Creatives: Watch Out for This Web Design Scam
A departure from the usual posts on LWS but this one is necessary (and hopefully helpful) to anyone running a creative business.
In the past week, I’ve received two emails from prospective clients asking about web design work. Neither email triggered anything usual in my mind; my contact form is often the hub for similar incoming requests, e.g. “Hi, I found your site via Google and am looking for three pages of copy for my website …”)
Anyway, I absolutely thought the first email was legitimate. Here’s what it said, (also, don’t ask why I am protecting the identity of an awful troll-scammer but such is life):
I responded asking for more details about the project and received this email in return:
At this point, the project was out of my hands (I’m no web designer and the prospective client already had the copy), and life went on its merry way. Until, a few days later when I received …
Again I responded. (It’s just not good business to leave incoming leads un-nurtured; a Marketo study today reported 79% of marketing leads don’t convert to sales because of lack of lead nurturing.) In return for me email, I got this one:
Well, OK. The exact same email with the exact same strange phrasing (“I have a private consultant that has the text content …”) At this point, I knew. Ugh. SCAM.
Apparently, the “client” says he or she will send a deposit for the website and also some amount more ($2,000-$5,000, depending on the scam) to pay the “private consultant.” So, they send the money you’re supposed to pass on and then the deposit reverses and you basically sent them your own money. Or something. I don’t know. It’s bad.
And honestly it’s just not cool. As creatives trying to turn our hard-worked art into the financial means to survive, this whole thing is awful.
What to do if you get this scam-filled epistle? Here are some resources you can turn to:
- FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant
- The Secret Service (Note: According to my research, this is only a good resource if money has exchanged hands.)
Also, I’m aware this has been going on for years; I found a blog post from 2015 expressing the same disdain. Still, years-long or not, it’s better to know than to not know, and that’s why I’m about to hit “Publish” now.
Be safe out there, kids.