What I’m listening to: 6th Avenue Heartache by The Wallflowers

I want to bottle yesterday and drink from that thermos every day. I had allotted myself a week to finish four articles — I finished the third one yesterday. So now I have three days in which to finish the last one. That right there is what I love about being OCD about deadlines. Sometimes, it just works.

I wish I could say the same for some of the absolutely lousy scams that hit my in box. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve probably received some guest post offers that are completely off base. Writers are being paid for the number of times they place an article with some specific links. The language in these emails (clearly, someone is giving out a form letter) makes it obvious after you receive two that it’s not a guest poster whose content will match your blog’s focus.

Then there are those job offers that are clearly not job offers, though at first you might hesitate. Here’s one that came in yesterday:

Scammer

Sorry about the image quality. If you open it in a new tab you’ll be able to make out the details. But let me restate them.

From Bryan Ron Michael Lee <michaelmloren@gmail.com>

To: undisclosed recipients

Subject: Writing & Editing Job//

--

Hello

I am a business man and also a private investor, may i know if you are specifically into writing or editing. I need your service and will be glad to know your availability for more info.

Bryan Ron Michael Lee

On first glance, you might think “Wow, this guy really needs a writer’s help.”

Look again. There are plenty of red flags in this short note. Let’s start at the top.

The name is a bit suspect. While I do know my share of quadruple-named people, this one feels a bit too random. So how do you know for sure? Google search. When in doubt, search. Guess where Bryan Ron Michael Lee shows up? Nowhere. While again I do know people who are completely off the grid, those people make up the minority. This red flag is waving a fake-name banner. Next!

On to the next item. Easy one — “undisclosed recipients” means your note is neither to you nor personal on any level. Next!

The subject. Oh, don’t you just love the tease? We’re offering you work. Wait — we’re offering you work// While misspellings and an odd character here and there aren’t uncommon, what is uncommon is the presence of two slashes. It’s not exactly normal business protocol — not in this country. Next!

Ah, the personal greeting. Oh no, wait. The impersonal greeting. “Hello” without punctuation. Really, do I have to repeat myself? Next!

“I am a business man and also a private investor” – right there. That’s the part that’s shady. “Private investor” is code for “I’m about to try swindling you into depositing my phony check into your account in exchange for the cash you’re stupid enough to draw out of that account based on a bad check.” Next!

Then there’s the issue of the email address. Just for fun, I looked it up. Guess where it shows up? Right here at a resume website. No, it’s not this guy’s resume — it’s a sample resume for a carpenter! And the sample guy’s name is actually Michael Loren, not Bryan Ron Michael Lee.

Let’s not even bother with the request for your services since we’ve already figured out this email is nothing more than bait to get your bank info. Let’s just say this —

Any client who requires your bank information or insists on you depositing money in exchange for a check from you is scamming you.

When in doubt, trust your instincts. Better to turn away questionable yet possibly legitimate work than to be scammed out of your savings.

 

Writers, have you ever been approached to work for someone like the person above?

How has your intuition saved you in the past? Have you ever fallen victim to a scam?

How do you vet offers like this? 

 

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Comments

  • Anne Wayman July 20, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Didn’t get this one, yet anyway. I rely on my intuition and often reject offers from unknown sources out of hand.

    Reply
    • lwidmer July 20, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Oh, you’ll get it, Anne. I think it’s going to circulate. I find it interesting that they’re targeting freelancers now. It’s not as though our pockets are ridiculously deep.

      Reply
  • Maryann Miller July 22, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    I hate getting those kinds of letters. I have learned a long time ago that they were scams. And even ones that come from a legitimate source are deleted if they are not done with a professional approach that includes addressing me by name – and spelling it correctly.

    Reply
    • lwidmer July 25, 2016 at 11:11 am

      Amen, Maryann. The lack of any salutation is an automatic delete.

      Reply
  • Krista July 26, 2016 at 9:03 am

    This is a bit long for a comment, but it’s too good not to share. Way back in 2009 I responded to a proofreader ad on Craiglist. I got the response pasted below. I did send my address back (cringe), although now I would have just deleted it (live and learn). I got a “check” in the mail for $2500. I was supposed to take $1000 for myself and send the other $1500 along to the publisher. I think what threw me off a bit with this one was the detail and length of the response. (No, I did not try to cash the laser-printed check or send any money.)

    Hello,

    Thanks for your email and response to the Proofreader ad. I am Harish Challa, I am a social entrepreneur and I have a work with the UNICEF ASIA projects. It is a material on Child Care, Parent Obligations and similar topics. The previous editions have been published in Bahasa and Chinese Language but the need right now is for the same material to come English language. I have transcribed the book to English but I am looking for a proofreader that can edit and correct the errors in the book. This project at hand demands some vital language learnings so I need your assistance to get this done ASAP. The book contain 95 pages, words counts is 25,000 to 35,000 ..written in english. I will like to know the cost to proofread and edit this for my usage.

    However, I intend offering you the sum of $1000.00 for the proofreading because of the time frame so I will like to know if this works for you. I will need the book to be ready for publishing within 2 weeks from the day you received the book. I want to make it clear that I expect it to be carried out expertly. That is, ensuring that the book does not loose its original meaning in the course of editing; in as much you will prove yourself to be a reliable, trustworthy and above all able to meet up with my deadline; I will instruct my sponsor to proceed with your payment in full once I hear from you today as I will like you to have the payment before commencing your work so as to secure your service.

    Upon receipt of the payment, I will instruct the publisher to mail you a copy of the book so you can commence your work. As soon as you are done with the proofreading, you will have to send the edited copy back to the publisher so he can commence the final publishing of the work. In the meantime, Kindly get back with the following information so I can start making arrangememt for your payment. moreso, I will need your phone number for a better communication.

    Full Name:
    Full House Address with zip code;
    Phone number:
    Acceptance of offer:

    All I need from you is total honesty and timeliness. I will be waiting to hear from you.

    Best Regard,
    Harish Challa.

    Reply
    • lwidmer July 28, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Wow. Krista, that’s crazy! Just goes to show this scam has been around for a while. I’m glad you were smart — that red flag was pretty glaring, wasn’t it?

      Did you ever hear from them again?

      Reply
      • Krista August 2, 2016 at 7:25 am

        No, once I told them I was onto them they stopped right away. Probably not worth their time to try to continue at that point!

        Reply
  • Felix August 7, 2016 at 4:15 am

    I’m the owner of the resume sample site you’ve mentioned in your post, and I can only think this is a coincidence. All emails from our samples are randomly created. That guy is just a spammer.

    Reply
  • Michael LaRocca August 15, 2016 at 9:56 am

    My email program has a nifty little button called “spam” that gets quite a workout. Bye-bye, bot with four names.

    Reply