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Scam Targets Web Designers – Updated May 2020

I got a simple email inquiry, however, it immediately looked like a scam. Here is the first email.

First Contact

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 replied simply with – Yes. You can pay with a credit card through PayPal.

Well, that got a prompt reply, which unfortunately is unusual in my experience. Reading the scammer’s reply a number of points stood out.

  1. The punctuation was not correct.
  2. He used “need” four times in one paragraph
  3. He referenced another website as if to copy it
  4. Few clients announce they want hosting
  5. He explained that he had all assets; images, logo, text content
  6. He gave a budget range
  7. A Private Project Consultant
  8. The email ends with a request for my cell phone number
  9. He wanted to text about the project

I simply put the first line of his second email into the search engine and found many posts in the search results.

Here is the prompt reply. from the scammer.

He used the email address – 1herbertjacksonautomobile@gmail.com

Second Contact

Hello Jim,

Thank you very much for your email,l have a Auto painting company business and i need an information website to promote my business,so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible frontrangedents dot com/. So i need you to get 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 blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as  premiumautos dot me 
4. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site My budget is $3,500 to $6,500
I will be waiting for your email for the estimate

Here is my company name: COLLISION REPAIR SPECIALISTS kindly get back to me with your cellphone number so that we can have suitable text on phone

Best regards
Herbert

How the Scam Works

The scammer has a stolen credit card. He offers to pay for the project upfront, which if legitimate would put a smile on any entrepreneur’s face.

Part of the arrangement will include sending the web designer an amount more what is being billed for the project so that the “extra” can be sent on to his Private Consultant.

This Private Consultant works with the scammer. This is the part where they make money. Thousands of dollars.

Now, when the fraudulent credit card is reported, the web designer will be found responsible for the amount he billed plus the amount he sent on to the Private Consultant.

This is a widely known scam. It even has a few names

1. Third-Party Payout Scam

2.  Payment Reversal Scam

3. Advanced Fee Scam 

4. Overpayment Scam

You can search the internet and read more information about these scams. It seems unless you have lost money, law enforcement may have little interest.

When you get an inquiry that seems either very out of the ordinary or too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t waste your time stringing them along. Just move along and focus on the real clients who need your help.

Note: I have edited all of the links in the scam emails so that they get no link love from this post.

69 thoughts on “Scam Targets Web Designers – Updated May 2020”

  1. Just wanted to say thank you for this information! My company was contacted by this scammer, did a google search on his email address and found your write-up. The email he sent was word for word what you posted. So again, thank you!

  2. I just got the same, verbatim. I had already checked the IP address from the 1st contact via a contact form and it showed as Roanoke VA area but who knows, could be vpn.

    Same wording, same dollar amounts, same desired domain name which is unavailable.

    Sold a car on CL years ago and had someone offer three times my asking price and wanted me to send the extra to someone else. Knew right then it was a scam.

    Wish I’d have checked 1herbertjackson …gmail addy right off the bat. Would have saved me a few hours. Not many results. This post, comment section on AlexWright post(about this scam) and contact form on premiumautoscenter dot com(wix site) has the email listed.

    Haven’t heard back from this scammer since I sent them a url to a pre-quote questionnaire to fill out.

      1. I just received an attempted scam from this Same Herbert. I own a small construction/ handyman business, and he emailed me about building 3 alters for a church. Grammar was terrible which was the first red flag! Then he seemed overly ready to send payment and kept asking if I was ready to run his card. I offered the Venmo app, and he wouldn’t agree to use that one. Must be hard to do the scam through Venmo or something. He kept trying to get me to let him send it through other sites I’ve never heard of. I refused and looked him up. Found this thread. How can I report him and get him caught. There has to be a way to track them?

  3. Guys you need to also report it as SPAM using your email client. All email clients share a common blacklist. So when many of you report it as SPAM, you are helping the community.

  4. He literally is trying to talk to me about this as we speak and I decided to look his email address up and found you guys! What can we do to report him I want to stop this from people who may not know better

    1. That is remarkable. We stand together. Maybe if we all write blog posts about this and link to each other this warning will be more easily found. This is important now as more web designers are even more eager for work.

  5. Our business received an email this morning and it seemed sketchy. After trying to find some info about this person through the usual methods – absolutely nothing found – I decided to copy the entire sentence from his original email and searched through Google… Your post was the first hit.
    Thank you so much for doing this! Your post saved a lot of wasted time for us.

    1. Cara, I am so grateful to see that this post saved another of my peers. That is great. My brother lives somewhat near you in Ballwin. Just saying. Keep fighting the scammers and frauds.

  6. Hi Jim,
    Thanks for putting this out there.

    I got an email from “Herbert Jackson ” on April 9th and found your site (among others) when looking to see who this contact was. As a matter of course I always footprint new clients/contacts.

    It was good to know who I was dealing with as I moved forward and even though I knew this was not a client I decided to converse to see what info I could get that might identify the person(s) behind this and/or what other contact info I could get from them.

    So far I have not received any other contact info, or any other identifying info, but I do have several communications back and forth. I was thinking to post them here as a comment so others could see what tricks this person employs but the email chain is fairly long.

    Is is OK with you if I post here or should I email you the communication log to post in some other way?

    Thanks again for putting this up for the world to find.

      1. Here you go. I redacted my contact info but left everything else intact. Please redact further if needed.

        The emails are inline from oldest to newest. His last one is the most tricky.
        ~~~~~~~
        FROM HERBERT:
        On Thu, Mar 26, 2020 at 12:23 PM Herbert Jackson wrote:

        Hello I’m Herbert do you offer website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards?

        Thanks
        Herbert

        ~~~
        MY REPLY:
        On Thu, Apr 9, 2020 at 1:08 PM Curtis at CodeByCurtis.com wrote:

        Hi Herbert,
        I am reaching out to you because you emailed Pacific Web Techs (your original email is attached below) about website design. PWT no longer directly facilitates website design and has asked me to follow up with you to see if I can be of service.

        To answer your questions, yes I do build websites for new businesses and yes I do take credit cards.

        If you are still interested in having a website built for your business the next step is for us to set up phone call to go over what you are looking for. Please let me know what day and time would be good for you to chat and we can go from there.

        I apologize for the huge delay in following up with you on this. Unfortunately with all that is going on this email took a bit to get forwarded to me.

        Thank you for your interest and for your understanding with the delayed reply.

        Have a great afternoon!

        ~~~
        FROM HERBERT:
        On Thu, Apr 9, 2020 at 4:02 PM Herbert Jackson wrote:

        Thank you very much for your email,i need an information website to promote my business,so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible frontrangedents dot com. So i need you to get 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 blogs.
        2. I want only English language
        3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as Collisionrepairspecial dot me
        4. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site My budget is $3,500 to $6,500
        I will be waiting for your email for the estimate

        Here is my company name: COLLISION REPAIR SPECIALISTS kindly get back to me with your cellphone number so that we can have suitable text on phone

        Best regards
        Herbert

        ~~~
        MY REPLY:
        On Thu, Apr 9, 2020 at 5:16 PM Curtis at CodeByCurtis.com wrote:

        Hi Herbert,
        Thank you for reaching back out.

        I have reviewed the website you provided and believe we can build something similar for you. Before I can provide an estimate I need to know more about what you need this site to do for you. How it will integrate with your marketing, what functionalities you need built in, etc.

        In addition I always meet my clients before I decide to take on a project. For me to do my best for you, I need to understand your business. I also need to know if we will work well together.

        That said, please let me know what day and time would be best for your schedule, as well as the best number to reach you at for a call and we’ll go from there.

        Thank you again for reaching out. I am looking forward to meeting you and to seeing how I can help you bring your project to life.

        Have a great evening!

        ~~~
        FROM HERBERT:
        On Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 4:44 AM Herbert Jackson wrote:

        Sounds good, i want everything exactly like the sample site so i’ll look forward to get the total estimate cost so we can proceed.

        ~~~
        MY REPLY:
        On Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 9:56 AM Curtis at CodeByCurtis.com wrote:

        Hi Herbert,
        Sorry for not being clear. Our next step is to have a phone conversation about this project. Without this we cannot move forward.

        Please let me know what day and time would be best for your schedule, as well as the best number to reach you at for a call and we’ll go from there.

        Have a great day!

        ~~~
        FROM HERBERT:
        On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 12:56 PM Herbert Jackson wrote:

        I would’ve love speaking with you but am hearing impaired patient but we can always communicate via email or text please bear with me and i believe you already have all the information you need to quote me so i’ll like you to kindly go ahead an get back to me with the total estimate cost.

        ~~~
        MY REPLY:
        On Mon, Apr 13, 2020 at 1:46 PM Curtis at CodeByCurtis.com wrote:
        Hi Herbert,
        Unfortunately direct communication is something I require. It is one of the ways I protect myself and my clients. It is also the only way, in my experience, to ensure that all parties are on the same page.

        It should be noted that I have worked with many hearing impaired individuals over the years. This is the first time I have had someone use that as a reason not to communicate directly. It is my experience that hearing impaired individuals are very adept at using alternative methods of communication to facilitate direct (face to face, on the phone, or similar) communication when and where needed.

        Based on our communication to this point I feel it is best that we go our separate ways until and unless you can work with direct communication.

        Thank you for you time and interest and have a great week!

  7. Jim Spencer can I call you at the agency. I just received the same email five days ago. I filed a complaint with the FBI as an internet crime.

  8. Hi,

    I just got a email now stating the same:

    ———Mail from Scammer Reads———
    Herbert Jackson
    7:41 PM (26 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
    ———Mail from Scammer Ends———

    I got little skeptic about the message and searched in google and found many posts.

    And one more additional info, we are in the business for past 10 years, but just a week before we subscribed for paid listing of yelp business and thats how I think they got my email id, I believe.

    Any ways thanks for the post, this helped me in saving a huge time, money and very importantly our reputation.

    Good Luck
    Team Zauca

    1. Krishan, thanks for adding your comments. This scammer knows no bounds. I think you are our first international commenter.

  9. Just got the same email:

    Hello,

    Thank you very much for your email,i need an information website to promote my business,so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible frontrangedents dot com. So i need you to get 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 blogs.
    2. I want only English language
    3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as: Collisionrepairsolution dot com
    4. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site My budget is $3,500 to $6,500
    I will be waiting for your email for the estimate

    Here is my company name: COLLISION REPAIR SPECIALISTS kindly get back to me with your cellphone number so that we can have suitable text on phone

    Best regards

    Herbert

  10. Herbert strikes again!!!

    ———- Forwarded message ———
    From: Herbert Jackson
    Date: Mon, May 11, 2020 at 4:22 PM
    Subject: Auto / Business Website Inquiry
    To:

    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 

  11. No problem, funnily enough I got a second email today. Same parameters but in the hair salon industry:

    Thank you for your response. I have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it’s located in AL and the company is based on importing and exporting of Salon Equipment such as Dryer, hair cream, Weavon, Hairdressing and Clippers etc, I need a website for my business to grow and I want the site up and running before ending of 2 to 4 months. So I need you to go through this example link site: zdca.thehybridcreative dot 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 also I want the same page as the example site I gave you to check, I want only English language and you will be updating the site for me 2 times in a month. Also I don’t want a shopping cart in my reservation page. I don’t have a domain name yet and I want the domain name as MVSalonSolution dot com and I have a private consultant, she has the text content and the logos for the site with the image artwork and the site would only be informational so please go ahead and check the example site and get back to me with an estimate also My budget is $8,000.00 to $18,000.00. I will like to know if you are the owner or the manager. Thank you

  12. I almost fell for this exact scam, same wording and everything. I thought it was weird so I looked up this person’s email and came across this post. Thanks!

  13. On Mon, May 11, 2020 at 12:02 PM Herbert Jackson wrote:

    Hello Jeff,

    Thank you very much for your email,i need an information website to promote my business,so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible frontrangedents dot com. So i need you to get 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 blogs.
    2. I want only English language
    3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as: Collisionrepairsolution dot com
    4. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site My budget is $3,500 to $6,500
    I will be waiting for your email for the estimate

    Here is my company name: COLLISION REPAIR SPECIALISTS kindly get back to me with your cellphone number so that we can have suitable text on phone

    Best regards
    Herbert

  14. Same- Herbert is at it again. Got this on May 7th 2020. THANK YOU for making this post. Herbert apparently doesn’t know what SEO is. Here is the email in full.

    Hello Katie,

    Thank you very much for your email,i need an information website to promote my business,so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible frontrangedents dot com/. So i need you to get 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 blogs.
    2. I want only English language
    3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as collisionrepair-special dot com
    4. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site My budget is $3,500 to $6,500
    I will be waiting for your email for the estimate

    Here is my company name: COLLISION REPAIR SPECIALISTS kindly get back to me with your cellphone number so that we can have suitable text on phone

    Best regards
    Herbert

    1. Hi Katie, Thanks for adding to the post. I can only imagine how many thousands of emails are going out to web developers.

  15. I work for a web development shop in St. Louis, MO and we just received this email.
    From: Herbert Jackson
    Date: May 15, 2020 at 7:36:30 AM CDT
    To: holler@sprydigital.com
    Subject: Auto / Business Website Inquiry
    
    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
    ——————-
    I am so thankful for this blog post! I was asked to followup with him to set an appointment for our VP to discuss the project and I had a feeling something was off so I googled the email. Thank you for providing this information, no one has the time or the money to invest in these scammers, your post is a real service to the community.

  16. I got the same email yesterday and got all excited. I drafted up a quick rough estimate and sent it to my partner to review. I got bored waiting for him to reply and started doing research on the company and found this. Glad to have looked it up, I am trying to leave this company and didn’t want to have to work with my co-owner (cough cough Husband) anymore on anything. So thank you for saving me that stress in addition to avoiding this scam.

  17. Thank you so much for this information. I had a bad feeling about it right away because he asked about accepting credit cards. I’m thankful you posted this and when I replied to him, I said that he should be ashamed of himself especially during this economic climate and included a link to this reveal. (I know I sound like a mother. LOL) Thanks from Wordflirt!

  18. I also got the same email on May 18. I was looking into the sample website that “Herbert” referenced and came across your post. Thanks for posting.

  19. Hi, I just got a text message on our VOIP office line and they asked for a website quote. I could tell the language was broken a little. I then replied that I could email them. I have been talking via email and even got up a website proposal. They were ready to pay but said they also wanted to see if we could charge them an extra $4500 because their brand consultant who has the logo and content for the website doesn’t have a payment processor. He said then we could wire the money to the consultant. LOL. I took the first email and copied the content and pasted in Google. Thats when I found this post and felt more confident in my spidy senses.

    Well, I sent a fake payment link that allowed me to get his IP address. I am now setting up a DOS attack. I am recording it and will email him back and see if he was able to make the payment haha. I will share the video with you guys if you want to see a little revenge.

    1. Daniel, Thanks for contributing yet another comment about this scam targeting web designers. If you can get any accurate geo-location data, I am interested to learn what country this is coming from.

      1. Ok sure, I can get their location hopefully. I am not sure if they are using a VPN or not yet. He is still emailing me. I am going through with my plan in a couple of hours. The link I am sending to “collect payment” will send him directly to a ransomware instant download also. That way, if I can’t Dos him, at least I can install a nasty virus on his PC. Can’t stand scammers like this. You should see how he talks in the email. He even went on about a medical condition at one point to pull on the heart string.

  20. i got this from my website form:

    Name
    Herbert
    Email
    1herbertjacksonautomobile at gmail.com

    Phone
    (475) 675-1380
    Message
    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

  21. We’ve just received a new (but similar) request via our website – so I wanted to make everyone aware that the scammers may NOT always go by Herbert or refer to an automotive related company.

    The new scammer texted this to our VoIP line from 318-732-5877: “Hello I’m Marilyn, I want to know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do accept Check as a means of payment. kindly get back to me so i can send you the job details.”

    After replying that we do take checks….”I have a small scale business which I want to turn into a large scale business now located in Magnolia, TX and the company is based on importing and exporting of Raw Materials such as We buy and sell Diamonds, gold, silver, Gemstones. 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 //yelp.com/biz/marilyn-lepley-gems-jewelers-magnolia-3 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 Lepleygemsanddiamond.com 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 the end of next month.
7. My budget is $3000 to $6000
    Kindly get back to me with: (1) An estimate (2) And would like to know if you are the owner ?? Regards”

    As previously noted, these types of solicitations are called third-party transfer scams and should be reported to the FTC if you have the time/desire.

  22. Did a quick search after getign an eamil from the same person.
    Glad to find this!

    Exact same email. Language was off so I suspected somethign but replied. Got a reply back with same info as others have gotten and now reported teh email to Google.

  23. Thank you all! I received the email as well. I will say “his” punctuation is getting better, no more dot com or lower case i. I did reply to the first email before searching and finding this. Happy to know we all look out for each other!

    1. Just another way that web design and marketing proves to be a team sport. Thanks for your comment Kathleen.

  24. My husband and I own a small Military Themed custom woodworking business. We received an email from Hubert Jackson Automobile asking if we could make him a custom-built church altar. That seemed a little strange since we do mainly military-themed products like shadow boxes. The email address caught my attention 1herbertjacksonautomobile@gmail.com so I googled it and found a lot of reverse payment scams associated with that email address. Thank you for explaining how this scam works and saving me from becoming his next victim.

    1. I am glad to have helped one more person steer clear of this scam. I thought that this attack was only on website developers. And certainly, there are other reverse payment scams out there. Stay safe.

  25. I got two, one from Herbert Jackson (1herbertjacksonautomobile@gmail.com) and one from Brian Rahill (babawire3080@gmail.com) When I responded yes, the second one came from a different email but exact same verbiage. Then this one came when I questioned the same email from different people:
    Thank you very much for your email,i need an information website to promote my business,so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible frontrangedents com/. So i need you to get 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 the consultant company 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 blogs.
    2. I want only English language
    3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as: www-collision-repair-specialty-llc online
    4. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site My budget is $3,500 to $6,500
    I will be waiting for your email for the estimate

    Here is my company name: COLLISION PERFECT REPAIR kindly get back to me with your cellphone number so that we can have suitable text on phone

    Best regards
    Brian

    Herbert signed his email Brian.

    I knew from the first one it was fishy. I googled the email and found your article. Thanks for the heads up.

  26. Thank you very much! I suspected this was a scam and I googled Herbert Jackson Car Repair and Bamm! You just saved a working mother and two kids under 5 from being robbed!

    Thank you thank you thank you!

  27. Yeah, he’s still at it. Houston, TX
    The email:
    Name: Herbert

    Email: 1herbertjacksonautomobile@gmail.com

    Telephone: 4756751380

    Website: https://ol

    Company: COLLISON REPAIR SPECIALISTS

    How did you hear about us: Yelp

    Subject: website design

    Message:
    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

  28. Scam is still alive and well. Was contacted last night, just replied, and got pretty much the same message, which sounded hinky (even the first message got me thinking), so that’s how I found your post. You’d think the guy would change his name or something. Thanks so much for the heads up.

  29. September 3rd, was just contacted by this person. Too bad for these scammers, awful grammar and an off email is a big red flag.

    I’ll try and waste there time for a laugh, thanks for posting this!

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