Volume 2 of the Something in the Water series arrives Tuesday, January 30!

Serial Spammers and Scammers

I’ve had a couple of interesting scenarios arise recently. They’re interrelated, in a tangential, almost serendipitous way.
A while ago, I happened to see an advert for a company supposedly hiring freelance writers. This was on LinkedIn. I’ve since seen adverts on Facebook and other social media for the same company. The posting suggested this place was looking for freelancers and to apply, you could simply head over to their website—much like you do with virtually every other job posting ever.

Want a Job? Watch Our Video and We’ll Add You to Our List!

Rather than a job application form, however, I got a vaguely worded promise that if I signed up for their email list and watched a video about how I could be a better freelancer, I’d get my resume reviewed.
All right, I’m already calling bullshit. Nonetheless, I signed up for the trap. I watched the video (which regurgitated almost everything I know about being a successful freelancer). Then I was exhorted to pay to take a course, because the people who took the course would probably get jobs, and if you got a job, you’d get your money for the course back.
Bulllllllshit. This is a steaming pile of horseshit. The website’s reason for this was that they “get soooo many qualified applicants!” Perhaps if you’re absolutely swimming in applicants and have to weed people out using a course, you shouldn’t be advertising that you’re looking for applicants.

This Is a Scam

The reason, of course, is that this company is looking not for applicants, job-seekers, freelancers, or writers. They’re looking for suckers, idiots who will sign up, watch a 7-minute video full of “tips,” then pay $200 to take a “course” so they can maybe get projects from this person’s reject pile. Even more likely: this company will string you along, forcing you to take ever-more courses and bilking you for every cent, probably without ever tossing a single freelance job your way.
It’s a classic scam, but the worst part is how easily you could be strung along for a while. Take this course and maybe you’ll get a job! So you do. And then you wait. Then they suggest you should maybe take another course. And so on down the rabbit hole until you finally wise up.
I had to remove myself from this company’s mailing list. Every day, I get an update about what they’re doing and another cloying entreaty to take the damn course or to click on some clickbait to see what they’re up to now.
(I won’t name names here, but if you’d like to know who I’m speaking of in order to avoid them, please feel free to contact me.)

Round 2: New Name, Same Kind of Scammers

I had another, similar experience just last week. I’d seen this newer website being advertised. There were a few intriguing blog posts, with headlines that spoke to me. I laughed at a couple of them (“why are Millennials killing it at freelancing?” Because it’s the only damn thing we have.), and finally caved and clicked.

All right, I thought, I’ll bite. So I signed up. Immediately, I was confronted with a banner telling me about how they didn’t need any new writers right now, but if I’d just hang on, they could probably hook me up with some jobs.

In the meantime, I’d be paired with a “coach” and need to complete some training.

Guys. I have nearly a decade’s worth of experience. I don’t need your stupid training course. Furthermore, anyone who pulls this kind of bullshit isn’t actually in the business of getting anyone work. They’re in the business of selling courses.

If I want to bid on jobs, I’ll hit Upwork, thanks.

The Case of the Serial Spammer

This next person I have less trouble naming, since he’s a known quantity: the infamous academic spammer JP Montfort. The guy is somewhat notorious in academia, as he spouts off some rambly idea about “idea countries,” which he made up and … did research on? I’m not sure. Anyway, a while ago, I received a “pitch” for his book; he claims to have had a book published by Wiley, but even if this is true, I understand why he’s looking for another publisher—Wiley probably wouldn’t touch him with a 10-ft pole again. I can only imagine what producing the book was like.
I add him to my spam list and go on my merry way. A few months later, I start receiving emails from “Huffington Post Albania” and “Huffington Post Portugal,” entreating me to “join their team.” Oh look—it’s not actually the Huffington Post, it’s this guy, blathering on about his silly countries again while pretending to be the Huffington Post and asking people to join the team. Bullllllshit.
The odd, serendipitous connection between these spammers/scammers? They’ve written for HuffPo.
The lessons learned here are that if someone just happens to “offer” you a job, it’s likely not an actual job offer—just someone trying to pull the wool over your eyes.


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