Since a scammer named “frank” just tried contacting me, telling me they got in touch with me through Yelp, I figured it was a good time to post about this. Hopefully knowing these little tips can give save you some grief in dealing with these assholes.

What are these scammers looking to do?

To be honest, I don’t really know what their end goal is. As far as I’ve gotten, I’ve had people telling me they were going to drop things off to me but that I needed to make some kind of sketchy payment to them in order for them to pay me in cash, or something like that.

Bottom line, I think money is what they’re looking for. They need you to wire them money in some kind of weird business transaction and then you’ll probably never hear from them again.

Thankfully, I can’t tell you what happens from there because they’ve never gotten that far with me.

Why are you being targeted by scammers?

Because you’re out there trying to do something with your life and start a business. They look for websites and yelp business profiles and will contact you asking about your services, knowing that you’ll go back and forth with them more often than if they were doing it in some other way, probably.

I have stopped using Yelp paid ads because of this kind of scam activity. I don’t know if this is a well known thing with Yelp or if they’re trying to fix it in some way, but for the time being I’m no longer interested in spending ad dollars with them.

How to know it is a scam asking about your business services

From getting a few of these “solicitations” (if you can call it that), I’ve gathered a bit of information and trends on how these scammers usually operate.

1. They’ll give way too much information up front

Ok, here is the first dead give away. They’ll text or email you with VERY specific information.

In my case, with graphic design, “frank” got in touch with me telling me that he was looking for graphic design services.

I asked him what he was looking for specifically and what his budget is.

He told me a bunch of crap about some kind of text based design he was looking for in 10-20 variations and that he had a budget of 700-900 to spend.

I dont know about you, but when actual clients get in touch with me, they dont come pre loaded with this kind of information.

Finding out what they are willing to spend is usually a chore and one of the hardest things to do as a sales person or business owner. Most clients want you to make the first offer so they can work you down from there.

When they have all of this information pre-loaded and ready to go, that’s a red flag for me.

2. some kind of sketchy payment method or transaction requested

If they manage to scam their way past that first “quoting” stage, ask them for a down payment. This is usually where it will take a turn towards them giving up.

They’ll probably give you some crap about not being able to pay with your preferred payment method and Will ask you to pay In a way that just seems strange for someone in the states to ever ask you (assuming you live and do business in USA).

Sometimes, it’ll seem like theyre trying to get a bit of money out of you to “verify an account” or something of that nature so that they can wire you money in cash.

Dont ever give these people your bank account information. That could be exactly what theyre after.

When something seems sketchy in regards to payment, is usually is.

If something makes you feel uncomfortable.

How to prevent being scammed

1. Ask them to verify their identity

Ask them to send you a picture of themselves holding up a piece of paper saying something of your choice. Something that they could not have possibly prepared. Thats the best way I’ve found to defeat these people.

Once I asked this guy to send me that I got a “fuck you,” so I proceeded to report him to yelp and that was that. You dont even have to do that, just block the number and keep going about your business. I just like to punish them as much as possible for wasting my time.

2. Have them put in a down payment with no exceptions

Since they’re looking to do something to get money out of you, just firmly tell them you require 50% down or whatever it is you require.

If they pay you, fine, then go ahead and get to work for them! They won’t though, if they’re scamming you. They’ll either tell you to fuck yourself like mine did or they’ll come up with some bs excuse about why they cant and what they need you to do to get their payment.

Anyway, just a quick post but something I think is important to share with any new business owner who is susceptible to this kind of thing and has never experienced it themselves.

Feel free to contact me with any questions about this kind of thing.

Stay grinding my friends,
Tom.