The title of this post is lifted directly from the text of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job description for Graphic Designers, and it is also taken from a project description sent to us by a scammer. What follows are excerpts from some of the scripts these scammers are currently using and our attempt to use the power of digital marketing to at least frustrate the scam artists and send them back to the drawing board.
The scammer delivered the come-on message via the Business Messages feature offered by Google My Business. Right away, the broken English was a bit of a tip-off:
My instincts are already telling me this is a scam, but I go ahead and email the prospect to get more information. Again, the reply is pretty mangled English, but the request itself is standard enough:
I reply with what would be our standard quote for such services, and this response is where things start to get genuinely fishy:
An ‘exclusive,’ huh? I had just told them that our standard practice for graphic design services is to bill 50% in advance and the remainder due upon final acceptance before Copyright is assigned to the client. I had offered to put together an agreement for the Client’s review. The response is basically, “Hurry up and take my money (via credit card)!”
There’s no way this isn’t a scam, but I go ahead and request details that I would need to include on our standard contract: the name of the person or entity signing the contract as well as a legal address. Are you ready for this?
I’ll give you one guess as to whether or not this is an actual place.
Here’s how the rest of the scam works: They would sign the contract, pay the 50% up-front on a credit card not in the name of “Christ Fellowship Movement Fellowships,” and we would get to work designing their six (?) logos. Work would wrap pretty quickly, and the client would accept whatever we produced immediately. However, there would be a problem with the second 50%.
The client would have no problem paying, but they’d be in a tight spot. They’re in the hospital or something similar, and they really need these logos for a project and could I please email them to the project manager? Also, the project manager needs to be paid, but they don’t accept credit cards. The client would forward me an extra $5,000 to pay the project manager four grand and cover my inconvenience, and could I please make sure the project manager received payment?
The scam would conclude a couple of weeks later when payment in full for the project and the extra $5,000 would disappear from our business account. We’d be out the $4,000 paid to the “project manager” and the time spent producing a bunch of fake graphics for a scam factory.
Other Graphic Design & Web Design Scams
I read about this one on a blog post originally from 2015 that has over 300 comments as of this writing! The scam is for a company called “Diamodus”, and multiple commenters on that original article have thoughtfully chimed in to provide the latest script these swindlers are using to try to bait designers and developers.
Opening up the Google Business Messages feature basically created a honeypot for these scams. We got a total of six come-ons in a week after enabling the Chat feature of our My Business profile. Here are some more gems.
Fake Catalog Requests
These two are practically mirror images, so I’ll post them side by side for you, Dear Reader:
Woof. Okay. I just responded and let this person know that they are using a super well-worn scamming script that is posted all over the internet, and so they should invest some of their stolen money in getting new, better copy.
The other scammer I actually took down the road a ways just to see what other copypasta they’d come out with. This is the kicker, though:
Again, holy crap. Okay, let’s do some basic research…
The “big name”, Signitive, is a domain that’s for sale by a squatter. Oh hey, that same squatter is selling the name and associated domain for Diamodus. The least broken-English passage in the ‘Diamodus’ email is a description of the brand name lifted straight from the squatter’s website. If I take any portion of the suspiciously coherent text from either of these emails and run it through Google, I get back precisely from where the scammers plagiarized it.
I let the last person know that I’d need to see the text copy and images to know what we were proposing to layout to deliver an estimate. This is a reasonable request, but even though all the text is “approved and crosschecked,” they could not provide it. When prompted for that content, they initially responded with four photos of furniture lifted from two other companies’ websites. When pressed again they replied that the project manager was still working on the text. They stopped responding when I called bullshit by letting them know that their first email had said that the text content was ready to go.
In general, these scams are pretty artless, and they seem to be targeting people who are very small and new to the industry and trying to take advantage of hungry people. For someone young and new to the game, a few thousand dollars could make or break a quarter, and so this is particularly sleaze-ball.