If you own a website, sooner or later you’re going to receive a search engine optimization (SEO) scam. These unsolicited emails promise they can get your website placement on the first page of search results. They also assure you there are “no setup fees, no long term contracts, and guarantee to increase your traffic”. And since most website owners would love to get more traffic, the offer sounds like the perfect solution. The catch is that you will hand over money – and you’ll be offered a ‘better rate’ if you prepay – and you’ll be left without your cash and no change in your search engine placement. To learn more about the scams that target businesses, see my blog Scammers Hone Messages to Target Your Profession
Test Your Skills
You should be able to find at least five red flags that tell you this e-mail is fraudulent. Scroll down to see the answers, but try to find them yourself, first. If you find four you’re a pro with little to worry about. If you find fewer than three, consider practicing on some more of our spam scam examples.
Here are the red flags that show this is a scam:
- The unsolicited email comes from frederick890k – that’s not a what a professional email alias looks like. Then you see the ‘company name is terra.com and after this is a .co. The weird email account alone is a give away, but if you take the time to look up terra.com you’ll see it’s actually a Spanish language news and chat site – hardly a company that’s going to provide you with search engine optimization.
- The scammers have an auto-fill tool that enters company’s names into the subject line (that’s why there are brackets around [look-both-ways]) and the email is addressed to “Dear Business Owner”. They don’t know you, or take the time to have their tool also auto-fill your company name in the message body.
- The email starts with a bold (and bogus) claim and inappropriate capitalization of ‘web surfers’, then goes on with poor English “If I assist you to obtain..” – And that’s ignoring that for most website owners, if their site landed on the top of search engine results they’d get a lot more than “4 times more WEB traffic”.
- The next red flag comes in the second paragraph with the claim that “our company” (presumably terra.com, as that’s the company name in “Fredericks” email, but you’ll note the email artfully doesn’t mention the company’s name) is on the “first page on Google for our main search phrase “SEO Company”. Now they specifically say that SEO company is their main search phrase – not that this is the company name – as there is a legitimate company with the URL seo.com. What the scammers are hoping, is that by being bold in their claim, you’ll not bother to check at all, or that if you do, you’ll be moving quickly and will not have carefully read between the lines in their email.
- The signoff is that of a woman (not frederick), called ‘sherlyn choopra’ (no capitalizations). What’s more, there is a real Sherlyn Chopra (the search result even if you enter 2 “oo”‘s in her name) who is a Bollywood starlet in India.
Any one of these red flags should have convinced you this email is a scam, and you’ll find similar scam flags in other offers of this ilk.