Recently, we’ve received a number of different requests for website redesign proposals that had some odd and striking similarities, enough to trigger alarm bells that something wasn’t right.
It’s no surprise that these extend to specifically crafted web design scams, SEO scams and other scams that directly target photographers, designers and other creative professionals.
Here’s How The Scams Work
They’re called the Third Party Payout Scam, the Payment Reversal Scam, the Advanced Fee Scam or the Overpayment Scam. The Fraud Prevention department at credit card payment processor Stripe put it like this:
I can see that you work in web design. Designers such as yourself are common targets for a type of scam known as a Third Party Payout. Essentially, the scammer makes a payment (generally in the thousands) for a project, and pays more than they need so you can then transfer money direct to a third party (e.g. a consultant, graphic designer, etc). I imagine your correspondence with your ‘client’ has been along these line. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, the fix is that the card used is stolen and the third party is actually the scammer. So when the legitimate cardholder disputes the payment the business is left holding the bag on the money retrieved from their account and what they transferred to the scammer.
What’s Amazing About These Web Design Scams
How involved they are – by the time any money were to actually make it back to the scammers, a lot of work and time is devoted to each scam
How long they’ve been going on for – these scams have been going on for a while, and they don’t look to stop
The exact scams aren’t changing much – a basic web search will turn up dozens of minor variations on the same web design scams that are being recrafted into seo scams, designer scams and other freelancer scams
The scammers will email you, text you and sometimes even talk on the phone with you – it’s amazing just how easily a scammer can be totally anonymous hiding behind a throw away webmail account and a Google Voice phone number
Here’s How The Web Design Scam Started
I received an email from email@example.com
Message received,my budget is $700/$1500 for the web design,i just open a Indian hotel/bar and i need a website for my business to grow ,i want the site up and running before 3 weeks,So i need you to go through thisexample link site: http://www.freshmenu.com but i need something moreperfect than this if possible, I will like you to get back to me withan estimate and the estimate should include hosting and i want you tounderstand i want the same page as the example site i gave you tocheck and I want only English language and i want you to know you willbe updating the site for me. I want the site up and running beforeending of next month and i don’t want a shopping cart in myreservation page also i don’t have a domain name yet and i willprefer: KAITINDRESTAURANT.COM, My budget is $750/$1,500 for the webdesign, i have a private project consultant, she has the text contentand the logos for the site with the image artwork,so please go aheadand check the example site and get back to me with an estimate alsowill like to know if you are the owner or the manager and do youaccept cashier check as payment.
On 13 Feb 2022 at 11:15 a.m., Tegan Marie Official <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
l am located in USA.I always prefer to deal with Check and Money
order. Contact your relative or business representative in USA that
can help you receive the payment. I just need the name and address of
that person with cell phone number and I will send the check to him/her. The check will
cleared in the account within 24 hrs. Then he/she will transfer the
money to you and get started.Just send me the name and address of your
representative in USA, I need the name to be on the check and the
address to courier the check to.Please get back to me as soon as possible. I am just interested ingiven the job to you.Thank you
Oh well – live and learn.