and Personal Server 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 .https://avada.theme-fusion.com/classic-shop/… I have a content creator 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 12pages with 14 products
    2. I want only English language
    3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as MM.officeEquipmentsbiz
    4. you will be updating the site for me.
    5. i will be providing the images, logos and content for the site.
    6. i want the site up and running before ending of next 3 month.
    7. My budget is $10,000 to $15,000
    8.give me your personal cell phone number
    9. Are you the Owner

  15. Got same scam twice from different people. When I told that I don’t accept checks, they didn’t contacted me. First email was sent to via contact form on my site, second came from Clutch profile

    Name: Marilyn Hynes
    E-mail: cynthiadmartinez9@gmail.com
    Subject: web design

    Message: I just open a new elementary school which I run now and I need a website for my school to grow, So I need you to go through this example link site: https://www.birmingham.k12.mi.us/beverly, 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 end of November and also I don’t have a domain name yet and i will prefer: Marilynhyneselementerysch.net. My budget is $5000-12000 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 website and get back to me with an estimate cost also I will like to know if you are the owner or the manager and do you accept credit card and check as payment. Thank you

    =============

    Shayla Wilks

    Thanks for getting back to me.

    I just open a new Thailand restaurant in Houston Texas, which I now run and I need a website for my business to grow. I need you to go through this example link site: http://orderchaothai.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 benchmark website I gave you to check and I only want it in English language. You will be responsible for updating the site quarterly or yearly.

    The site should be 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: BAQINUEWRESTAURANT.NET.

    My budget is $2000-$7500 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.

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

    Regards

    1. First email:
      Thanks for getting back to me.

      I just open a new Thailand restaurant in Houston Texas, which I now run and I need a website for my business to grow. I need you to go through this example link site: millvalleythailand.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 benchmark website I gave you to check and I only want it in English language. You will be responsible for updating the site quarterly or yearly.

      The site should be 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: NETALYRESTAURANT.NET.

      My budget is $2000-$7500 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.

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

      Regards

      Shayla Wilks
      ===============
      My answer:

      Hello,
      Thank you for your trust.

      We will issue an invoice with the payment amount. Data required for invoice:

      Your business name
      The headquarters (postal address) of the company
      Email Address:
      The name of the company representative and the position
      Company registration number at the trade register
      VAT Number
      Account number (IBAN) and bank (optional)

      You will receive by e-mail at the communicated email address a copy of the contract as well as an invoice with the help of which you will pay in advance in the account of our company. The invoice will be issued in USD and the payment can be made by payment order, also in USD.

      ===============
      Second Email:

      For invoice, please find below:

      Legal company name: BELBTHAI RESTAURANT
      Contact person: Crystal Grover
      address: 5085 Westheimer Rd #B56, Houston, TX 77056
      email correspondence : manager@topnotch.com
      phone number : (502) 383-1153
      EIN# 83-1086546
      :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
      Of course the company not exist. I checked.

  16. Thank you so much for this article! I just got an email from an Oyin Williams (williamso4433@gmail.com) – and after responding back once became a little suspicious. Googled some of the language and, low and behold, your article popped up. The format was almost exactly the same as others have described:

    “1. I want only English language
    2. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as ELITEXCLUSIVEAPPARELS.COM
    3. You will be updating the site for me.
    4. I will be providing the images,logos and content for the site. (In another part of the email they say that they have a “private project consultant” who has this information)
    5. I want the site up and running before ending of next two month.
    6. My budget is $3000 to $6000″

    What’s interesting is that Google actually sent the email to my spam folder originally- and because of this I didn’t even see the email for a few days. (I even apologized in my message back.) Glad Google’s looking out for me haha 😉

    Anyway, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to do a write up on this. Seems like it’s saved many of us from these scammers!

    Keep fighting the good fight man!

    1. Thanks for posting this one Samantha. A friend with a print shop passed williamso4433@gmail.com on to me as a web design referral today. I decided to google the potential client before calling. I just wanted to understand their business a little. You posting this saved me from wasting time.

      Thanks again!
      -John

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