Dealing with Online Scams – Digital SEO

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There is a current online jobs scam using my name, Leslie Gilmour and a website called Digital SEO.net.

First off – it is a scam – do not give them money.

I first became aware of this a month or so ago.  In Google Search Console – Google’s webmaster help platform.

Google list on this platform keywords that visitors use to find your website.  My two highest search terms are now “digital SEO Leslie Gilmour” and Leslie Gilmour digital SEO”.

So I went to investigate and found a website that is purporting to be me.  A pain.  I did nothing.  I run an SEO agency in Dublin and have been running websites for 10 years and I am used to scammers stealing my content and lying.  I see it as an occupational hazard.

This scam has had a long life to date. They have used the names of various people and various innocent companies since 28/4/2016.

The scam follows the same pattern:

  1. Offer of a job interview
  2. Time set for an interview by telephone
  3. Cancellation of the job interview
  4. Offer of the job anyway
  5. Contract sent in email
  6. Email stating a criminal records check must be completed
  7. A link is provided to a website that performs the check for £100
  8. You lose your money and don’t have a job

A few weeks ago I started getting messages on Twitter and LinkedIn from people that were being offered jobs.  They were seriously considering taking this offer.

I told them it was a scam, and some were still so desperate for work they were not for completely believing me at first.

At this point, I knew I had to take action.  In retrospect, it was stupid of me to ignore this.  I really did not think anyone would fall for such a scam – I am wrong.

Report to Police

Please report to the Police here, or to your local station.

Unfortunately, the Police are underfunded and don’t have the resources to deal with this type of scam quickly.

Their main priority is not this type of fraud.  Their main targets are listed on their website.  This is way down the list – and in many ways, I can understand that when I read about some of the other online issues they deal with.

Anyway, I have reported via their online system. (Not very user-friendly…)

Take Down Notices – DMCA

When content is copied on another website you can send a DMCA notice. Digital Millennium Copyright Act – perhaps not completely appropriate in this case – but I had to start somewhere.

UP DATE – DMCA notices are only valid in the US.

The first went to Google.  I hold little hope of anything happening from that.  Google is an automation driven company; they must get 1,000’s of these notices every day.

I sent a DMCA notice to TSO Host, a web hosting company where the Digital SEO website was hosted.  I communicated with one of the company directors and explained what was happening.

He took immediate action and stopped hosting this website.

Great I thought, I can get on with real work.

Now it is hosted with Digiweb in Ireland.

I sent them a DMCA notice and had a telephone call where I explained what is happening and what this company is doing.

Digiweb said although these servers are in their data centre they are either rented or owned by another company.  They said they can do nothing and would pass on the DMCA notice.

So far nothing.

The company which owns or rents the servers from Digiweb are Dedi Serve

Dedi Serve do not have a contact number on their website.

Every web host is supposed to have an abuse email address.  The abuse email address for Dedi Serve is abuse@cldr.eu – a non-existent domain name that is not even registered.

I mentioned this on Twitter.  They have told me to open a support ticket.  I will when I am finished writing this.

This scam effects every web host company the scammers use and just taking the site down does not do any good.  They can be back up and running within an hour with another web host – and I could have a full-time job chasing them around.

Domain Privacy

Domains can be registered with privacy.  There are many good reasons for this.

But, this domain name is held using a UK resident’s name.  I am not going to add his name here as I think it is likely his name is just being used by the scammers also.

The domain name is registered with Godaddy in the US.  I have now given them this information and my belief that the whois information is fake.

Hopefully, with that information, they will take possession of the domain name.

But that will not stop them.

This is Just Another Tax

I can phrase that better – this is just another tax on people who can least afford it.

I blame all of us for this problem.

The Irish police will not take a report from me.  They insist that all criminal reports are either emergency or are made in person at the police station.

I am currently in Prague.

The Irish police suggest that I go to the local police office here in Prague and report there.  They say the Czech police will send it via Interpol to Ireland.  Is this the best way we can organise things?

I have reported to the UK police, as stated above.

I have looked at the ICANN website who are responsible for .net domains.  They cannot / will not do anything and suggest local law enforcement.

While we all insist on paying as low tax as possible and decimating public services this will become more and more of a problem.

I am not the only person that has been affected by this scam.  People have lost money, and other companies have been used.  There is a fairly big list you can see if you scan through this.

I think it is likely that the web host will take down this site, and likely that Godaddy will repossess the domain name.  But, this will all be to no effect.

Another domain name will cost a few pounds and they will back.  This does need action from the police.

I will update as I get more information.

UPDATE 12/10/16

So no luck getting the police or the Irish web hosting company to take action.

A friend who runs a web hosting company in Ireland reached out to the domain registrar who is Godaddy.  I supplied them with all the information and they took the site down.  Interestingly the domain is now up for sale…

Comments

  1. Hi Leslie, what a Kafka-esque story and a waste of your time and energy, was the scammer eventually identified by law enforcement ?

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