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a scam targeting architects?

  • 1.  a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 11 days ago

    In the last month and a half or so we have been getting a lot of inquiries that start like this. Some have started through text messages; some through email:  (all typos shown – these are excerpts from 3 of the 10 or so enquiries I have had)

     

    Good morning,
    How are you doing today, My name's Robert Baker How are you doing today? Do you do Architecture drawing and design planning for residential house,I await your swift response as soon as possible.

    Best regards....

     

    • Or –

     

    How are you doing today, I would like to know if you do architectural  drawings  and  designing  for  proposed  building ? 

     

     

     

    My response:

    Yes we do.  Where is the project located?   

     

     

    Follow up (from another person but they all have this feel (although one sent an plan and image – attached - of what they wanted which had no correspondence to the written program)

     

    Thanks for getting in touch with me i really appreciate your kind gesture, just so you know i wish to meet you one on one to have a round table meeting but I'm presently out of state. I would have loved to meet up concerning my project but currently i'm with my wife who's recuperating in the teaching hospital and i am always by her side confined to a wheel chair. Not to worry, I will be paying for the deposit before you start. I'm starting to think its not possible until I got your contact information.

    I figured you can draw a suitable design for the project, I want 6 Bedrooms 2 Storey all Suit with 2 Living Rooms, foyer, master suite, playroom, kitchen, kitchenette (small cooking area), laundry room and garage with access to the living space from garage (possibly a mudroom entry)master bedroom can easily be connected to a mudroom as well.If there is anything that can suite my taste which i am yet to included please advice.

    Project will be lasting for approximately 12-18 months,I wish to start this project next year. It's 6,701 Square Feet 6 Bedroom with 2 living rooms per suite,2 living rooms in total, I have approximately 0.16 acre and I want it to be to 2 Storey ,I budgeted $2,800,000.00 for the construction, I also want my bungalow plan to be 3 Bedrooms downstairs and 2 Bedrooms up. Is that okay?

    I hope you got the picture I'm trying to paint because I need your professional advice on this, please let me know if that money is enough to build me what i want or should i just round it up to $3,000,000? Because the is where I will be living for the rest of my life so I want a standard plan.I don't want to give up on the project. I would like to make an initial deposit just so you know how serious I am concerning this project.All the required document to get you going will be provided by my quantity survey agent.

    I'm looking forward to getting the total estimated cost and how much you'd like to take as retainer fee so we can proceed accordingly.

    Please let me know if there's anything you need me to sign for this purpose and how you would like to proceed.

    Here is the lot address : 1300 Manhattan Ave, Union City, NJ 07087.
    (I hope this information will assist you enough to come up with a retainer fee?)


    Best Regards

     

     

    A clear hallmark of these requests is the that it usually takes a couple of go arounds before they supply the location.  When we have looked into it – as we did with the 1st couple for requests we got – the sites are indeed empty and for sale but they are not under contract and there are no current offers being considered.  There also has been an obvious mismatch of the program and budget for the house and what would be more likely use and/or budget for the site. ($2M+ budget in a neighborhood that has a $140K median price or, is in the case about, a single family house on what is priced to be a multiple dwelling development lot.

     

    Another characteristic is that there is usually some sort of illness or travelling involved that makes it difficult to talk in person.  The one "client" I spoke to had a heavy indeterminate accent and a terrible phone connection.

     

    We pursued this one a bit (as it was the 1st of ten or so enquiries we have received) and like all the others he asked early on if we take credit cards (which we do) but then it turned out he wanted us to set up a Clover account. 

     

    My bookkeeper said "This is definitely suspicious. Clover is a POS system that we would have to subscribe/purchase. I can't see why a potential client would ask us to obtain a complete system to process his payments. My guess is that he would illegally process stolen credit cards."

     

    I have more details I am happy to share.

     

    We have recently dallied with how our firm is listed online and although it may be coincidental it may well be that is why we are suddenly receiving these requests.

     

    I am curious if anyone else has encountered this.

     

    Steve

     

    Stephen Alastair Wanta AIA

    wanta-architect PLLC

    66 Crosby Street 3D

    NY NY 10012

     

    917-251-5587

     

    www.wanta-architect.com

     

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  • 2.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago

    Me again.  Sorry for the typos in MY post.  Reading it over here and see some wrong prepositions, missing parentheses, etc.

     

    This was sitting on my desk as a draft for week and I wanted to get it out to you all,

     

    (During that time I received 2 or 3 more of this type of contact.)

     

    Steve

     

    Stephen Alastair Wanta AIA

    wanta-architect PLLC

    66 Crosby Street 3D

    NY NY 10012

     

    917-251-5587

     

    www.wanta-architect.com

     




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  • 3.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Yes, it is a scam.?? I'm not sure how it works exactly, but I've gotten lots of emails which tell me they "want 6 Bedrooms 2 Storey all Suit with 2 Living Rooms, ... (etc)"?? I have never responded to one; they go straight to my junk file.

    --

    Martha John, AIA
    Executive Secretary
    AIA Mid-Missouri
    www.aiamid-missouri.com





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  • 4.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Yep, I had the same email last fall. It included a site which was an old house and the person they used had died a year before in Arizona. And yes we did a credit check. They wanted to send us money directly into the same Clover account. We knew reading the first email that this was a scam but wanted to figure out what they where getting at which was either getting into our account or laundering money.

    We have a prototypical; never open an unidentified email and never respond to a fishing email. We block and and then erase.

    Mike

    ------------------------------
    Michael Lassel AIA, LEED AP
    Principal
    Lassel Architects
    South Berwick ME
    ------------------------------

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  • 5.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Yes,
    I have also received phone message from the same person but did not respond as there was no mention of a location for the project. I am wondering if they are gathering phone numbers from the AIA website?

    ------------------------------
    Janet Shenk AIA
    Janet Virginia Shenk, Architect
    Annapolis MD

    ------------------------------

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  • 6.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    I'm getting the exact same thing

    John E. Kavan, AIA, ASID

    Architect

    Composium Group Architects


    Phone 760-402-6383

    Visit us at: Composiumgroup.com

    Email: opus@composiumgroup.com


    "Using the power of design to influence how we live"




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  • 7.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Yes - it is a scam - we get several requests like this per week, and simply delete them.

    ------------------------------
    Virginia Seminara AIA
    president
    DeBiasse & Seminara Architects, PC
    Martinsville NJ
    ------------------------------

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  • 8.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago

    Glad (in a certain way) to hear that others are getting these too.  Although it makes one wonder have they actually been successful with any of our colleagues?  It seems unlikely but they do seem to be working from some sort of template.

     

    Mine started mid- August and have been coming in steadily since.

     

    Steve

     

    Stephen Alastair Wanta AIA

    wanta-architect PLLC

    66 Crosby Street 3D

    NY NY 10012

     

    917-251-5587

     

    www.wanta-architect.com

     




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  • 9.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Thanks for writing this. I have gotten many of the same initial inquiry emails. I did not answer them since they seemed suspicious.
    Esther

    Studio ST Architects
    www.studio-st.com
    o 212 643 2600
    m 917 825 7419




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  • 10.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    I get them weekly and send them right to spam. I used to pull their chain a little bit but I lost interest in doing this. Just an annoyance now.

    ------------------------------
    Aric Gitomer AIA
    Principal
    Aric Gitomer Architect LLC
    Morris Plains NJ
    ------------------------------

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  • 11.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Steve,

    I concur with your assessment, we get at least one of these requests a week, all of them bogus.

    I have gotten bored with responding to them and most of the time we just delete them or...  tell them sure, send me a $50,000 certified check for a retainer and we'll start as soon as it clears.

    No takers yet....


    mark domiteaux, AIA

    domiteaux architects

    4435 Middleton Road
    Dallas  TX       75229

    studio: 214-422-8502
    cell: 214-587-1082




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  • 12.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Mark,
    I upped the game with my replies. I requested a $100k retainer delivered in gold bullion.  The requests stopped shortly after that...
    Charles

    ------------------------------
    Charles Fisk AIA
    Principal
    Charles Fisk ARCHITECTURE, pllc
    Austin TX
    ------------------------------

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  • 13.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 9 days ago
    I'm a little bummed that I've not received this particular hoax email.  Nobody likes being overlooked.

    I never respond.  Confirming I am here can't be any good.

    Some of these folks have a pretty sophisticated game, though, so be careful.  My wife, who teaches Spanish, got hit by "Boris" in Canada (there are a lot of Russians in Canada) who maintained a correspondence via email for a couple months about having his daughter get tutoring while visiting the Bay Area over the summer.  Then he sends a check to cover all the expenses, looks good, gets deposited, then soon a note arrives to please move it to a particular account in another bank.  So you pull out the money, put it in the other bank, and then you learn that it is your money that went to the other bank because the first check did not clear.

    It's not just email, it's also the phone.  One of the beautiful things about cell phones is that you can see the number calling and where it is calling from.  My rule is:  if I don't recognize the number I don't answer.  95% of the ones I don't recognize will not leave a voice mail.

    ------------------------------
    Donald Wardlaw AIA
    More Than Construction, Inc.
    Oakland CA
    ------------------------------

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  • 14.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    I have received several of these as well, under multiple different names.


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  • 15.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Steve -

    There have been several posts like this over the past half-year or so. Whatever they want, it isn't architecture! All of us subscribing to this forum should be careful out there!

    BTW - why do you post floor plans and elevations on your email signature? I think that comes under the heading of "giving it away", which might be what is encouraging these crooks.
    Judith Wasserman AIA

    Bressack & Wasserman Architects
    751 Southampton Drive
    Palo Alto CA 94303 
    ph: 650 321-2871  
    fx:  650 321-1987 
    www.bressackandwasserman.com




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  • 16.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    That floor plan was actually sent by person who sent me the 1st one of these!  It shows up in a strangulations place in the post....

    If you take a good look at it it has a few words in Thai on it.

    ------------------------------
    Stephen Wanta AIA
    Principal
    wanta-architect PLLC
    New York NY
    ------------------------------

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  • 17.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Boy I have got to review these better before posting!  ..."strange" turned into "strangulations"!

    ------------------------------
    Stephen Wanta AIA
    Principal
    wanta-architect PLLC
    New York NY
    ------------------------------

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  • 18.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    OMG! What are strangulations?

    Bressack & Wasserman Architects
    751 Southampton Drive
    Palo Alto CA 94303 
    ph: 650 321-2871  
    fx:  650 321-1987 
    www.bressackandwasserman.com




    Call for Nominations


  • 19.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    Sorry about that...

    ------------------------------
    Stephen Wanta AIA
    Principal
    wanta-architect PLLC
    New York NY
    ------------------------------

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  • 20.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 9 days ago

    Yep had the same email. They used a name of a person who died in Arizona and a lot that was crack house in a rough neighborhood for a $5m house. I needed to find out the nature of the scam so  I did a credit check and asked for a bank information, which I knew was going to be bogus. It is either a money laundering operation or bank hack.

    I forward to our States cybercrime unit then blocked the address and deleted.

     

     

    Michael W. Lassel AIA 

    Lassel Architects PA

    PO Box 370

    South Berwick, ME 03908-370

    T 207 384 2049

     

    Licensed NH, ME, MA, OH

    print only if necessary

    CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:

    The information contained in this e-mail transmittal is legally privileged and confidential information intended only for use of the individual or entity named above. Federal or state confidentiality laws may also protect it. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution or actions taken on the contents of this telecopy are strictly prohibited. If you have received this telecopy in error, please notify us immediately by telephone to arrange for the return of the original document. Thank you for your cooperation.

     




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  • 21.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    I get a least one month like this. Not sure what they are really looking for. I just delete them as soon as I receive them.

    :) SA

    ------------------------------
    Sally Anne Smith AIA
    Smith Architectural Studio
    Carmel CA
    ------------------------------

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  • 22.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    This tempting offer out of nowhere sounds too good to be true, because it is not - it's a scam! These have been going around for a while, and although the names may change to protect the guilty, you are essentially being courted by an offshore prince under another guise with nothing but malfeasance in mind. Delete!

    ------------------------------
    Scott Wilets AIA
    Principal
    Wilets Architecture, LLC
    Bethesda MD
    ------------------------------

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  • 23.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    I also had this call in Michigan- this time he/she was deaf and couldn't talk to me. The lot was in Grand Rapids.
    The next inquiry I got by text months later I simply answered no- I do not provide these services. Yes, sadly a new scam directed to architects.

    ------------------------------
    Celeste Novak FAIA
    Celeste Allen Novak Architect
    Ann Arbor, MI 48103
    ------------------------------

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  • 24.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    They must think we are especially gullible. Let's show 'em we're not!
    Judith

    Bressack & Wasserman Architects
    751 Southampton Drive
    Palo Alto CA 94303 
    ph: 650 321-2871  
    fx:  650 321-1987 
    www.bressackandwasserman.com




    Call for Nominations


  • 25.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    I've gotten those types of emails recently, too, within the same timeline you have mentioned.  I had never responded back to them though, so I have only seen the initial ones and not any of the additional emails.

    ------------------------------
    Rosa Cheney AIA
    Owner
    Rosa D Cheney AIA, PLLC
    Arlington VA
    ------------------------------

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  • 26.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago

    Oh yeah.  Got it too.  Immediately hit DELETE.

     

     

     

     

    Angelo L. Biondi, AIA

    A.Biondi Architects, LLC

    1815 Spruce Avenue

    Highland Park, Illinois  60035

    P:   847.780.4315

    F:   847.780.4845

    C:  847.287.9682

     

    Email:  angelo@abiondiarchitects.com

    Website:  www.abiondiarchitects.com

     

     

     




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  • 27.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago
    I have received similar emails which I'm sure others have too. I usually respond with "yep" and that's seems to stop them. 

    Michael Cavanaugh
    MC Design Build, LLC
    Mobile 301-461-8644



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  • 28.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 10 days ago

    We've received the same thing at least a couple of times – an almost identical email. We initially responded giving them the benefit of the doubt initially, but then terminated the communication.

     

    Thanks for sharing this – helps to know others are getting the same emails...

     

    Andrew F. Cronan, AIA, LEED AP

    Senior Vice President

    GuernseyTingle

    4350 New Town Avenue, Suite 101

    Williamsburg, VA 23188

    o: 757.220.0220  m: 757.817.1889

    GUERNSEYTINGLE.COM

    Email Signature

     




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  • 29.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 9 days ago
    Hi Steve,
    I've received inquiries like this too, and like you I responded to the first one, but didn't explore it as far as you did.  There is something a bit off about the person's use of language, the unbalance between program and budget (usually the client wants much more than the budget will afford!), and the fact that they can't be reached.  Add in the subsequent requests which are similarly worded from unrelated persons, and it just doesn't pass the "smell test".

    ------------------------------
    Dean Camlin AIA
    President
    Dean Robert Camlin & Associates, Inc.
    Westminster MD
    ------------------------------

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  • 30.  RE: a scam targeting architects?

    Posted 9 days ago
    Hello Stephen,
    This is a scam. We got something similar for a site in New Jersey.
    Stay away from them.
    With regards,
    Francis
    "Integrity, Experience, Vision"
    Francis C. Klein, Principal
    AIA, NCARB, LEED, Lic. NY, NJ, GA
    Francis C Klein & Associates, Architects
    38 Park Street, Montclair, NJ 07042
    www.franciscklein.com
    Office: 973.783.0688
    Cell: 973.632.6442
    Email: francis@franciscklein.com