Scamming Freelancers

There seems to be failry new scam going around, and this one is targeting mostly freelancers and professionals who rely on the Web and social media to get majority of their clients.
I have not had any clue that it was going around until the day I was targeted myself.
It all started with a text message to my cell phone, claiming to be from a "hearing impared" woman who wanted to hire a web designer/developer.
After reaching back to her, I received the following email, describing the possible project:

I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in TN 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 solidfarmproduce
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 ??

I produced a quick estimate (very high level, as there was not much details in the email above) and asked for more specific information. Instead, I got an email back, telling me that she was ready to pay the balance as soon as possible, but only using a credit card. I got a bit worried, since I had never gotten a client in such a short period of time. Interestingly, she quickly mentioned that she would not be able to use PayPal, nor Square, but only some other, shady credit card processors. That gave me a big pause, as I knew something was not right.
I asked for some extra time getting my "ideas" together, and I started looking up some of the information on line. I quickly found a few places mentioning the same scam that's been going around recently. So I decided to have some fun with the scammers... I send an email back claiming to be heading up to Tennessee (that's where she calimed to be from) for business, so we could meet and discuss the details. This is what I got back:

I am presently recuperating from the diagnosis of lung Cancer and am still in the hospital

I think that ends this interesting adventure.

The lesson is: beware! There is always a new variation of the old "Nigerian Scam". This one is probably using stolen credit cards to force the unsuspecting business owners to overcharge and then refund some amount of money. The damage to your business is at this point mostly reputational and it might require some legal dealings with the credit card companies. However, there might be more elaborate versions of this scam which could affect your business directly. As always, what looks too good to be true, probably is.






08
Oct