My company Stack Media Design has recently experienced 2 scam attempts and I want to share with you what happened. This way you can be aware of it just in case it ever happens to you. Both attempts involved the same tactics just some slight differences among them.
The first attempt involved a scammer emailing me using poor grammer about his new restaurant. The scammer went on to say he wanted a large website for the new restaurant and asked me for a quote. I replied with a quote of $3000 and offered to start the project with no money down on his end. He replied with an approval of the quote.
Now up to this point everything seemed routine and normal for the most part. Then his follow-up email is where things got interesting and questionable. The scammer asked me if he could pay me now as a favor to me in exchange for a small favor for him. This struck me as odd for a couple reasons.
- I made very clear to him that no money down was necessary for me to get started on his website.
- The amount of money involved was a lot. This must be some huge favor he needs of me. Especially to send over that much money with only having had a handful of email interactions with me.
So what was the small favor he wanted you may be asking? Well this is where it even gets crazier. Not only did he want to give me $3000 for the project but he also want to give me an extra $4000 on top of that for me to transfer over to his so-called "content manager". Plus an additional $50 for myself as a bonus for doing this.
The scammer claimed that was the only way to get content needed to me to start the website. The scammer would not give me any reasonable answer as to why he couldn't just wired the money to his content manager himself. At first I was a little tempted to take him up on his offer. Fortunately I did the right thing and realized that this has to be too good to be true.
A few days passed and sure enough I get another email from him. However this time the email is exactly the same as the first email he sent me when he got in contact with me initially. Talk about another huge red flag.
So what was the scam you may ask? It's a rather simple scam. The scammer sends me money using a credit card. I imagine immediately after I receive payment the scammer will insist that I send the money over as fast as possible. Once I do that all the scammer then has to do is dispute the charge with his current card company. I end up getting milked out of over $7000.
The next scam had a few slight differences but relatively the same tactics as the first one. A few different red flags popped up that did not in the first one.
The scammer would not want to talk to me on the phone after I offered to call him. Now not willing to talk on the phone isn't necessarily a red flag all on its own but with everything else it is.
The scammer claimed that he would be unable to make a payment to me through PayPal. He simply said it did not work for him in the past. This tactic of the scam I imagine is used because disputing the payment through PayPal might not be as easy as other payment processors.
When the topic of transferring money over to his so-called "content manager" the scammer claimed that he could not wire money to his content manager because the content manager was going through a divorce. Now I'm no lawyer but that sounds a little ridiculous to me.
SO WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
- Repeat emails
- Ridiculous up front payments for your services
- Poor grammar
- Claims that PayPal or other payment gateways don't work for them
- Will not talk to you on the phone
Above all else the #1 step you can take to be safe is simply have a strict policy of NO PAYMENT TRANSFERS TO THIRD-PARTY SERVICES. In my terms of service page, I used the following in a bold font:
Stack Media Design DOES NOT and WILL NOT accept any payments designated to be transferred over to a third-party person(s), service, company, and any third parties.
You may want to add something similar to your policy. I believe if you follow these steps you should be able to stay safe.
Monday, April 23, 2018