To my fellow freelancers, contract workers, and pay-per-gig cohort, I have a single note of caution.
Beware of scammers.
This may seem like “duh!” no-brainer advice, but when you’re struggling to make ends meet and every gig seems like it’s the only one you’ll ever have–like when you’re starting out–you don’t want to be too picky. You don’t want to seem too cynical. You want to put on a smile and a happy demeanor, as if someone were walking into your store to purchase goods or services. When they’re an unfamiliar face, do you immediately question their mode of payment? Do you question if they say they’re a doctor, but they don’t speak perfect English?
I sure didn’t.
And I nearly got scammed for it.
His name is Dr. Albert Laws who claims to live in North Carolina with a New York VoIP number and a Gmail address with 3 1s after his name. Which he signs with no “s” at the end of in his signature, and uses the “s” everywhere else. He contacted me out of the blue, sent me the document to review, and promised 50% up front of a price that I had to haggle with him over. Only to settle for $25 dollars less than I wanted–when I was already underselling myself just to get the job.
Half of $475 sounds like a good deal when you’re unemployed and benefits run out in a couple weeks.
Then I get a second email explaining that the “sponsor” of the annual seminar is going to pay for my fees–almost 8 times what we originally agreed upon for the entire project–with the promise of a second project on the way. I thought I was “in the money,” that I was making a good impression and might be hired on for a long-term basis. I thought that it was all going right.
I should have Googled his name with “scam” at the end of it, which I did today when I discovered that the second check he tried to have his “sponsor” send me was intercepted by the FedEx Security Crew. USPS still has the first check he tried to send me floating around “in transit.” If I ever end up getting it in the mail, I should take it to some check cashing store and keep it–I need $2900 too badly not to, honestly–but I don’t want to sink to “Dr.” Laws’ level. I’m not a thief, I don’t steal from others what I can work hard to get on my own.
Unlike Dr. Laws, whose entire “research document” was copied out-and-out from Wikipedia.
Yeah, there were red flags. Questions he didn’t answer, details he wouldn’t share. But all I could see was the paycheck, the potential for long-term employment–doing something I loved.
And that’s the real kicker, friends, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed every second of researching, fixing, and planning out the stages of altering this garbled bunch of plagiarized crap into a functioning research paper fit for the consumption of students and fellow instructors alike.
Now, I’m just numb, numb and angry because I should have been smarter. I should have been more adamant in the research I tried to conduct on him.
There won’t be a next time.
Are there any other “author-to-editor” scams out there that you’ve come across? Share them below.