Recently I wrote a post on Linkedin "It Pays to do Your Due Diligence on Digital Marketing Agencies" about business owners needing to be wary of dubious web development and digital marketing agencies. Well the table just turned for me today when I received what I believed was a genuine business enquiry.
As a web agency we regularly receive requests for offers of SEO services along with our fair share of enquiries from people looking for us to build their website or prepare their digital marketing strategies and campaigns. Recognising that not all business owners are necessarily skilled at conveying their needs in an email we took the email as shown below at face value believing this to be a genuine enquiry.
Hello this is Mr Paul Bramford i am inquiring to know if you can handle website design for a new company .
I have small scale business which i want to upgrade into large scale business now 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? and also kindly let me know if you accept credit card payments. You can email me back at your soonest convenience.
After writing back to “Paul” saying we were able to help and interested in doing so we then received the following response –
Thank you very much for the response,and kindly bear with me that i am not allowed to use phone at the moment due to my undergoing treatment for lung cancer,but we can still communicate well via the email . Kindly 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 as Livingfarmproduce.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 within $4000 to $12000
Kindly email me back at your soonest convenience with an estimate/quote.
Not knowing anything about Kola or Gacillia Nuts I immediately started doing some research. Fortunately I stumbled across a blog post that talked about this same letter (word for word with just a change in name) doing the rounds as a SCAM and that it has been doing so for a couple of years!
So any web developer or digital agency that receives such a letter, IGNORE IT is the best advice I can give you. Apparently what they do is they use a stolen credit card to pay your initial fees and add a couple of thousand dollars so you can pay their consultant. You will note in the 2nd email how they asked me to confirm that I take credit cards.
You can read how others have discussed this at the following sites: