For any freelancer, at any point in their career, there is nothing more exciting than being contacted about a potential job. That joy is short lived, however, when you realize that you are being contacted by someone trying to sell you a service or worse yet, you are the target of email scams.
As a freelance artist, it is very important these days to be able to recognize email scams. Generally these scammers have elaborate plans in place to defraud you of your money. Oh yes. I have heard of artists falling for these scams and losing hundreds or even sometime thousands of dollars. Basically how these scams work is that client is almost always based out of your town if not in another country and they are coming to your area and are in need of a makeup artist. These scams are often based around needing an artist for a wedding, although I’ve heard of a few scams involving pageants, fashion shows, etc. These “out of town” clients will offer a “too good to be true” sounding rate, offer to pay all expenses, etc. So how does the scam work? Well it depends on what they want: Some scammers are in search of information so they can steal your identity and some want to get you to send them money. This can happen via emails sent to you, phone calls, and even seemingly legitimate sounding job offers on places such as CraigsList. Therefore it is vitally important for you to know where it is exactly you are sending your information and to whom, and DO NOT send any specific information about yourself until you know those facts.
The site Consumer Fraud Reporting has all types of information on scams, how they work, and what you can do if you suspect you’ve been taken.
Here are a couple of sample email scams of the many I have received over the years;
This is Jennifer Wilson from XXXX-wedding planners, I have a wedding to organize for a client on 12th of March 2011 in your country.
All the ladies that will be present on the wedding has a dressing code so my client want the same hair styles and better make up for all. I want to confirm if your firm can handle hair/make-up for a wedding, kindly get back to me with that information for more clarifications.
This is an email I received just the other day. First of all, there was no identifying information in the email whatsoever aside from this person’s email address and as we know anyone can use one of the free email services and open an email account in a matter of minutes (this email came to me from a Gmail account). Secondly, doesn’t specifically address me. Notice how it’s a rather generic email and instead of citing a specific location, it just says she is organizing a wedding “in my country”. Hmmm… America is a pretty large place, probably want to be more specific about that. Lastly, and most condemingly, a quick search on Google not only reveals that there is no website for the business name she gave, but that Jenny/Jennifer Wilson gets around. In addition to being a wedding planner, Jennifer/Jenny Wilson is a 60-something year old dying woman who has decided to give her life savings to “church”. What church she does not specify, but as luck would have it she always seems to want to give it to YOUR church! Aren’t you special!
Here is another scam email;
My name is Mrs Mary-Ann Edwards wife to Mr Dennis Edwards, I’ll need your services as an Admin Assistant/personal assistant for my business in Chicago . We just moved in to town a couple of days ago before embarking on a trip sponsored by my husband’s company. Presently we’re on vacation on board on an European line cruiser sponsored by my husband’s company and we’ll be back soon before the end of this month or at the very beginning of next month. I own a Makeup Studio,Others Beauty is my business , and I have numerous customers around the states. I work from home for now and i also do home service. I wish i had my website up already so that you can know lil about me business but that’s one of the reason why i need a P.A who will plan with me so that we can set everything up.
Kim is our only child and daughter and she plays a very important role in our family, ever since she was born,the family has never remained the same for good. There ‘re just the 4 (myself,my husband,my daughter and my husband’s mom) of us in the house hopefully you will be the fifth person( If you choose to live with us ).I have an offer for you to be my personal assistant and to help with business related issues and advice, also to to take care of my business for me whenever am not around in person. You can send in your updated resume/references in your next email. I want to let you know that we’re having much fun out here, we would have love to call you but the networkreception on board is really poor because of the high tides for this particular period of the year. But we will try as much as possible to call you as soon as we get a better reception.
My daughter has been a little ill and she has been in the Intensive care Unit on board for the past two days, But I thank God she’s is getting on fine and this will prompt us in coming home as soon as we get to shores.
We’d have loved to call you for a face-to-face interview but due to the present situation of things, we are unable to do this because i believe that is the best way. I’d like
you to get back to me as soon as you can because the earlier the better and let me know your schedules and timing that best fits your plans. You’ll be working for about Fourty (40) hours weekly and below are your task/duties.
Below are few deatils of the job and i hope you can meet all of them satisfactory ….
* Reading and replying emails from customers
* Receiving of incoming calls & making of outgoing calls to customers
* Taking proper care of sales records
* Receiving payment from customers
* Sending out payment to my clients for supplies of cosmetics
I and my husband want to put things in place so you can start immediately we arrive from our vacation.
Below is our Offer & Requirements.
You’ll be paid $20 per hr ($800.00 weekly). You’ll be paid every other week or Monthly . So you do let me know which one you prefer.
1) You must be able to speak English Language..
2)Is your partners in support of this position for you.
3)You must have any references and achievements ?
4)Ever been convicted ?? Doesn’t matter to me as long as you have realize your past mistakes and now a changed person.
I await your prompt response and as soon as i get your response, I will write back to let you know if you have the job or not.
Ms. Mary-Ann Edwards”
This one made the rounds a while ago and a number of makeup artists I know received it. Once again “she” is vague (she recently moved “into town”… What town?). However, this one takes what I like to call the Bamboozle approach. Knowing most people aren’t going to carefully read it, it just kind of yammers on until it gets to the part about the “Offer and Requirements”. As you can see, the Offer and Requirements make no sense whatsoever, and if you actually attempt to read the full email…. it is completely mind-boggling in its non-sensical-ness. They are coming “to town” but they are on a European cruise right now, and her business is a makeup studio – so why does she need a makeup artist? – and she has a lot of clients in “the States”. Oh wait, they are sending this to me as a makeup artist, but they actually want a personal assistant. Is there **anything** on my site to indicate that I do personal assistant work? I’ve worked 10+ years to build a career as a makeup artist so I can be a secretary? No. Oh look, they even threw a sick child in there for good measure. WHAT?!?!????? What on Earth is this person talking about???? This email is all over the place.
As many of these scams come from various places overseas, the person crafting the email is often CLEARLY not fluent in the language they are sending to. Look for spelling and grammatical errors as well as sentences that absolutely do not make sense. These are tip-offs of an obvious scam attempt. Further, this email had a website at the end of it (as well as a phone number), however, if you went to the “website” (which should always be your first move of investigation), it was one of those holder pages that you can get for free when you open an email account with certain companies. To everyone’s surprise I’m sure, the website never developed further and is, in fact, now gone. Authorities warn that you should never attempt to call a phone number that might be listed in one of these emails, as it could be another way to capture information about you. Likewise, you do not want to make direct contact with these people as they may be dangerous.
As a freelancer, you will constantly be cultivating new clientele and building your career. However do not let your enthusiasm turn to foolhardy-ness. Handle your business like the business that it is. These scams continue to exist because they continue to work meaning people continue to fall for them. Do not be taken in. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. If you cannot verify the identity of the person inquiring about your services, walk away. It is most likely scam-tastic.
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