Watch out for web dev scams!

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You can't trust anyone.

Okay, well, that's not exactly true. I trust a lot of people day to day, but really: the Internet is a dangerous place, filled with scammers and people who'd just love to con you out of all your hard-earned money. I never thought I'd be scammed as a web developer, though.

Two days ago, I received a message from a person who called themselves Neil Obrien (notice the lack of an apostrophe). This is the contents of the email:

Micah, I stumbled across your portfolio and I decided to email you, Off course I do have website to be create. Below are my project details. Here are the job details I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in Minnesota and the company is based on importing and exporting of Sport wears such as running jacket, jersey,dance wear,socks, boots etc for both adult youth ladies and girls so i need a best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ? The site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on my want below, the estimate should include hosting and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.

The email went on to detail exactly what Neil wanted on the website and ended with asking if I would accept credit card payments.

I was wary from the start. I'm no idiot, and I've received several scam emails. I generally consider myself good at sniffing out phishing, but this was my first job offer for web development! I was happy! So after an hour, I put together a PDF that contained an estimate for the job, what I would need to complete it, and the fact that I did not, in fact, accept credit cards. I attached the PDF to an email and shot it off to Neil.

When I woke up the next morning, there was no email in my inbox, so I waited a few hours and finally got a reply from Neil:

The price sounds good to me and I will like to proceed with you. But for the payment I do have issue making payment through PayPal and Venmo but you can set up an account with stripe.com.

I finally came to terms that this was a classic credit card scam. I would build the website, and "Neil" would supposedly pay me through Stripe. His payment would end up being invalid, and I would have built a website for free for someone that would never reply to me nor pay me.

So moral of the story? Watch out for scams, guys. The web isn't always a friendly place. Luckily I ended communication before giving this scammer any of my time. If you've ever experienced a scam like this, let me know in the comments. I'd be really interested to know how many of you this has happened to.

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