Today we received what appeared to be a legitimate RFQ through the contact form on our website. It came from a guy named Jason, looking to produce a new website.  Sounds simple enough, but it’s always good to be on the lookout for website scam.  See his email below and see if you notice any red flags:

The Introduction…

Name: Jason George
Message:
 I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in FL 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 ?. so i need you to 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

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 (topfarmproduce.market)
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
7. My budget is $4000 to $6000

Kindly get back to me with an estimate.  Thanks.

The Analysis

On the first skim, we didn’t initially see anything that brought up red flags.  It was submitted through our website, clearly defines the initial objectives and even references a budget and examples.  Simple enough right?  Wrong!

Let’s pick this apart on a second read.  Here are our Red Flags:

  1. An import/export business for agricultural products is rife with red flags.  It is not easy to import/export food products to/from the US without a lot of governmental regulations.  Notice they didn’t mention a company name, big red flag.
  2. The I’s in this email are not capitalized.  Minor red flag, but not normal for basic english speakers, but could be overlooked.
  3. FL is not spelled as Florida.  Not many people would use the acronym for such a short word in the middle of a sentence.  Minor red flag.
  4. Poorly written sentence that definitely says second-language english speaker:  “so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this” – Another red flag, though it could be overlooked with more legitimate information.
  5. Run on sentence with poorly worded phrases throughout.  – Another red flag
  6. i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site” – Another red flag!  Why would they be reaching out to us if they already have a consultant.
  7. The statement “I want only English language”.  What?  Who says that?  – Another red flag.
  8.  This sentence doesn’t even make sense: “i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.” – Another red flag
  9. Lastly, if the previous items weren’t questionable enough, the email address is also questionable: [email protected]  It does say gmail, but randomly 0400 is a bit suspicious.
The Research

Now agroamerica.com appears to be a legitimate site, but with all of the red flags here, we did a quick google search for: Agroamerica and as soon as we began typing it into the Google Search Box, Google’s recommended quick search suggested the search term: Agroamerica.com Scam.

Enough said.  I bet you can guess how many people have been sent this or similar messages.  An entire discussion about this scam is here. In addition, fellow web designer and SEO Alex Wright was provided eerily similar tactics to try and trick him as well.

The Conclusion

Trust your instincts.  Trust your gut.  Sometimes things just seem too good to be true.  Usually they are. Use the red flags to do a little research. It can be well worth your time