By Emily Gosling
Most of us have seen phishing emails — maybe a dodgy e-mail address asking about details for a bank you don’t even use, or badly spelled requests to reset a password on an Amazon or Netflix account. They’re nothing new — for as long as the internet has existed, people have found ways to exploit others through it — and they’re usually pretty easy to spot. But until recently, I had no idea that there were scammers specifically dedicated to targeting the graphic design community.
Earlier this year, I got an email from Andy Reynolds, a former graphic designer who now runs his own PR business. Reynolds wrote that while his graphic design site is still up and running, it’s rarely used, so he found it odd to get “not one, but two out-of-the-blue requests” for design work, using very similar language and quoting the same price. The first request was from “Dave powell” [sic] asking him to design a logo. “I didn’t respond immediately as I’m concentrating on my publicity business and was not interested in taking on any design, particularly a logo,” Reynolds told me. Months passed, Reynolds forgot about it, and then he got a similar email from “James Browne.”
“I felt unprofessional for not responding to either, as I make a practice of doing so,” Reynolds says. He apologized to “Dave” for the delay, and asked if he could provide more details as to what he needed, then responded in the same way to “James.” There was a little back and forth; Reynolds asked for more details, the client’s website, and images, to get an idea of what this potential client wanted. He was told the businesses were new and didn’t currently have websites. Dave just wanted a logo, James wanted a logo and brochure. “James also wanted the logo to involve an ‘ancient chair.’ Whatever the fuck that is,” says Reynolds.
If that wasn’t weird enough, both men used remarkably similar wording when describing what they wanted. “I was struck that they both used the same…