How I almost got scammed!

admin Being an Owner

Everyone and their dog knows about the Nigerian email scam and don’t even give them a second thought. Well scam artists are becoming smarter and they have new ways to scam you out of your money. This person who tried to scam me took it to a whole new level, and I was shocked by the depth of this attempt.

I am the owner of Worthen Media, and I specialize web development. Since this is a hobby I don’t get tons of requests, so a random one from the internet didn’t ring any alarm bells initially. Here is the original message I received. (Disclaimer: I would never normally publicize anyone’s email address, or phone number however in this case, I feel it is appropriate to let people know who this person really is.)

From: Paul Bills (765) 734-0513
Sent: Thursday, December 3, 2015 1:28 PM

Good Day 

My name is Paul Bills, I’m hearing impaired, l wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards ?? kindly get back to me… so i can send you the job details.

Thanks Paul

All looked good at first but at a second glance it seemed a little strange to me that the very first thing he would tell me is that he is hearing impaired. How is that relevant to designing a website?  Secondly, his only question was do we accept credit cards? If I was looking for a web developer, I can think of a lot more questions to ask before I discuss payment terms. So I am a little suspicious that I am being scammed but not wanting to lose a potential client, I respond as if everything is normal.

Sent: Thursday, December 3, 2015 1:48 PM
To: Paul Bills (765) 734-0513

Hello Paul,

You will have to pardon my caution, may I ask how you were referred to my services?

I get the following response a mere couple minutes later.

From: Paul Bills (765) 734-0513
Sent: Thursday, December 3, 2015 1:28 PM

I got your page on facebook pages and send me your email and i can give you the details

At this point I provided Paul with my email address, as I was interested in new business. This was the email I received.

From: Paul Bills [mailto:paulbills155@gmail.com
Sent: Thursday, December 3, 2015 2:13PM
To: Worthen Media
Subject: Web design job details

Here is the job details

i have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in NC 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. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible .http://www.agroamerica.com... . 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 and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.
Note:
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 bestmanfarmproduce.com
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be providing 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 $2000 to $5000

Kindly get back to me with:
(1) an estimate
(2) your cell phone number
(3) And will like to know if you are the owner ?

So now I begin to think this may be genuine. He has gone in to a lot of detail about what kind of website he wants, he gave me an example of the design he wanted and provided me with very specific instructions. Furthermore, his business seemed too detailed to be fake. I mean if it was fake, why go in to such detail about such an unusual company?

But then my suspicious mind started to read it again. Firstly, he sent me the email 2 minutes after I my email address. Even if he was sitting at her computer when the email arrived, he would have to be a super-fast typist to write all that and return it back to me in 2 minutes. Second, why ask me questions 2 & 3? Why does he need my personal cell phone number again (that was how he first contacted me) and why is my status at the company important at this point?

So at this point I begin doing my investigations. I first look up the domain that he had requested to see if it already existed or not. I found the domain was registered to another web developer, but only parked and not used. Then I began investigating the example website, and found it’s existed for over 13 years, and appears to be somewhat reputable. Beginning to doubt my suspicious mind, I gave one last go at it and tried to locate his business in North Carolina. I googled North Carolina Kola Nut Importers, and the second result was another Web Developer’s story about how he was nearly scammed!

I shared this story with you because it is apparent that scam artists are becoming smarter and are finding new ways to scam people. I don’t know who Paul Bills is. I assume it’s a fake name. Probably some guy in Nigeria. Based on his use of the English language, I would assume that English is not his first language.

My message to everyone out there is be careful with every interaction you have. Even if everything seems legitimate, take the extra few minutes and make sure you know exactly who you are dealing with. Make sure you have crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s. The last thing you need is to be scammed.

Please share this and let’s spread the word to prevent future scams.