Writers Beware!

Writers beware of the new Internet scam directed to writers, editors and bloggers. You will receive an invitation to write an article, create a blog post or edit a piece of work - usually in reference to a 'good work' to  tug at your heart strings. You will be given the details of the work, and told when it's to be delivered. You'll also be asked how much you'll charge, and whatever price you quote won't seem to be a problem.

After all this has been established, you'll be asked for your address and phone number (which you'll refuse to give, obviously). Plans will be made to send payment to you, but at the last minute, you'll be told that the money has to be sent by cheque because the person doesn't or couldn't open a paypal account. You'll then be forced to grudgingly give your postal address because you've started the work, and want to be paid for your time.

Up to here: this happened to me. I had a gut feeling it was a scam and even asked my husband what I should do about it. 

After a short while, you'll receive correspondence from the 'client' saying that the cheque was sent, but the amount the accountant or the boss wrote in the amount panel was incorrect. You'll be told the amount is way in excess of what you wanted. Therefore, when you receive the cheque, subtract your fee and send back the rest of the amount by Western Union.

Yes: they did ask me to do this. I was asked to send back £1,000 to them, after the 'error' was written in my favour (yeah, right!) I slammed on the breaks and sent a threatening email, promising to reveal the scam and demanded never to be contacted again.  

This is the scam! It will take days for you to find out if the amount clears in your bank. In the mean time, you would've sent 'the client' a lot of your hard-earned money.

Writers beware! How to prevent being scammed in this way

1. Always establish upfront that you will only accept payment through Paypal. If clients really want your service, they should be willing to open a Paypal account if they don't already have one. There are strict verification rules within PayPal. See my article about how PayPal saved me from a rouge online transaction (another one :-) I've resolved to never, ever take on work - no matter how well-paid unless it's being paid through Paypal).

2. Always ask potential clients where they found your advertisement for work. I have several pages where I specifically advertise my online services of writing, editing and blogging - like this one. The very first nagging thought I had about this 'client' started when I asked him where he found me and his answer was very generic. 

3. Never give your details out to anyone over the Internet unless you have a long-standing, trusting relationship with them.

4. Err on the side of caution. It's better to lose out on potential work, than get conned into losing your hard-earned cash. Remember that rouge traders can also use your address to pedal all sorts of criminal activity.

5. Let scammers know that you know what they're doing. Tell other writers and bloggers and expose any suspicious behaviour you've come across. We owe each other this. (I'm even tempted to reveal his 'name' but this may be an invasion of privacy).

6. If you must give an address, it should never be a personal one. Use a postal box or the address of an organisation you're a part of.  I didn't fork over my personal details.

7. Lastly, it's very important that you keep all correspondence with potential clients until you've been paid by them the first time. Don't delete any of their emails to you, or yours to them. It's a good idea to create a folder specifically for this kind of work. This guy never 'replied' to my emails. He always sent a new one, but I kept every last one of them, and have his IP address.

Have you come across any such scams lately? What's the last scam someone tried to pull on you and how did you deal with it? Please share your story here so that all bloggers and writers can be aware of the potential dangers on the Internet aimed at our colleagues.


Icy BC March 31, 2012 at 4:42 PM  

Whoa..that's a really well planned out scam. I'm glad you went with your gut feelings, and asked your husband for advice!

Zenserly April 1, 2012 at 9:19 AM  

oh I did not know there is such a scam these days...a good thing I dropped by your page...thank you so much for this info...

Anne's a published author, freelance writer and experienced editor. She's just signed her second publishing contract this year with 2 separate publishing houses. You can hire her or see her available books in the side panel on the right.
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