Online spammers, scammers and rip-offs.

Hi all,

Since I have started my business I have been surprised by the amount of spam and attempted scams I have been subject to.

Domain Registration Rip-off

The rip-offs and scams started straight after I registered my business when I received a letter form that offered me a domain name for my business at the bargain price of $99. This organisation obviously relies on a new business owner not knowing that domain name registration costs only about $15 and is usually free when you sign-up with a website hosting service.

Designer Spam

When I signed up with a hosting service for my website, I immediately received a number of phone calls and emails from website designers wanting to design my website. They hadn’t bothered to check out my website to see I was a website designer and then conclude that I would not want a website designed by someone else. When told I was a web designer, the more alert caller would immediately go into spiel about the possibility of me contacting work out to them.

Contact/Product Review Spammers

A few of the websites I have constructed have contact forms on them that spammers use if I don’t put Captcha on them. Ecommerce sites I construct often allow the customer to comment or review individual products, again spammers use them.

Merchant Credit Card Scam

Just recently I received an email from a potential client who said they were hard of hearing. They wanted to only use email to discuss the project rather than Zoom or over the phone.

They said they wanted an ecommerce fashion website. They told me the products they were selling and they wanted customers to be able to buy them in different sizes and colours. After prompting, they gave me the url of a fashion website they liked. I spent a few hours creating an example website based on that website. I then sent an email asking what they thought of the example with an initial quote of the cost.

She (?) emailed me back saying she wanted to pay me immediately in full. This surprised as I had told her I operate on a 50% deposit and then 50% on completion basis. She said she only had a credit card and wanted to pay with that. I sent back an email saying PayPal accepts credit cards so she could use them to pay me. She replied that she didn’t want to use PayPal or Square because they had ripped her off before. She wanted me to set up a merchant credit card account.

I was starting to become suspicious. I ran a search on her gmail address and found nothing on the web. She had a rather unique name, so unique that when I searched it on Google and Facebook it did not come up at all.

More in interest than anything else, I rang the banks about setting up merchant credit card account. The banks thought my client’s behaviour was very suspicious. They told me merchant credit card facilities can be defrauded with stolen credit cards.  Is this what the client was up to? One bank suggested setting up a BPay account.

Just in case the client had just set up their email account, used a pseudonym online, were hard of hearing, and genuinely did not trust PayPal, I sent back an email. I said my business’ bank did not have merchant credit card accounts (which they didn’t) and suggesting we use BPay. I also asked for more details about her business. It has been a week and I haven’t heard back from them. I am still wondering how they planned to use the merchant credit card system to rip me off.

Refund Scam

Finally, last week I received a badly written message from a contact form on one of my example ecommerce websites. A person said they had paid for an unnamed product and not received it. They wanted their money back. The product was meant to be a birthday gift for their wife. As the site was not capable of accepting payments they could not have paid for it.

I am sure my business will be subject to more spam and attempted scams and rip-offs. I wish no one would fall for these scams, so the scammers would give up and stop wasting our time.  As for spammers, at least do some research before you spam to see if someone could actually need your service. And don’t use the review sections of products and contact forms on websites because it just annoys people and gives you no chance of a positive response to your spam.