Fraud that targets web designers!

Beware of emails and text messages out of the blue that request an estimate, claiming to be from a hearing impaired person who needs a website. See the details below:

I thought it was in the web design communities best interest for me to share the details about this, even though many others have already one so.  Web designers are the specific target of this scam.  I have met many clients through the Internet who turn out to be excellent customers, but this online contact was first by text which was strange.  Below is the email follow up:

“Thanks for your swift response on text and i have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in TX 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.… 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.

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
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 $8000

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 ??

What got me most was the lack of individual details about the sender and the hurry to give up money to a stranger. Why would they offer a sum like that upfront before the estimate. I wondered what the “business” they were really in to be so relaxed about about spending money that much money?!?

I have heard of  some strange “legal” drugs like “spice” that are very dangerous, but are still legal.  I wanted to be sure “KolaNut” and”Galicia Nut” were not related to those things.   I decided before committing to anything I would look for “Kola Nut” and “Gacilla nut” online.

I searched for “Galicia Nut” and found articles and blog posts from web designers all over who received a similar email and text message.  The sender claimed to be a hearing impaired person, or other individual, who needs a website and the content in the email was the basically the same.

The way the scam works is they claim to need a site done right away and are ready to pay you.  If an estimate is done, they accept the estimate and offer to pay via credit card.  Right before you’re paid, they tell you paying you is not a problem, but their consultant has to be paid too. They say all they have is a credit card, but that person can’t accept a credit card, and they have all the marketing materials you will need to make the website. They say if they can’t get him paid somehow the website deal is off, but they have an idea!

Here’s the trick: They ask if they can overpay you via credit card for your fee and the consultant fee, and you can send him a cashier’s check for his portion and then the project can go forward.   They don’t tell you that the credit card number is stolen and they are trying to trick you into unwittingly laundering money for them.  By the time you realize the credit cards they gave you are stolen, you are unknowingly an accessory to a crime, your fee, new client and your cashier’s check for the consultant are all gone.  The whole thing is an elaborate way to launder money from stolen credit cards.

When I found out, I emailed my new “friend” to told him know I was closing my business, since I have a new full time job and I wish him luck.  Then, marked his email address as Spam, blocked his text message phone number and wrote this post.  Below are links to some of the many website designers this scam has already targeted.  Thank you to my fellow website designers for alerting me early to this scam!