So, it finally happened. I got scammed!
Here’s how my little scamming adventure went down.
As a copywriter and writer, I’m always on the look-out for opportunities. Remote … on-site … full time … part time … as you need me … whatevah!
It’s just the nature of my line of work.
Which is why earlier this week while I was out doing errands, a post in a group I belong to on Facebook caught my attention. A post I read AFTER I HAD PARKED MY CAR (in case you’re wondering).
“Urgently looking for a virtual personal assistant”.
Hey! I can do this!
Personal assistant? But why, you ask. Here’s why: Once upon a long time ago, I owned a business called The Home Office that provided administrative and writing services for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
So, right up my alley, right?
Plus, this person was looking for part time help, which meant that I could keep my current freelance clients. Win/win/win!
A win for this person who was in “urgent need of help”.
A win for my clients because since it was a part time position, I’d still be available to work with them.
A win for me because a steady base of work (and of course, income).
So, I sent this person a message saying that I was interested in learning more. They asked if I had Telegram, a messaging app. I installed it on my phone and presto! I had my “job interview” right there while sitting in my car in the parking lot.
I was excited. The truth is that while I LOVE what I do, I also miss working as part of a team. The occupational hazard of being a writer is that it can be lonely. I mean, I have Jed – my dog – but he’s not very good at brainstorming or coming up with concepts. In fact, he’s not much of a team player at all.
Along with the feeling of excitement, I have to admit that my spidey senses were on fire. The entire interview was done via texting. No real conversation and no information was given to me about the company.
And since I know you’re wondering, let me assure you that the only information I gave them was my email address and my resume, which is basically public info on LinkedIn anyway.
The next morning, I received a message from this person telling me that after interviewing several candidates, I was selected and that they had emailed me my offer letter. (Yes, that’s what they called it: an offer letter.)
I. Was. Thrilled.
Something was off. I still had no information on the company, and it just seemed a little too easy. Oh! And I forgot to mention, the “pay” was $800 CDN a week. Say whaaaaaat? For part time work?
I opened my email and sure enough, there was the letter. And it was on letterhead. The letterhead was the first indication I had of what company I was dealing with. What did I do next? I did what any curious and slightly less naïve person than myself would do: I GOOGLED THEM.
I found the company easy enough except that there was mention on the website that the owners were retiring and liquidating. When I spoke to my someone about this, he suggested that I check out their Facebook page and sure enough, there were several posts about someone (or a group of someones) posing as this company’s owner to scam people into thinking that they were offering them a part time position.
How did I feel?
Hmmmm … The word stupid comes to mind.
How did I handle it?
I waited for them to contact me and here’s how I responded:
And then they blocked me. *scratches head in confusion*
Confession, when scammers block you, it kinda makes you feel like a badass.
In other news, here’s my latest column for Inspades News, titled Shall we offend someone?
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Pennie Nichols says
When I listed myself as a “writer” in one of those bulky old-fashioned phone books with yellow pages, I was scammed into ghost writing a story. My last phone call was, “OK, read me what you have so far…” After I finished, click. Never heard from them again. I think my hook pulled me deeper in. In my defense, I was much younger then (the phone book is a clue). At least you got out!
I’ve had 2 attempted scams in the past year, and noticed what was going on before it was too late. One was someone posing as the writer Andy Borowitz on Instagram. He created a fake account w/Andy’s photo and everything, and messaged me as a fan, and started trying to get personal information from me. The other was on Facebook marketplace. Sharing stories like this help keep us alert. It’s sad that we have to be suspicious, but we do.
It can happen to the best of us, especially if they push the right button that can get us hooked. You got out before it was too late AND you’ve alerted your readers, who can alert others in turn. These scams are getting more and more sophisticated – some of these scammers are experts in psychology – and there is no shame in someone initially being pulled in. That’s important to know because shamed people don’t report or tell others (I found this out when my late mother in law was scammed by a “I’ll repair your driveway” person years ago.. Who came back several months later and tried to scam her again!
Carol Cassara says
It could happen to anyone, Mona.