They just tried to get me!
Scams are still happening!!
This burns me up. I’ve been writing about scams against those in the speaking world for almost a decade. And wouldn’t you know, I received the same exact scam message again asking me to speak.
The names of the supposed church and fake pastor have changed but you’ll notice the pitch is pretty much word for word the same as it has always been (see this post).
This is the definition of pure evil. Using the Word of God to trick people out of their money is unconscionable.
“But they don’t ask for money in this email,” you may be thinking. They don’t. They hook you and then tell you because the event is so close and you’re international, they need you to send them a fee so they can expedite it all for you – typically in the $800 – $1200 – $3600 range to get your “necessary” paperwork filed. Oh yes … the fees escalate. They try to get you to give money for different fees. But there is no such paperwork needed to speak abroad, no event, and by the time the speaker realizes they’ve been tricked, they’re out hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Here’s the exact body of the message, copied and pasted exactly as it was sent, including the email address from the scammer.
From: Revd Baxter Adamson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Booking you as a speaker!!!
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Felicia, I am Revd Baxter Adamson, presiding minister of the St Clement’s Church,London,United Kingdom. We are pleased to inform you that we would like to engage you for a speaking event here in London at the Church conference coming up on the 15th, 16th & 17th of April 2020. The conference is tagged: ‘Think Big. Start Small’.
Please we would like you to convey to us your availability for one of the dates as it can fit in your schedule.
Also, please we would as well appreciate if you get back in-touch with us in ample time so we can start corresponding the details.
Thank you and expecting to hear from you soon.
Peace & Kindness,
Revd Baxter Adamson
St Clement’s Church
27 Clements Ln
CHURCH WEBSITE: CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
1 John 1:9 (KJV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Looks like this scammer is going to have some sins to be forgiven.
But Then He Responded – And Admitted This!
I couldn’t help myself — I replied to him with a link to the blog post I shared above. (I know that was a mistake because he now has my email address, when before the only way he could contact me was through my Contact Form, but if he subscribed to my list, he could get my email that way, so … whatever!) And HE RESPONDED! Check this out… he admitted he’s trying to get people to “fall for it:”
Thanks, I’ll check it out. lol, they are many not only yours so who will fall for it will surely fall don’t think because you know everyone knows
And then he sent a SECOND reply:
Or do you think all other speakers check your broken link?Go to google you find alot of links and still not all speakers know about your kink any shame on you
I mean… can you imagine?? And there are still typos and poor grammar in the responses. Plus my link isn’t broken. Needless to say, I did not engage any further.
Sharing Saved Someone … Maybe Just Like You
Almost immediately I shared the info in this post far and wide on social media, hoping to help other speakers not be tricked, like many have been. And I’ve already learned of an excellent outcome from sharing!
Yesterday I received a connection request on LinkedIn from a speaker colleague in Canada who was contacted by the same scammer and because he found my post by searching online, he was spared the stress, hassle, and aggravation — and possible loss of money – of finding out it was a scam the hard way. He mentioned he had his doubts to begin with, and then he did his homework. He was grateful for the validation of his instincts, and now I have a new friend in Canada who’s promised to treat me to a great Canadian whiskey if ever I’m in his neck of the woods.
The reason I continue to share these as they come to my attention is that they help other speakers. On past posts, you can see comments spanning several years because through the magic of the internet, as long as my website is active, speakers can find my posts and they are saved from the headaches and hassles, too.
How Could Anyone Fall For That?
One of the places I posted this warning was in the National Speakers Association Facebook Group, where there are more than 25,000 members of the group, ranging from people who have been speaking for decades professionally (like I have) all the way down to those who have never spoken on a stage but would like to, and everyone in between. I knew I was going to get some blow back from some of the snootier self-righteous “seasoned” speakers and sure enough I did. I received comments like,
“Felicia, one can tell it’s a scam from the first paragraph.”
“It never occurred to me that this was real.”
But most who could tell it was a fake speaking offer were more compassionate:
“The English as a Second (or third or fourth) flowery language is one of many flags this is a scam. Hopefully the actual church can track the IP address or something and press charges. Frustrating.”
“I received this exact email a few days ago. I immediately intuited it was a scam. I didn’t think to post about it here but will moving forward should I receive future scams.”
However, they’re not the ones I posted it for. I posted it for people like Dana L. and Shalisa W. who commented:
“Felicia, thank you for this valuable information” and “Thank you for the heads up! But, who would ever send them money?”
Now that’s the question, isn’t it? Several people wondered how someone could be tricked into sending a scammer like this money. The answer is there are a number of psychological principles at play.
- (1) We work hard to market ourselves and want to believe the work we do is getting us the results we want.
- (2) Our online systems are set up and we want to believe the systems we paid for (such as web design & hosting, copywriting, etc.) are all doing what they should. (Hooray… someone sent me a speech request through my contact form!).
- (3) We have a self-serving bias that says, “Why wouldn’t a group like that want me to speak?”
Because of these factors and others, smart people have fallen for this scam. I know attorneys and others with advanced degrees – seriously smart folks – were fooled. There are other factors as well, but when all those things in the list above are at play, it’s easy to miss the otherwise obvious signs or rationalize them away because, again, we want to speak and have worked hard to make legitimate speaking opportunities happen. Here are some of the signs to look for and how someone might rationalize what they see:
- typos – well I sometimes make typos, too.
- so many exclamation points – they must be excited to have me speak!!!
- no website to verify info – but it does say under construction.
- gmail or other nonprofessional email address – well, if their site is under construction, maybe email is too. I use gmail all the time, anyway.
- hiring you sight unseen without so much as a single phone call – there are videos on my site and the event is close so they’re obviously in a hurry.
So they ignore the warning signs and by the time sending them money is discussed the speaker has been promised a fee far larger than the relatively small amount they are being asked to pay, which will “of course” be reimbursed. The scammers are good at convincing people to part with their money.
And then after it happens and the speaker realizes s/he’s been scammed, it’s embarrassing to admit it, so people won’t be shouting that from the rooftops. That’s why if you’re a speaker, you don’t hear about this more often. What do you do when you get an obvious scam message? You probably hit delete and move on with your life. There aren’t enough of us sharing what’s happening out there.
What To Do If You Get This Fake Scam Speaking Offer
If you’re not sure of ANY speaking gig, pick up the phone. Any group who wants to hire you to speak will be happy to hear from you. Contact the church or organization directly yourself like several commenters have done (and I did myself as well):
“I have had this a couple times. Got in touch with the actual church to alert them that their name is being used fraudulently. So low that people would do that.”
Do not call the number in the initial message (if there is one) or email the person who sent you the original message or click the link of the website in the initial contact. Do a Google search – and then some. The kicker is, at least the first time I investigated further, that particular church from that scam back then was a real church in the town the scammer gave! If all someone did to check it out was a Google search to verify it was a real place and not visit the website to look for an announcement of an event coming up or call to see if it’s real, they would also have been fooled.
Ask around. Heck, ask ME! I run a Facebook group called I Luv Speaking where I happily answer questions from members. Request to join the group, answer the couple of screening questions (to keep the riff raff out) and then post your concerns. If you know what you received is a scam, then share that with speakers you know… again in the I Luv Speaking Facebook group is a good place to start. Share on LinkedIn. Wherever you know speakers are gathering in person or online, you can let them know this scam exists. Send them to this post, even.
Have you seen this scam ever or recently? Do you know someone who was tricked by this public speaking scam? Share your thoughts in the comments.