As far as I remember off shore scammers have created fake companies in order to scam those into the US into doing business with them. In the Lead Generation space, it seems there are a growing amount of companies that buy old leads and resell them as new, or use cheap labor to fill out leads using proxies. The quality of these leads are of course subpar, and quite often they are caught defrauding networks and real lead gen companies but not after sometimes paying out too much to the frauds.
Recently I was contacted by an “Olivia Evans,” who claims to the be the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a company called “LeadsGate” out of Durham, North Carolina. She was looking to sell PayDay Loan Leads, one of the most heavily criticized and now regulated parts of the lead generation industry with tons of law suits happening from the FTC it seems almost monthly.
Immediately, something didn’t seem right about the introduction, including the blurry modeling style photo of an attractive young woman. What is even stranger is that she had no other work experience on her LinkedIn profile, ever. Yet, she was the “Chief Marketing Officer” of this company.
This profile just looked fake, and I thought immediately it was probably someone from outside the US, probably China pretending to be a pretty woman to draw people in. Of course, making it more probably was that “Olivia Evans” from North Carolina also spoke Chinese, and attended two universities in China according to her profile on LinkedIn.
A Search of Employees on LinkedIn lead to a bunch of profiles all seemingly fake, with either modeling photos, no photos and absolutely no business experience whatsoever. None of the people could be found anywhere else, on any social media, nor seemed to exist in the real world.
Olivia Evans had a Facebook account, but I’ve since been blocked or it’s been taken down for being fake. When she did have an account it said she was 26 years old, and had one photo of her and a bunch of stock photography. Yet nothing about her interests, nothing about family, no photos of her with anyone except that one photo of her looking over the shoulder. It was obvious that either Olivia wasn’t real at all, or hiding something about her identity.
The company has refused to provide business certificates, identification or any proof that they exist. They became very defensive and did the typical attack of “why do you want to know so much about our company,” and similar attacks that are often used by scammers. It was clear they weren’t able to even provide a phone number. Their website was similarly not helpful, provided no phone number and the address listed was actually to another company, RTI International, a very large non-profit located in the area.
It’s clear that the address is fake, the people are either the same people or offshore fakes pretending to live in North Carolina. The only information about the company that could be found was a PAID post by the Legendary John Chow that was approximately a month and a half old. In fact, for a company that claimed to be in business for years, that’s all I could find: paid reviews from the last month. Their press release here claimed that they have been open in business since 2008 in North Carolina.
A Whois of their domain showed little, as it was a private registration but was updated to become Private this January.
I did find a number associated with the company, in their press releases: 9194087195. This is a VOIP line associated with Bandwith.com. Despite several calls to the phone number, no one picked up.
Strangely enough there was mentions in Russian about LeadsGate. Which is interesting, since the only person whatsoever that might exist in real life was a Vlad Baskin, a software engineer who claimed to be the Co-Founder of LeadsGate. Yet his profile didn’t ring true, as the companies he claimed to work for didn’t every exist or were spelled incorrectly.
I can’t talk about their business, whether or not they are providing real leads, or their methods. I can only assume that a “company” that does this much to hide who they are, creates fake profiles is not trustworthy and there is a reason they are faking who they are. With the FTC and other regulatory companies going after Payday LeadGen Companies, dealing with a “fake” company isn’t probably a good idea– and most likely why they are hiding their identity and working offshore.
I can only advise to keep away from this company. If you’ve done business with them, I’m curious what’s happened and what you think of them.
Update: After refusing to provide any sort of proof of their existence, any business listings, any sort of IDs, they have decided to tell people that they are a victim of “negative PR.”
Interestingly enough hey compared themselves to T3 Leads, an offshore company that I defended in 2012.