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. The truth is, 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

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

60 thoughts on “Avoid Web Design Scams

  1. This is classic! I just posted a reply here yesterday about one of the scams. I reported the number and email address they gave me with the FTC as well as a few websites that keep track of scam numbers. I replied to these idiots telling them I had reported them and immediately blocked their number, a few hours later I get another message from a different number running a very similar scam. This time I’m just toying with them asking stupid questions … The number in question is 805-591-4947, here’s the dialog:

    SCAMMER: Hello, am Dan, do you offer Logo design service?
    ME: Hi Dan, of course. How did you hear about us?
    SCAMMER: I want you to know that this is the first time I will be doing a Logo design so I can only give you details then you can decide on Colors and designs. I need you to make 2 designs writing “ Happy New Year “ in the logo and 2 designs writing “2019 Year of Favor”. making 4 Logo designs. I need you to include religious images like cross or dove bird to make the Logos look more different, i want you to get back to me with the total estimate for the 4 Logo designs..
    ME: sounds good. So what do you want?
    SCAMMER: i want you to get back to me with the total estimate for the 4 Logo designs..
    ME: Yes. But before that, tell me about your business. And who refer you to me please
    SCAMMER: We are having our national youth convention and wanting the logo design to be printed on the T-shirts we want to be on as uniforms on the convention..
    ME: What is the name of your business and your contact information? I need your physical address and email address too
    SCAMMER: The Redeem Christian Church Of God
    Dan Larry
    dan891515@gmail.com
    ME: Is this Dan Larry from UT? Man I haven’t heard from you in a while! What are you up to?

    … That’s when I lost them 🙁

  2. I just had someone text me in a similar fashion to whats been previously mentioned. It started out with them asking if I provided logo design services and accepted credit cards (I answered yes to both).

    They then went on to explain the project, stating that it was for a youth convention and they needed 10 different t-shirt designs with a budget of $1200-1500 and the shirts saying “GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME AND ALL THE TIME HE WILL BE GOOD” and “THOSE WHO TRUST IN THE LORD SHALL FIND NEW STRENGTH”. We went back and forth and I stated my usual “okay, i will send you over an agreement, i need that signed, a deposit, and then i can start the work”

    This then led into the person asking about my merchant and how long it would take to receive the funds. The person then asked if they could just give me the credit card info directly and just send a receipt back. Finally, I got the “Can i ask for a favor” message which went into:
    “I want to pay the printer some amount to get materials and work started so they can meet up with set deadline but they do not have facilities to accept credit card payment So I’ll add the extra amount to your deposit and once everything clears into your account, you will take your deposit and help me send the remaining amount to them the sum of $3,390 i will be responsible for the credit card charges and tax and there is also a $100 tip for you.”

    These texts came from the number 740-715-1613, but I was never able to get an actual name after asking multiple times.

    1. I just wasted about 1 hour total in back and forth messages (thank goodness I used the Messages app on my Mac, otherwise it would have taken 10 hours typing stuff on my iPhone). The person’s supposed name is Charles Rodwell and his email address is chhadam012@gmail.com.

      If your gut is telling you that something doesn’t add up, is because it doesn’t. I couldn’t put my finger on it, the immediate disclosure of budget, the English misspellings, the lack of answers to basic questions, etc. so many things alerting me that something was fishy … but that’s why God invented Google. I searched for the number (740-715-1613) and this post appeared as one of the results.

      Everybody else receiving this type of scams should paste the phone numbers and message here. The article is well written and alerts creative types like us about this BS.

  3. Yesterday I wasted half my morning preparing a quote for ‘Justin William’, who was expanding his cacao import business into the UK. After spending an hour preparing a detailed quote I then got the request for a ‘favour’. Needless to say I declined!

  4. Here is the email that arrived:

    Hello, I need a design for my project, It’s an Indian restaurant that i run but need a website for the business to grow, Please let me know if you can and my budget is between the range of $5000-$10000 within the interval of one month. I will be looking forward to your response via my business address (Mthmp6n@gmail.com) so i can forward the details to you.

    Thanks,
    Michael
    —————————————————————————-

    Here is our stock response to these senders:

    Sure Michael.

    Send us a deposit of $5000 to continue this discussion. We will refund your deposit IN FULL if you decide to have another company handle your project. You can e-Transfer the deposit to this email address. No further contact will be made until the deposit is in place.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi All,

      Alex, Kudos for having this up here or I could have been in a tough spot. It seemed very “to good to be true” so my stomach was already turning. Luckily my background is forensics and ethical hacking… Red lights and sirens all around. lol

      In any case, much like the above user, we have the same email from Michael Thompson using a yelp account. The same email was used (mthmp6n@gmail.com), in fact is was a mirror copy of the email above.

      Then he mentioned his Indian Home Restaurant business was actually called Osaka Restaurant. I could be wrong but has anyone ever seen a Japanese Indian Restaurant?

      We have filed information with authorities and major agencies here in Canada.

      Thanks,
      Jonathan – PivoDigm Digital Marketing

  5. I have received 2 of these recently, from different addresses.
    Naturally they rang alarm bells.

    Latest:
    Thanks for getting in touch. I would like you to review the details and get back to me with any question you may have.
    Here is the project details, well 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 http://www.missrebel.co.uk the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate .The estimate should include hosting and i want the site to have not more than 5 pages ,since it is informational. I have a private project consultant, he has the text content, images 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 ELITEXCLUSIVEAPPARELS.COM
    3. You will be 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 ending of next two month.
    6. My budget is $3000 to $6000
    Thanks,

    On Fri, 15 Feb 2019, 2:01 AM James William,

    1. We had exactly the same message three days ago.
      Sadly I didn’t check google, because that would have saved me the 20 minutes I spent writing a budget for this S.O.B…

  6. Well, this one just floated over my email lines last couple of days… A typical inquiry followed by…

    Thanks for getting in touch. I would like you to review the details and get back to me with any question you may have.

    Here is the project details, well 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 http://www.missrebel.co.uk. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate .The estimate should include hosting and i want the site to have not more than 5 pages ,since it is informational. I have a private project consultant, he has the text content, images 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 ELITEXCLUSIVEAPPARELS.COM
    3. You will be 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 ending of next two month.
    6. My budget is $3000 to $6000

    Thanks,

    Well… THAT looked dodgy so I googled and showed up here. Hauh. Imagine that. Thought this one seemed familiar. My response included – 

    “Please be advised that the text and content of your message is extremely similar to a number of fairly well-known web email scams targeting creative professionals. We are not prepared to proceed further without the appropriate bona-fides and assurances of legitimacy.”

    Wonder if they will stick it out, or vanish back into the darkside of cyberspace.

  7. Recently my firm received a mail from some Glenn Smith. We didn’t know it was some online scam. Infact the person involved with the firms mail already informed our agent in the us and the so called “scammer” claims to have sent the check and sent us a courier tracking. What should we do?

    1. Sorry to hear that! I’d not deposit the check. Generally what happens is the check initially clears then you pay the scammer then the check amount is removed from your account after it is discovered to be fraudulent. You could always try talking to the bank or the police, but I’m no lawyer or banker. I’d advise against depositing it unless you find out more about the check and the “client”.

  8. Was starting to think there was something not quite right with the enquiry I received, I’m glad I googled it before it went any further.

    Thanks for your responds, below is my project details,

    Here is the job details I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in Manchester 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- “stobartsportwears.co.uk” 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 £5000

    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,

  9. Thanks for getting in touch. I would like you to review the details and get back to me with any question you may have.
    Here is the project details, well i have a small clothing business for both male and female which i run here in Nebraska, 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 http://www.missrebel.co.uk. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate .The estimate should include hosting and i want the site to have not more than 5 pages ,since it is informational. I have a private project consultant, he has the text content, images 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 Nobleclassicwears.com
    3. You will be 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 ending of next month.
    6. My budget is $2000 to $4000

    Thanks,
    David

    1. I just got exactly the same message but it came from James Kruse . Luckily that I was looking for their business and found out this is a scam from google search, Thanks!

  10. I just got the one from David Dojcak

    BUT hey I would definitely do it for BitCoin sent to my public wallet absolutely no harm there!

    He said his budget is around $2,000 so I would gladly do his apparel information only 5 page site for $500 BTC

    1. Sigh… and everyone says I’m such a cynic. This is why! I, too, had been approached by Mr. Dojcak. I asked if we could do a Skype, to which he replied that he had been injured and could not do it.

      From David:
      I would like you to review the details and get back to me with any question you may have.
      Here is the project details, well i have a small clothing business for both male and female which i run here in Nebraska, 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 http://www.missrebel.co.uk. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate .The estimate should include hosting and i want the site to have not more than 5 pages ,since it is informational. I have a private project consultant, he has the text content, images 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 Nobleclassicwears.com
      3. You will be 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 ending of next month.
      6. My budget is $2000 to $5000

      Thanks,
      David
      —————–
      Thanks for posting about this. I guess my gut was telling me right. I keep saying I should listen to it more often 🙂

  11. Email 1:

    Hello,

    How are you doing today? my name is Battista I’m a retired Surgeon in the Army. Who Served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I read about your Web Design service on a business directory I would like to know if you can do Web Design for my new company and will you be able to get me an estimate? Also what to know if you accept all major type of credit card for payment? and also want you to get back to me so i give you my Website Design details and can i have your email address. Thanks i hope to hear from you soonest.

    Regards,
    Battista

    Email 2:

    I have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in CA 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.http://govliquidation.com… 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 omerco
    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 2 months.
    7. My budget is $5000 to $10000
    8.Give me your personal cell phone number
    9.Are you the Owner

    Same scam. Thank you for this warning.

    1. I just got the same emails from the same dude “Battista”. First they texted my office number, at which point I gave my email address for further details. Everything was fishy from the get go, but I played along. Got Email 1 word for word, definitely fishy! But continued playing. Email 2 came word for word. Told them I am the owner and that they already had my office number. That’s when I got a text from a different number saying it was “Battista”. Googled scams involving web design and found this wonderful page. Told them to f*ck off. So glad this is up to warn everyone! Thank you!

  12. Thank you for this article, as i received an email that is almost word-for-word what you’ve pasted on here. I gave the guy a page on my site that has a link to send me payment via pay pal. When he said he had a problem sending money through pay pal and suggested another method of payment, I then looked at my site tracker to see if I could determine if he actually went to that page on my site, and that’s when I saw the page view came from Nigeria. Big clue right there! So then a google search brought me here. Thanks for posting this!!!!!

  13. 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.

  14. Found this today after I received a similar series of texts from a “Gary Walton,” who wanted some brochures (mailers) designed, printed and mailed for his restaurant, “GryWlton Food Restaurant.”

    I questioned him, “That’s the name of your business? No A’s on the first part and ‘Food Restaurant,’ as opposed to a non-food restaurant?” 😛

    He said, yes, and since I try to give the benefit of the doubt, especially considering autocorrect, I contacted printers to get print quotes and prepared a set of design + print/mailing estimates, which would require his signature before I would send over the initial invoice (to cover 50% of my design cost + 100% of the printing/mailing costs).

    After a small delay for him to look over the emails, he texted back, saying, “Great i use both visa and master card i want to finalize booking with the private towing guy i would get back to you asap please do a great Job on the Boat for me can i really on you on that?”

    LMAO!!!

    On that note, I blocked his number.

    If nothing else, pretty entertaining or something…

    1. … i want to finalize booking with the private towing guy i would get back to you asap please do a great Job on the Boat…

      Definitely one of my favorite lines from any of these crazy emails…

      1. Yeah, LOL. Got a couple email replies from him today, too (he replied to my email w/ the estimates). One just said, “How are you doing today?” The other asked if I had time in December 2018 and something about 100 guests… Needless to say, blocked again. 😉

  15. I just got one of these:
    “Hello there, My name is Brian Darius, i will like to know if you offer Graphic Design and and do you accept credit card.” And then another email with: “I want you to know that this is the first time I will be doing a Logo design so I can only give you the details, then you can decide on Colors and designs, but I want a very mature and presentable design and my budget for this design to be $2500”

    $2500 for a logo! Seems fishy…

  16. Had the same thing happen today. Got an email inquiring about web site development from a David Dojcak . I was suspicious as I do not normally get cold calls from other states. I did a bit of searching and found this page. Thanks for putting this information out there!

  17. I got the exact email from David Dojcak yesterday. I thought it was a scam when I first read it, even looked up his name online, but didn’t find anything unusual. I have a fairly large ecommerce website, and market to my clients primarily on Facebook, so I figured maybe David Dojcak had found me on there. I responded with a very small email just to see if this was a legit website design job or not. David Dojcak responded with the exact same text written in the comments above by Mark Kolodziej.

    I just spent an hour writing this person, but something didn’t feel right, and I decided to do some deeper digging with his name in quotes on Google, and this site came up on the first page of the results. THANK YOU Mark Kolodziej for listing this guy’s Fishing Name so that I did not get sucked into this scam.

    I will send this URL over to him, and inform him that he is a known scammer, and please do not every contact me again. WHAT A WASTE OF TIME. I also got several weird texts on my phone for the last few days from a number I had never seen. I did not respond to the texts, but then received the email from David Dojeck late last night. Just glad I found this post.

  18. Wow, I thought something smelled fishy with some correspondence I received. Thankfully before it went too far, I Googled “web design services scam” and your post was the first non-ad to display. Thank you!

    Long story short, the email inquiry at first seemed promising but a little strange with the way it was worded. I wanted to meet in person or have a phone chat to discuss their web design needs, but as you (and others in comments) have outlined, they listed their budget first and the other details mentioned above. We went back and forth several times, but two things stood out: the credit card need where they dictated they’d pay several thousand dollars before I quoted them anything, but I’d have to take out my deposit and send several thousand to their consultant. The second thing that happened was a new email from someone else asking about my web services that they found online. Then I did my Google search and here we are.

    I’ve marked as Junk the second inquiry, but – since there’s been communication with the first, and I *try* to be professional (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) – I sent this reply. (I hope you don’t mind I shared your link to this post, and I’d like to share via my social media channels, as well):

    I’m sorry, I am unavailable for project work for you at this time, or any time in the future. In the meantime, please read this informative article, I hope it’s helpful: https://alexwright.net/web-design-secrets/avoid-web-design-scams/
    PS – Future contact with me will be putting you in contact with the Secret Service, so think twice before responding.
    Have a nice day 🙂

  19. Same thing here! Thank you for writing this blog – confirmed my suspicions!!

    On Tue, Sep 25, 2018 at 10:19 AM David Dojcak wrote:
    Hi, i am David, i would like to know if you can handle website development for a clothing store?
    Get back to me so i can send you the details.
    Thanks!
    =============================
    On Tue, Sep 25, 2018, 12:18 PM David Dojcak wrote:
    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for getting in touch. I would like you to review the details and get back to me with any question you may have.
    Here is the project details, well i have a small clothing business for both male and female which i run here in Nebraska, 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 http://www.missrebel.co.uk. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate .The estimate should include hosting and i want the site to have not more than 5 pages ,since it is informational. I have a private project consultant, he has the text content, images 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 DavetrendywearsNE.com
    3. You will be 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 ending of next month.
    6. My budget is $2000 to $5000
    Thanks,
    David
    =============================
    On Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 7:41 PM David Dojcak wrote:
    Hi Mark,
    Great to read from you again. Yes, the website would be strictly informational with no eCommerce capacity as i am not looking to sell online. I will figure out another domain name and get back to you on that.
    Hosting cost sounds good. You will also be updating the website for me on a monthly basis, and the number of updates would largely depend on how productive the website has been.
    I am okay with the numbers you have put out. I assume you would be providing a detailed quote?
    Let me know if you have other questions.
    Regards,
    David
    =============================
    On Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 12:18 PM David Dojcak wrote:
    Hi Mark,

    How are you today? I got your email just now. Here is to your questions :

    There would be just one page (New arrivals) that would be displaying apparels not more than 60. The rest of the pages would be :
    Home
    About us
    Privacy policy
    Contact.

    II. I would like a product to just enlarge when clicked on it.

    Let me know if you have other questions.

    Regards,
    David
    =============================
    On Sat, Sep 29, 2018 at 8:38 AM David Dojcak wrote:
    Hi Mark,

    I got the estimate you sent my way. Thanks for your response and the clarification of the building process. i am okay with the cost as it is well within my budget. I believe the terms of payment would be half upfront and the balance upon completion?

    I am glad we are on the same page, everything seems to be in place and i hope i am going to get a perfect job from you.​

    Quick question, do you accept credit card payments? Because i can’t do cash transactions at the moment as i am presently recuperating from trauma to the urethral secondary to fall astride. ​I might also be slow in my replies as we build the website due to my condition. I hope this is not an issue?
    Let me know.​

    Regards,​
    David​

    PS : I am also going to need a little help from you regarding my consultant
    =============================
    On Mon, Oct 1, 2018 at 11:07 AM David Dojcak wrote:
    Hi Mark,

    That sounds good. Here’s what I need from you, I’m ready to make payment now with my credit card, I understand the content for this site would be needed so the project can begin asap. I am going to need you to send an invoice for the sum of $4600 plus 3% Cc company charges, you will deduct $1500 as deposit for your service and you will send $3000 to the project consultant that has the text content and the logo for my website via cash deposit to his account, so once he receives the money, he would send the text content and logo needed for my website to you so you can commence asap, you can have the remaining $100 as tip for helping with the consultant’s fee. Sending of funds would be after money clears into your account and you will be charging my card for your balance upon completion. I need your help because the consultant doesn’t have facilities to bill credit cards at the moment and the project has to begin on time so we can meet the proposed deadline plus my present situation won’t allow me to other options. Kindly bear with me. I Look forward to your favourable reply.

    Regards,
    David
    ================================
    My last response was just to see what they would say ; this was before I googled this scam and found your site – posting my encounter here just so others may be able to Google this guys email and name and find this
    ===================================
    I need to verify with the chamber of commerce and a google webmaster places account for your site.
    I need-
    Business name:
    Address:
    Phone Number:
    Credit Card #:
    Address on file:
    CVC code on back:
    Name on card:

    1. Dang, Mark, that’s an intense experience. I still get these inquiries just about weekly. I’m glad everyone is sharing the details of their experiences with these people. Hopefully the scammers will move on to maybe spending all that time doing something productive…

    2. I am glad I saw this. Here is the email I received a few days ago:

      Thank you for your response. i will be glad if you can create a website for me.
      Here is the job details for the site i want created.
      The business is a salon and spa but it still a small scale business so i need a best of the best layout design for it.
      Can you handle that for me ?.
      Here is a site as an exaample, https://www.utopiabeautique.com..
      Please kindly check it out but i need something more perfect than this if its possible
      The site would only be informational, so E-commerce functionality is not needed on this site,
      I need you to give me an estimate based on the example site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and also i want the site to be on word-press plus
      I want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant, whom has the text content and the logos for the site so there wont be any delays.
      Note:
      1. My budget is £1,000 to £5000
      2.I want the same exact numbers of pages with the example site i gave you to check
      3. i want the domain name as SnappySpa.net, because i don’t have a domain yet
      4. Updating of the site will be by you guys
      5. the images, logos and content for the site will be provided by me.
      6. i want the site up and running before ending of next month.
      Kindly get back to me with:
      (1) an estimate
      (2) Are you the owner ??

      This was followed by another email asking for my credit card details so he could make payment. WHen I told him I did not accept credit cards he was very insistent that I go to one of the pyament providers. I also note from the timestamp he is not UK based so very suspicious

  20. Hi yes I just had the same, the build a site like agroamerica scam attempt. Interestingly, the first email was from Sarah Fordwest but the second one was from Sarah Thomson . So maybe they have one person sending out the enquiry email and another who does the follow up emails.

    Anyway thanks for your article, which confirmed my suspicions.

  21. Glad I read this. Just dodged a bullet after reading it.

    Here is the email I just received today.

    ————————–

    Hello ,

    I have small scale business which I want to turn into a large-scale business now is located in MO 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? I need you to check out this site but I need something more perfect than this if its possible

    http://www.americasfarmers.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 best Hosting/Domain and the pages might vary from the site I gave you to check out and I have a private project consultant/expertise, he has the text content and the logos for the site.

    My Budget is $1,500 to $3,800

    I want you to find out this domain name for me http://www.greenerfarm.net

    You will be buying a better/preferable domain for me if my suggested domain is already taken, so it should be part of your estimate.

    I will send you more breakdown about numbers of pages and some more useful information in my next email if that will help your estimation perfectly.

    I am not the CEO of the company but I am hired to be in charge of it been a family Attorney for a client.

    Regards,

    Kevin

  22. I got an email from a guy saying his name was Mark and if I could design a logo for him. So I sent an email back to him asking some questions.
    I knew something was a bit off when he didn’t answer any of my questions I asked regarding his business design preference.
    Here is the email he sent:

    Hello, my name is mark, i want you to know that this is the first time I will be doing a Logo design so I can only give you details then you can decide on Colors and designs

    Logo 1 –
    GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME AND ALL THE TIME HE WILL BE GOOD.
    – 5 concepts (Black & white)
    – 2 revisions
    – Colour swatch combinations (once final design is chosen)
    – Final design delivered in various formats

    Logo 2 –
    THOSE WHO TRUST IN THE LORD SHALL FIND NEW STRENGTH
    – 5 concepts (Black & white)
    – 2 revisions
    – Colour swatch combinations (once final design is chosen)
    – Final design delivered in various formats

    I need you to include religious images like cross or dove bird to make the Logos look more different. 2 logos with 10 variations.

    It’s an open to creativity. We are having our national youth convention first week of next month and we planing to be on T-shirts as uniforms, that why we would be needed the logo design ahead and get it sent to the printer when we’re pleased with your samples. I need to know how long this will take you Also let me know the credit card Processor you using so now can move on from there.

    Best Regard
    ——–

    So what he wanted wasn’t really a logo but t-shirt designs and then to have 10 variations seems absurd just to get 2 designs. So I sent an email about my terms and what I was willing to do. Also asked him how he was referred to me.
    He sent this email:

    Sound good, I want you to understand that the Printer that would be printing on the T-shirts has not been paid due to he doesn’t have facility and access to credit card and there’s no way for me to make the payment with my credit card with him that’s why i want you to help me out okay. His charges fee is $3,520 So i would want you to make the addition charges on my card, so when the funds clears into your account you would help me send the funds to his account,immediately he receives the funds, he will be able to get the necessary materials and ready to do the printing when he receive the PDF file from you. i hope you can handle this for me?
    ——–

    Knew right after this email that it was a scammer. They are getting creative on us creatives. Keep an eye out for these guys.

    1. Wow, Zay, that is an incredible variation! A printer who just happens to need $3,520? Oh, and of course make the design based on religion – nothing better than scamming people in the name of a god! Glad you didn’t fall for it.

    2. LOL. Just got this exact same scam via text last night. Something seemed oddly familiar about it, so I searched through my email for “god is good,” and sure enough, I found an email with the exact wording in it from earlier this year.

  23. Thanks for this. I was just contacted today about the Agro America scam. I spent about an hour doing analysis and getting back to him. I’m a free lance developer and thought my site was finally getting some traction. The tip off for me was his request for my credit card details and then finally my bank info. If it sounds too good to be true… 🙂 So glad I have 2 other current projects and am not hungry at the moment. I hope others can benefit from this.

    1. Thanks for adding your experience MaryBeth. We still somehow get contacted from these scammers despite this post that collects all their information. Stay in touch if you get contacted again…

  24. i’ve been getting hit with a lot of these same emails. i thought for a while it was something unique to us but it looks like it goes around to everyone lol.

  25. Thank you for posting this! I received the Luis Lee text and then email this morning. I did not find any details on the 425-247-3962 at first when I tried searching on it. Once I got the email address I found this article pretty quickly.

    1. Hey Roger, wow, that’s crazy the same guy (or someone) is using that same name. It must be exhausting running that scam over and over. I find myself wondering what their organization is like. They must have spreadsheets about people they’ve contacted, things that worked, what phone number was used, etc.

      On another note – great looking website / work! Dig the way you’ve clearly laid out your pricing and services.

  26. I always get the “DOMAIN APPRAISAL SCAM” where they are interested to buy your domain but require you buy an appraisal from a third party. Some even make a payment then file a chargeback

    1. Whoa Chris that’s one I’ve not heard of. So like you’re supposed to be selling a domain name but then need to buy an appraisal and the appraiser is the scammer. That’s wild. And cold.

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