I have a media consultancy and have worked on many small and medium-sized projects. Clients give me their objectives, budget, etc., and I create an entire go-to-market strategy including media strategy, budgets, etc.
I was contacted by this guy who had spent a dozen years in private aviation, then decided to "build an airline" to compete regionally. He complained that he had approached several big shops in NY but that they wanted too much money upfront just to talk. We agreed to meet for an hour in my office to see if there was a future there.
My first red flag went up when the guy shows up in shorts and told me he had walked from his hotel (a good 20 blocks away). So, OK, I decided, maybe a bit unusual, but OK.
We spoke for about 90 minutes, and everything he said sounded normal. So I relaxed my red-flag radar a bit. After all, Florida is full of unusual people with money.
He asked for a second meeting, but we could not communicate via email.
Client: My friends at the NSA told me that all my emails were being read by American and Delta.
Second red flag. Still, despite myself, we arranged the second meeting. When we did meet he started questioning me more aggressively.
Client: What's going on the website? What influencer platform will you use? Who do I hire to create an in-house agency?
Me: Great questions, but everything you're asking is exactly what you'd pay me to deliver. I don't have answers yet because that will take a bit of research, and even if I did have them I would need a contract before I give you those answers.
When I said this he looked at me for a second, stood up, turned around and left without saying a word.
My only contribution to this site: if your red flag radar turns on, listen to it. Don't do anything out of desperation.