Josh AKA Scott, Kevin, David, and Others — Investigation Summary

Since we first reported on “Josh” aka Scott, David, Kevin…  even Joan, we have continued to receive inquiries about our “investigation.” We reported on these scam sites over a period of several posts. To help those of you looking for information, we decided to post this summary, of everything we know so far.

We initially learned about these sites right after April Fool’s Day, when we noticed a URL, joshmadecash.com, getting an enormous amount of traffic, right up there with the major news of the day. Then we noticed the site was alternating its URL, with multiple domains, i.e., scottsmoneyblog, scottslifeblog, kevinmakesgreen, etc, etc. We saw that it had been ranked the #5 most-visited site by Alexa.  At first we saw it “melt” — falling down the charts. But then it came back, again and again, sometimes as Josh, sometimes as Scott or David or others. Each one was pitching  the idea that you could make $5,000/month from Google links, some sort of Adsense nonsense, we figured. We started noticing some sloppy things on each site: Each of the “guys” had a picture of the same Google “check” on their site, dated October 25 for $5,000. Some of them had the same black Range Rover parked in the same driveway. Scam alert indeed.

A reader notified us of some other research that had been done on this scam. Wallet Pop noted that the routing number on the check pictured was fake. They also reported the sites were using MaxMind software that scopes out where you are located and then sends you a version of “Josh” where he lives near you, to create a neighborly feel. While we just found Josh and a few others, there has reportedly been many, many more.

Each site offers what they’re selling for a small shipping fee, average $1-2. This is apparently simply their way to get your contact and credit information. Waffles at Noon noted that customers who had been signing up on sites like this were finding $100 charges added to their card shortly afterwards (after they had “neglected” to click on a “cancel option” supposedly somewhere these sites). See our post about this research here.

Earlier this week, while we were right in the middle of investigating all of this, our site crashed in a manner that suggested a hacker. We assume, without proof yet, that there may be a connection.

Anyway, clearly we think you should stay away from these guys — or guy — whoever they are. As we said in our introduction to Rich Dog Millionaire, the internet is like the wild, wild west — there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our mission statement is to try and report on all of it — looking for the best ways to make money off the internet, and reporting as much as possible on the ugly stuff out there — what doesn’t work. We’re certainly not goody two-shoes. We admit we find some of the “black hat” stuff interesting. Anyway, hope this information helps. If you’d like to read the entire string of posts on the “Josh” subject, you can go here.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Adwiz: He has let us know these “Joshers” have added stephsblog… Also they been doing Yahoo mail ads, which actually one of our friends saw.

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18 Responses to “Josh AKA Scott, Kevin, David, and Others — Investigation Summary”

  1. hi, during your research did you find a good method to cancel payments if you have already been suckered in? i have read online that many people are having trouble with their banks cancelling payments. thanks in advance for your response

  2. American Express seems to be the best here. They will typically put the charge on hold while they investigate. For credit card companies/banks that are being difficult, we recommend writing their CEO and ccing the Federal Trade Commission

  3. i have actually seen their popunders on nypost.com quite often, they are delivered by Valueclick. I alerted NYpost.com but they unfortunately did not heed my advice to remove the ads from the site.

  4. Interesting. Thanks for the note. Unfortunately, many third-parties are all-too happy to ignore things and pocket the money.

  5. yeah it appears the case, in case you didnt catch it stephsblog.com is the next one that is appearing. http://www.stephblogs.com/

  6. they are now advertising in yahoo mail with the 180×150 unit…watch out,

  7. Thanks for the update

  8. Wow, they’re like a virus :(

  9. indeed they are now blocked thankfully at work by our security provider. i think a company like valueclick should be held liable for neglecting this

  10. http://miamigazettenews.com/business/2009/main.php here is the next iteration…posing as a fake newspaper, different look but same idea from these scam artists.

  11. The article you link to is fantastic. Thank you

  12. If you actually read the terms in the “I agree to Terms” section of the Mary’s story version you will find that they quite plainly state that you agree to their charging your card a monthly “membership fee”, it was around $75. I don’t remember anything about being able to cancel – just that you agree they get to charge you every month. I’m guessing that’s why the credit card companies aren’t very helpful – you agreed to help them make money.

    I’m glad you have identified this game as a scam – Snopes hasn’t even touched it yet. I also find it interesting that no where in the fine print of these sites will the campany name itself – only refers to itself as the “company”.

    These guys are getting a little more tricky – I started on the Miami newspaper article, which was posted in the “news” section of the Medford Oregon online newspaper and refers to “as shown on CNN…” and other news shows. Really?!

    Good luck to all! Tell all your friends and family!

  13. ummmm…..Today I signed up to google home biz kit for $1.97 stupid me im yet to get my info kit and etc: i gave my credit # and address info: I’d like 2 know what i can do now that i found that it may be a scam. Have a contact number 877-402-2666. google biz kit to cancel the 7 day trial. Also, id like to know do they have access to my account now ? please contact me!!!!!!!; I need to know if i need to close my account…….

  14. Just saw the add on Facebook…..It was Mary making the money….I googled it and saw this.

  15. Dave Ebert says:

    I’m getting bombarded with this stuff from ads on craigslist- I’ve complained to craigslist to no avail. I have five items for sale on craigslist- I’ve gotten two or three iterations of the same scam with different posting names, obviously computer generated variations, from each listing. It’s really annoying. I see an e-mail and think it’s a buy offer and it’s “MAKE $5000 per second for only twenty hours per day work posting ads for google” small print “You may be automatically billed by third parties for goods and services with an “opt out” feature.) The website owner claims to be from my zip code, but the mailing address is either Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, c/o Bent Nose Tony.

  16. Thanks for the heads up on these scammers….i just about got rooked in! Talk about preying on people when they are already down in a hard economic situation!! The fine print notes that after your 2 buck charge, you will start being dinged $80 – 100 bucks!

    Hope you save a lot of others from possible grief!

  17. We would definitely suggest you contact your credit card company, if you haven’t already. Credit card companies vary in terms of their support. For example, American Express is usually very supportive to reversing charges and investigating the incident. One must-follow rule: Never use debit cards.

  18. Hi good to find your site via other postings.

    Jut got the Yahoo one today and very taken in by it as it was via Yahoo, not a blog as mentioned above. Below is the link to the popup for your information:
    http://net-news-daily.com/3/?s=VC_Pop9n
    Jan