I was contacted by Mike Smith (madebyguerrilla.com) in June of 2017 after I posted a job on WPHired.com to have a website built. This was for a side project that I’m working on and financing with my day job. I’m not a big business and don’t have a lot of money, just trying to start a successful side business based on a passion of mine, teaching music.
Mike seemed eager to get started and replied to emails quickly, answering all my questions. He seemed knowledgeable and conscientious. I was so wrong. With a name like Mike Smith, maybe I should have known.
We talked about our options and decided on a custom build. I told him I liked his portfolio featured on his website (madebyguerrilla.com), but mentioned I would be more comfortable hiring him after an initial Skype one-on-one or at least a phone call. He let me know he would not be able to do this as he has crippling social anxiety and therefore would only be willing to communicate through email, so I would never hear his voice or see his face, aside from the obscured and slightly creepy photo on his Gmail and LinkedIn profiles. Again, another red flag in retrospect, but because his portfolio looked good on his website and he had positive feedback on LinkedIn and on his Dribbble portfolio, I trusted him. Before hiring him or paying him, I asked him “Do you provide any kind of money back promise? If we just can't get it right and its not working out, what are the options? ” to which he replied “Yes, I do offer a 100% money back guarantee if for any reason we just can't get it right - I don't see that happening, but it's definitely an option if things just don't turn out like you're looking for.”
Under these conditions, I hired Mike to build a custom website for $900 and paid him $450 upfront via PayPal.
After being hired, Mike would set deadlines for delivering the designs that he would consistently miss, seemingly on purpose; he had full control over the deadlines he would set, and instead of giving me a realistic ETA, he would promise to get the design over to me within a few days and then fail to meet his deadline. The designs were disappointing, always late, and after a month of working back and forth with Mike, I decided that I wanted to find a different designer and receive a refund of my $450. Mike agreed to refund the money: “Sorry we weren't able to get on the same page with this project. I'll be able to put money into the bank tomorrow, and then PayPal says it takes 3-5 biz days to transfer from there to my PayPal account so I can process it.”
I’ve now been waiting for over a month to receive this refund from Mike. He has contacted me numerous times with nonsense excuses: “I had it transferring over from the bank but according to the bank, PayPal didn't do its job, and according to PayPal my bank didn’t do its job.” And my personal favorite: “Heading home later today. I went to my cousins house a couple of days ago since his wife had a baby, and I've been helping out.” This particular fantasy lets him feel like a good person deep down in his psyche. This guy obviously has some deep personal issues and has since stopped responding to me altogether. I’ve kept things civil and been more than flexible.
I’m convinced that this individual is first and foremost a criminal and the web design business is mainly a guise. In any case, I would warn anyone considering working with this person to please stay away and protect yourself. I’m now working with authorities to retrieve my money.