I remember the first internet scam I ever came across. I was in college and I was looking for an apartment...there was this beautiful place, available soon, but the owners were out of town. However, I could secure the place if I sent them the rental deposit to their current location. I told my Mom about it, and she kindly alerted me that this was not a real thing, and Nigerian princes don't rent out apartments near San Diego State University. *Sigh* that natural light though...
I'm happy to report that since then, I have become much better at spotting an internet scam. Moving from California to Texas gave me the opportunity to receive many messages from people on Craigslist who had "plenty of money" and just NEEDED my IKEA desk from 2001. Hell, they wanted everything, and they'd send someone to pick it up; I just needed to cash their check and shuffle some funds to the delivery truck guy once their check cleared.
Flash forward to this month when I encountered my favorite internet scam yet.
I received an email from "Luke Bickel" with an email address of "LukeBickel01@gmail.com". Okay, legit enough at this point. Our initial emails went as follows:
Oct 19, 2019, 6:40 AM
Hi, this is Luke, I'll like to know if I got a right contact to a graphic designer. Kindly let me know. I was searching for a graphic designer and I came across your profile. I need help with catalog and logo design. Is that in your wheelhouse?
Sat, Oct 19, 11:59 AM
Hi Luke – Yes, I am a graphic designer; and those are projects I am absolutely familiar with. I own Kristin Hardy Design – www.kristinhardydesign.com; were you referred to me from another client?
I know at this point you're wondering why you're reading this, and this is where it gets interesting:
Oct 20, 2019, 11:13 AM
Here are the details, it's a newly established company. Do drop your cell phone number for easy communication.
This company is really based on sales of furniture such as Kitchen Cabinet, Sofa, Office Chair, Accent tables, King bench bed etc.
Ø Company Name: WOOD FURNITURE & HOME.
Ø MY WEBSITE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION WHICH WOULD BE REGISTER VERY SOON.
Ø I DON'T HAVE LOGO BUT NEED A CUSTOMIZED LOGO FROM YOU.
Ø I COULD ONLY SUPPLY THE TEXT CONTENT AND PHOTO ALL ARE WITH THE PROJECT CONSULTANT YOU WILL JUST HANDLE THE LAYOUT.
Ø I WANT THE PAGE OF TH E BROCHURE TO BE 24 PAGES (INCLUDING FRONT AND BACK COVER) BECAUSE I HAVE LOT INFORMATION. THE TEXT AND THE PICTURE IS APPROVED AND CROSSCHECK.
Ø THE SIZE OF BROCHURE SHOULD BE 8.5 X 11.5.
Ø I WILL WANT YOU TO ADD OUR CORE VALUES, MISSION & VISION( I'LL SEND THEM TO YOU)
First of all Luke, why are you ALL CAPS yelling these details at me? Many of these things make no sense, but I enjoy your subtle mention of your "consultant" (AKA your furniture mover). This is when I knew this was weird, and I Googled a portion of his message.
I discovered that this is a scam that's been going on since like 2017 word-for-word. These people target graphic designers to design a logo + catalog, then send a check for more than the agreed upon design fee so the designer pays the "consultant", and even receives a bonus to handle the transaction. Obviously, the check isn't good, and the designer who pays out the "consultant" is out the funds... and design time... and belief in humanity.
I closed my internet browser to get back to other things and I thought... not today, Luke. Not today.
I'm going to design you one hell of a logo, Luke. It's going to blow your newly-established-company-socks right off. So I replied...
Oct 20, 2019, 1:02 PM
Hi Luke – This sounds like a really interesting opportunity! Unfortunately I’m unable to make phone calls. I’m currently in prison using a burner phone in hopes of drumming up new business so I can pay my lawyer fees when I’m released.
That being said, I’d love to hear more about what you’re looking for in a logo. I charge $25,000 for a single-color logo design, but that does include all the rights once I have received payment at the close of the project.
The catalog sounds incredibly exciting with all the information and cross check.
Please let me know how you’d like to move forward.
For some reason Luke did not email me back right away. But when you need to save for your legal fees, and you only have so much time with your contraband cellular device... you have to follow up with your design prospects.
Oct 25, 2019, 3:26 PM
I hope you're doing well; TGIF.
I'm so happy to let you know that based on my good behavior, I was given some extra time in the computer lab to work on your project. I know you haven't officially approved my earlier quote, but you seem like a good guy, and I wanted to get going on your logo.
After bartering some Cheetos for a razor, the perfect idea for your brand hit me. Provided below are two versions that I feel will truly speak to the brand identity of Wood, Furniture & Home.
Option 1: Featuring a bold, purple chair, this logo just screams ROYALTY. Though a stock image, I would really recommend we keep the watermark on this. It tells viewers this chair has been lived in. It's seen some ass. I trust that chair, and hell... I trust Luke.
Option 2: I've been reading some 1983 magazines in the library recently (beggars can't be choosers, ya know?), and I've picked up that subtle sexual innuendos are the new HOT thing in marketing. I'm a little worried, this is too subtle... but b00bs. Everyone loves boobs, and furniture AND homes.
I think Option 2 is the obvious winner, but I really want you to sit with these concepts and weigh-in. I truly value you as a new client, and am looking forward to applying this branding to your catalog.
At this point, Luke responded immediately. Not telling me to go F*** myself as I was fully prepared (hoping?) for. He asked for my cell phone number so we could talk. As much as I love the idea of a thieving stranger having my number, I had to maintain my story.
LUKE, I am a convicted criminal. I can't just hop on the phone to review your design concepts like a free civilian. I'm doing my time, and trying to hustle my designs on the side... please respect my boundaries and crosscheck yourself.
** For anyone wondering I am, in fact, not in prison. I am available to design your logo as long as you're a real person, with a real business (newly established or otherwise).
Please send me a message if you want to design something cool together. And I promise it will look nothing like the logos above. Clearly, that's a conflict of interest with my current clientele.