Avoid This Scam Like The Plague

Over the weekend, I received a series of texts to my personal number from a “potential client” that was looking for some web design work. Certainly not the most professional way to begin a business conversation, but I’ve had previous legitimate jobs initiated by texts, so I didn’t think about it much – I just replied asking that he forward all business inquiries to our business line or email. About 30 min later, he replies with a 9 page text outlining his requests. At this point a few warning shots began to fire, but I was like “It’s the weekend, I’m not touching this till Monday”. If a potential client is going to ignore a basic request like refusing to use one of our business contact channels, we’re not going to work with them. So, we essentially decided that we were not going take any further steps with them, but still wanted to craft a nice reply to them & wish them luck finding another company. Today rolls around & I continue to have some fishy feelings about this, so after a couple minutes of Googling around, I find others who’ve been contacted about the same information. We’re obviously not going to work with them, but we wanted to pass on the warning to other web design/development firms & do what we can to help them to avoid getting sucked into something like this.

Here’s this gist of what they sent:

  • Name: Henry Mark, owner of a company based in Tennessee (I’ve seen variations of both state & names like “panny kay” or “patricia melvin”)
  • Number he used to send text was (617)793-6365 (which is interesting because that’s a Massachusetts area code)
  • Small scale company that he wants to grow into large scale business
  • Do you accept credit cards as payment? (probably because they’re using stolen numbers)
  • Budget: $3,000-6,000
  • Estimate should include hosting
  • They need it up & running “by end of next month”
  • Company specializes in import/export of Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut, Cocoa
  • They want site design based off of agroamerica.com
  • Only English language
  • They want their domain to be TNtopfarmproduct.com (or some variation of topfarmproduct.com <-- DO NOT go to either of these!)
  • Private consultant will provide text content, logo, etc