Everyone thinks they’re smart enough to identify a fake online agency, but scammers are becoming more inventive every single day.
Received a shocking BBC report on Madbird, a fancy, digital design company.
More than 50 remote employees were part of the ‘company’. Most of them were hired on a commission-only basis within the first six months.
After a few months, however, the newly hired employees realized that many of their online colleagues were fake. They wouldn’t get any pay because no project deals had been finalized and the founder was a pathological liar who created his entire online persona.
Here’s how to avoid being scammed by these scammy remote agencies.
Trust your Instincts
Imagine a company like this:
- Has years of industry experience
- All types of services are available
- Promises results within a very brief time
- Quality customer service available 24 hours a day
- Below-average charges rates
Does it sound too good to be true It probably is?
Every company that is worth its salt takes pride and joy in its work.
It will not offer all services. It will instead offer niche services. Why? Because it knows its strengths and won’t let subpar work ruin its reputation.
These companies will tell you upfront how long it will take to get meaningful results.
They know the value they bring and won’t be cheap.
Trust your gut when you sense that there is a catch.
It doesn’t matter if your instincts are incorrect. There is plenty of other fish (agencies).
If they are right, however, you can avoid having your hard-earned cash go to waste.
Search the company’s office address
These fake online businesses no longer use a P.O. Instead of using a physical address, these fake online organizations now use a P.O. box or another mailing system.
To look more genuine, they now proudly display a traceable address for their office. It makes sense since most people won’t bother to verify the address. It must be true if it is mentioned.
Wrong! It is important to keep track of the office address. This is how Madbird’s employee discovered the scam.
She wanted to see how the commute would look after the pandemic. Alarm bells began to ring in her head after Google Street View showed only a block of flats. This was far from the chic workspace that Madbird featured on its website.
To confirm her suspicions, she immediately contacted a realtor who also had a listing at that address. Madbird’s global headquarters was, in fact, purely residential.
Perform a Reverse Image Search
Do you remember being impressed by a digital portfolio of an agency? It could have been stolen from another website, I hate to say it.
You can do an online reverse Google Image search to determine if the work belongs to the agency.
This will help you to find:
- URL from which the image was first published
- Other pages where the image was posted
- Similar types of images
It process is easy to complete and takes only seconds.
All you need to do is:
- Start the browser on your Mac or PC
- Go to the Google Images main page
- In the search bar, click on the camera icon
- You can either copy the URL of the image or upload it directly from your computer.
You will now be able to determine if the work belongs to the agency.
This method can also be used to verify if employees at the agency are genuine.
Simply copy the URL of their headshot image and paste it into the search box to see if any similar photos appear.
Get in Touch With Their Clients
It’s now a common marketing strategy to include glowing testimonials on a website homepage.
This fosters trust. This encourages trust.
It’s not. Why? These testimonials can be easily falsified.
Simply download a stock photo of a male or female, make some comments about the agency, add praise, give this fictional character a company name, and voilà! Now you have a “genuine” testimonial.
Contact testimonials to verify the authenticity of an agency.
Ask them questions about their agency experience by searching their LinkedIn profiles or websites.
If there aren’t testimonials on a website ask the agency for information about former clients.
Fake agencies will often use the excuse of ‘breach of privacy’ to justify their actions. Genuine organizations will not hesitate to share their success stories.
Check the Site’s Domain Authority
Fake online agencies will have fake websites. A fake website will also have a bad domain authority (DA).
Moz created DA, a search engine ranking score. It’s widely used to calculate the website’s chance of ranking on search engine result pages.
It shows how to trust websites have with search engines such as Google. A newly created website’s DA will be 1. Facebook’s DA is 100. Online agencies with a minimum of 30 days to expire are best. This will reduce the chance of being scammed.
Is this to say that a website with more than 30 DA is always secure? No. Is it possible for websites with a DA below 30 to be fake? No. Why is a 30-plus DA agency more trusted? It takes hard work and a lot of time to reach 30. These people don’t have patience or diligence, I think.