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Scammers targeting web design companies with fake business inquiries

Fraudsters are relentless in their quest to outwit, swindle, and deceive. While many business owners often find scam digital marketing emails in their inbox—it’s not just business owners who get targeted. The scammers also target genuine digital marketing and web design agencies. As someone who owns a web design agency, I see these scams up […]
May 1, 2024
Scams

Fraudsters are relentless in their quest to outwit, swindle, and deceive. While many business owners often find scam digital marketing emails in their inbox—it’s not just business owners who get targeted. The scammers also target genuine digital marketing and web design agencies.

As someone who owns a web design agency, I see these scams up close.

In the most recent effort, a seemingly innocuous business inquiry landed in our lap via the contact form on our agency’s website. All the way from Bangladesh. Let’s take a look into how this scam aims to trick unsuspecting agency owners.

Here’s the full inquiry we received:

Name
Jennifer Lopez
Email
marketing@teva-footwear.com
Website
https://www.teva.com/
Message
“Hi,I represent Teva, the leading brand in the footwear industry. Currently, we are looking for partners to help manage digital marketing campaigns to expand our market in India.

You can find more detailed information about our brand on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Teva/ – Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teva/ – Website: www.teva.com/

We are attracted by your company’s potential to provide professional and efficient services. So we look forward to working with you to create an innovative and effective digital marketing campaign, while ensuring that Teva continues to be a top choice for consumers.

We are committed to providing campaign management fees commensurate with your experience and skills. If you are interested in this opportunity, please reply to us via email or WhatsApp to discuss further cooperation.

Best regards,

Jennifer Lopez
Marketing Manager
Teva”

The Anatomy of a Digital Marketing Scam

These scams are crafted to masquerade as legitimate opportunities. Every detail is meticulously planned—well almost.

Creating a false persona

First, they weave a web of deceit by assuming a false identity. In our case, it was “Jennifer Lopez,” the Marketing Manager at TEVA, a well-known footwear brand. A commendable effort, albeit a poorly chosen alias.

To lend credibility, the scammer even registered a domain (teva-footwear.com) that closely mirrored that of the genuine brand. The email address (marketing@teva-footwear.com), was meant to add an air of authenticity.

The temptation of a large client

Many agency owners want to work with big name brands. A chance to collaborate with a reputable brand like TEVA promising lucrative returns would be some agency’s dream. But it’s a trap, preying on the desires of such agencies for prestigious projects and financial gain.

Spotting red flags

Eventhough they tried their best to seem legit, there are telltale signs of deception. The email address, though resembling TEVA’s domain, is not authentic. A quick visit to tevainc.com reveals a lackluster page. In fact, it’s the default page for hosting provided by a cheap web hosting company – Hostinger.

Our website contact forms log the IP address of the senders. With this additional piece of information, we are able to check the origin of the message— Bangladesh —a notorious hotspot for online scams.

The next huge red flag was requesting for communication via WhatsApp. That’s not typical for companies in the US. Despite these obvious red flags, the promise of big money often blinds people to the glaring inconsistencies.

Exploiting the Gullible Agency Owner

Once the agency owner is hooked, the scammer moves in for the kill, exploiting their victims for personal gain. By assuming the guise of a TEVA representative, they aim to extract sensitive information, illicit payments, or even commit identity theft.

Staying safe from scams

In a landscape rife with deception, vigilance is paramount. Digital marketing agencies must arm themselves with skepticism, scrutinizing every interaction for signs of foul play. Her are some tips to avoid falling prey to these schemes:

  • Verify the Sender: Check email addresses for inconsistencies and cross-check with official company domains.
  • Research: Vet purported companies and reach out through official channels to confirm legitimacy.
  • Stay Vigilant: Exercise caution with unsolicited communications and trust your instincts.
  • Educate: Equip your team with the knowledge to identify and respond to phishing attempts.
  • Report: Report any suspicious activity to relevant authorities.

In the digital realm, where wolves roam in sheep’s clothing, vigilance is the key to staying one step ahead of the predators. Stay informed, stay cautious, and always keep your guard up.

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