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Beware of fake VC scams
37 points by Amarandei on Mar 8, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 4 comments
I recently sent an investment pitch to some VC firms.

Yesterday I received an answer from one of them. This is the exact answer: http://i.imgur.com/k5AyYZA.png

The website in question is childresscap.com (screenshot for posterity http://i.imgur.com/g2RsmYR.png)

When I read it, the first second I was thrilled. Wow, I could actually get an investment. But then I got to the $130 part and I immediately felt something was wrong. At first, It was still hard for me to believe this was a scam because I was under the impression that I only contacted legit VC firms. So I started digging.

First I did a WHOIS for their domain name childresscap.com to see who registered the domain. The details are hidden with "Domain Privacy Service". Not good. Why would they hide the info? I took a closer look at their website. The fact that their website is ugly and unprofessional is not a clear give away of a scam. I've seen worse websites so this was not a clear indication of a scam.

I then looked at the "Partners" section. "Janice Nelson", the women who sent me the email, was not in the list. Again, not a very clear indication of a scam because I've gotten emails before from legit people that wore not on the website.

I googled the persons on the "Partners" section but didn't find anything good so I decided to search their image on Google Images. I have a very nice add-on for Firefox that does exactly this, so all I had to do was right click the images and send them to Google. All the images wore stolen and the names wore fake. Screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/TUBXcLJ.png

This is just a twist of the classic Nigerian Letter. I know there are a lot of entrepreneurs reading HN so please be safe and take care of yourselves.

NOTES: - I contacted each person from the Partners page and told them their image was used on another website. - I also contacted the abuse department from Authorize.net

It's very much the Nigerian letter as you said b/c it's definitely preying on the weak or naive. I've gotten 100+ of these just in the past 3-4 years for my company and they are all bad deals. Is it a scam? I don't know. I've followed up by phone with the first one that came one. We were fundraising at the time and I didn't know any better. You will get 1 a month then 2 a month then 4 a month as you grow. "Business capital" is the key phrase they all use.

As a person who's in venture capital I can tell you guys one thing. We don't go looking for people to lend money to take him to us most of the time. The other times when I say most there through trusted sources that have been reliable time and time again before they can bring somebody to the table. Think about, logic whenever you read an e-mail that sounds too good to be true. It's true that banks offer credit card deals that are may be better than they should be in the beginning but we all know there's a hitch right? Venture capital is something people spend months of their time and their own money to get to a qualified person or company. To lend them money I think this is equivalent to the e-mails saying, Sheikh from Abu Dhabi and I lost $1 billion mind sending me 500 grand until I get back on my feet? Oh yeah and if you do do it I will give you well half fortune or later twist my arm okay well I guess I'll do 1000 bucks for 1 billion we have a deal just send it now.

VC money is hard to come by and it's not going to come by you unless you're looking for it actively and the amount of due diligence a cousin to every deal is tedious to say the least do not worry about people asking to loan you money or asking to have you involved in loaning out money it's bad news if you get an e-mail that says that.

Only thing I'm worried about is that spam filters now are going to block were commonly talk about normally in a honest and legal manner.

I've actually had normal emails get returned to me because Gmail thought they wore spam. Crazy. Thanks for the feedback.

Thank you so much for writing this post! A lesson learned!

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