An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

Advertising Scam – Sacha Charles with Lana Agency

Yesterday morning I received an email about a potential ad deal. Naturally, I got excited and quickly read through the email to see what the advertiser was after. Here is what I received:

Hi, We are looking for new advertisement platforms and we are interested in your site livethewritelife. Is it possible to place banner on your site on a fee basis? Best regards,

This is for another blog that I have that is low traffic, not even a PR 1. This was red flag number 1. However, I was interested, so I emailed him a quick reply with various prices for different types of ads. Within 5 minutes his reply came back:

Hello, Thanks for reply to our proposal! I represent Lana 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 above mentioned 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,

Red flag number 2; this guy is representing Lacoste! As in, the Lacoste? I find it hard to believe that my tiny little PR 0 blog would attract the advertising attention of someone working for a major international fashion retailer. Maybe this was my lucky day? I bit. I emailed him back and told him which size ad would work best for the site, and I sent him my monthly price. No harm, no foul.

2 minutes later and here came his reply:

Hi! Thank you for your offer regarding your other sites, we\’ll discuss them in nearest future. Now we are interested in placing banner on livethewritelife We like your price. To pass to the banner control system follow the link http://webmaster.lanaagency.com To enter use the following data: login: livethewritelife password: %%%%%% 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://livethewritelife/?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.lanaagency.com/wp_install To activate your site you have to enter the code: WZK-&&&-P46 Best regards,

Red flag number 3; this guy wanted me to install a plugin for this ad, and then activate it before they sent me money! I have never heard of anything so crazy. I have always been leery of third party plugins, and the access they could potentially have to my site internals, so this was the final straw for me. I even accessed the link he sent, and it went to a real website, with a real control panel for downloading the plugin. It even had my details, and the price we had agreed upon the our email. This was a real live person performing this fraud!

A quick Google search revealed that I was not the only one who has been contacted by this guy. In fact, it appears that it is an entire network of people working for the infamous “Lana Agency” who are contacting bloggers of small blogs in reference to this ad deal.

Thankfully, I was not fooled into actually installing this plugin on one of my blogs, and potentially exposing my financials to this criminal. I hope none of you have fallen into a trap of this nature, but if you get an email from Sacha Charles, just press delete!!

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37 Comments

  1. I received several copies of this email for my clients websites that are small local sites targeted at the local Leicester market. Not one of these sites are above PR2 and only one of them gets above 250 hits a day. Just like yourself I initially thought that maybe this was a good thing but decided to dig a bit deeper. Thanks for doing all the hard work and researching this “scam” and reporting the facts. Hopefully you have saved a large number of bloggers from yet another rip off.
    Many Thanks, Jasper
    SEO Leicester recently posted..SEO LeicesterMy Profile

    • @Jasper — I am really glad to hear that you were not also duped by this ad scam. It’s a shame that I am sure many well intentioned bloggers will fall prey to this scheme. Feel free to share the warning! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. That’s unbelievable. Thanks for the warning. I would certainly be leery of any plugin request like that. I’m hesitant enough picking them out of the list when I need one.
    Money Beagle recently posted..We Need A New DishwasherMy Profile

  3. I just received info from this company without doing research and I put their plug in on my website. How do I correct the situation I have deactivated the plug in but it may be to late. I should have looked up info before I sent anything

    • @Kita – I honestly don’t know if anything could have happened. If you have already deactivated and deleted the plugin, then they should not be able to access anything in your account. Here is a link to another article that may help. Seems this is unfortunately, a poplar scam. http://www.atpeaz.com/index.php/2011/wordpress-blogs-targeted-scam-beware-of-the-adv-zip-plugin/
      MoneyforCollegePro recently posted..Advertising Scam – Sacha Charles with Lana AgencyMy Profile

    • I got this email too. I read your blog but I dont see any proof that this is a scam. Kita, do you have any evidence that this is a scam? Has anyone actually tested this to see if they pay out or if this really is a scam?

      • @Vincent — I did not want to install the plugin on my site, and give whomever might be on the other end access to pull info. from my site. That is why I never installed it. Unfortunately, I have read many other places on the web where the plugin has been installed, and information has been stolen and corrupted. IMO, it’s just a good idea to avoid phishing scams of this nature entirely. No amount of advertising money is worth this risk.

  4. Wow… This needs to be reposted. I will send it out on my end. Thanks.

  5. Wow! This is unbelievable. Thanks for the warning.
    Tushar@EverythingFinance recently posted..How to manage money in a marriageMy Profile

  6. That’s ridiculous! Great job at spotting the obvious scam. Phew! That could have been bad…
    20’s Finances recently posted..One Saving Goal at a Time or Many?My Profile

  7. I have the same email. Thank you! for this article, this was a big help for not installing that plugin. Can i Copy your post to my Blog to, and redirect to yours as a source. Let all other bloggers know this is happening all around.

    Hope you would approve it.
    Thank you.

    • @RootofThree. I am glad this helped you avoid this scam! if you would like to link to this blog post, please feel free to do so. Please do not copy the entire post, but I would certainly appreciate a link back to help spread the word. Thank you!

  8. Wow that is a TRICKY SCAM! They should have at least paid a low amount first and then accessed the site lol

    I just checked my email history I was never offered the deal which is good since I may have taken it
    Evan recently posted..You Have Absolutely No Patriotic Duty To Pay High TaxesMy Profile

    • @Evan — Glad you were not duped by this! And yes, the quick acceptance to a high ad amount for a low traffic blog was a big red flag for me.

  9. Wow! Scary! Really scary! Good catch and thank you so much for sharing it.
    Aloysa @ My Broken Coin recently posted..Under Beaker’s Microscope: Lessons From My FatherMy Profile

    • @Aloysa — You got it. The more people I can help avoid this the better. please feel free to share!

  10. Very good catch. Scary stuff there thank you for sharing your experience
    Evan @smartwealth recently posted..The cost of owning a petMy Profile

    • @Evan – You got it. It is scary, and the more I think about it the madder I get. but, at least it seems that not many other folks fell victim to this. That is at least some consolation.

  11. Well done on not letting yourself be fooled. We should always suspect scam, unless the opposite is confirmed. Hopefully, by reading this, a lot of people is going to be aware of this Lana Agency!
    Anna recently posted..DO NOT EVER go to the dentist and let them TREAT you unless you are in pain! Do you agree?My Profile

    • @Anna — Thanks! Being vigilant online against fraud and deception certainly will pay off huge dividends in the long run!

  12. I think I would have fell for it. I need to be very careful. Thanks for the heads up!
    UltimateSmartMoney recently posted..6 Tips to Limit Winter Hazards for Your HomeMy Profile

    • @UltimateSmartMoney — I was super close to falling for it as well. I guess in the end, it just did not pass the smell test! Glad it did not get you.

  13. Somehow the story ended abruptly although the stat was excellent. What happened next? Did you write to them what you found on Google?
    SB @ One Cent At A Time recently posted..5 Obsessions Towards Financial Freedom and Becoming RichMy Profile

    • @SB — I suppose you are right. I did email them back and told them what I found through my online search. Said I did not trust their plugin, I thought they were a scam, and that I did not want to work with them. I never heard a single reply back. Seems like they were looking for easy prey.

  14. Wow good to know!

  15. Has anyone downloaded the plugin and looked at the code to see if it is malicious?

  16. I got the exact same email almost around the same time – mid Jan – and my email conversations went exactly the same as all of yours.

    The biggest red flags came up when they asked me to install some custom code on my own site, and the fact that they accepted my rate immediately and without question or negotiation. Then I did some googling and found myself here lol.

    A lot of work went into making this seem legit, even the lanaagency website references real french media sites as clients.

    The code itself does not look malicious, but it makes a lot of calls to foreign functions which may be malicious.

    Glad you posted about this…I’d be interested if anybody finds more information!

    • @Sheet Music — Glad you were able to find the answers you needed here. I agree, the code itself did not look incredibly malicious except that the “smell” factor did not sit well with me. Something about it did not seem right, and then I found many other bloggers complaining of sub-par experiences and phishing scams through this. Glad you were able to stop it before something bad happened!

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