Since the beginning of time there have always been con men and scams, people looking to take what is not theirs for their gains. With the Internet, this has allowed scams to become more sophisticated and allows the perpetrator to remain faceless. You only need to run through your email spam folder and you will likely see many different scams, from rich relatives who have died, and someone needs to claim the inheritance to simpler scams which pose as reputable websites to get you to login and therefore still your passwords.

Scam targeting stolen credit cards and web design agencies

We recently received an enquiry which wasn’t worded to terribly but was kinder vague regarding a new project which required a quotation. The key part to this email was that the potential client was ‘hard of hearing’. That’s no problem with us but it is the first step of setting up the potential scam. Being ‘hard of hearing’ rules out any phone calls to verify the claims of enquiry.

The second notable part is that the enquirer asks whether we can accept credit cards, which we confirm.

Having received enquiry in the past which had been worded badly, it turned out to produce one of our biggest clients. Because of this we replied to the enquiry, confirming we could accept credit cards and outline our basic costs. We soon received a response which expanded on the website needed, this did provide us with some confidence it could be a real enquiry. A competitor’s website was provided to give us a better understanding of their business and a mentioned of a ‘Project Consultant’ who was to provide both content and images.

And the scam progresses…

We responded to the previous email and unfortunately the next response confirmed our suspicions that it was likely to be a scam. The potential client agrees to work with us, WOOHOO! They even offer to provide a £2,000 deposit for work to begin ASAP. As we move on, it turns out the ‘Project Consultant’ is unable to accept credit cards payments.

The new client proposes to send us £6,000 and requests that we forward £4,000 to the ‘Project Consultant’. As well as this, the new client would send us £100 for our inconvenient. The potential new client also needs our help in doing this because they are in hospital.

So what is the scam?

Unlike making a direct bank transfer, when making a payment via a credit card, you can claim a charge back and you are fully protected for fraud. The potential customer would like to us to charge the stolen credit card for £6,100 by us charging the stolen credit card, the fraudster is taking no risk.

If we are to successfully charge the credit card, we are then to send the ‘Project Consultant’ £4,000 as a cash deposit. Sounds great, we have £2,100 and we have sent the other £4,000 to the scammer. Unfortunately, we are taking all the risk and when the victim realises they have been scammed and contacted their credit card company, the initial £6,100 will be returned from our account, leaving us £4,000 out of pocket which we sent to the scammer.

It is a basic but plausible scenario which we could easily be caught up in. Always be vigilant and always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it often is 🙂

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