I am Sarah by name. I need a website for my business. I will like to know if you are available to build and design a website for me. If yes, please kindly get back to me as soon as possible. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your response. I am hearing impaired. And this is the reason why I am contacting you via email.
I have a small clothing business for both male and female which I run here. I am trying to expand the business and I want you to build a website for this business of mine.
Can you do that?
Scammer: Hi I am Sarah by name. I need a website for my business. I will like to know if you are available to build and design a website for me. If yes, please kindly get back to me as soon as possible. email@example.com
Me: Good morning Sarah,
I certainly can help you with a website.
What time would suit you to have a chat about hour requirements.
Scammer: Hi Julia,Thanks for your response. I am hearing impaired. And this is the reason why I am contacting you via email.
I have a small clothing business for both male and female which I run here. I am trying to expand the business and I want you to build a website for this business of mine.Can you do that?
Me: Good morning Sarah, Absolutely, how do you currently sell your products? Do you have a large range? What area do you live? Will you take payment from the website? What time frame are you working towards and do you have a budget in mind? Would love to see a photo.
I currently sell through my brick and mortar store. I need you to check out this site (as a sample). Miss Rebel is an ideal sample of what I want. Please check it out and let me know if you can do something like that for me. http://www.missrebel.co.uk
I am currently dealing with 3 products (clothes, bags and shoes). The 3 products have variations in sizes and colors. Four categories of sizes, with five different varieties of colors.
I have 17 different kinds of bags, 21 different kinds of shoes and 53 different kinds of clothes. Each kind of product has variations in color and size.
I need you to add just the different kinds of each product, and allow visitors to choose what color and size, instead of adding each individually.
I want the site to be an e-commerce. So I need you to get back to me with an estimate for the web design and I need your service on the search engine optimization of the site as well. The estimate should include hosting, domain name and search engine optimization of the site.
I have a private project graphic designer. The graphic designer has the text content, images and the logos for the site.
Kindly get back to me with the estimate, so that we can proceed from there.
Me:Do you have a preferred option for taking payment on the site. Do you use Stripe to take payments or Paypal? What is your target market and what areas are you selling to e.g. Australia?Do you currently have a facebook page? Could you please send this to me so I can have a look. Facebook and Instagram are great places to promote and grow your business.
I recommend you have a look at my website www.northwestmarketing.com.au and I’ll email through you a design brief and we can go from there.
Scammer: Hi Julia,
Thank you for your feedback.Yes, the brick and mortar store will keep running.I would prefer Stripe as the payment gateway. And selling within Australia for now.
I do not make use none of the platforms you made mention above, thank you for the insight.I will like to make use of the platforms you suggested above for my business.Kindly let me know the cost to get the project done so we can proceed from there
Don’t Fall for this Scam
Initially I thought it was a genuine enquiry until I got the second email one week later from Kayla. My emails to Sarah the first person were very strange in that she didn’t use social media, didn’t have facebook, didn’t have a domain name, but had an online store selling clothing. She didn’t have images she could send me. I still thought though I could work with her and help her business, especially with COVID imparting so many small businesses.
Today before going any further, I decided to do a google search on this and found a number of sites reporting it as scam and worse still a number of people leaving comments on these sites stating they had lost money.
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.
It Seems So Real
The amazing things about these scams are:
- How involved they are, I’ve had over 8 emails from Sarah thus far.
- How long these scams have been around and worse how people have been caught out.
- The scam is basically the same every time, though there are some minor variations the approach and communication is generally the same each time.
Here’s How the Scam Works
This is called a “third party payout scam” or an “overpayment scam.”
Here is what would have happened. You would have accepted a large sum of money for an invoice with your company name on it. Your company name would show up on the statement of what is obviously a stolen credit card (hence the apparent urgency to get the deposit paid and the project finished).
You would then send money to this un-named “designer” who can only accept untraceable forms of payment.
After such a large transaction, the legitimate owner of the card would then dispute the charge, leaving you on the hook to the bank for all the money paid to you, plus the money sent to the “designer” who is likely the same person using you and your business to launder dirty money.
I’ll keep you posted with the ongoing emails, but be warned and don’t send any money anywhere.