From window replacements to insulated glass, Tessa and Adam Brooke know all things windows.
The couple, co-owners of the Window Dudes, bought the already established business six years ago. Becoming small business owners was a dream come true.
“That it’s ours is the No. 1 thing,” Tessa Brooke said in a phone interview.
Recently, though, the dream has been plagued by a nightmare. The Window Dudes’ online domain was hijacked, and it’s been spammed with pornographic images ever since.
Brooke first found out something was wrong almost two months ago when a customer called.
‘He said: ‘When I Google your business, it sends you to a bad site,'” Brooke said. “I thought maybe he punched something in wrong. I didn’t think a whole lot about it. Time goes by, and I get another call and call after call, saying that when they Google our website, it goes to a porn site.”
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Customers kept calling, and Brooke began getting emails and messages on social media that she could buy the domain back for $9,500.
“I didn’t think much about it. I should have. I thought that that was a scam,” she said.
Stephanie Garland, the regional director for Better Business Bureau, knows the scammer is in Moscow, Russia because one of the bureau’s investigators traced the domain name to that area. This sort of thing is very rare, she said.
“This is not a common scam,” Garland said in an email.
“I don’t know where it fell through the cracks,” Brooke said. “When we bought the business, it came with the website. The old owners didn’t know who to get a hold of, how to make changes, anything.”
One thing was certain — Brooke couldn’t pay that much to get her website back.
“After I realized it really was happening, I got a hold of a local guy who is rebuilding my website now,” she said. “I can’t afford to buy that domain back for $10,000. He’s trying to get to where everything goes to that versus people seeing this horrible (site).”
The problem isn’t fixed, and with their new site still under construction, Brooke said she continues getting calls about the hijacked one.
“The guy was joking, but he was like, ‘I went to your website 27 times today,'” she said. “We’re small fish — a small family trying to run a business, and I’m like, ‘Why us?’”
Brooke said that she wishes she had realized the severity of the situation before it got this far.
“I’m not real web savvy and all that,” Brooke said. “When I started getting the emails, I probably should have paid better attention. I just assumed it was a scam. I was trying to get it off my email as quick as possible because I thought, if I click into that, it’s going to turn into something, but it had already turned into something, and I just wasn’t aware.”
Brooke said business has been busy, despite the pandemic, and she hopes their new website will be running soon.
The Window Dudes is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and is located at 555 S. Scenic Ave.
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