Contractor Catfish

Preface: I hate having to outsource anything, but there is a project that I started with a client who needed some extensive custom ecommerce work and I could just not do.

While looking for a Coldfusion developer to help with a client project, I got an offer from a guy named Harris Ryan on the freelance-finding site I liked his list of experience and skills, and messaged him to  ask when a good time to chat would be and setup a date for the weekend.

The weekend rolls around and it works out well to chat with him on Skype on Sunday night. I messaged his Skype name and I am told that it is his wife, and they run a small two person business called ‘Vogam IT’.

After talking a bit about the project and beginning to trust that they will do a good job, ​I ask to do a Skype call. It takes a really long time, around 30 mins for her to ‘get ready’, but when she calls and we begin talking she had an english accent – everything is adding up – no reason to be leery.

When we first started the call it was just her, but shortly after Harris joins in, but when he comes on, it sounds like a three way call, there was some static, and he has a very strong Indian accent!

I was completely thrown off, so I don’t know what to do, I ended up discussing the concept of the project just a little bit, but after a minute or so it was becoming very obvious this guy was not who they were saying he was…

“Your name is ‘Harris’?” I ask him.

“Yes.” He states.

“…and you are based out of the UK?”, I ask.

“Yes” he says again, ” it is 9:30 pm here right now.”  he adds. (nice touch buddy!)

Not at all convinced, I take a look back at his profile on elance again ​- while still on the call -​ and I could not imagine that voice belonging to the man in ​this profile photo….

So I tell them “I need to talk to my project manager and I will get back to you when we are ready to begin..”  just so I can gett off of the call…

I go and take a screenshot of the elance profile, and message “Harris'” wife and say

“I have nothing against Indian developers, but you should be up front about who you are outsourcing the project to.”
She replies back after a long pause stating that he is NOT in fact Indian, he IS her husband, they have 3 kids etc.. etc..

So I pop the profile photo in google image search, and only one other source for the image shows up – a Facebook page,
I click it and it’s for some sort of organic food company,  I scroll down the page to see where the photo of Harris is, and bingo!

I see the guy commenting about how he loved one of the companies apple cinnamon bars.

I click the name and I am taken to his profile, I wont say anything specific to project the identity of the victim here, but the photo and the name “Harris” were the only things relating to “Harris Ryan” on elance.

Location – completely different – not from the UK, but from the US,

Education – nothing to do with programming, IT, anything

– the real guy is an artist.
I take a screen shot of the facebook page, and send it to Vogam IT on Skype.
 – Check mate. –
She persists with lies even after being beat saying:

” everything apart form the pic is true” and “I guess if you know the stuff, what difference will a picture make?”

Honesty makes a huge difference! – and I told her that.

This has nothing to do with nationality, but in my opinion if you are going to lie about something as foundational as who you are, then you are  very likely to lie about other things as well, and that is just not the way to start off a working relationship! I understand what she was trying to do, hire a contractor from India at a low rate, and be the middleman making roughly double what she was paying them.

Here is the profile for ‘coldfusionharris’ on elance, If you are into deception, go ahead and hire them:

The whole situation sucks because I still need to find a reliable CF developer…

Here are my screenshots of the whole ordeal:

‘Harris Ryan’ Profile on elance
skitch (1)

I did a little internet sleuthing with a ​simple ​google image search:
The real dude on Facebook:
skitch (2)

I showed her what I found…
Check Mate. Then the excuses pour in…
skitch (3)

…and then moments later…
Quick, cover your tracks!
skitch (4)



You can’t make this stuff up:

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 10.59.07 PM

I feel pretty awesome right now.


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