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Gera Agency Scam

Posted by on Feb 4, 2012
Listen with webreader

I don’t often “out” scams in the way I’m going to out this one but I think it’s important to do, and I’ve also seen them written about in other places so mine isn’t the first. But it’s not everywhere and I think people need to see this and hopefully learn, if nothing else, to trust their instincts.

Here’s the first email I received:

Hi,

We are looking for new advertisement platforms and we are interested in your sitewww.imjustsharing.com. Is it possible to place banner on your site on a fee basis?

Best regards,
Valentin Lopez

The response I sent told him what my advertising policy was on this site; I’d rather not put it out here, but knowing this is my most popular site, let alone blog, you can bet it’s not necessarily low. The responsoe I got after that was this one:

Hello,

Thanks for reply to our proposal!

I represent Gera Agency. At the moment we are preparing an advertising campaign for Lacoste Company (it is a French company producing clothes, footwear, perfumery etc.) We already have designed banners for the campaign, they are the following sizes: 160×600, 240×400, 300×250, 336×280, 468×60, 728×90. What can be your price for one banner (banner should appear at ALL pages of your site) of abovementioned sizes (please specify the place for the banner – top, bottom, left, right)? Please mention a normal link for banner, without javascript code and set prices in US dollars per month.

Best regards,
Valentin Lopez.
site:www.geraagency.com
e-mail:vlopez@geraagency.com
phone: + (0)9 78 62 85 38

Now, I started having the Spidey senses once I received this, though I wasn’t sure why. In my response about advertising here, I indicated the type of banner advertising I’d allow on this site. What’s above seemed to ignore what I’d already written. Also, see what the products are? I wondered why this blog would be considered for advertising those types of products, although my feeling was if someone wanted to pay the kind of money I was asking for and it wasn’t something abhorrent why not accept it. I was also thrown off with the comment about javascript code; I have advertising already on one of my other sites and this was a first for me. I had no idea what this guy could be talking about.

My response, with prices omitted, was thus:

Greetings,

The only two banner sizes I’d allow on the site would be the 240×400 and the 300×250; all the others would throw off the look drastically. I’d charge $XXX a month for that or a flat fee of $XXX for the year. It would be a normal link as I don’t even know how to create javascript.

Just to add this, I have another site that might interest you, and the advertising rates are lower. Take a look at this site: http://www.servicesandstuff.com. There are multiple pages on this site and some of them might suit your clients product. Even though the advertising rates are lower, the rate for advertising is per page. However, this site would allow for the banner ad sizes 468×60 and 728×90 in addition to the other two I allow on I’m Just Sharing. The large skyscraper ad wouldn’t work on that site, and the 336×80 banner ad would have to be altered to fit, so that probably wouldn’t look good either.

This was his reply to that:

We like your price.
To pass to the banner control system follow the link http://webmaster.geraagency.com
To enter use the following data:

login: www.imjustsharing.com
password: XXXXXX (changed this)

You should install and activate the plugin in order to display advertisement. Before making payment, advertiser must approve location of the banner. The banner will be shown on your site when you add special code to your web- address (for example: http://www.imjustsharing.com/?adv_test=1). It means, that visitors will see the banner only if it is approved and payment made.

To get installation instruction for your site type pass to: http://docs.geraagency.com/wp_install
To activate your site you have to enter the code: XXX-XXX-XXX (changed this)

What way of payment is suitable for you?

Best regards,
Valentin Lopez.
site: www.geraagency.com
e-mail: vlopez@geraagency.com
phone: + (0)9 78 62 85 38

Whoa! Now the Spidey senses were kicking me in the behind! I’d really never heard of anything like this, and it didn’t make sense. Notice the part I highlighted in his response; create a redirect of a banner from my site? Was he serious? Plugin? I don’t think so.

It was at this point I finally decided some research was in order; I probably should have started with this. I looked up the site and it’s totally in French. Then I looked up Lacoste Company; even if I’ve never heard of them this is a pretty big site, and a major designer. Why would they want to advertise on my blog since I’ve never talked about fashion (doesn’t mean I won’t lol)?

Then it was time to research Gera Agency, and that’s where the red flags were confirmed. There was this link from a company in Malaysia that asked the same questions I was asking. There was this link from a site called Moonpixel where the guy posted the same exact letter as mine, only it looks like he actually tried to load whatever the site was offering. Finally there was this post on another blog called vinitneo with the same exact letter posted again. There are lots of others, but you get the point by now.

Folks, if anyone ever wants to advertise on your blog and they’re legitimate they’ll do one of two things. One, they’ll send you a banner file with the link they’d like you to use, or two, they’ll just send you the link and have you put it somewhere most probably in a specific blog post. Unless it’s an affiliate company, never, and I mean NEVER, download code from any site and allow it to add a redirect. You will regret it and might not get your site back.

Spidey senses to the rescue again! :-)
 

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32 Comments »

Good catch and thanks for passing on your experience.
Scott Thomas Photography recently posted…Airborne Over IceMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks Scott. It’s too bad because had it been real, the extra cash wouldn’t have depressed me any. lol

Chrissy Reply:

More often than not these people think that scams are real, then they see a real job opportunity and search for it in Google, only to think it’s a scam. I think the most important thing for customers to do is to be vigilant when they are researching online.

Just like anything else it’s always good to get a second or maybe even third opinion about a product or service.
Chrissy recently posted…Target Gift Return Scam with No ReceiptMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Good stuff Chrissy, and in this internet age when people can ask all sorts of questions, there’s no excuse for not checking mess out.

February 4th, 2012 | 12:29 PM

This guy is running quite an elaborate scam. I am glad you didn’t fall victim to it.
vinitneo recently posted…Banner Space Advertisement ScamMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks, and I’m glad I saw your post as well as the others. I hope that someone more greedy than me doesn’t fall for this scam.

February 4th, 2012 | 1:21 PM
Catwoman:

That’s a cruel game, they’ve played. And I won’t think they have really worked for Lacoste. Lacoste is a great premium brand in Europe, quite expensive but from the best quality, they don’t need to advertise online on banners, they’ve got their own costumer basis. Thanks for sharing your story, we all have to take care in situations like this.
Catwoman recently posted…teljes fogpótlásMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Catwoman they have to be a sham. I mean their site has no ranking and frankly, these days a company like that would have its content in both English & French. But it’s close enough to trick a lot of people that’s for sure.

February 4th, 2012 | 4:05 PM
Olawale Daniel Developer:

Hi Brian,

This is really a “Good Catch” just like what @Scott said, I’ve had the same experience before, but it wasn’t this way. This one is another way of scamming bloggers and thanks for exposing their secrets…. :)

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

No problem Olawale. Since it seems this guy’s going around the globe trying to trick people it’s a good one to put out so everyone knows about it and can watch their backs.

February 4th, 2012 | 8:56 PM

I would contact the web hosting company for their website and report them. Mostly guarantee that the website will be taken down. Nice catch, Mitch.
Carl recently posted…What Marketing Efforts are Wasting Your Money?My Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Carl, I’m not the guy for this. If I’d actually fallen for it I might have done so, but I figure tolet someone else take this action if they see fit. Heck, maybe you should do it since you’re closer than I am. :-)

Carl Reply:

In the last 6 months, I’ve reported 3 scam websites. The first two were locked by the hosting company and domain registrar have put domain renewal on hold. The 3rd one, I was not that successful, but at least the payment processor locked their account, but unfortunately they found another payment processor.
Carl recently posted…Make as Much as You Want with Private Label SEOMy Profile

February 5th, 2012 | 2:43 AM

Thats really good catch by you. Many people gets trap in such spams, You are really lucky one..

February 5th, 2012 | 3:01 AM

You did a thorough job at outing this scam, hard to argue with all that evidence. I don’t really care whether or not a businesses reputation is tarnished, they need to start caring more about what their customers are saying about them…
Chrissy recently posted…Radio Shack Bad Experience in HawaiiMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Chrissy, I’m not even sure they’re a legitimate business so I don’t think they care. I just hope that no one is thrown by the money and actually falls for it.

February 5th, 2012 | 9:05 AM

Good grief. I’m glad you shone a flashlight into that murky shadow, Mitch. I don’t even want to know what the nefarious plot is.

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…Spam Battleground: Episode 2My Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Same here Mitch. I pretty much think I know what the scam is, but I’d rather not have to find out to be sure.

February 5th, 2012 | 10:40 AM
Emelia Fallick:

Thanks for the information. It is important to know about this kind of scam that have been spreading online. I will share this to my friends they would know also.

Thanks!
Emelia Fallick recently posted…Timber Doors BrisbaneMy Profile

February 6th, 2012 | 1:18 AM
Becca:

Hi Mitch,
thanks for reminding us.everyone should need to be aware with this kind of scam.

February 6th, 2012 | 4:02 AM
Bill:

Good post. Good info. Unless you are @gruber or a @chrisbrogan I too would be wary of any overseas advertiser. Good catch Mr. Mitch. That deserves a Friendly’s treat!

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks Bill; can I have 5 scoops? :-)

February 6th, 2012 | 6:07 AM

I got the same email as well. Googled the credentials and saw your link. Life saver!

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Glad to help Aditya.

February 6th, 2012 | 8:59 AM

so if i did sign up for this scam what do I do to make sure my site is okay and hasn’t been overtaken?!

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

I don’t know Hesh; I didn’t take the chance to find out.

February 6th, 2012 | 9:40 AM

I’m glad to see these results; I just got this same spam offer myself and was investigating it when I found your site right at the top of Google’s search for Gera Agency. Cheers, Mitch!
Ron recently posted…Cinema Narcs Review: “The Woman In Black” (2012)My Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Glad to help Ron; we have to make sure we out these scammers whenever possible.

February 6th, 2012 | 6:03 PM

Lacoste? Haha, that’s funny, because I remember LaCoste shirts in the 80’s, that went with my Members Only jacket. But hey, I guess they’re still around.
I found your site because I got the same comment on my About page. Strange, I thought because why would they ask to advertise in a comment instead of an email. So figured 30 seconds of searching were in order.
Look forward to digging around what else you’ve written here.
Thanks.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Thanks Rahn. Being in the U.S., I’d never heard of the company until I looked them up to see just how much of a big deal they are. But this thing about redirecting my site… no way!

February 6th, 2012 | 9:16 PM
sterndal la rosa:

sir,

what if these scammers are just using the website of gera agency? that would be unfair to gera

in my case they use pererro dot com

so i’m not sure if it’s right to report the site

here is their email:

Hello,

Thanks for reply to our proposal!

I represent Parerro Agency. At the moment we are preparing an advertising campaign for Lacoste Company (it is a French company producing clothes, footwear, perfumery etc.) We already have designed banners for the campaign, they are the following sizes: 160×600, 240×400, 300×250, 336×280, 468×60, 728×90.
What can be your price for one banner (banner should appear at ALL pages of your site) of abovementioned sizes (please specify the place for the banner – top, bottom, left, right)? Please mention a normal link for banner, without javascript code and set prices in US dollars per month.

Best regards,
Mathis Perrin.
site: www dot parerro dot com
e-mail: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

anyway, the normal link for banner confused me so i searched it from google and found your blog

i guess i will not reply to mr perrin anymore

thank you for sharing

sterndal
phone: + (0)9 78 62 16 30

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Starndal, definitely ignore the email and save yourself a lot of grief. No, we’re not slamming the wrong company; I checked & there’s no legit company with this name.

March 6th, 2012 | 8:26 AM