Website Company Scam

4 months ago we got a great email. We were contacted by a new potential client who was a big fan of our work, knew what they wanted, had anticipated many of the answers to our most common questions and provided a budget.

This almost never happens. Well, truth be told it still hasn’t happened. Because this was a scam.

For sometime these emails would trickle in, but now they’ve become more of a flood coming in almost daily and they’re almost always identical. A “client” contacts us – ready to do work – if only we’ll process their credit card and pay another vendor for them. The scam is we’d be debiting a stolen credit card, and they would make out with the transfer we’d be making to the “3rd party.” The first time it was honestly hard to spot – who would go to such trouble, detailing out websites, plans, etc. all to get us to process their credit card information, but once we received that second email from a different “person” it was clear – scammers are targeting website development companies.

So the other week I decided to have some fun.

We received an email from “Jessica” – and it had that same credit card scam text so I proceeded to engage her. I communicated back/forth with her for about 2 weeks. Everything in blue below is me, and pink is Jessica. Anything else is commentary 🙂 I’ve also embedded all images in the emails for clarification.

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2015 3:06 PM
Subject: Web Design Needed!

hello, I’m jessica, I would love to know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do accept credit cards through other Merchant apart from PayPal. Examples like, Intiut, Quickbooks, Square and others, kindly get back to me ASAP so i can send you the job details.

Regards, Jessica Scott


Hi Jess, Absolutely. What do you have in mind? Zach Katkin 

(of important note here… “jess”)


From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com] 

Sent: Friday, May 22, 2015 9:38 AM
To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

Here is the job details

I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in CT and the company is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa so i need a very good layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. if so, i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if 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 just asked you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and i want the same pages as the site above, 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
jessfarmproduce.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 $8000

Kindly get back to me with:
(1) an estimate
(2) And will like to know if you are the owner ??

Regards
jessica scott.


From: Zach Katkin
Sent: Friday, May 22, 2015 9:51 AM
To: ‘jessica scott’
Subject: RE: Web Design Needed!

Hi J,

Thanks for getting back so quickly.

We specialize in just these kinds of websites. I’m a big fan of Kola nuts. Really nuts in general. Brazil nuts, cashews, etc. Although are cashews really nuts? I don’t want to look stupid… ohhh… yup, you’re right, according to Google the cashew is actually a nut. This is complicated stuff:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew

Anyway, what would do you do with Koalas? I thought you couldn’t really breed them in captivity. We did help create this Koala reproductive site: http://www.koalaworlds.com/koala-reproduction/ – many clients ask for references so I figured I’d provide as a point of reference.

Additionally questions to be asked:

• How many total pages with the site will be there?
• Any other languages other than English as you mentioned below?
• We like the name jessfarmproduce.com – you probably noticed I called you “jess” at the beginning of my last email response so I’m happy we’re on the same page as far as the abbreviation of your name (some people are weird about that you know…?) Anyway, have you purchased this domain already?
• When you say “you will be updating the site for me” I appreciate the forwardness, but do we have to? Have you considered alternatives? What if we don’t want to?

Clarifications:

• Timeline looks great – end of next month is doable.
• Our average site starts at around $8000 so your budget is perfect.
• Yes I own the business, I am part owner.

With answers we can move forward. Infinite thanks.

Zach Katkin
President
zach@atilus.com
Office: 239.362.1271
Direct: 239.273.4113

PS – Do you like the movie jumanji? Just all this Koala talk reminds me of it, and you just strike me as a Robin Williams fan. His passing so young was so sad… I guess we all struggle with demons. Really looking forward to learning more.


No response for some time… so I decide to be a good salesman and followup:

On Fri, May 22, 2015 at 4:18 PM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:

J – just wanted to make sure you got my email?


From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]

Sent: Friday, May 22, 2015 12:01 PM
To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

Thanks for the response, I want like 2-4 pages. I only want English language,

thanks for the question,domain is already purchased and about updating i said so because it will be easier for me and the budget sounds cool but one more thing,do you make third party payment? because i have the content, images and logo, I understand the content for this site would be needed before work can start because i have it done by my private project consultant but the content, images, logos Is with the Project Consultant and I’m having a problem with him because I still have to balance him up but he does not accept credit card as a method of payment,I’m ready to make half payment now with my credit card and i will need another estimate,if you do make third party payment and I would need a favor from you about that so we could proceed.


Hey Sej,

2-4 pages won’t be a problem, most likely – although it might tbe pushing the $8,000 starting price. Typically we do a ½ page for $8.50, but we can probably make it work. I like you.

Gotcha on the updating. No problems I just wanted to make sure that we’re up front and honest with each other as we journey into this new relationship up the bridge. I feel like I could really help you ascend from a Klassee 0 to Klasse II or higher. But that’s for later 

What do you mean make a 3rd party payment? I don’t do drugs. I mean parties are cool with board games (one of my favorites is a combination of Cards Against Humanity and Scribbish.

For imagery, we’re happy to work with what you have, but typically provide – and will need this upfront if we won’t be.

For the logo – do you have a logo already?

PS – Did you see my jumanji comment? Is that a movie you’re into.

Here’s a picture of me kayaking.

Looking forward to hearing back from you and getting together soon.

Jason

hqdefault

Yes, this is the image I sent – and I signed off as Jason to see how much she was/wasn’t paying attention. At this point I’m beginning to wonder if this is a woman. 


No response on this one. Perhaps the trail has gone cold and she’s realized I’m messing with her (all on Memorial day weekend) … :

Boo, It’s a holiday weekend, want to make sure we get your questions answered prior to the weekend. Any?


Nope… 🙂

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, May 22, 2015 8:16 PM
To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

thanks,lets stick to the $8000 and yes i have the content, images and logo but with my project consultant so i will like us to proceed as soon as possible once the payment is made

 


Awesome, how do you want to handle next steps? Want to come into the office? I’m sorry to ask again – but Jumanji? Robin Dubs? Just a big fn here and sense a connection.

Shall we send an invoice?


On Fri, May 22, 2015 at 10:39 PM, jessica scott <jessica01scott@gmail.com> wrote:
yes but will need a favour,

The favor is that I will send you my credit card to charge for the sum of $7,550.45 plus 3% Cc company charges, You will deduct $4,000.00 as deposit for the design of the website plus extra $200.00 as a tip for handling perfect work for me and you will send the remaining $3,350.45 to the project consultant that has the text content and the logo for my website so once he receive the $3,350.45 he would send the text content and logo needed for my website to you so work can start asap,Sending of funds would be after money clears into your account and You will be charging my card for remaining balance upon completion of work, Kindly get back to me so we can proceed with payment asap and will like the invoice spilted into two for easy payment.

jessica scott


 

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, May 22, 2015 10:46 PM
To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

i checked you jumanji comment and i want to ask, are you single?

wait… what?!!!!! this was amazing! She asked if I’m single – I’ve got her toying at my bait. Now it’s time to set the hook. 


 

I am… are you? I don’t know if you could tell in that kayaking picture I sent (as it was a tad blurry), but I’ve been working out. Like they say in the bowflex commercials – at 45 I’m in the best shape of my life 😉

Why do you ask?

For payment, I’m a little confused $7550 (even with the cc charges, isn’t $8k. So I’ll bill you in 2 installments of $4000? When can we expect the check so I can prep the team?

What color eyes do you have?

I’m going to be working late. My skype is leopardflesh12 if you want to chat.

Night.

Zolpidem

This was a combination of me and my girlfriend writing this response as we cried over the keyboard from how hard we were laughing. I did go so far as to create the skype account “LEOPARDFLESH12” and accidentally stayed logged in all night. Unfortunately she never logged on.


 

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, May 23, 2015 6:04 AM
To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

i thought i made everything clear that i will first pay 50% of the estimate and the rest when you complete you are about to complete the work and you send the $3350 to the project consultant for him to mail the content,images, logos so that the work can start Asap but Sending of funds would be after money clears into your account and You will be charging my card for remaining balance upon completion of work,quickly send me the invoice so that i can pay the money as soon as you get my mail.thanks


 

Wow, 6:04 am on a Saturday. Impressive. I love a hard working woman. What are your plans this memorial day weekend? I’ll be taken my grandkids up to the park and then I’m not sure. Sometimes it’s lonely being a widower. Have anything fun going on?


 

On Sat, May 23, 2015 at 3:24 PM, jessica scott <jessica01scott@gmail.com> wrote:
will be home doing my works,oh sorry i dont know you are a widower,so when will you start with my work?

At this point the holiday weekend was on and I forgot about the running joke, until I had logged back in and noticed 2 emails back and forth…

 


 

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, May 25, 2015 4:20 PM
To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

hello Zach

now she’s following up with me!


Hey Babe, How’s your Monday? I’m actually heading up to Connecticut in a few days for business and was wondering if you’d like to grab a bite to eat at my Hotel? Do you have a picture? I’m actually going to a credit card processing convention – fingers crossed.

Not sure if you heard, but this was on Reddit today: http://imgur.com/e7k6MdP – super excited. There’s been rumors that Rob Dubs isn’t dead and may have actually just faked his death. Jumanji 2 here we come  have a great night.

Thinking of you.

– Petrol

View post on imgur.com

Yes, this happened. Reddit had a picture of this composer trending.


From: jessica scott <jessica01scott@gmail.com>
Date: 05/26/2015 4:31 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com>
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

oh cool will be happy to see you if i’m around when you want to come but i don’t think you are interested in my design


 

On Tue, May 26, 2015 at 3:46 PM, Zach Katkin wrote:
What? No I’m very interested. What’s going on? I feel like you’re distant. Can you send over the existing content?


 

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2015 6:26 PM

To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

i told you the the content is with the project consultant and i need to make payment before i can collect it.


 

On Wed, May 27, 2015 at 9:29 AM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:
I’m sorry, I’m confused – why can’t you just make payment and we can get started then?


 

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 4:18 PM To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

she want the person that design to pay her directly for her to send the content


 

I’m sorry baby, I’m still confused. She (your project consultant) wants us to pay her directly to get the content? We’ve only just met. I know you share the same love of Robin Williams as me, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable paying her out of pocket. I do have some money on a personal credit card I could use. Does she take DISCOVER?

PS I’m just sitting here re-watching the original trailer for Jumanji – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJKHQLM8AbM helps me build anticipation for the evening (going to pop it on and make some of my world famous popcorn) J

 

Z


 

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 4:31 PM
To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

don’t bother about your personal money,let me credit you and deduct her own from the money,this is business and personal things follow.she does accept western union,please if you want to start ,send me your invoice and let me pay Asap


 

On Wed, May 27, 2015 at 3:39 PM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:
Okay, but it’ll be me personally that has to pay for some credit reasons. I’m happy to do it and I feel like we’re growing closer.

Long story short I used to run a carder website and my deal with the feds makes it so I can only use a personal card, but any business I operate can’t. I didn’t really mean to get involved, but a friend needed help building the forum so I set it up for him. After too many nights helping him fix small bugs with it he finally just asked me to moderate it and take over. I REALLY didn’t know what the hell everyone on there was talking about and then 6:30 on a SUNDAY FUCKING MORNING Fort Myers SWAT team busts open my door. There I am naked, sleeping (or was – until I JUMPED out of bed) with a copy of Jumanji playing quietly in the background on loop (you gotta represent). I’ll have to share more sometime over dinner.

I’ll get over the invoice to you shortly. I’ll need the following details:

· Full Name of Company
· Address
· Website
· Name on Account (assuming you)
· EIN
· Voided Check
· Preiminary DDOB # & STATS

(and a picture of you 😉

From: Zach Katkin
Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2015 11:34 AM
To: ‘jessica scott’
Subject: RE: Web Design Needed!

Hey I have the whole team ready to go, what’s going on?

On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 6:29 PM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:
Hey – we’re ready to go, have people ready to work over the weekend (and I have a surprise for you)… well 2 actuall.

Talked to my business partner – we can waive the information. Can you send over the credit card info and I can proces?

You’ll have to wait for the other one.

Z


 

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2015 5:47 PM

To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

Thanks Zach,please mail me on Monday,have some personal issues to attend to but will prefer you to send an invoice via square on Monday morning once you discuss it with your business partner and if its possible let me know.thanks

Jessica scott


On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 4:49 PM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:
Hey baby… Ive already talked with him. We can process it rigt away, I just need to take it now before I leave for the weekend. I’ll not be around computer . I just need number, name on card address and I can process now. What’s going on – I don’t like to hear that you have personal issues, unless it’s being far from me. Last time I felt this way was when I had lost my mork action figure and I had feared my neighbors’ dog had taken it.


On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 4:54 PM, jessica scott <jessica01scott@gmail.com> wrote:
lol,you are funny,mork action?

To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

will have to go offline now,will text you on Monday Zach.Thanks

Jessica scott.


On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 4:56 PM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:
I have a really short window, can you get that information over?


From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2015 6:02 PM
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!
please i have to check my mum in at the hospital now
i already told you i can only pay via square invoice sent to me and if is possible for your company to do so it will be on Monday.


On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 9:02 PM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:
I’m havin a panic attack here – can you let me know ecverything’s okay?


From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, May 30, 2015 4:36 PM

To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

Everything is ok,thanks


On Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 10:02 AM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:

Are you ready?


 

On Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 3:51 PM, jessica scott <jessica01scott@gmail.com> wrote:

ready for what?

From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, June 1, 2015 5:57 PM

To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

oh Zach,how are you,is the invoice ready?


On Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 5:07 PM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:
Im doing good – hows your mom? I just need the cc info and I can process.


From: jessica scott [mailto:jessica01scott@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 4:20 PM

To: Zach Katkin
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

shes fine now,thanks for your concern,have already cleared it that i wont send cc info unless i pay via invoice


On Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 1:43 PM, Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com> wrote:
Hey baby, everything okay?

——– Original message ——–
From: jessica scott <jessica01scott@gmail.com>
Date: 06/04/2015 6:11 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: Zach Katkin <zach@atilus.com>
Subject: Re: Web Design Needed!

hey thanks for you concern,i think i will put the design on hold for now,i have spent all the money budgeted for the design on hospital bills even i still need $800 to pay for surgery which i’m still looking for.sobs, please sorry for stress have take you through.


From: Zach Katkin
Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2015 7:36 PM
To: jessica scott
Subject: RE: Web Design Needed!

Don’t sweat it my kumquat. I actually realized you had never registered http://www.jessfarmproduce.com

With all that’s happened with your mum and now your surgery sobs I figured it would be a surprise. Much like the heavily bearded robin Williams was a surprise when he popped out from the board game junanji (my favorite part of the movie)

Love

Albert

Yes the following is a quick site i made on wix. I did spend a little time on the graphics and writing the haiku. At this point I haven’t heard back from my sweet J.

jESS FArM prODUcE

 

Zach Katkin
Zach Katkin
Zach Katkin is the co-founder & CEO of Atilus. He is a Certified Google Professional, author, and lover of technology. He helps Atilus stay out ahead of online marketing trends and loves driving results for Atilus' clients.

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Recent Comments | 5 Comments
  • Emo
    Reply

    That was hilarious! I don’t know how you had the patience to keep up the hoax! Thanks for posting!

  • Charlie
    Reply

    Ha! Great stuff! During the mid 2000’s I lead on a true Nigerian internet scam. They wanted me to buy a pallet of gold. It was pretty entertaining.

  • Lonnie Bright
    Reply

    Great Story, I have had the same company contact me as well.. thanks for the post!

  • Leo
    Reply

    very funny. Sad Atilus is not in NZ.

    • Zach Katkin
      Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Leo and glad you got a chuckle out of this. I’ll trade you places 🙂 always wanted to visit/live in New Zealand.

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