If you’ve ever operated a business building websites you probably know these guys.  Hopefully you haven’t gotten to know them too well.  Yep, I’m talking about scammers.  I don’t know where they are, but I’ve heard it’s somewhere in either Africa or Russia.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been contacted by one of them.  They start out by sending you an email asking if you could build a website for them.  Here are a couple of examples:

Phillips Moore <[email protected]>
hello, this is PHILIPS MOORE, i want to know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards ?? kindly get back to me ASAP so i can send you the job details. PLEASE NOTE: i am on an emergency trip away so this business will be conducted via mail, text and call if necessary. thank you

alexander wright <[email protected]>
Hello, My name is Alexander wright. I would like to  know if you’re available for web design and do you accept credit card for as Method of Payment?, I would have love to talk to you on the phone in regards of the Service needed but I am hearing impaired So i can only be reach via Text or Email. I hope you Understand.|
Thank you and God bless you

I assure you, I don’t have anything against someone who speaks English as a second language, but the grammar and punctuation in these messages are usually somewhat suspect.  If you respond to them, they will send you a followup message with some details including their budget ($5,000 to $7,000 – ish), a sample website they would like you to replicate (import/export of kola nuts, or some such nonsense) and ask if you are the owner of the business.  If you continue to play along, they will tell you that the details, text and pictures for their website will be provided to you by a “consultant” and by the way, can you do them a favor?  Because they are “out of town” (on a ship, in a hospital, on a trip, hearing impaired, etc.), they are unable to get the money to their consultant so they will authorize you to charge an extra couple of thousand dollars on their credit card and then wire the difference to their “consultant”.  Not only that, they will pay you an extra $500 for your trouble.

Sounds easy, right?  Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m immediately suspicious of anybody asking me to send them money for any reason, no matter how good it sounds.  Anyway, in case you are still confused at this point, what happens is the credit card charge goes through because it’s a valid card number that hasn’t been flagged yet as stolen, the money goes into your business account and you think “SCORE!” and immediately send the money to their “consultant” and proceed to start working on their website.  A few days later, you find out from your bank that the credit card charges have been reversed due to fraud, the money taken back out of your account, and you are minus the $2000 cash or whatever you sent their “consultant”.

Of course, I’m preaching to the choir and I can’t imagine anybody actually falling for this, but what surprises me is that this scam continues to persist even after several years.  This tells me that they are actually succeeding at least a small percentage of the time.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!