I would like to bring up a subject that is all too often in the news and gossip pages, but can easily be avoided with a gut feeling and some good old fashioned common sense.
I am going to divulge some information without getting especially specific. If you really want to know more, shoot me an email.
The other day I thought I had stumbled upon an “opportunity.” I showed up to a wealthy town in CT (that sounds redundant but it’s not), “old money,” as it were and met up with some people who were interested in similar things as me: writing, meeting new people, and making money.
From what I understood in the email I received, I would be using a particular skill to get particular information to form it into a creative product. (See, told you I wouldn’t be TOO specific). This sounded like not only a lot of fun to me, but something that simply gives you the warm and fuzzies.
You know how sometimes things just don’t go “right?” And upon reflection AFTER the fact you go “Oh, duh! I should have known right then!” Well. I was late. I walked into a lobby that was dusty and full of old…. things. An older…gentleman asked me if I needed any help. I almost left right then but I didn’t know why I wanted to. So I thought I must just be you know, over-thinking or something.
He directed me to the room where a meeting was taking place. There were probably 6 people total, all from completely different backgrounds. The ringleader, as we shall call her, was going on about this great company and how we could all be small business owners too!
RED FLAG RED FLAG!
After browsing through the products they were offering and biting my tongue several times for wanting to mention that you need to use proper formatting and dimensions on a photo or it’s going to look like crap, per the object I was holding in my hand, I realized this was nothing like how I thought it would be.
Let me break it down in my list of
-for a small fee of of four ten dollar bills, you could order you own business cards THROUGH the company. (Have these people never heard of Vista print?)
-you had to buy your own equipment. I almost choked on my cough drop.
-It was totes a pyramid scheme to boot. I loved how she tried to cover it up by saying “This isn’t a pyramid scheme BUT…”
-Also you had to purchase a custom name badge. RIGHT.
Obviously, by the time this thing was over, I knew right in my gut that this was terrible. I looked around at the others in the room and I was horrified. They were eating it all up, probably desperate for any kind of job. It was then that I realized that it’s not only in the entertainment industry that people get ripped off repeatedly. It’s everywhere, man. People will do anything to make a buck.
The way I pinpointed that she was a definite fraud was that she mentioned she was good friends with someone I have known for several years and I could see she was lying through her teeth. Amazing!
I just wanted to share this with you all as a reminder that even though you might have been fooled once or twice in the past and sort of know the scent of a liar and scam artist, know that they are lurking around everywhere!
After having several unsavory experiences all in a row upon graduating college and getting into the entertainment business, I can spy:
A) A harmless, selfish, in-it-for-the-money-go-getter (not quite a scam artist)
B) A scam artist that doesn’t know s/he is a scam artist
C) A full blown scam artist who walks it, breathes it, lives it.
Once you can see past the sparkly optimism that you have carefully cultivated over the years, you learn to balance a healthy level of optimism and skepticism in matters of your overall well being.
This especially goes out to people NEW to any kind of business, whether young or old: If it is too good to be true and you have that nagging feeling in your gut, don’t ignore it!
The lesson I learned this time was just because it checks out on paper does NOT mean it will in person. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite developed the psychic internet sense yet, but when I do I will let you know.
I am hoping I will be able to go into this topic more in the form of a new project I am creating with a colleague of mine.
For now…watch out for those sketchballs!