As many of you may know, I am open to doing freelance work on websites as a side job outside of my full-time position at PNC. I tend to work on one or two of these websites per year, and when I do I put a lot of work into them. Over the last couple of weeks, I was working with a potential client on what I thought was going to be a great opportunity to help a good cause.
It started out with a simple message through my website’s contact form reaching out for assistance in designing a website for a new non-profit organization. After a small fact-finding mission over email, I had gathered enough information to give a good estimate for the website, which included a discount because their non-profit pulled some heartstrings.
At this point, I received a huge red flag within the email accepting the estimate.
Please kindly accept my check for $4,500 and pass the remaining $3,000 to my private consultant.
At first, I will admit that I was excited to start working on a website for someone, but after a little while I started to pose a few questions to myself:
Why did they accept the estimate so quickly? Why is the “private consultant” holding onto the text content and artwork for the website until I send the money? Why doesn’t the client just send two separate checks? There are some basic answers to this question:
The money isn’t real, their check will bounce. There is no artwork or text content. They want me to cash a fraudulent check and pass the “private consultant’s” share off before the bank notifies me. At this point, I emailed the client posing some of the above questions to which they started claiming the “private consultant” would only accept a “special” check. By special they mean a bank-certified check. This way when I deposit their check and it eventually bounces, I cannot cancel their check.
For any web developers out there that are looking for freelance work, turn away when a prospective client claims you need to pay someone else. In the end, you will just end up losing money.