SEO Scams

SEO Scams

SEO is the art of getting your web page on to the front page of Google. Since I run so many domains, I get contacted by these types of people at least once a week. I know most of them are scams so I’ve been trying to get one to reply back with the basics of what they offer. For the first time, one did.

(Hint, if you’re soliciting work online, make sure you actually reply to people who contact you.)

Today I was contacted by Asha Ram of EarnBySEO, and followed up my Anand Pal of the same company.

The website they contacted me about today was my Old and Vintage Photos site. This is merely a collection of pictures I’ve scanned in from 35mm slides I’ve collected over the years.

In the first paragraph they say “We can definitely Place your business on Google’s first Page so that the people looking for ,“Vintage Photos, Seattle Space Needle,vacations around the world, trips to Disneyland and other amusement parks,” they can find your website on first page and can contact you for the business.”

First problem – no one, and I suspect even people at Google, can place a business on the first page. Those few who can are using black-hat techniques that will destroy the longevity of any website. The cost to do so is usually so high that it is reserved for either outright scam sites collecting credit card numbers or places like Viagra sellers.

The second problem, if they had bothered to read my website, is that not only are those not the keywords I’d be tagging, I’m not selling a product or service there. Their lack of reading comprehension shows that they didn’t do even a cursory examination of the site to understand the business model and to define the work that actually needs to be done.

“We have GOOGLE CERTIFIED professional & expert to run a successful SEO campaign & they follow Latest Organic Google Certified Procedures and Algorithms.” Certified by whom?

The next section of the email is a table of actions they’ll take. Some of these may be needed, but taken all together they just took a long list of SEO tasks and put them into a table.

On-Page work activities :-
Keyword research/Analysis
Meta tags/Title & Description tag Optimization
Competitor Analysis
Anchor tag Optimization ( H1, H2 etc.)
Alt tag Optimization
Content Optimization
Robots.txt Optimization
Fixing Canonical Issue
Fixing Broken Links
Creating Custom soft 404 page
Fixing HTTP and HTTPS
Fixing Non-WWW and WWW urls
Removal of unnecessary Redirects
Removal of Unnecessary tags
Create 301 Redirect
Update copyright year
Making URLs SEO friendly
XML site map creation and Submission
HTML Site Map creation
Perform an online plagiarism review.
Place social media badges on website

Off-Page work activities:-
Classified Ads Submission
Classified Ads Promotion
1 unique, 450 word article
Article Submissions
Article Promotion
1 unique, 500 word Blog
Blog Submission
Blog Promotion
1 unique, 500 word press releases
Press Release Submissions
Press Release Promotion
Image Submissions (Needed from client side)
Image Promotion
Social Book marking Submissions
PDF/PPT Submission
PDF/PPT Promotion
Google Local Listing/ Mapping
Search Engine Submissions
Directory / Citation submissions
Video Submissions (Needed from client side)
Video Promotion

Social Media activities
Facebook Account setup
Facebook Profile Promotion
Twitter Profile Setup
Twitter Profile Promotion
Google+ Profile Setup
Google+ Profile Promotion

Pretty straight forward, but any halfway competent website owner does most of these actions these days.

If you want to avoid being scammed by an SEO company ask these questions:
– What page will I get on Google/Bing/Yahoo. (Answer: they will never say guaranteed or first page. They’ll give an answer that says they can increase visibility, but should explain that everything else is up to Google’s automatic algorithms and the best they can do is to optimize for it.)

– How will I measure success? (Answer: increased click throughs, increased sales for those with sales sites, increase in visitors to the site, etc.)

– How long will this SEO campaign go for? (Answer: if they say indefinitely or can’t pin down an answer, dump them. True it may take a while to get going, but they should give a six month or a year number with specific performance deliverables.)

IRS Phone Call Scam

IRS Phone Call Scam

Here is another particularly scary scam. Someone from the IRS calls and says that they need to talk you right away or they will forward the issue to the courts and have you arrested. If you call them back, they strong arm you into going down to Western Union and sending a Money Order. They won’t let you off the phone until you send the money order, once you get to that point, it is too late!

I theorize that they are getting information from one of the recent credit card or data breaches. Since I’ve been subject to four of them in the past year alone, I’m pretty resigned to the fact that I’m going to see more of this. (Yes, I’m signed up for the free Credit Checking reports.)

“Steve Wilson” has been working pretty hard to get a hold of me. So far he has called me from three different phone numbers:
347-688-5901 (Added 04/01/2015)

The first day he did this, he must have been new on the job. I got five calls from the 773 phone numbers, and three voice mails following the same script. Since then he’s varied the script a bit but it is essentially the same.

Unfortunately for Steve, the IRS is well aware of these, but there is little that can be done about it. While the IRS might call you to discuss an issue, it is more likely they will mail you first. Even if they did call, they would not demand immediate payment over the phone, and certainly not via Western Union.

Please do not fall for this one!

Annual Business Services Scam

**Update – Annual Business Services have updated their web site:
Stay away from these people!!!****

The Annual Business Services Scam is an mailing coming in an official looking envelope. Upon opening it a form directs the company to fill out the form to “prepare and provide corporate minutes that meet the following requirements of law.” This is usually followed by a paragraph from the legal code with the relevant legal statue quoted. They also instruct that the form be filled out and remitted with an $125 fee (check only.)

They prey on newly registered LLC and DBA companies, usually people who have never run a business before and who may not know what rules they actually need to follow. While far from the only companies that look at newly registered business names to generate sales leads, their tactics are comparatively dishonest.

The people perpetuating this scam appears to be running under multiple Company names in multiple states. National Corporate Research LTD has an huge listing of variations on this scam, including the business names being used. They note that in the fine print of the documentation (below) that there is frequently a variation on “This product has not been approved or endorsed by any government agency and this offer is not being made by an agency of the government.”

Annual Business Services Scam

Other companies with this, or similar, scams are “Corporate Compliance Solicitation,” “Corporate Records Services,” or “Compliance Services.” NCR lists many of these scams and has a link to each Secretary of State’s website talking about these scams.


The Oregon Secretary of State is well aware of this scam. They state:

“Despite its appearance, the Annual Records Solicitation Form (PDF) solicitation was not sent by the Secretary of State Corporation Division. It is neither authorized nor sanctioned in any way by the state of Oregon.

Official business correspondence from the Secretary of State Corporation Division always contains these elements:

An image of the Oregon seal.
The words “Secretary of State Corporation Division.”
Our phone number: 503-986-2200.
Corporations registered to do business in Oregon are required to maintain records and hold annual meetings of shareholders. However, they are not required to file them with the Secretary of State Corporation Division.”

Note that an updated side bar on the Oregon Secretary of State’s web page points out another common scam:

“Attorneys for The Mandatory Poster Agency Inc – the company behind this mailing – have contacted the state of Oregon to maintain the solicitation is a legitimate service. The Oregon Department of Justice continues to take complaints from businesses. The Corporation Division maintains its warning that bus​​inesses should read the solicitation carefully to avoid being misled.

The attorney’s letter (PDF) states that customers who ar​e dissatisfied with the service are guaranteed a full refund upon request. To request a refund, send your written request to:

The Mandatory Poster Agency Inc
dba Corporate Records Service
6323 W Saginaw Hwy Ste E
Lansing, MI 48917

If The Mandatory Poster Agency, dba Corporate Records Service, fails to issue a refund as requested, please contact the Oregon Department of Justice, Financial Fraud and Consumer Protection Section at 877-877-9392.”

The Better Business Bureau webpage reports that The Mandatory Poster Agency “sells” (in a threatening manner,) Labor Law posters. Their literature states that the posters are mandatory and provides a handy form to order some at prices in the $300 range. These posters are usually free from your local state labor agency though. The letter looks official just like the Compliance scam above. Based on the fact that the company is using the same tactics, it’s obvious that they know they’re scamming. It’s also just as obvious that new businesses are falling for it.

Other states posting alerts about these scams are:
North Carolina
Tennessee (from “Tennessee Council for Corporations”)

Warrant of Arrest SPAM email

Warrant of Arrest SPAM

The Spammers are starting to get pretty hardcore and innovative. The FBI is going to arrest me if I don’t send $98 to Lagos, Nigeria to initiate the transfer of $10.5 million dollars to my bank account. Keep in mind that the FBI would not be involved with international money crimes. And even if they were, doing what is suggested below is still a crime in the US.

Please do not fall for this.

“Anti-Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division
FBI Headquarters In Washington, D.C.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20535-0001

Attention: Beneficiary

This is the final warning you are going to receive from me, do you get me? I hope you understand how many times this message has been sent to you.

We have warned you so many times and you have decided to ignore our e-mails or because you believe we have not been instructed to get you arrested and today if you fail to respond back to us with the payment details below, then we would first send a letter to the MAYOR of the city where you reside and direct them to close your bank account until you have been jailed and all your properties will be confiscated by the FBI, CIA and other enforcement agency. We would also send a letter to the company/agency that you are working for so that they could get you fired until we are through with our investigations because a suspect is not supposed to be working for the government or any private organization.

Your ID which we have in our database have been sent to all the crimes agencies in America for them to inset you in their website as an internet fraudsters and to warn people from having any deals with you. This would have been solved all this while if you had gotten the CERTIFICATE ENDORSED AND STAMPED as you were instructed in the e-mail below. This is the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) am writing in response to the e-mail you sent to us and am using this medium to inform you that there is no more time left to waste because you have been given a mandate. As stated earlier to have the document endorsed, signed and stamped without failure and you must adhere to this directives to avoid you blaming yourself at last when we must have arrested and jailed you for life and all your properties will be seized and bank account will be confiscated too.

You failed to comply with our directives/instruction and that was the reason why we didn’t hear from you, as our director has already been notified about you get the process completed yesterday and right now the WARRANT OF ARREST has been signed against you and it will be carried out in the next 48hours as strictly signed by the FBI director. We have investigated and found out that you didn’t have any idea when the fraudulent deal was committed with your information’s/identity and right now your ID is placed on our website as a wanted person, I believe you know that it will be a shame to you and your entire family because after then it will be announce in all the local channels that you are wanted by the FBI.

As a good Christian and a Honest man, I decided to see how i could be of help to you because i would not be happy to see you end up in jail and all your properties confiscated all because your information’s was used to carry out a fraudulent transactions, i called the EFCC and they directed me to a private attorney who can help you get the process done and he stated that he will endorse and stamp the document at the sum of $98 usd only and i believe this process is cheaper for you.

You need to do every possible thing today and tomorrow to get this process done because our director has called to inform me that the warrant of arrest has been signed against you and once it has been approved, then the arrest will be carried out, and from our investigations we learnt that you were the person that forwarded your identity to one impostor/fraudsters in Nigeria when he had a deal with you about the transfer of some illegal funds into your bank account which is valued at the sum of $10,500,000.00 only.

I pleaded on your behalf so that this agency could give you till July 6, 2012 so that you can get this process done because i learnt that several e-mails has been sent to you without getting a response from you. Bear it in mind that this is the only way that i can be able to help you at this moment or you would have to face the law and its consequences once it had befallen on you. You would make the payment through western union money transfer with the below details.






Senders Full Name:

Sender Full Address:

Direct Phone Number:


Send the payment details to me as stated above and make sure that you didn’t hesitate making the payment down to the agency by today so that they could have the certificate endorsed, signed and stamped immediately without any further delay. After all this process has been carried out, then we would have to proceed to the bank for the transfer of your compensation funds which is valued at the sum of $10.500,000.00 usd which was supposed to have been transferred to you all this while.

Note: All the crimes agencies have been contacted on this regards and we shall trace and arrest you if you disregard this instructions. You are given a grace today to make the payment for the document after which your failure to do that will attract a maximum arrest and finally you will be appearing in court for act of terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking charges, so be warned not to try anything funny because you are been watched.

Expecting your anticipated- Co-operation.

Yours in service,

Robert S. Mueller

Craiglist “Job” Scam

Craiglist “Job” Scam

This is a new one on me, but apparently has been going on since 2008 in one form or another.

I responded to a Craiglist Job Posting looking for a desktop support person. Most of these just end up in a black hole of some sort since most job posters are getting slammed with resumes right now.

This time I got a reply:
from: Ronald Lang (

Thanks for responding to the AD and I’m Ronald Lang, The new director of works at Mission Australia (USA), we have gone through
your resume and feel your are competent for the job so we need to know if you are capable of repairing computers in large volumes
(6-10 computers for trials), the organization distributed few computers to a missionary home in Lima, Peru, and there objectives was to
hold a free computer training section for the kids at the Mission Home, we got information that the computers all malfunctioned and
they are shipping the computers back to us, we need to fix them and have it returned in time, are you available for this job? we need
your urgent response to this ad.
The Director of Works.
Ronald Lang
Mission Australia (USA)

Note Mission Australia exists, but I can not find that they have any US offices. Also, the email address he sent it from is which is missing an ‘s’. is a Google Apps Hosted domain and is registered via:

Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States

Registered through:, Inc. (
Created on: 10-Jul-10
Expires on: 10-Jul-11
Last Updated on: 10-Jul-10

Administrative Contact:
Private, Registration
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States
+1.4806242599 Fax — +1.4806242598

Technical Contact:
Private, Registration
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States
+1.4806242599 Fax — +1.4806242598

Domain servers in listed order:

I replied to this not knowing exactly where the scam was. The reply:

Thanks for the swift response, Here are some few details you need for the job, We supplied 30 Pentium IV dell laptops to the mission training home, after some couple of months we got an information that 7 of the systems malfunctioned and results into crashing, first we made enquiries about how they all malfunctioned and we found out that Below are the things needed to be done on the laptops;

(1.) Format Hard Drive
(2.) Install Win Xp or Vista with Service Pack 2 or 3
(3.) Microsoft Office Package
(4.) Recent Anti Virus Software with (Free Lifetime Updates)
(5.) Adobe Acrobat
(6.) Diagnostics of the entire system after to check hard drive, CD & DVD ROM, floppy Disk.

Get back to me with your total cost for the services of 7 units ( Labour Only). We would Include all the necessary software’s and licenses (Original) needed for the service installations and would be paying you with a Certified Company Check, and i want you to know that the Laptops will all be shipped to your location by our shipping agents, we will give you a totality of one week to finish up with the repairs after which it will also be picked up by the shippers. This is a Contract Job which might lead to a full time position with the company after you have successfully completed the first task within the specified time. Kindly send me the following information’s to have the payment mailed out to you;

Full Name:
Physical Address:
Zip code:
Cell phone #:

I am currently in Remote area in Lima and the phone service is very poor here, I’m online most of the time as I am hard of hearing so I prefer we contact each other through E-mails, but if there is need for me to call, I will be glad to do that by using a hearing device. I await your urgent response so we can make moving arrangements and delivery of payment as soon as possible.
Very Respectfully,
Ronald Lang.

After some negotiated costs (pretty much an “OK, that sounds good.”) “Ronald” says he’s going to send me a check and the laptops. Simply cash the check, keep my fee, send the rest of the money to another address, and then fix the laptops when they arrive.

Of course there are no laptops, and even if there were, sending them from Peru to Oregon would be cost prohibitive just to get fixed.

Note, the real Mission Australia is not associated with this scam at all