Small Business Scale Large Business Informational Site Scam

That’s a lot of text– but for the sake of this case, we are going to describe this type of scam as the Small Business Informational Scam. When an email address is listed publicly its amazing the type of spam that will find its way into the inbox. Sometimes a scammer will use this e-mail address to send malicious code by tricking the recipient into opening a viral attachment, or logging into a honey pot site. These scams work because they are not random, and the author typically understands the audience of the trap. Here is an example of a spammy email that came to and how our team determined if it was real or not. This scam is a bit more sophisticated than your typical Internet smut, so we’ll try and be as detailed as possible.

Red Flag: The Email Title is Purposely Vague

small business scale to large business email scam lioneater
This is the email we received from Patrick Williamsi (fake name)

The e-mail address could be anything from ****, ****, with a vague headline. In our case it was “Web Design”. As much as we would love to brag about our design skills, typically this isn’t how someone gets in touch.

Red Flag #2: Unable to speak on the phone

small business scale scam

When we saw that the author was unable to speak with us over the phone, this raised concerns. By this point, having intuitively moved this email to spam, we decided to play ball a bit and hit back. After all, what is work without a little fun in between?

We responded as a robot might;

small business increase large business scam lion eater
We believe in responding to every inquiry.

Not expecting a response, we were a bit stunned when another piece of spun content came our way. Thinking back, we probably deserve this a bit. This week the team was researching on Black Hat techniques as we monitor one of our competitors in Hamilton. The SEO business can get pretty messy, but it can be entertaining too.

The Human Factor of Successful Scams

small business informational scam lion eater

The reason these scams are successful is our modern human nature to be inattentive to what is happening in the long term. The more we use social media tools the less people are involved in face-to-face encounters. This is dangerous because it makes people more comfortable sharing private information to strangers. There are studies that support this, showing that women between the ages of 18-25 that are on social media are the most vulnerable.

Surprisingly, limited research examines social media-based phishing.The extant research in this area tends to focus on e-mail-based deception and more on how to detect online deception.

Had we wasted our time building a proposal for this client, it could have cost us. Instead we took that time and wrote a blog post so that the next person doesn’t fall for this scam.

Special shout outs to postidolmedia for their blog article on this scam.

In their version, the script went as follows:

Thanks for your swift response and i have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in Hi 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 . 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.

When we received our email, it came out like this:

Thanks for the mail I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now like i said. I need you to checkout this site but I need something more perfect than this if possible,
The site would only be informational, so I need you to get back to me with an estimate for the web design, the estimate should include hosting and I want the site to have not more than 8 pages since it is informational. I have a private project graphic designer, he has the text content, images and the logos for the site.
1. I want only English language
2. I don’t have a domain yet but I want the domain name as or
3.You will be updating the site for me.
4. I will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
5. I want the site up and running before ending of next month.
6. My budget is $2000 to $5000. Kindly get back to me with:
(1) An estimate
(2) Your full name

In e-mail-based phishing attacks, perpetrators often provide easily winnable prizes or rewards to create a token exchange; others attempt to arouse curiosity or get individuals to answer some fairly routine questions in order to start a dialogue with the intended victim. These are attempts at utilizing the principle of reciprocity to entice individuals who are highly susceptible to normative pressure into processing the information peripherally, keep responding to the request, and escalating their commitment.

What are your experiences with online business scams? Any SEO companies come to mind? Pitch the next blog topic with us on Twitter  @lioneater