One of my hobbies in life, one of my passions is finding and locating scammers. I look for them on the street in real life, on the phone and of course on the internet.
This most recent scam was so targeted it almost got me. I gotta give them credit for this. Also before I go any further I wanna give a shout out to my colleague Ryan Gardiner of DCI Digital Design from across the pond for helping me catch this guy. Apparently he got the same email as I did so we joined forces to fight against evil!
The scam: This scam involves messaging web developers, designers and agencies and asking them to design a website. Once the money goes through the “client” asks to send a portion of the money to a logo designer or some other outsource-er. The real kicker here is they say that they are hearing impaired, which eliminates the possibility of talking with them on the phone.
What they didn’t expect was the fact that we have someone on staff that does TTY telephone.
A few minor red flags here but nothing major. The grammar was a bit bad but that could be from the disability. A little too good to be true but I’ve had deals lay up like this before, for way more money.
At this point I quoted them $7500 for the eCommerce website since it was 40 products and a fairly simple layout. At this point it could have been a legit deal, but not likely.
This is when the con popped off:
This is when my red flags went up
From here I knew it was a scam based on the whole cash transfer ordeal. So I decided to grab their IP address to see where “Claire” was really from. So I sent them an application to complete. This would grab their IP address as well as their browsing information and ISP.
They clicked on the link within a few minutes I had their info:
I called my lawyer and she told me to document this (does blogging work) and cease all communicaiton. I tightened up my lifelock personal ID account and also called my banks letting them know I was worried about scammers.
Even though I didn’t give out any personal information, I still wanted to be sure I was protected.
More red flags started going up when they said they couldn’t complete the application, and wouldn’t give up any personal information.
The party is over, the gig is up
At this point, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that “claire” is a scammer. Overall red flags:
- sending money to us, and asking us to send it to someone else
- not being able to talk on the phone
- not being able to confirm any info
- being in the hospital
Update: another scammer caught
On February of 2016, I received another email of this nature. This time I knew what it was right away. The email came from:
Name: Sheriff Antonio
and the scam went along the same lines:
2017 October Update
Busted another scammer, I’m starting to see their obvious footprint now:
- ask web designers if they do web design?
- ask English speaking people if they speak english?
- telling them their preferences, all of which are very reasonable
- giving their budget up front
- asking for the owner
- do you accept a credit card
- they use a real persons identity and a real website owned by an innocent bystander
Here is the name of this latest scammer:
Mark Ellis firstname.lastname@example.org
May 9th 2018 Update
I’ve gotten 2-3 more of these in the last month, looks like this particular scammer is back at it again. I’m going to start posting these emails in plain text so Google will index the names / phone numbers and emails. Here is their contact info and email, hopefully Google will index it and the right people find this:
Name Josh Albam Email email@example.com Phone (417) 986-5385 Message Hi, How are you doing today am sure you having a great day @ work, If so Glory be to the most high!...I wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards?..If Yes kindly get back to asap Josh
And another one:
Name Robert Villareal Email firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 8038011197 Website http://www.agroamerica.com Message Hello! I hope this e-mail finds you well! This is Robert Villareal. I would love to know if you can handle web design for a new company and do you accept credit card for payment ?? kindly get back to me ASAP Regards Robert Villareal Sent from my iPhone
Hopefully Google will update this post so that Mar Ellis and his scammer email will get outed when people search for him!