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Tim Ryan
Tim Ryan

Posted on

The "Build me a website" scam

I'm skirting around a scam. I know it's a scam. But I'm not sure how.

The details:

I've had someone contact me from far outside of my usual area, asking me to build them a website.

She can't talk on the phone because she says she is hard of hearing.

She evades my questions that ask where she found me.

Her "business" is an online clothing brand, which has absolutely zero footprint online, not registered on companies house, no social media, etc.

She immediately accepted the rough estimate, which I costed WAY higher than I usually would (sketchiness tax).

She wants to pay by credit card asap.

I asked for an address and a business name for the invoice. What I got back was residential and very generic.

And in addition to the above, the language and grammar in the emails were slightly off in a few places.

"What is the name of the machine/merchant service you are going to use to charge my credit card for the upfront deposit and its percentage processing fee?"

I reached out to a chap who works in sales for a web agency and he's had something similar, but couldn't remember the specifics. He - like me - kept it at arm's length, and eventually decided against letting them make any kind of payment.

I'm not going to correspond any further. All the alarm bells have gone off in my head to know this is not worth looking into.

But I'm itching to know... how would this have worked?

Has anyone come across this kind of request before, and if so, what did you do?

Discussion (3)

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mike_hasarms profile image
Mike Healy

I've had this before. In my case they wanted me to do development, but they had a designer in mind to help with part of the project. The "client" was traveling and wanted me to help liaise with the designer they appointed.

From what I understand the angle was that they'd pay me with stolen credit card information, I'd "get paid", and then pay the portion owed to the designer for their part of the project.

The credit card transaction would be reported as fraud and refunded by the processor, leaving me out of pocket for the money paid to the designer.

I didn't fall for it, but it seems to be a somewhat common scam.

The red flags were that they had very little interest in the details of their project EXCEPT for finding out if I accepted CC payments. That was almost the only detail that mattered to them.

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tyrannaut profile image
Tim Ryan Author

Thanks Mike - I see now! They mentioned a designer in the first or second email, and that they would be providing some of the assets, images, etc. So this makes perfect sense.

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pclundaahl profile image
Patrick Charles-Lundaahl

Glad your intuition triggered! Also, thanks for sharing - I could definitely see inexperienced people in a tight spot falling for this.