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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Freelancers...Watch Out For the Scammers in These Scary Times

No, seriously, it's worse than before.  People of the worst kind are taking unfair advantage of people affected by the pandemic.  Some are even getting scammy in the wake of our current social culture...but that's a different discussion.  Freelancers, especially newbies, should be aware of predators looking to exploit you because of your need to work.

How did I come to this conclusion?  Suddenly, there are more "experts" that can help you do the following:

  • Earn money today
  • Earn money with no experience
  • Earn $1000s this week

While this may be a slight exaggeration, I think you get what I'm saying here...especially on Facebook.  I've seen more ads claiming that people can make fast cash with little to no effort.  All I can say is do your homework and take note of some suggestive phrases scammers use when they're trying to sell you something.  Courtesy of Lipstick Alley

  • They want you to pre-order a product they haven't created yet.
  • Sell e-books and YouTube courses with regurgitated or plagiarized info.
  • "I have 20 copies left available and they're going fast"... followed by a fake countdown to induce scarcity, "15 copies left, 10 copies left..."
  •  "I only have space for 4 more people before my prices go up..."
  • They make videos about how they got their new apartment or house which is actually a rented Airbnb.
  • They've been forex or options trading for "X" amount of years and want to teach you how to do the same.
  • You go to their website and STILL can't tell what the hell they do. No portfolio, no testimonials, no social proof whatsoever.
Also, look out for people claiming to be gurus and such.  Anyway, I'll wind down with my own experience, which was minor but may still be a lesson for some.

It was a Facebook (an entity I already don't trust) ad that caught my eye. As a writer first, the thirst for knowledge or how to improve skills is ongoing.  Unfortunatley, I already wasted over $200 on proofreading (anybody could look up the information the instructor was pushing) and comedy writing (super disorganized on the first day) classes held online over an already crazy summer.  So when I saw this creative writing class for less than $80, I thought I'd finally lucked up on something good.

I mean, the instructor held a master's (although in a major I'd never heard of) and seemed articulate.  However the educational institution holding the class was a mystery to me.  I couldn't tell whether it was an adult or vocational school but it definitely wasn't a college or university.  They seemed to offer a lot of remedial classes to athletes.

Another thing that caught my eye was the fact that my work would be published in a book, Also, critiques by other students in a discussion forum were part of the curriculum.  So it seemed like a win but in the end, nobody won.

About three weeks in, I noticed there was no one else contributing to forum discussions.  Even worse, the instructor wanted me to give an analysis on my submissions, which she said she liked.  Like I said, this was not a college class but then came the exam.  Errr?

In addition to the lessons, she sent lengthy presentations (and some were photocopies of textbooks) about the history of poetry.  Exams were based on this...but for what? Now, you may be thinking 'this is a minor miscommunication' but here's the scammy part.  In order for students to be considered for the book, they would have to fork over $50 (in addition to the tuition). Now I'd get a copy but why go this route when I can self-publish an e-book for nothing?   Or better, for an additional $50, go buy my own ISBN barcodes from any broker that will take my cash.  Live and learn, folks.



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