An illustration friend of mine received an email from a guy named James Floyd who wanted to hire her to build a website for him. She doesn’t build websites but she knows that I do, so she gave me a heads up about it on Facebook. I fired off an email of my own saying that I could build this site, and he was super happy about it. He emailed me the details in the following email:
Thanks for your response. I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in MI and the company is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa so i need a best of the best layout design for it. I hope you can handle that for me. Check out this site: http://www.agroamerica.com, I will be happy if you can give me something better than this if its possible. The site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out. The estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out. I have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.
1. I want the same number of pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don't have a domain yet but i want the domain name as JayProfarm.org
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of next month.
7. My budget is $3000 to $7000
Kindly get back to me with:
I. An Estimate
II. Cell-Phone Number
So far, so good. I wasn’t feeling any sketchiness. Yet. I told him my plan for building the site, and gave him an estimate and (sadly) my phone number. He got back the next day with this email:
Thanks for your response. I'm okay with the estimate and i want to proceed so i will be depositing $2000.00 using credit card so work can commence ASAP. I understand the text content and logos for this site would be needed so as for the job to commence regarding the text content and the logos, I will need a LITTLE FAVOR from you. The reason i need this favor from you is because the consultant does not have the facility to charge credit cards and i also am presently in the hospital for surgery. I will be glad if you can help me out with this favor. I'll await your respond. Thanks and God bless you.
KLAXON! WHOOP WHOOP! RED ALERT! SHIELDS UP!
See those two words all in caps: “LITTLE FAVOR”? Yeah, that’s code for “this is totally a scam”. I did a web search for James Floyd and discovered that a James Floyd Breeding was the assistant to Secretary of Agriculture, Grain and Feed Division in the 1960s. But no James Floyd with an import/export business in kola nut, gacillia nut and cocoa. Then I did a web search for those terms and found two websites, both of web designers, saying that this was most definitely a scam.
And now I have a blog post of my own about it. I’ll help get the word out for fellow web designers to keep their eyes open and be ever vigilant for those red flags. Nobody wants to be scammed, especially hard working freelancers.
Edit: Turns out lots of folks have been approached with this scam. The lesson I learned today is always do a web search on a project to make sure it’s on the level before committing to it.