I got a simple email inquiry, however, it immediately looked like a scam. Here is the first email.
Hello I’m Herbert do you offer website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards?
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.
- The punctuation was not correct.
- He used “need” four times in one paragraph
- He referenced another website as if to copy it
- Few clients announce they want hosting
- He explained that he had all assets; images, logo, text content
- He gave a budget range
- A Private Project Consultant
- The email ends with a request for my cell phone number
- 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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
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.