Yes, I’m a bit behind on the weekly blog post. I’m in the process of overhauling this site (a task I’ve been dreading given how much time it will take). But I can’t sit idly by and remain quiet when it comes to heartless assholes preying on freelancers. Especially when they make it through MY safety filters to land in my inbox! And using a legitimate medical condition like apraxia to further their evil deeds? I think NOT! No one exploits invisible illnesses on my watch!
Same Story, Different Day
Scams aren’t new. And since freelancers are always looking for clients, they’re easy targets. They usually all unfold in the same way, too (you’d think these idiots would figure out a new way to write their scripts):
- They claim a professional title, sometimes tied to a company that often DOES exist in some form (at the very least, you can Google and find a website for it).
- They announce that they’re organizing papers or presentations for a workshop or conference and need articles (which is where YOU – the fabulous writer – come in).
- For an exorbitant rate of money (we’re talking $1/word, at least), they would like one measly article turned around in a fairly reasonable time.
- AND they’ve done the hard part by providing the title and outline for you to work from.
To struggling freelancers, it sounds like a dream come true, and they sign up without a second thought. And then wind up ensnared in bank fraud. But if you’re careful about the clients you work with, even that little bit is enough to send your “Red Flag Alert” screaming.
- They NEVER provide the name of the conference.
- When a topic is given, it has NOTHING to do with their claimed profession.
- Professional writers DON’T need titles and outlines to do their work.
- No one – and I mean NO ONE – offers you a rate and assignment without sitting down with you and discussing personalities, needs, and the work first.
These scammers keep trying, though, approaching even professionals. And when their old bait stops working, they try something new.
Like deciding to pull from current events to bolster their “reality.”
The Apraxia Angle
If you see “apraxia” in a message, it might get you to pause for a second. Because you don’t want to seem insensitive, right? Or maybe you aren’t familiar with the term if you don’t pay attention to culture bites. It’s the newest tool in the scammer’s arsenal, though, because people don’t want to be insensitive. (Well, most people. I won’t comment on the current state of our political system)
You can’t exactly demand to speak with someone if they tell you they have a speech disorder, can you?
For someone who writes emotionally, you’d probably even be inclined to demonstrate extra sympathy towards someone who approached you and admitted they had such a condition. It’s designed to tug at your heartstrings and lower your defenses. (Calm down, it didn’t work on me – I’m just stating facts)
Except it’s complete bullshit and another way to run the same old scam. Nothing more than a convenient excuse to avoid heightened suspicion from the earlier scamming techniques. Which MIGHT work – if they didn’t use the same old scripts as before.
Well…I say that, but I’ve seen evidence online that freelancers have still fallen for the schtick.
Understanding the Apraxia Scam
So, let’s look at one of these scams in-depth, shall we?
Now, I thought I had an air-tight contact form set up. All fields were required, and people had to pass the CAPTCHA (sorry, robots). But, obviously, that doesn’t stop a live slimeball from hitting me up.
I knew it for a scam the moment I saw it. (Again, the script hadn’t changed – though this was the most pared-down version of it I’ve come across) But the apraxia DID make me smile – before it made me mad.
And I DID stop when I saw the phone number.
First thing I did was Google it (because I’m highly suspicious). And to my surprise, the top result WAS a Karen Gonzalez. Who happens to be a published author…and speaker. Now, I’m not saying someone with apraxia can’t overcome their disability, but they wouldn’t then use it as an excuse. (And why would a writer need another writer to do their work?)
Just to be sure, I checked her bio. And, yeah, no mention of a speech impediment. (And given how religious she is, I have no doubt it would have been splashed everywhere and linked to some kind of deity-related influence)
But my point is, this took me no more than five minutes to check – and delete.
Freelancers: Do Your Homework
Look, I get it: money is awesome. And when someone offers you an exciting amount, it’s hard to think straight. All you can do is picture your next Amazon order. But that old phrase “too good to be true” exists for a reason.
You have to do your homework, especially when clients are approaching you that YOU never researched.
The world is full of liars, cheats, and thieves, and they could care less about hurting you or landing you in hot water with authorities. While making away with your hard-earned cash. (Or even your hours of writing)
Clearly, these scammers aren’t going to go away. So it’s on YOUR shoulders to pay attention and be smart about who you work with. You have a brain rattling around in that head of yours. USE IT!