Here’s a new type of scam I didn’t recognize as a scam right away. Got an email from someone requesting a new website and estimate. I suppose the first red flag is that he said “i also need to know what form of payment do you accept” in that initial inquiry. My response was entirely authentic, inquiring about the timeframe and explaining that I used PayPal for payments.
The next red flag (and this did raise some alarms) was that he said the business was a salon and spa. Who in their right mind would even go to a spa/salon right now, let alone open one, but I’ve gotten some strange requests for websites in the past and I don’t judge. So I asked about his budget and whether he had his own photography or would need stock.
I was sent his budget (a very generous budget, which I suppose is another red flag), a site to base my estimate on, and other specific information that I needed. But, another major red flag was this piece of information: that he was “out of state in the hospital recuperating from from a lung cancer surgery”. Now alarm bells were going off in my head. This guy is recuperating from lung cancer? And is opening a salon/spa?? While the entire planet is in lockdown because of a virus that targets people with weak lungs???
Well, I went ahead and did the estimate. Not a waste of time, as it gave me a chance to review my pricing (which I hadn’t done since 2016). I made the estimate very high and figured that would be the end of it. Instead, I got an acceptance by email in less than an hour! Way too fast, and without any further clarification or haggling over the price? And then I saw the word that confirmed that this was a scam – FAVOR. No-one uses the word “favor” (as in “i will need a 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 so I will be glad if you can help me out with this favor?”) in a business negotiation, at least not in my experience as a business owner and a paralegal. By this point, I had told Vin about it and was interested in playing it out to see how far this would go.
My response was, again, authentic, as if I hadn’t a clue, and I simply reiterated that payments to me would be via PayPal and any monetary issues between him and his consultant were not of my concern. And here’s the reply, the final indication that this is a scam:
I will be giving you my card to charge for your fee and the consultant cause he doesn’t have the facility to charge for card. I want you to do me a favor by adding their charges to yours so you can have everything run on my credit card. When the total amount clears into your account, you will send their fees to them via cash deposit and I will like you to hold on to $100 as gratuity fee for handling this for me. Could you do that for me?
Another genuine and seemingly authentic response from me, and lo and behold, I no longer have a potential new client. Be wary!