Warning other web developers about a scam

We just received the following quote request:

On Tue, Dec 20, 2022 at 11:33 AM Simon Shawntee D [email protected] wrote:

Glad to hear back from you, I have a small business which I want to turn into a large-scale business now, It’s located in (Tulsa, OK) and the company is based on importing and exporting Salon Equipment such as Dryer, hair cream, weavon, Hairdressing, Clippers, 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 possible. (https://onepagelove.com/ )… I have a private vendor that has the text content and logo for the site. the site would only be informational, so i need you to go through the details carefully & give me an estimate.

  1. I want about 10 to 12pages 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 DSsolutionsaloon.co. 4. You will be updating the site for me twice in a month. 5. I have a private vendor for the images, logos and content for the site. 6.My budget is $8,000.00 to $15,000.00. 7. I want the site up and running before the end of 2 to 3months…. Looking forward to your response. Thanks
Simon Shawntee the Shameless Scammer

Two different things stood out. (Well, in retrospect*, way more than two.) The budget seemed high for a 10 to 12 page informational website, but they did want a “more perfect” website. Getting a website to be “perfect” in the eyes of a customer can be very time consuming. If a customer has a specific vision, the time and tuning required to match that vision can require numerous iterations, especially for both desktop and mobile. So at first blush, one might think that they knew that the level of precision that they were looking for would be time consuming.

The potential customer (scammer) said they already had an established business, so we figured we’d look for their existing business’ website so that we could get some idea as to what they mean by “more perfect”, and whether or not this was going to be a nightmare job that we didn’t want to get involved in.

Interestingly enough, we couldn’t find a salon equipment business in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Although our hats are off to whoever does the SEO for Salon Furniture Warehouse. They are the first result for Tulsa salon furniture even though they’re actually in Chicago.)

Interestingly enough, even though we couldn’t find a Salon furniture business in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we did stumble across the exact phrase “importing and exporting Salon Equipment such as Dryer, hair cream, weavon, Hairdressing, Clippers”. So, thank you “Simon” for at least being lazy and just copying and pasting your weasely words.

We first stumbled across Isotropic’s warning, and then we saw Dotted I’s, Elodin’s, and on, and on, and on.

Basically, it’s a variation of the classic “Overpayment Scam” that you usually see on Craig’s List, but now targeted toward web developers. It seems to have become more popular in the last couple of years, but we’re finding references to it going back to 2015 (and then we stopped looking.)

So, we’ll add this entry to the ever growing list of warnings about this scam in hopes of keeping any of our fellow web developers from falling prey to this scam.

*Other Red flags on introspection
  • How many legitimate customers actually announce budget beforehand? Due to the path that this lead came in, it was conceivable that some pre-qualification had already been done. So that wasn’t as alarming as it should have been.
  • The website that the scammer wanted to be “more perfect” than was a website development site.
  • Why is “(Tulsa, OK)” in parentheses?
  • There’s already a website running at https://www.dssolutionsaloon.co/. It makes you think that our scammer has just hijacked Simon’s identity, but the sites lists a bogus street address of “20001 DS Solution Saloon Drive, Tulsa, OK 74133”, so we officially suspect that “Simon Shawntee Demetrice” is not a real person.
  • They have a “vendor for the images, logos and content for the site”, which is the point of the scam, but in retrospect, if they’ve already got those elements, a good chunk of the time consuming work has already been done, which makes the budget even more suspicious.
  • Why only informational? If the business sells product, why not make some kind of ecommerce / ordering site? Granted, wholesale / purchase order / freight delivery businesses can get messy for calculating shipping, but if you’ve got that kind of budget, you should be able to get a lot of that automated … especially if you’re trying to go “large-scale”.

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