Type of a scam Fake Check/Money Order
I’m a part-time instructor, and occasionally I do web design freelance on the side. I’ve been in the industry for over 15 years so I am experienced enough and have dealt with many clients. The scam that I recently found myself in was very realistic and could definitely have less experienced web designers/developers fall victim. There’s a potential for a lot of desperate web designers to find themselves being scammed by this. I don’t know how he found my contact information, despite me asking how he got my contact, he never revealed it. I thought the person I was dealing with was genuine. He came across as respectful, polite, and replied back quickly to my emails. I got his first email on April 23 from an individual named Robert Wightman. He just send me: Hi, I need a website created for my business. Can you handle that for me? I followed up with an email asking for more specifics and he replied with (condensed version): I am glad to read back from you. My wife and I have a small scale business which we intend to turn into large scale, It is located in Biggar, SK and it is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Almond Nut, Hazel nut, Pistachio, Gacillia Nut and Cashew nut so I need a good layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ? I need you to check out this site but I need something similar if possible www.cargill.com the site would only be informational. Kindly give me an estimate based on the sample website, the estimate should include hosting. We do not want more than 15pages for the site as we want it to only be informational and a Contact Us page is obviously needed. I have a project consultant that is working on the text content and logos for the site. So after getting that information, it still sounded like a realistic job, so I put together a $6000 development estimate and sent it back to him. I will add though that I couldn’t find any online information on the client nor any information about their nut business in Saskchewan, so there were some concerns growing initially, but nothing to set off all the red flags. On April 29th, the morning after getting my estimate, Robert replied back to me: I am okay with the estimate and thank you so much for staying within my budget, I really appreciate that. I will pay an upfront of $3,000 which is 50% of the total for the Custom development using my credit card so work can commence ASAP. I understand the content for the site would be needed for the job to commence. On the other hand I would need you to do me a little favor because the consultant that would provide the contents does not have facilities to charge payments for now and I am presently receiving my hearing treatment at the hospital, the doctors say I would go through surgical process soon. I want you to charge $7,600 on my card then you take $3,000 as deposit payment for my web design plus $100 for the stress this may cause you and the amount of $4,500 you would send across to the project consultant to enable her forward the text content and logos. Let me know how many percent surcharge it is for credit card processing and the processing platform you use. Further red flags were raised at this point as normally a client wouldn’t just pay for credit card, and also why would I pay the project consultant when they are a business and they can do that themselves. I didn’t have enough information to tip me off that this was 100% a scam, so continued on seeking more information so I replied saying that *** was an option, but Robert replied back with: But unfortunately I despise to patronize *** and Square after some terrible experience I had in recent time. My wife also have had issues using *** to pay bills sometime in March. So I have vowed not to patronize their services any more, I am sorry. Kindly set up processors like *** or ***. I have used *** in paying some bills lately and they are reliable, fast and secured for payments. Let me know if you consider my suggestion. I started to understand that Robert had something greatly against *** and I suspected something was up when I pushed back saying I couldn’t set up a *** account and he pretty much replied back with the same email as previously (copy & pasted probably). Robert then texted me on my phone on that same day and texted me the same story of why his wife despised *** but he did not continue talking to me via text, only preferred email. Funny enough, by texting me, I saw that his number was based in New Westminster and not Saskatchewan as he originally said he was from. By Tuesday, all the alarm bells were going off in my head. All this was becoming very unsettling for me and I knew something was wrong, and that’s when I started to Google website scams and fortunately, I found a website article from this website https://blog.waveapps.com/important-alert-payments-scam-targeting-web-designers-…⇄ that outlined virtually exactly what I had gone through. I wrote back to "Robert" letting him know that I knew he was trying to credit card scam me and that he was never to contact me again.