It might be strange for a Nearshore Outsourcing Company to talk about Scams in their Corporate Blog. However, we thought it would be great to provide an overview of the most common scams that we see happening with IT-Outsourcing Firms today and that can help you make the right choice.
That most of us know that Microsoft's Helpdesk will not reach out to you on the phone with an Indian Accent is a given. Same goes for the fact that we don't have an Uncle who happened to be a Nigerian Prince whose many millions are stuck in an old Swiss bank account. There is a lot of scamming going on, but in Outsourcing the damage can be more than getting your computer wiped or a few hundred USD wired over western union.
The impact on the organizations that fell for them can be devastating as there are huge sums of money involved. Bank Accounts that are emptied and organizations that have existed for decades destroyed. We do advice to work with reliable existing organizations.
We Are In Vancouver Canada Scam
Vancouver a lovely city in the west-coast of the Canada. Home to a vibrant IT community with fantastic startups with even greater Developers. However, there is something suspicious happening in Vancouver or actually nothing suspicious is actually happening in Vancouver, but with Vancouver.
Still following? Maybe you lost me. So let me explain. You are online and looking for a technology outsourcing partner. Agencies in the USA and Canada will charge you $100 - $350 USD per hour. Suddenly you find a great team working from Vancouver in Canada that only charge $50 USD per hour. You have a call with one of their founders and it is love at first sight. These guys have the best experience you have ever encountered and have brought an older technology back to life. The owner even came to visit you in your office and offered you Lunch. What could possibly go wrong?
You need to realize that offers of that nature are too good to be true and so they are not true. In the end, you get what you pay for and while we certainly live and breath a Near-shoring Strategy, we encourage all of our clients to come and visit our offices and meet their team directly. Most of our clients do so on a frequent basis and travel to Colombia to meet us.
What has likely happened in this case is that the Agency is outsourcing their development work to somewhere else, most of the time that I heard it somewhere in Asia. After seeing a pattern that people said they were in Vancouver/ Victoria or Toronto, I started to think as to why that was. While it is not a full study, I think the reason is that Canada does have stricter Privacy Laws.
Can we Pay you using a Credit Card?
This one does not really affect clients, but it does affect some of my colleagues. This happens remotely as well as stateside. This is usually the modus operandi of the Scammers. I have enclosed an email that is describing the initial outreach:
Hi- My name is Janice i found your website information on Yellowpages, I would love to know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you can send me an invoice to use my card as a form of payment? Kindly contact me so I can send you the job details if you are interested
Let me be clear first of all. You cannot find us in the Yellow Pages. So that is already a warning sign for me, however it can be that people want to pay by Card which in our case we do not do. This is the scam that we are seeing. So here it goes. You will start to engage with this person, they need to have a website and let's say you agree on a $2000 USD budget. It is a small budget for a small site. So you sign a contract with "Janice" and she will pay you using her card. However, she accidentally will send you $3250 USD and then starts to gently ask you to send the money back. You guessed it, her preferred way of getting the money back is Western Union. So, you might wonder, but you still have the $3250 USD she paid you. That is until some time later the bank will tell you the credit card was stolen and you need to pay it back. Total Damage in this case $1250 USD.
There are likely many more scams, but when working remotely I think the most important thing is trust. As such, I recommend meeting in person in order to get a working relationship. Additionally, it is important to meet the team and while this can be a challenge during Covid-19 under normal circumstances a flight to Colombia cost less than $400 USD from most of the USA. So, meeting face-to-face is highly encouraged.
Here is a little tricky one. I mean when is a scam a scam. I would say that most agencies will use references that will actually stand reference for them. However, as Parrolabs we used to be the "Agency's Agency" and subcontract a lot of the work from Agencies and get to work on some amazing projects (e.g. household name X and Household Name Y) yet putting those names on our portfolio would immediately be a breach of contract. So, unfortunately we had a difficult time to build a great portfolio. Most of our work came from Word of Mouth, so it was not all bad.
However, during the past few years, I have seen a lot of agencies going to length to make a good profile for themselves. I have seen not only fake reviews, fake references in more recent times I have seen people editing videos to make it as if it was a reference. It is hard to stand out in agency world, but making fake references is not going to help you in the long run I am convinced.
If you are a buyer, I would recommend you check the references. If you see suspicious video editing check the people that are giving the references. See above the fake profile check. It is complicated, and many companies will go at length. The best review site out there by far is Clutch as they will check reviews and each reviewer gets interviewed.
Stolen Data / Intellectual Property
I guess this one is not really a scam in the sense of a scam. However, I have seen this one happen at times. This is a classic, but given the trickery that can happen and that you sometimes don't know who is behind a company, you are at risk of having your data stolen or your Intellectual Property Stolen or worse.
So, again we recommend you to meet the people you are working with. It is fun visiting another country and while it takes some effort, the effort will be paying off. Yes, here are certainly some benefits when choosing a nearshore provider over a far-shore provider as you won't need to be in a flight for too much time.