The other day I received a text message from a prospective client. Normally, I am contacted by email or phone so right away this was unusual. Also, they led up-front with the fact that they were hearing impaired. This would explain why she texted instead of phoning, but did not explain why she didn’t just email. Whatever, I thought, I never do one shred of work without a 50% deposit anyway so let’s just see what happens.

The following is a transcript of the initial text exchange:

Good Day, My name is Mary, I’m hearing impaired, I wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards ??

Hi. Thanks for considering me for your project. Let’s start by sending some details of the web site you’re looking for.

  1. The purpose of the site. ie: ecommerce? Business promotion?
  2. Do you need logo and other branding elements?
  3. Budget and timeline.

Please email to

Okay i will email you the details in a min

Just a few minutes later I received an email from The exchange went like this:

Here is the job details
i have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in IL 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.
1. I want the same number of pages 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
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before The start of next month.
7. My budget is $5000 to $8,000
Kindly get back to me with:
(1) an estimate
(2) your cell phone number
(3) And will like to know if you are the owner ??
Hi Mary. I’m Paul Forster. I am the owner and operator at Box 9 Design.I know I can make this happen for you with a beautiful, professional design. I just want to check one thing straight away. You say you want the site up and running before start of next month. Is that by July 1, 2015? or did you mean August 1?This will help me estimate the fee to get it completed.Also, may I ask how you found me?
I want it start by next month which is july and i came across you through the search engine …
Just to be clear, do you want the site started by July 1 or finished by July 1?July 1 is an extremely tight deadline for completion. If you do want the site completed by July 1 I would need to have all photos, copy and a finalized design by this Monday June 22. I have never seen a website completed that quickly, but I am willing to push a couple of other projects back and complete on time within your budget if you think you can get the content ready that quickly.I would have to start first thing tomorrow morning though!
Alright i understand you and i want you to do the best of the best website for me so i will give you enough time to do the project and all i need from you is a perfect job ok …..what kind of merchant machine do you use to run credit card? Because i dont use Paypal/Square to run my credit card because it debited my account twice ..
Sounds great. I’m just heading out to dinner. I’ll put together a full proposal and written estimate for you tomorrow. Once we agree on the parameters of the project, I’ll draw up a standard contract so that you know what you’re getting from me and what is or is not included with my fee. The proposal will also include a breakdown of the fees involved.I process my payments with a company called BeanStream I’ve never had a security issue with them and all of my client’s payment information is only used through their secure gateway.
Alright that will be ok and i will be looking forward to hear from you tomorrow with the estimate so we can proceed with the payment
When I got back from dinner I started checking this out. I started by searching “Mary Clarkson Chicago” and came up with nothing. Then I searched for quotes from the job description. When I searched for “Gacillia Nut” I found this discussion on a web design forum. There was the job description verbatim. I then simply sent a reply in our email description that read:
I will not be laundering any money for you. Bye.
I hope if you have a potential client contact you talking about if you accept credit cards right off the bat that you will do a search and perhaps find this caution. Never pay or forward money for a client. It is illegal to do so.