Scam Alert: Thieves Targeting Web Developers

scam alert

 

In this day and age there is no shortage of scams targeting all sorts of people of all ages in all walks of life. Below is an account of how I narrowly avoided one targeting web developers such as myself. A few days ago, I received a text message on my smartphone from the phone number (681) 233-1381.

 

Hello, I want to know if you handle Website design for a new company, also if you accept credit cards? kindly get back to me ASAP, so that I can email you with the Job details. Thanks

 

Only on rare occastion do I receive a legitimate random text message concerning new business, but this sounded like perhaps it could be real, so I replied:

 

Yes, both. Visit accrediteddesign.com

 

The next day, I received an email direct to my business email address from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. stating the following:

 

Here is the job details

I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in GA and the company is based on Horseback Riding and exercise services, 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.rockinghorseranch.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 besthorsebackriding.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 $4000 to $8000
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 ??.

smith Cole

 

With this, numerous alarm bells started going on in my head and I had a creepy "I'm being stalked" sort of feeling about this. I've been in business dealings in my adult life as long as I can remember, have been in sales and marketing nearly as long and several things seemed very odd to me.

  1. It originated with a text to my phone.
  2. The phone number (681) 233-1381 is unlisted, even in reverse cell phone search and it's a Hurricane, WV landline phone number and he/she says the company is in GA.
  3. How did they text me from a landline?
  4. The name, "smith Cole" seemed odd. A search for the name in WV and GA yielded no results, only "Cole Smith" in Hurricane, WV.
  5. How did they initially only have my cell phone number for texting me, but have no clue about my email or company information to otherwise contact me.
  6. If you read the email closely, it seems English is not their first language, however they speak it fairly fluently.
  7. Why would they ask for my cell phone number in the email when the origination was a text chat and they already had my cell phone number?
  8. Why would they want to know that I'm the owner? Who cares?
  9. What's up with the "project consultant"? Another 3rd party?

So after doing some research and speaking to another friend in web development, I confirmed without question that this was a total scam attempt. The first clue I had was this post:

http://www.topix.com/forum/business/computers/TOU7MI4GLAOFQFKRH

After speaking with the mentioned friend, he forwarded me these links:

https://wolfcreekweb.com/post/Scam-Targets-Web-Designers

https://benweiser.com/the-art-of-the-web-design-scam-e-mail/

https://teamtreehouse.com/community/web-design-scam-heads-up 

Here’s a quote from scamwarners.com as to how this works.

  • The scammer places a (usually large) order for goods, services or a reservation.
  • The scammer insists on using his own courier/shipper or freight company.
  • The scammer gives a plausible explanation for additional charges to be added to the card. These may include, but are not limited to, another party needing payment but doesn’t accept credit cards, or taking safety precautions by only sharing credit card information with one party.
  • The scammer provides credit card information for payment with a request for the overage to be sent to a supposed third party. That third party is the same scammer using another name. The usual request is for the payment to be sent by transfer via Western Union or Money Gram.
  • Any credit card information you receive belongs to an innocent victim. The scammer is using your ability to charge and process cards as a way to steal money from compromised cards. Any money sent to the scammer is lost, with both the business and card holder as victims.

So basically, had I continued with this person via email, They would have had me process a stolen credit card number in the amount of say, $4,000. Once the payment was made and it was processed and complete, I would have seen this as a sign that it's for real. They would have then asked me to pay this third party project consultant (really the same person, the same scam artist using a different name alias) an amount of say, $1,500 for their content services from my own credit card. The end result would have been that the $4,000 payment they made to me would fall through after about two to three days because it was a stolen card in the first place, and I'd be out the $1,500 I had just legitimately paid to them. I'd never hear from them again.

I hope this information finds someone else before they nearly slip into the grip of a similar scam artist. Always trust your instincts, and always hesitate and investigate if anything seems abnormal to you.

jewelry

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