- A business owner is receiving threats after fraudsters replicated his company
- They used his brand name to defraud over 150 people of cash totalling £450k
A business owner has found himself on the receiving end of daily threats after discovering that someone else has been using his name and company to defraud others.
Founder of social media marketing agency ‘Socially Powerful,’ James Hacking, 34, was shocked to find that fraudsters had duplicated his website and forged documents to scam people out of £450k.
So far, over 150 people have been in touch to accuse the business owner of stealing money from them, with one person being scammed out of a whopping £3k.
Alarm bells rang when he got a LinkedIn message from someone who claimed they had been hired to freelance for his business.
James knows all of his employees and didn’t recognise the name of the ‘recruiter’ that claimed to hire the concerned person.
More people began to message claiming they’d been offered a position.
James told MailOnline ‘They actually attached some screenshots of their conversations with these recruiters, or whoever they are, and voiced some concerns as to whether this was from socially powerful, and if I was involved.
‘The messages showed fake company documents signed by myself, offering employment to people.
‘They had duped socially powerful websites in multiple different domain names and using our branding and they had taken company documents off Company’s House, so people thought that it was legitimate.’
Panicked, he asked for more information from those who had been scammed, and they told him that the scammer had even set up a Whatsapp group of ’employees’ where all the targeted people were added.
Job seekers had allegedly been offered employment in return for completing simple tasks online, like filling in surveys and reviewing products, with the fraudsters claiming the more they did, the more money employees would make.
They claimed to have been given log in details to a portal where all of this took place.
James added ‘they even let people take a small amount of money out, to build trust with them.
‘But then this is when the scam kicks in, when freelancers try to access the bigger fees.
‘They’re told to start entering personal information like credit card details and they were told they had to put a substantial amount of money into the portal to get something out.’
The founder said ‘once you load money onto the onto the platform via Crypto, you just can’t get it back. It’s game over.
‘The messages and threats started off with five people, and the next day ten people and be 50 people, and you’d have people writing into the website demanding their money back, saying they’re gonna sue me and my company’.
Adding up the numbers, he worked out that victims have been scammed out of roughly £450k altogether, and that’s just the people who got in touch.
He said the situation became extremely ‘overwhelming’ as vulnerable people were being scammed out of huge amounts of cash.
Adding ‘Just knowing this people still out there that are going to be scammed by this, and I can’t really do anything about that is taking a massive toll.
‘All we can say is, please report it. Please make sure you block them.
‘I’ve got no experience in this sort of stuff. To be honest, the constant messages from people are just becoming way too much to handle.
‘It’s like a personal attack on me and the business I’ve built. There’s people out there that think this is legitimate, and I’m responsible for it, and they’ve obviously lost money, which is even worse.’
James put a scam notice on the ‘Socially Powerful’ website and across it’s social media channels, warning people of what was going on.
He also contacted the police, who pointed him in the direction of Action Fraud UK:
‘I spoke to someone on the phone who said it’s quite a substantial scam. He said he’ll send a report off to the team but there’s no guarantee it will get investigated or I’ll hear back from them.
‘The scale of it is just incredible. I’ve never seen anything like this with the amount of people that actually been taken advantage of and been involved in this.
‘It’s hard to understand and comprehend. Everything set up from the scammer side makes it look legitimate.
‘People see our website, they see the branding, they see all the work we do. The company documents, forged claim to be the founder, and everything just stacks up.’
The situation has left James ‘not hopeful that it will ever be fixed,’ as he ‘doesn’t know what else’ he can do.
In terms of the future of his company, he feels helpless, adding ‘I don’t know what more there is for me to do. I reported it. I’m telling people. There are notices all over our social media. There’s stuff on the website about it. I’m at a brick wall.’
Action Fraud UK said: ‘Due to the volume of reports received each month, it can take 4-6 weeks for reports to be assessed.
‘Once the report has been assessed, the person who made the report will receive a letter detailing what will happen next.’