(See Updates at bottom of article)
Here’s a fairly new scam tactic we encountered today…
We received a contact form submission from our web site today. At first glance, it looked like it could have been legitimate. After further analysis and research, I’ve found it to be a scam. Here is the message we received from the scammer. We removed certain information and replaced it with *.
“Name: Jeffrey Kane
Message: Hello I am Jeffrey Kane and i am hearing impaired i need to know if you can handle website design for a new company and i also need to know if you accept credit cards as form of payment ? i have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in NJ 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?”
Could this be a new scam tactic? I wasn’t sure yet. Normally I would immediately call a potential client to discuss their project further, but given the “hearing impairment” I started typing an e-mail instead. When I referred back to his original message I noticed the grammatical errors (which are a big red flag when it comes to scammers), and the fact that they almost immediately asked if we accept credit cards. That’s when I decided to investigate and see if this was a legitimate person. I found the following information after a few minutes:
- The phone number came back as a mobile number in Braintree, MA
- There is a man named Jeffrey Kane who is a biotechnology instructor at UMass
So far so good. Then I searched for agricultural import export businesses in NJ that deal with kola nut & gacillia nut. I figured there couldn’t be too many businesses out there that meet that criteria, given the specificity. That’s where the red flags started waving all over the place! Multiple posts with the same business information, verbatim, on forums all over the internet. Scams targeted towards other web designers, using different names, contact info, and locations. This seems to be a fairly new scam tactic going around. Since the scammer submitted the contact form through our web site, his IP address was logged. I checked it out, and it originated in Nigeria. This sealed the deal, definitely a scam.
Apparently, the scammer will get you on the hook and accept your proposal for a web design. Then they try to get you to charge their card for more money, and wire the extra money to their “content manager” who will provide you with the site copy and photos. The content manager doesn’t accept credit cards, but the scammer asks us to do them a favor and charge their card and wire the money to the content manager. Yeah, sure!
Here is an excerpt from GraphicDesignForum.com by a graphic designer who received a similar message:
“I have a graphic design company and just received a project request that turned out to be a scam and wanted to pass it on. He said he name was Jeff Rouse (probably from a stolen credit card.) After a brief text message exchange, he sent the email that I’ve pasted below. Ultimately, he wanted to send me the amount of the project plus an additional $2700 which I was then to pay his content manager. When I said that I couldn’t do that, he stopped all contact. The phone number he used was (Number Removed) and claimed he was with a FL based company called Best Farm Produce.”
I sent a reply to the scammer who contacted us, hoping to get him/her to send us more information about the stolen credit card so we can report it to the issuing bank. I’ll post an update here if we hear anything! In the meantime, beware of this and other new scam tactics. Here are some warning signs that an e-mail you receive might be from a scammer:
- The email is poorly written with misspellings and incorrect grammar, or a familiar company name is misspelled.
- The person offers to send you more money than you requested for your work
- The person has many excuses why they can’t meet or speak to you in person.
- The person claims they have been in an accident or are in the hospital.
- The person tells you to send the money in the name of a friend or family member to verify you have funds or to act as an escrow until you receive the purchased goods or services.
You can read more about common fraud schemes on the FBI’s web site.
UPDATE 5/27/15 : Scammer Responds, Provides Stolen Credit Card Info
The scammer responded to our e-mail, and we’ve had a few days worth of back and forth with them in regards to their “web site.” When I wrote back to the scammer, I knew from reading other stories about these scams that he would ask if I was “the Boss” so I chose a funny alias. He didn’t catch on. I’ve consolidated the e-mails so you can read the full conversation. The scammer’s responses are in red.
Our original e-mail response to “Jeffrey”:
Absolutely! We would love to help, and can make a best of the best design for your agricultural business. We accept all major credit cards. Our most widely chosen design package for a business like yours is our E-Commerce solutions plan. The design fee is $2495, and includes everything you’ll need to manage your online presence!
We will need a 50% deposit up front, with the balance due on completion. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me back. We will be in the office all day, and over the weekend! Look forward to working with you Jeffrey!
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
Since he didn’t like our first estimate, we doubled the price to see if that was a better deal for him…
We checked out that site. We can incorporate some custom HTML5 animations into your site that will make it stand out and look even better than the example you provided. If we were to add this option, the total design fee would be $4,950, with a 50% deposit due at commencement of work. You would need to provide us with any photos and site copy and content to incorporate into the design. Please let me know if you have any questions.
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 silverfarmproduce.com
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 $4000 to $5000
We will include all the necessary pages, just like the site you provided for us to check. The site will only be in English, and we can procure a domain name for you as well (pending availability).
The price we quoted you includes 3 months of free hosting & updates, after which time hosting will be billed at $99/month going forward. We will maintain the site for you and perform all updates. If we get started this week, the site will most definitely be up and running before the end of next month. Let us know when you’re ready to proceed!
Here comes the scam…
Thanks for your response, i am okay with the estimate and i wanna proceed so i will be depositing $2500 using credit card so work can commence ASAP, i understand the content for this site would be needed so as for the job to commence so regarding the content i will need a Little favor from you and 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 so i will be glad if you can help me out with this favor
We will try to help you out in any way we can. What do you need us to do to get this project off the ground? We would like to get started as soon as possible.
The favor i need from you is. i would give you my card info’s to charge for $5000 so $2500 would be a deposit payment for my website design and the remaining $2500 you would help me send it to the project consultant that has the text content and the logo for my website so once he has the $2500 he would send the text content and logo needed for my website to you also the funds would be sent to him via cash deposit into his account,sending of funds would be after funds clear into your own account
Now we need to set the hook…
We work with contracted content providers and consultants frequently, and have no problem helping you out.
I have attached a billing form where you can fill out your credit card information, then we can process the deposit and the fee for your consultant. Let me know if you have any questions.
Okay what type of card merchant service did you use in processing payment so that i can send you my card to charge now
Hmm…that’s a weird question to ask. Let’s give him some options so he doesn’t get scared away…
We accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express.
Please fill out the attached billing form so we can process your payment.
And what i mean by merchant service is not maybe visa or master card i want the merchant service reader you use in processing payment
Yeah i will but i need to know the type of merchant service you make use off
We can process credit cards through a variety of merchant services. Sometimes we utilize our bank’s merchant processing, and other times we utilize processors like Square and Intuit. It depends on the card that is presented for payment and what the rates are. However, it wouldn’t make a difference on your end, we’ll take care of the details.
I have attached the billing form again for your convenience.
I want you to process my card with intuit and are you ready to charge my card ?
No problem! Please fill out the billing form and provide us with the information and we’ll process the charge.
Now we can tell he’s getting excited because he starts sending multiple e-mails in a row:
1:19 PM: use this i made a mistake in the cvv so use this
1:20 PM: Did you get me
1:23 PM: I want you to split the charge on my card..Run $2500 twice and send me the both receipt
So, we’re going to tell him we charged the card and provide him with “receipts”. We did NOT charge the card. We called MasterCard and reported the fraud, but Mr. Scammer doesn’t know that yet.
The charges went through no problem with the corrected information. There are two transactions, details are below. We will start on the design immediately. Can you provide us with the contact information of your consultant so we can obtain the site copy and photos? Those will be essential during the design process.
Also, is there a particular color scheme or logo you would like us to work with? If not, we can develop a logo for Silver Farm Produce.
Okay how long does funds take to hit your bank account ?
Usually around 24 hours. Could you provide us with a logo or color scheme so we can begin the design process, as well as the info for your consultant?
Once again, he gets really excited and starts firing off e-mails:
May 25, 2015 at 2:02 PM: The content text logos and other necessary things is with the consultant so once the funds clear to your account and you send him the funds you will receive the necessary things needed for the website..
May 25, 2015 at 2:49 PM: So get to me once the funds clear to your bank account so that i can send you the consultant accountant info he sent to me
May 26, 2015 at 4:14 PM: Hello how was your day been ?the funds will clear to your bank account tomorrow so once you receive the alert update me so that i can forward you the consultant accountant info
May 26, 2015 at 8:29 PM: I already got debit alert i think the funds should be in your account by now
He’s very concerned with the funds clearing, and even went as far as saying that he got a debit alert (which isn’t possible because we didn’t charge the card). Here’s our e-mail back to him about “getting the funds”.
The funds were deposited into our account this morning, and we would like to get started on the web site. Can you please provide us with the information for your consultant so we can contact him regarding the site photos and copy?
UPDATED 5/28/15 : Scammer Asks Us To Wire Money via Money Gram.
The scammer got back to us, and we’re trying to get as much information from him as possible. We’ve become a little more blatant with the “Who’s The Boss?” references, signing all the latest e-mails from “Tony Danza, The Boss”, but the scammer apparently didn’t watch awesome late 80’s American TV. Also, since the “money keeper” is such an important role in this process, we’ve decided to get our own “money keeper” involved. We’re not sure how we should end this, so sound off in the comments at the bottom of this post and let us know what you think we should say!
The scammer provides the information of an individual in Michigan to whom we should send the money:
Thanks for your prompt respond ,i dont want the consultant to know you are the one paying for me .You will be sending the funds to the consultant accountant info via walmart store or money gram ,the consultant funds including the sending fee .Kindly get back to me with the receipt as soon as you get it done so that i can forward it to them to confirm the payment.Here is the consultant accountant info. First name: Ashley, Last name: Antwine, Address: Po Box 656, City: Saginaw, State: Michigan
I apologize, we aren’t familiar with the Money Gram process. You had previously asked that we make a cash deposit into the bank account of the consultant. Could we do that instead of Money Gram? Please let us know the bank account information and we will deposit the funds right away in cash. We are excited to be working with you and to get started on the site design for Silver Farm Produce.
Hope your surgery went well, and that you’re having a speedy recovery!
Thanks for prompt respond the consultant told me they had problem with account that is why they want you to send the funds to the consultant money keeper in cash via walmart or money gram location near you.The $2500 including the sending fee also use your name as sender’s name get back to me with the receipt as soon as you get it done okay ?
Absolutely, we are looking forward to getting the content from the consultant. I want to verify, should we or should we not put our company name as the sender? You said you don’t want the consultant to know that we are paying on your behalf, but if we are listed as the sender then won’t they see our name?
If the consultant knows that we are sending payment on your behalf, I think it would be easier to deposit the cash into the account of the money keeper. If you give us the consultant’s contact information, we can contact them to discuss the best option. We can also mail a business check or certified cashier’s check to the money keeper. Is Ashley Antwine the money keeper that we’re sending the payment to?
We started putting together a preliminary design for your site, and we’re excited to send it over once we have the company logo and some copy to include. Can’t wait to get this completed for you, we know you’re going to really love the end result! Thank you for choosing Refined Impact, we know you’re going to love how this turns out!
They want payment via walmart or money gram so that they can confirm the payment today.Do you know any walmart or money gram location near you ? .Go to walmart store or money gram location near you and use your name as sender name .Get back to me with the receipt so that i can forward it to them to release the content text and logo instant …Once again is the money keeper info..First name: Ashley ,Last name:Antwine ,Address:Po Box 656,City: Saginaw,State: Michigan
Here’s where OUR “money keeper” comes in:
I just checked with our money keeper in the accounting department. Unfortunately we are unable to pay through a WalMart or Money Gram. In order to keep our accounting records straight we would need to send a check or deposit the cash into a bank account. The account can be a personal account if that’s easier for the money keeper. If this doesn’t work for the consultant or his money keeper, we can refund that amount to your credit card (minus our processing fee) and you can send the funds directly once you’re home from the hospital. We can deposit the cash in your account as well, and then you can send the Money Gram to the money keeper.
We can continue to build the base elements of the web site without the content from the consultant. We think things are coming along great so far, and we’re excited to be working with you. Looking forward to seeing your reaction when you view the end result, we’re sure you’ll be as excited as we are. If you have any questions about the design process, please let us know. We could have a designer reach out to you to discuss any details over the phone as well if you prefer.
Now he provides bank account information (We have removed the actual account numbers) :
The consultant said you should send the funds via wire transfer .You will be sending the funds to the consultant info via wire transfer ..Here is the bank info … Bank Name:Wood Forest National Bank ,Account: Jeffrey Edwin Young II,Accountnumber:**********,Routing Number: *********
I will head down to the local Woodforest branch in the morning and make a cash deposit so it clears immediately. Looking forward to getting the content from the consultant. Should we contact Mr. Young once we’ve made the deposit so we can obtain the site information?
Mr. Scammer gets anxious again and starts sending e-mail after e-mail:
May 27, 2015 at 2:59 PM: Just send me the receipt as soon as you get it done ,i will forward it to them instant .I think you should send it wire transfer and the funds will be available tomorrow morning so that they can release the content text and logo
May 27, 2015 at 5:52 PM: Am waiting for the receipt so that i can forward it to the consultant
May 28, 2015 at 9:45 AM: Hello Good morning and how you doing today so can i have the wire receipt so that i can forward it the consultant to confirm the payment now
We’re not sure how we should end this, so sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think we should say!
We’ll keep you updated if/when we hear back!