Many of the most popular scams on social media today soon become obvious. The one asking for anyone willing to work a night shift looks like a local event seeking temporary stagehands until you read down the ad and realize they’re claiming you can sign up to work from home for Amazon doing simple tasks like packing gift baskets, and earn hundreds of dollars per week. Others, such as psychics, are apparently not so obvious, as people have fallen for their simple word association games and body language and tone of voice reading for longer than anyone reading this has been alive. Still others are just odd. They definitely seem too good to be true, but many believe them anyway, as there does not appear to be anything in it for the scammer.
This is known as the “blessing” scam. The post appears to be from someone goodhearted and generous. They offer to bless anyone who answers an easy trivia question, or lets them know what time they saw a post. People respond, reasoning that no harm can come from typing the word “food” when asked for a word other than “good” and “book” with two o’s in it, or telling a stranger what time you saw their post. And while no direct harm can come from even the worst person on earth realizing that you know the word “look” or that you saw a post at exactly 9:47 in the morning, the post does serve as a test to see if you will fall for the next steps.
As embarrassing as this may be to accept, you must have had at least a moment of gullibility if you honestly believed there were people out there giving away sums of money to total strangers for completing simple tasks on the internet. There have been instances in which someone was led by the Holy Spirit to bless complete strangers with money. But those situations unfold with the person spontaneously giving the money to the people they are called to bless, or contacting a church or established, well-known nonprofit and discretely arranging a donation to be used to bless someone. A person truly called to bless others in this way would have no reason to give them a test first, no matter how easy the question.
And that next step is where the scam takes off. Once the scammer sees people “liking” or commenting on the post, they can then go back and edit the original post to include a link that downloads malware to your computer. This malware can then be used to access your information, including your banking information. Since you showed the scammers you are not carefully examining things online when you fell for their pitch, they’re confident that you aren’t checking your accounts closely enough or often enough to stop them from making unauthorized purchases on your credit cards, taking out new credit card accounts using your information, or using your identity to open up other types of accounts.
Another popular like farming/blessing scam seems even more harmless at first glance. In this scam, you are not promised any type of blessing. You are asked to give a blessing, and the blessing does not even require you to part with with any money or material goods. All it asks for is a moment of your time.
A photo appears at random on your social media feed. The photo may be of a person or an animal, but the caption is always something that tugs at the heartstrings. “Nobody will say ‘hello’ to me because I’m ugly,” it might read. Or “Today is my birthday. I bet nobody wishes me a happy birthday today.” Sometimes it simply says, “I bet I won’t even get one share!”
Assuming no harm can come to them, and wishing to brighten the day of the person in the photo or the owner of the pet in the photo, people like, share, and respond with “Happy Birthday, Sweetie.” Or “Hello, beautiful girl.”
And just as with commenting “7:26” or “good” in the hopes of winning $3,900, you have now added your name to the list of people who are going to have malware installed on their page, and are probably not paying close enough attention to remove it right away.
Preventing these scams starts with paying attention to what you like, share, and comment on social media. Avoid interacting with these “blessings” posts, no matter how tempting it may be to think there is someone out there who wants to send you money, or how heartbreaking the photo or caption asking for your greeting or share may be. You are not ruining a generous person’s attempt at doing the Lord’s work. The people who posted that “money for your simple answer” offer have no intention of ever giving anyone any type of gift or blessing. And you will not hurt the feelings of a bullied child or lonely pet owner. Those photos are stolen. Their real owners have no idea they are even being passed around online, and will never see your share or greeting. Scroll past, without commenting, liking, or sharing. Should you notice a group or business page getting flooded with these, contact the group or page administrator.
by Jess Szabo
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica website
We like to differentiate between “real life” and “online,” but the truth is, the internet is very much a part of real life. Those are real people we are communicating with, and our actions can have real consequences, both desirable ones and things we truly wished had never happened. Far from being outside of reality, our online communities are actually vast public or semi-public spaces, with some unique features. You can’t scroll past people offline, or have a three hour conversation with somebody without knowing what they look like, or save a conversation and come back later when you ran into someone at the coffeehouse, as you can when you stumbled across them online.
But you can have an impact on someone else no matter where you encounter them, and the internet is too much a part of our lives to brush online interactions off as “just on the internet” anymore. Treating people with kindness and compassion shouldn’t stop at the keyboard.
One of the most common ways to interact with people online is through joining online groups. Facebook groups are available for everything from health issues to careers to hobbies to having a favorite dog breed or television show. And like offline support groups, meetup groups, or meetings, there are some things to keep in mind to help them run smoothly and benefit everyone as much as possible.
Scroll past posts that are simply unpleasant, annoying, or unhelpful to you personally.
In any group, somebody is going to bring up something you don’t want to talk about at some point. If you go out to dinner, two sports fans might start chatting about the game, even though you haven’t paid attention to sports in years. You might have to listen to the boring story about somebody’s kids getting ready for school while you’re in a meeting at the office. The internet is no different. Maybe you don’t like all the posts about gardening in your healthy living group, or you’re in a group for musicians, and somebody keeps posting about a band you don’t listen to. This is where the internet’s unique features come in handy. Offline, it would be quite rude to just turn and walk away mid conversation. Online, you can just scroll past. There is no need to comment and inform people that this is a topic you don’t care to talk about. If someone wants to know if anyone else is into whatever they’re talking about, they will ask.
Defund and dismantle the political correctness police.
Just as no one truly needs to know that you do not like gardening or cutesy kid stories or sports, everyone who chooses the same online group as you does not need to be informed that you “evolved past” caring about the way you look, or that you’re “too enlightened” to like a particular song or movie.
Before commenting, sit back and ask yourself, “Is this thread, this online conversation, truly harmful to others? Is someone honestly in some kind of danger if they participate in this? Or am I just trying to ruin things for somebody else because they aren’t to my liking?”
The prime example of this is “celebrity crush” or “hot celebrities” threads intended for group members to get to know one another in a lighthearted fun way. Those who simply aren’t into celebrities, crushes, celebrity crushes, or getting to know people in a lighthearted fun way scroll past. Others offer up their lists. But there always has to be that one person who joins the conversation just to inform everybody else that this conversation is beneath them, it should be beneath everyone else too, and they should all be talking about something else. Don’t be that person. This may feel evolved and enlightened and righteous, but to everyone whose conversation you just ruined, you only come across as a spoiled brat who can’t handle exposure to anything not to their liking.
The “reporting” function is for things that truly disrupt the group, not things that you and you alone don’t find helpful.
The option to report posts and comments to the moderators or administrators is there to keep the group running smoothly. It should be used if the group begins to be filled with spam posts, or if somebody is posting things that frighten or sicken others to the point that they can no longer participate in the group. It is not there to report people for bringing up topics that are relevant to the group, but not to you personally, for letting the administrators or moderators know that you do not like someone, or for getting back at somebody who argued with you in another thread.
Even if you declined to comment, reporting a post to tell the moderators that you don’t think John Z’s post about sleep problems is taking the anxiety group in the right direction, or that you are afraid others won’t relate to Jane Y’s post about indoor planting in your gardening group is still disruptive. Your best course of action is to simply join in on other conversations without a word to or about the ones you do not find useful.
Respect the privacy of everyone…including those who displease you.
In any large group, there are going to be jerks. It doesn’t matter what the interest or the issue might be, if you get a large group together online or offline or a mix of both, there will be somebody in there who has to start trouble for others.
Should you become the focus of this person, it may be tempting to “put them on blast,” or share their content, including their name and profile picture, if applicable, in a way that people outside the group can see them. The goal, of course, is to get everyone to back you up, and agree with you that the person is in fact, quite the toad.
Don’t do it. You may think you’re “exposing” a bad person, but all you’re really doing is showing everyone that you’re willing to break confidences and humiliate anybody who upsets you.
Do speak up and reach out if you see someone getting into a dangerous situation.
There is no point in forming any type of community, online or offline, if we’re not going to look out for the members of that community. If you see someone planning or seeking something dangerous, giving out a risky amount of personal information, or giving advice that could lead to harm to someone else…speak up. Comment, private message, flag, or do whatever you need to in order to keep people safe.
The unique features of the internet do not make it any less real than a large public space anywhere else. But they do make it a bit different than other public spaces. And while those differences can bring problems, they can also provide the means to sidestep or avoid problems. Whether meeting online, offline, or a little bit of both, do all you can to make things run smoothly for yourself and everyone else in the group.
by Jess Szabo'
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
Scammers are not typically intelligent, creative, or wise people. They’re just opportunistic, and either devoid of a conscience or skilled at making excuses for themselves as to why humiliating people and taking their money is justified. Most “new” scams are nothing more than old scams adapted to new tragedies or problems people face, and the most commonly seen scams in Utica today are no exception.
The “Anyone willing to work a night shift?” scam has been around since at least 2018. It may have gone by other names, but in mid to late March 2022, the scam…with that exact title or line in the post… became a trend among the scammers targeting Utica residents online.
Some of these posts are obviously scams. The rest of the post says things like “Pack candy boxes at home for Amazone. The pay is $980 per week.” Others may be vague enough to look like legitimate, local shift work or scheduled online work to someone whose screen has not yet been flooded with them.
Like all work scams, it plays on both our material needs and our emotions.
Suppose you are struggling financially. The basic expenses simply are not being met before the available cash runs out anymore. You need to pay for your internet and cell phone in order to keep working, but by the time the rest of the bills are paid, there is no money left. Or maybe you have some old credit card debt rising faster than you can pay it down.
Or maybe you’re okay, but just okay. You can meet your basic expenses. You sleep in a safe, clean home, bathe, and eat every day, as long as you stick to Dollar Tree for your personal hygiene and cleaning products, and hot dogs instead of steak. You could really use a little something extra, even if it’s just the means to take the kids out for ice cream once in a while this summer, or a little care package for yourself.
All the ideas from the couponing, money saving, and “getting free stuff” YouTube channels, TikToks, blogs, and Facebook groups have been exhausted. You need some additional cash, and you don’t have the time in your day left to “just go out and get another job.” The one or two you have already takes it all up.
Browsing through your online groups one evening, you keep seeing an ad asking local residents if they are willing to work an overnight shift. The ad is typically accompanied by a stock photo of happy people working. This looks like an opportunity to work a single shift locally, doing something like cleaning up after an event, striking the stage following a local performing arts production, or preparing an area or business for an event the next day.
Once you read the ad, you learn that the job is not local, but an online job working for Amazon. This is even better. You haven’t joined Uber or DoorDash or GrubHub because you cannot spare the time away from home. But this will fit into your schedule beautifully. You will still be here, but you’ll be earning that extra cash, at $20.00 per hour.
Except the cash…and the work…will not be there. As soon as you are “hired” you will either be asked to purchase a $200 “enrollment kit,” install company software that enables you to clock in and out and get your paycheck, or both. The “fee” will only line the scammer’s pocket. The job and your money will be gone. Any software they ask you to install, or links they tell you to open, will contain malware that allows the scammer access to your computer. One you install what may look like a time clock, or click on that link that looks like it only offers you some paperwork for a new job, you will have granted the scammers access to anything you have access to when you open your desktop or laptop computer. They may drain your bank account, use your credit cards, or even open up new accounts in your name. All of this will be done without your consent or awareness.
Legitimate job openings for corporations like Amazon will be posted on the company’s official website. They may also be listed on Indeed dot com, but major corporations do not send random people out into cyberspace to beg others to work for them.
While it would be great if there were something we could do to earn a steady wage that is also easy, flexible, and guaranteed, that type of work simply does not exist. You can reach out to local business people and build a client base for your home based business and schedule your hours whenever you want. But that is going to take time and effort, and the income will not be guaranteed. Going the gig work route is going to leave you dependent on demand. And of course, getting a side job or day job that is actually a night job will require you to stick to a schedule and do regular shift work. Beware of anyone promising otherwise.
And if you were already aware of this scam and knew not to fall for it, remember that everyone is not in the exact same situation as you. Someone else may be more vulnerable due to extreme stress, illness, isolation, or other problems in their lives. Even if they’re that friend who just plain never stops and thinks anything through, they don’t deserve to have their money stolen by scammers. Look out for each other.
by Jess Szabo
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
For two years, we did everything online because of the pandemic. Now that we are returning to offline gatherings, the price of gas and everything else has made staying home and interacting online a necessity for more and more people all over again.
Due to the increased stress from all of these issues coming one right after the other, online support groups are especially popular, but they can be confusing to navigate. It’s easy to join something because of a single keyword, only to quickly realize you have little in common with anyone else posting or chatting. Or maybe you do not personally face the issue, but it is something you would like to write about in a song, novel, poem, or script as a way to publicize the issue for those who do.
If the group has the words “support,” “survivor,” “victim,” or “warrior” in it, that group is for people who personally cope or have coped with the issue.
Regardless of what you may think of using any of these terms to describe a person who has grappled with an issue in their life, these are some common terms to denote a group for people most directly impacted by whatever the issue might be. A “Depression support group” is for people who have been diagnosed with Depression, or in some cases, who have experienced symptoms for weeks, months, or years but been afraid to seek treatment. If the group is for “Natural disaster survivors,” it’s for people who have been in the direct path of a natural disaster. “Bullying victims” is for those who are currently dealing with bullying or have in the past, and “Fibromyalgia warriors” is a group for people who live each day with fibro.
While some groups with these keywords may welcome those who are simply concerned about those who deal with the issue,as a general rule, they are limited to people whose lives are directly impacted. Regardless of their policy on this, online support groups are not for those who are merely curious or seeking information for personal use. Never join a support group in order to write about an issue, market your services or your art to the group members, or “just to see what those people are really like.” You may have helpful, loving intentions, but this is not the way to carry them out. It will only make the group members feel uncomfortable or afraid in what may be the one place they felt they could open up. If you cannot find another group that addresses the issue, contact the administrators or a moderator via private message and ask to be pointed in the direction of general resources.
Look for keywords like “awareness,” “education,” and “advocates” if you are not personally impacted by an issue, but seek to learn more about those who are.
Groups welcoming those who want to learn more about an issue so they can help in some way are typically named “awareness” or “education” groups. They may also be a group of “advocates,” or “supporters.”
Read through the group description carefully before you join a group like this in order to write a paper, article, novel, poem, script, or song about someone with the issue. If the group exists for education and awareness, members may have no problem with you joining in order to complete a project that publicizes their issue or presents those who cope with it in a realistic manner. Just be upfront and honest about why you are joining the group.
Everyone who gives you advice or guidance on any issue in any online group should be assumed to be a “peer supporter” unless they can prove otherwise.
It is easy for someone who knows a little bit about an issue to come across as an expert to someone who knows nothing about it.. Always check with a verified professional in the field that deals with the issue you are experiencing before doing anything anyone in an online support group tells you to do.
Even if the person offering advice can provide links to their professional webpage, remember that reputable professionals do not join online groups and beg people to be their clients in order to drum up business. Check with a licensed professional in your area before taking health, legal, or banking and investing guidance from anybody you meet online.
Remember that group moderators are volunteers.
People who serve as the administrators and moderators of online support and/ or awareness groups volunteer their time and energy. It is not their job. This means you may have to wait a bit before being approved to the group, having a post approved, or getting an answer to a question. Allow the people that time. They probably have a paying job, kids, and/or other volunteer work they need to tend to as well.
If you seem to never get an answer back, if it’s been weeks and you have not heard from anybody, quietly leave the group and look for something else with a similar focus. The first group may be inactive, or the group may be so big, the moderators cannot keep up with it.
Respect the privacy of everyone in private groups, regardless of your reason for joining.
Putting people “on blast” by copying their post or comment and pasting it on to your personal page or another group page is a popular way to show everyone else their inappropriate or unpleasant behavior. In some situations this reaction may be merited. When the person has joined a group with the understanding that their membership in the group and what they say is private, it is not.
Trolling, harassment, or disagreements that disrupt the work of the group should be dealt with inside the group, and quietly reported to the group moderators. If nothing is done, delete and block everyone involved and leave the group. Unless the situation escalates to the point that you need to provide the person’s name to law enforcement, there is never any excuse for “outing” someone for dealing with an issue they may wish to keep private.
Online groups can be confusing. It can be hard to tell what the group is for, and how serious everyone posting is about confronting the stated issue or spreading awareness. But they can also be useful sources of support and/ or information if approached carefully.
In an article titled, Painful Internet Truths, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy was briefly mentioned. Today, we take a deeper look at this issue, and the way it is often portrayed in the arts.
Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (MSBP) is a form of domestic and/or child abuse in which the perpetrator/abuser creates, invents, or exaggerates the target/victim’s health problems for personal gain. MSBP is not a single isolated incident, but a pattern that is carried on for as long as the perpetrator can get away with it.
In MSBP, the primary goal of the perpetrator is to establish an identity for themselves as a devoted and loving caretaker for a disabled or sick person, and gain the attention and admiration that identity typically brings. The perpetrator may also have secondary goals, such as getting money, gifts, or benefits, or using a child to control a spouse or former spouse in divorce proceedings or other breakup.
Because the disorder is most often seen with a parent or other steady caregiver as the perpetrator and the child as the target/victim, parent and child relationship red flags are the most common. However, MSBP can exist between people in other relationships, such as spouses, adults living with elderly or infirm parents to provide care, or live-in personal care aides and clients.
While art almost always illuminates issues, provides a voice for those with a legitimate complaint, generates compassion by providing a glimpse into lives we have not led, inspires research and solutions to real problems, and/or provides pure entertainment, MSBP is one of those issues where film, novels, and other art forms tend to rely on over-dramatization and shock value. Most recently, the movie “Run” featured a victim doing things like scurrying across her roof on disabled legs, making a scene in a drug store as she raced away from her knife wielding mother in the wheelchair she didn’t truly need, and screaming for help in the middle of the road. In real MSBP, nobody is going to be pulling themselves across the roof by their arms or getting into a high speed chase in their wheelchair.
Here are ten real warning signs:
1.The parent (or other caregiver) takes the target to multiple health professionals, or makes regular visits to professionals with a reputation for selling diagnoses.
Munchausen by Proxy perpetrators work to create and maintain a medical record stating that their victim has the health issues the perpetrator has decided they have. They may accomplish this by “doctor shopping,” or taking their victim to a series of doctors until they are able to convince a doctor to make the diagnosis they want, or knowingly taking the victim to doctors with a reputation for falsifying medical forms in exchange for their fee.
2.The target/victim’s medical issues lessen or disappear when they’re separated from the abuser, or the diagnosis changes when the caregiver is no longer able to join them at the doctor’s office.
In many cases, the perpetrator is making the victim sick. The victim will then get better when the perpetrator is not around to sicken them. Even if the perpetrator is faking or exagerating the illness rather than poisoning, injuring, or otherwise directly creating medical issues for the victim, they will almost always hover and intimidate them into saying what they want, or will talk over them to manipulate the information the doctor receives. The diagnosis changes when the victim sees the doctor alone, because the doctor is able to examine the person without interference or inaccurate reports.
3.The caregiver’s knowledge of the victim’s alleged illnesses and/or disabilities seems extensive given their educational and professional background, but skewed or incomplete.
Learning every test, symptom, and treatment for a disorder and attempting to ingratiate themselves with medical staff by talking “as fellow experts” is common MSBP perpetrator behavior. At the same time, the person may deny information about the disorder that would fail to serve their purpose. For example, a parent with no medical training may know every medical procedure someone with the disability could possibly have, but brush off material that suggests children with this disorder benefit by being allowed to socialize with peers separate from the parent. Or they might not be able to provide basic information a doctor who actually did diagnose someone with the disability or illness would tell a caregiver, but be able to provide a startling amount of other information.
4.The target is observed doing things the perpetrator claims they cannot do, to the extent that a parent or other caregiver would not simply fail to realize the target had a specific skill or knew a specific fact.
It’s not at all uncommon for a parent to realize their child knows how to navigate the internet much better than they thought, or for the child to learn a few words in another language at school, or pick up another skill the parent does not know about. But if the parent or other caregiver is insisting the child, teen, or adult still living at home lacks significant insight, interests, abilities or skills the person clearly has, that is a warning sign. The perpetrator may insist the child cannot eat, even though they’re seen eating meals at school. Or they may behave as though their teen does not understand what dating and intimate relationships are, while the person talks at length about crushes and dream dates whenever the parent is out of earshot.
5. Behaviors that are normal or even expected for the target’s culture are treated as “problems” that need to be “corrected,” but only in their own dependent.
In the most common form of MSBP, where the child is the target and the parent is the perpetrator, this appears as a refusal to allow the child to grow up and/or grow attached to other people. The child may be punished for normal childhood behaviors, such as laughing loudly when playing with neighborhood kids, shamed and punished for getting their first crush, or humiliated and restricted when they express the desire to hang out with a peer group instead of their parents as they grow into their preteen and teen years. This is done to both perpetuate the image of the child being delayed and dependent in others’ eyes, and to keep control over the child as he or she grows up.
The same parent will have a completely different set of standards for everyone else. They may insist their nineteen-year-old daughter “can’t date,” but berate another parent for being too strict when they set the dating age at sixteen instead of fifteen. Or they might mock a forty year-old for moving back in with his parents after a divorce or job loss, insisting a grownup should be out on his own, but behave as though it’s perfectly natural that their forty-three year old has never lived outside of the family home.
6.The target/victim always seems to be “trying too hard” or afraid to be themselves.
Children and teens experiment with different identities and interests during the course of a completely healthy life. Most kids will pretend to like a band just because their friends like them, or not dare admit they don’t really care for sports when their friends are all obsessed with making the school team. But the kid who always seems to be looking for a new crowd to join, or who appears to go out of his or her way to be outrageous, funny, shocking, quirky, or just plain strange may be trying to distract from something serious going on at home, or hoping someone will “rescue” them.
They may also simply be afraid to be themselves. When you grow up with MSBP, you grow up conditioned to believe that people will only care for you if you present and perform the way they want you to all of the time, in every way. When they meet new people, and those people are kind to them, or they happen upon a group of people they think might be kind to them, they’re conditioned to immediately start dressing, acting, and pretending to think like those people in order to gain acceptance.
7.Treatment for the target’s illnesses or disabilities is sporadic.
The perpetrator may insist their child needs to go to physical therapy every week, behavioral counseling twice a week, and occupational therapy once a week, stick to that for weeks, months, or even years. They may then stop one or all of those suddenly, despite acting like it was vital just a week before.
This is likely due to professionals getting too close to the truth, or the perpetrator becoming paranoid they will be discovered to be faking the target’s issues.
8.The perpetrator talks at length about sacrificing for the target, and often uses the person’s care as an excuse to get out of things they do not wish to do, but rarely if ever gives up something they want.
MSBP perpetrators promote a narrative that they have given up their hopes, dreams, wants, and even basic needs to devote to the care of their child or other person in their home.
On the surface, this often appears to be true. A parent may insist the reason they don’t have a paying job is because caring for the child is their full time job. A spouse who victimizes his partner in this way may claim he cannot clean the house or go back to school because his partner’s care takes up all his time. But the perpetrator will rarely, if ever, make a true sacrifice for the target. They may move the person away from resources they would need if the condition were genuine upon finding their own dream home, spend money on themselves before investing in improved care, or use funds, benefits, or other support the target has received for their illness or disability on their own wants.
9.The perpetrator has an extreme love/hate relationship with clinics, hospitals, or other medical settings.
When things are going according to the perpetrator’s wants and needs, they will often behave as though the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital is their absolute favorite place on earth. They may greet the doctors and other hospital staff as though they’re old friends, make themselves at home in the hospital room or exam room right away, and light up when describing the target’s supposed medical issues, basking in the attention.
Should someone on staff begin to ask too many uncomfortable questions or challenge them, the hospital staff who was a second family to them a minute before will suddenly turn into their worst enemy. The perpetrator will flee, vowing never to return, with nothing nice to say about the place they used to treat as a second home.
10. The target seems inappropriately controlled by the perpetrator.
Extreme and/or inappropriate levels of control over another person is a red flag for any form of domestic abuse, and is certainly present in MSBP cases. The target may need to ask their parent if they are allowed to eat a piece of candy, even though they’re sixteen years old and plenty old enough to make that decision on their own, or they may be an adult living at home, but still be expected to ask their parents if they can go to the mall with a friend.
The target may seem strangely afraid of punishment should they displease the perpetrator. A victimized spouse might beg friends not to tell their partner they were out of their wheelchair, or an adult son or daughter might behave as though they were going to be grounded for arriving home too late.
Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy is a relatively rare, but serious disorder. Because we are often led to look for dramatic signs, it can also be easy to miss. Its targets/victims may not need a valiant, Hollywood movie style rescue….or the treatment they’ve grown to believe they need, but they do need understanding, support, and respect as they heal from this very serious form of abuse.
As Fall brought a new crop of career changers, it also brought a new crop of work related scams. Just a few weeks later, the scammers seemed to want to remind us they have not forgotten how to scam people in other areas as well. Here are just a few of the most popular non-work related scams this season.
A major corporation wants to apologize to you for poor service by giving you a prize or gift card.
People are still struggling to find work they can actually take and pay their bills, kids are back in school offline, and the holidays are on the way. Many of us could use a break on a bill so we can amend the budget a little this month, or some “free to us” merchandise to use as Christmas gifts. And the scammers know it.
The company name varies, but it is typically a major service corporation, like a phone or electric company. Messages designed to look like they came from T Mobile seem to be especially common. These texts claim the company wants to apologize for a disruption in service, or for poor service, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The apology will come in the form of a gift card to the company to use toward their service or another popular retailer, or a special prize.
While this scam will be immediately obvious when the message is supposed to be from a company the target does not do business with, it can be easy to thoughtlessly click the link when it looks like it might be something related to one of our bills.
Never click these links. This scam has been widely reported as new this year, and the detail about Covid certainly is, but the scam itself has been around for at least seven years. It is a classic spoofing scam, designed to get targets to click on the links so that malware or spyware can be installed on their computer. You will not get a gift card or a prize. But the scammers certainly will. They’ll “win” access to your bank account and other financial records.
If you’re in the LGBTQ community, that new love interest you met online is going to humiliate and/or out you if you do not send them money.
Online dating is growing increasingly common and acceptable, with dating sites set up for people fitting a wide variety of descriptions. But if you are lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, or identify as “queer,” take special precautions when talking to people on LGBTQ sites. Scammers pretending to be members of your community are infiltrating these sites with the goal of extorting money.
Things seem normal at first, if a little fast. You and your new online crush are happily getting to know each other, when they get you to reveal something private. Persuading the target to send revealing photos is a common tactic. They may also strike up conversations that urge you to share private details about your life.
Once they have this material, the scammer then reveals their true motive. They inform you that if you do not send them money, whatever you have shared will be sent to your family, friends, clients, supervisors, or anywhere else it might cause serious problems in your life. They may even taunt you with details like the names of your family members or the location of your workplace to make the threat seem real.
Should this happen to you, never send the money. The scammer is not sincere in his or her offer to destroy the material once the money is sent. While nobody can promise a scammer won’t actually send your personal materials to the last person you would want to see them, this is typically far too much effort for a scammer. Their only intention is to scare as many people as possible into sending them money as quickly as possible. If you do not scare so easily, it is more lucrative for them to move on quickly to the next target than to bother sending out blackmail messages and waiting for you to fall apart again.
Instead, immediately report the account to the site you’re on, and file a report with the internet crime complaint center at: https://www.ic3.gov/Home/FileComplaint
One of your favorite stores is practically giving away something you’ve been wanting.
Like the “apology gift card” scam, this one plays on the fact that many people are still adjusting to the gradual return to in-person work and school as the holidays arrive. Scammers set up fake online storefronts and shopping sites, offering items everyone wants for Christmas, at prices anyone can afford.
At first glance, fake shopping websites appear to be simply outlet or resell sites. But the prices seem almost too good to be true. And that’s because they are. Should you order something from them, the most likely outcome is that you will never receive your order, and will not be able to contact anyone about getting your money back. Sometimes, you do receive a package, but it will be an item of much lower quality, and worth much less than the amount you sent the scammer. Sending the scammer $200 for a guitar or a handbag that typically sells for $1,200 might get you nothing more than a flimsy knockoff, broken, or even toy item that bears no resemblance to the photo and description on the site.
The only way to avoid being scammed by these sites is to avoid them entirely. Always go directly to known, trusted sites when you want to shop online, and carefully check that the website address is the official address of the store you meant to visit. Merchandise from Amazon will always be on “Amazon dot com,” not “Amazon deals dot com” or “Amazon outlet dot com.” Your friends’ Etsy shops are searchable from “Etsy dot com,” not “Esty dot net.”
If you absolutely need a deeply discounted item, wait for sales, coupon, or visit local thrift stores and yard sales.
The perfect puppy or kitten for your family is easy to find and purchase on a social media group dedicated to your favorite breed.
This scam seems to be the evergreen content of the scammer playbook. It never really goes away, they just update and refresh it from time to time, adding a bit more to it to attract a new audience….full of victims.
The basic scam is the same one from many times before. You love dogs, and have an especially soft spot in your heart for Chihuahuas, Pugs, Boston Terriers, or some other breed, so you join an enthusiast or owners group or two. Scattered in between people sharing cute stories and photos of their own pets are ads from people claiming their own beloved pet just had a litter, and they’re offering them at a reasonable price. In a newer twist, some claim the litter belongs to someone else, is unwanted, and the person posting is finding the puppies a home out of the goodness of their heart.
One particular puppy captures your heart. You contact the person, make a deposit through some type of online money transfer service, and travel to meet your new bundle of fur at the agreed upon public place. Nobody ever shows up with your puppy. And they never will. They will also never respond to your messages asking for your money back.
There was never any unwanted litter, and nobody’s beloved pet had puppies or kittens who needed homes. Scammers steal pictures from breeders’ websites, animal shelters, or image searches, save them, and change the caption to make them look like their photos.
The only way to avoid this scam is to never purchase or pay an adoption fee for a pet online. Ideally, adopt a pet from your local shelter. If that is not possible, or if you see an ad for a pet online and feel called to respond, make no promises and hand over no money until the pet is with you, physically and offline.
Don’t be mislead by a picture of the person you’re talking to and the pet or litter together, or even seeing the person and the pet on Zoom together. They could be be running a scam using their own pet they have no intention of rehoming, a friend’s pet, or an animal they’re pet sitting.
Keep a lookout for these, and other scams, as we head into the start of the holiday season. Even if you would never be taken in, let’s keep vigilant and protect each other.
As most of us practically moved to the internet over the past year and nine months, more and more painful truths about life online have become apparent. While the internet is a great place to do everything from errands, socializing, working, and going to school, there are some things that happen online that we struggle to see or at least to accept.
Money gurus who promise you can make thousands running an online business every month are just going to charge you money to tell you how they charge people money to learn how to run an online business.
Whether it’s “how to get started in real estate” or “how to earn a living as a freelance writer” or “how to sell physical products,” the people who make a living doing it online do not have some special secrets they can only teach you if you fork over your money. If their type of success is contingent upon buying a course, how did they manage to do it, when they were “broke”….and they’re always “broke”…when they started?
If you’re interested in a field, you can learn about it online and at the library for free, just like they did. If it is something that requires formal training, licensure, or a degree, spend your time and money on training programs and courses that lead to something tangible you can use in the field, like your license, certificate, or academic credential.
People whose online space is constantly covered with compliments, praise, and over-the-top words of encouragement are often receiving that treatment not because they’re genuinely liked, but because they attack anyone who displeases them in any way.
No matter how many psychological studies report comparing yourself to other people online is damaging to your mental health, we all still do it to some extent. It’s hard not to notice that Suzy Z. who used to sing at the ABC Club posted a video of herself singing in the bathroom and got two hundred likes and a request to come back to the club when it reopens, but your professionally made music video only got fifty likes and somebody asking if that was you they saw at Dollar Tree last Thursday.
But forget all that politically correct advice about your own journey and how unique and special you are. Take a deep dive into Suzy Z’s online presence. The last few times I’ve noticed a ‘Suzy Z” on my social media feed, a deeper look revealed behaviors such as telling anyone who pointed out an error in something they posted that they were no longer speaking to them, copying dialogue, with real names included, from confidential support groups to their public timeline and inviting friends to mock the person, and basically doing the online equivalent of taunting people and throwing a screaming fit.
Chances are, very few, if any, people are that dazzled by Suzy Z. They’re just afraid to speak to her unless it’s to tell her how wonderful she is, because they’ve seen what she does to others who have displeased her.
Job hunting groups, and many job boards, are near useless, and are often clogged with scams and people trying to promote their direct sales/multilevel marketing products and teams.
The website “Indeed” (www.indeed.com) seems to have every “help wanted” ad employers post online. If you’re looking for work at a college or university, add “Higher Ed Jobs” to your search resources. Nearly every other online job board is only going to have copies of a few of the same listings you already saw on these two sites. These listings are often old and randomly selected, designed to persuade you to sign up for a paid membership or click on pages owned by the same company more than to help you get a job.
Joining job hunting groups is often useless as well. Most job hunting groups are populated entirely by scammers and people trying to sign up others to their multilevel marketing companies.
Once you have exhausted the listings on Indeed (and possibly Higher Ed Jobs), you’re just going to have to resort to old fashioned job hunting methods like walking around town with your resume, networking, and checking the local papers.
Everybody who pours out their heart on the internet does not actually have the problems they talk about.
By now, we all know that a “catfish” is someone who pretends to be someone else entirely, or a fictionalized version of themselves, with the goal of tricking people into fake, usually romantic relationships. Some do it just to see how much they can mess with other people, most do it for money or gifts.
But “catfish” are not the only internet liars out there. Some people are displaying what psychologists refer to as “Munchaussen by Internet.” The term refers to “Munchaussen Syndrome” or “Munchaussen Syndrome by Proxy,” mental disorders in which the person induces, deliberately worsens, fakes, and/ or exaggerates illness or disability in themselves or another, the proxy. (Munchaussen Syndrome by Proxy is also a form of abuse). The primary goal is to create and maintain a self-image as a “patient,” or “caretaker,” and to gain the admiration, sympathy, and attention those things can bring. Money, benefits, and gifts may be a secondary goal.
In Munchaussen by Internet, the person fakes or exaggerates a mental or physical illness or disability online to receive this same attention and admiration, with a possible secondary goal of getting gifts or money.
Of course most people who share their troubles online are not faking things, but if the person appears to be either in crisis or miraculously improved every time someone else gets too much attention, uses their disability or illness as a weapon (You can’t criticize, argue, or disagree with me, I have this condition), or makes fantastic or contradictary claims, they may not be genuinely suffering.
Internet memes are easy for anyone to create, including people who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.
Just because something is posted on someone’s facebook or Instagram in a big font, with a colorful background and/or a picture, that does not make it true. It doesn’t even make it a logical, reasonable personal observation.
Consider the meme at the top of this article: Studies show businesses that hire writers make 30% more profit than those who allow their staff to do their writing.
Might want to hire me based on that, right? Who couldn’t use 30% more profit? But while I would certainly love the business….please don’t hire me based on that meme, because I made that statistic up. All I had to do was type in “free meme generator,” click on a site called “Canva” and sign up with my facebook account, and I now have the ability to create and post memes saying any false, self-serving thing I want. It took me all of a minute. If I really wanted to look and sound official, I could have done another draft in about ten more minutes, centering the text neatly, adding a picture, and claiming the studies were from any number of literacy or business organizations that would have no idea I was using their name….or a similar name….to promote my lies.
The internet is great. It is the setting for many blessings, and many of us would not have survived 2020 through early 2021 without it. Just remember that, like any large public gathering space, it can…and often is….used for less than honorable purposes.
When it’s not much better than the “University of Facebook”: avoiding sketchy training and academic programs
For many, coming out of the quarantine and returning to some semblance of normal life means re-evaluating our professional lives. We are looking for new performance venues for our music and readings, new day jobs, second careers, and side gigs. Some of us feel called to return to school or some other form of training and education as part of that professional shift. But all schools are not equal. Here are just a few signs that the program you are considering might not help you reach your professional goals.
The program is not recognized by the profession you’re entering, or in the case of an academic degree, a regional accrediting body.
For technical and career training programs, always start with the career you want and work backwards. Learn which professional organizations and agencies approve credentials for your field, and narrow your search to schools and programs that meet their standards.
If you are seeking an academic degree, regional accreditation is the bare minimum measure of quality. Earning a degree from a school that is not regionally accredited is about as impressive to potential employers as watching a bunch of videos on YouTube or getting your information from facebook memes. In other words, it isn’t.
They aren’t promising to hire you, but they’re guaranteeing their degree or program is a direct path to your career goals.
As hard as this may be to accept, training and education is not a guarantee of future employment or improved business. It can certainly help, but unless you’re working with a program or business that explicitly guarantees this program ends with an offer of employment at this specific company, nobody, not even an Ivy League university, can guarantee you will get the job you want, or any job, simply because you completed their program.
Emphasis is on how easy and convenient the work of the program will be.
Persuading potential students, especially those older than the traditional “college aged” students, to choose them over their competitors by mentioning that the work can be done without sacrificing paid work or family obligations is common practice among training and education programs of all levels of quality. Simply mentioning that their classes are online, and can be accessed at any time during the day does not mean the place is a diploma mill. But beware of any training or educational program that wants you to think you can simply pop in and complete a few easy tasks and earn certification or a degree.
If you’re entering a field that requires specialized technical training, you are learning a whole new profession. If you’re entering an academic program, you are immersing yourself in a field of study. These things are supposed to be hard. They’re supposed to be time consuming. Putting in the time and effort is a large part of what leads to the expertise in the field at the end of the program. Would you want to hire someone to do work they prepared for in the easiest, most convenient way possible, or someone who cared enough about the work to devote real time and energy to train or learn to do it well?
Feelings sound more important to the admissions staff than learning.
Promising the program will “boost your confidence” or “help you on your journey” is not a red flag in and of itself. Training and educational programs are trying to attract people from two generations whose educations have been greatly influenced by the self-esteem movement. Their potential recruits, people whose money they need to keep going, are used to things like participation trophies, “trigger warnings” on books because words in them might upset some people, and safe spaces to protect them from the ideas of people more liberal or more conservative than they are, so some of that is likely to be part of their sales pitch, no matter where you go.
It becomes a red flag when this seems to be all the program is about. If you’re looking for a quick way to feel good about yourself, looking to pay your money, set aside a little time, and have everyone tell you how much you deserve this, how amazing your results are, and how fun it is to have you there….and little else….what you’re looking for is not training or education, but a retreat or a spa.
There is intense pressure to hand over your money right away.
The terms “for profit” and “not for profit” applied to a university refer to whether the school is owned by a corporation, not whether they want money. Every job training program, college, and university in the world is there to make money, and they will be making money from your enrollment, whether you have full financial aid, and they’re getting the money from government programs, wealthy alumni, and organizations outside the school, or you’re paying for everything with your own income.
It’s the “sign up for our program today for three easy payments of $19.99” approach that should alert you that something is not right about the school. Look out for admissions staff that wants to sign you up the minute you send out that first inquiry email, including pushing for a credit card number to pay for admissions fees or start the first class. Even a program with open admissions is going to want people who are fully aware of what they’ve signed up to do. If they’re practically enrolling you based on an email from you that read, “What type of program is this?” look elsewhere.
Back when I was a reporter, I contacted a well-known for-profit university based in Minneapolis, hoping to write a feature about for-profit universities. The staff person I talked to immediately began making an admission file for me, and sent emails designed for a new student who needed to register and pay for classes for days before I finally convinced them that I was not a potential student and to close the file. While I am not printing the name of the school, it’s one I would not work for and would not attend classes in, based on that interaction.
They claim to be the only path to reaching your career goals.
When researching potential next steps in my own education, I had the following exchange with an admissions representative from a school I will call “Internet University.”
“My career goal is to eventually teach at a college or university. I was looking into your doctorate in Education with emphasis in adult education.”
“Yeah,” the admissions staff member said, “In order to teach at a college or university, you pretty much need a doctorate in Education with emphasis in adult education.”
I’m being deliberately vague on the exact degree and specialization to avoid exposing the school, but the staff member was trying to convince me that in order to even be considered for the job I wanted, I needed their exact degree.
Approximately nine years after that conversation, I have been teaching writing composition courses to adults for six and a half years at a different university based in a different city from the one referenced above. And I hold a Master of Arts in my subject, Literature and Creative Writing, from Goddard College. Earning a terminal degree, whether that be an Ed.D or a Ph.D. in my field, or a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing or Interdisciplinary Arts, would indeed be an improvement in my credentials, but their specific degree was far from the only path to the job I wanted.
Jumping into a new training or education program quickly may be tempting, especially when job hunts become frustrating. But just like any major professional decision, choosing a college, university, or training program should be done carefully, with thorough research.
Fall 2021 is a time for job hunting for many of us. New opportunities to play music or read in person again can mean new projects to fund, new instruments and computers and other career necessities to buy. The recent lockdown has left many behind on our bills. Or, we may need a break or a treat, and just want to save up some extra cash to fund that.
Driving around town and watching the news, we get the impression that these jobs are so easy to find, you can simply send out an email or walk in the door, and find work, but the actual experience of searching for a job is still daunting. Intimidating requirements, form rejection notices that arrive almost as soon as the application is sent, and low salaries for the work described are still a part of the process.
Adding to the confusion, some of the jobs you see listed are not really jobs at all. They aren’t scams, in that it is not impossible to make money, but you are not working for a paycheck. Here are some of the signs that the job you’re applying for is not actually a job.
One of the “perks” is the ability to set your own schedule and your own fee.
Many remote work jobs, even those that pay salaries, allow you to set your own schedule within their needs. If you teach at an online university, the students’ papers are due Tuesday at midnight, and the grades are due on Friday at midnight, it is up to you whether Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday is grading day, but one of those days needs to be spent grading homework. But when you’re offered the opportunity to completely set your own schedule and your own fee, you’re not truly being offered a job.
Companies that allow you to set your own schedule and your own fee are offering you the opportunity to market yourself as an independent worker through their website, usually for a portion of your income as a sort of rent.
Many tutoring websites operate in this manner. Hiring you simply means giving you a tutor account on their site. Potential students will then see your tutoring page, and have the option of hiring you as a tutor. If you charge $30 per hour, you may actually earn $20 for each hour you tutor, as the remaining ten goes to the website for the space on their page, use of their platform, and the publicity being associated with them brings to your tutoring business.
The word “freelance” is in the job description.
The term “hiring a freelance…” does not truly make sense, and is used mainly so that people looking for freelance workers can post on the job boards. When you see a job listing claiming to be “hiring a freelance” something, what they are really doing is looking for an independent worker to hire for a single, specific project or series of projects. They are not offering a position with their company.
On the surface, this may seem like no big deal. If you’re hired to give music lessons to kids online, or tutor college students in math, or act as a virtual assistant to someone for four hours per day, five days per week, for a six month term, you’re going to be doing the same work, and the same amount of work, whether you’re an employee or a freelance worker.
It becomes important, turns into a very big deal, at tax time, and when those six months are up. No matter how devoted you are to a company, if you are a freelance worker, they are still your client or customer, not your employer. You are your own employer, meaning you have to deduct money from your own checks for taxes. It is also very likely that once the project ends, the company that hired you will no longer need you. You will still be a freelance tutor or teacher or virtual assistant, but you will be one without a paying project to work on, meaning no income.
“Potential” income is listed.
When there is no base salary or wage, only “potential” income, you are looking at an offer of a commission only sales job.
While this technically is a job, unlike the freelance listings, it is not a job in the way we typically define the word, as a situation where you do a certain amount of work that produces a specific result and get paid a certain amount for that work. You will only be paid a percentage of what you manage to sell.
The most well-known example of this is multilevel marketing. These companies file paperwork listing you as an independent consultant, meaning that for tax purposes you are in the freelance category. They present it as having your own business. You do not. You have a commission only sales job with that multilevel marketing company.
These opportunities are often presented as having unlimited income potential, but your income is actually limited by a lot of factors, including the market for the product, the market saturation of the product, the market for competing products, the amount of time you have to devote to the work, the amount of energy you have to devote to the work, and the amount of money you have to invest in your sales goals. While there is something like a 97% chance that you won’t, you still might make enough money in an mlm to pay all your bills and live all your dreams. But you also might earn absolutely nothing, and even wind up losing money.
Other commission only jobs are not typically this slanted toward failure, but your income can and will fluctuate from nothing, especially when you first start out, to whatever your specific circumstances brings.
The place “hires” continuously.
Many YouTube content creators who cover working from home seem to miss this sign. You will often see YouTube videos encouraging you to apply to a certain company because they are “always hiring.” And while it may be true that they are always looking for new people, they are probably not hiring in the traditional sense of the word.
A business who never seems to stop looking for people to join their team is likely to be offering freelance work, rented workspace, or commission only sales work, rather than steady traditional employment. Even the world’s largest corporations only need so many staff members to fill each role.
They expect you to bring in….or have…a lot of your own materials.
Any job is going to expect you to have things that are common to several jobs; access to the internet if you need or want to work from home, clothing appropriate for the workplace, a car or other reliable transportation to and from offline jobs. But if you are expected to use items or services specific to a particular job that you would be unlikely to be able to use anywhere else, an employer typically provides them for you. In order to teach online as a faculty member of a university, I was expected to have consistent access to the internet, but the microphone headset I needed to record lessons before the school switched to Zoom was mailed to me at no charge. Offline jobs may expect you to wear dark jeans or black or beige pants, but they will provide you with shirts featuring logos, name tags, and other items you would not be able to wear anywhere but at work.
When you see a job that expects you to furnish a large amount of career specific items yourself, take a closer look at the job description. They are probably looking for an independent contractor who already owns these things for their freelance business.
Taking any of these types of jobs is not a sure path to failure and financial loss. They are not hoaxes or scams. Just make sure you’re clear on your relationship to the company, your responsibility at tax time, and the way you will be getting paid before you agree to take the job.
As more and more people receive the Covid-19 vaccine, more and more people are looking for regular jobs to replace income lost during shutdown, side jobs to fund vacations they’re still waiting to take, and second jobs to pay down accumulated bills. Local independent artists are typically in need of funds for supplies, instruments, recording sessions, gallery space, work space, and networking. All this job seeking has, sadly, not gone unnoticed by scammers. Here are just a few of the most popular work and money related scams circulating as we head into Fall 2021.
A Japanese steel company thinks you would make a great debt collection representative for their corporation.
On August 25 of this year, I received the following email from someone using the name Nathan Baker:” I reviewed your info on LinkedIn and I would like to know if you are available to work with my company on a contract. “
This was obviously a copy and paste document sent to several people at random, but I wanted to learn the details of the scam, so I pretended to fall for it and asked for more information about the company. Today, I received a reply from a Japanese steel company. The email explained that I would be working as a debt collection agent. I would only need to work an hour per day. For working one hour per day, I would earn five per cent of all debt I collected, plus a four-thousand dollar per month stipend to cover expenses.
Had I not realized it was a scam from the beginning, the terms of that offer would make it obvious. Nobody is going to pay you $4,000 every month to make phone calls and send emails and faxes for an hour per day, plus give you 5% of everything you collect. The form they asked me to fill out and send back didn’t ask for my bank account information or anything else they could use to commit identity theft, so I did some general internet research about the scam.
The earliest mention of it cropped up in 2012, with previous resurfacing in 2015 and 2017. The scammers have simply come back for another try for the fall of 2021.
It appears to be a bad check scheme. If someone were to take the job, they would find themselves extraordinarily successful. The first person they called would apologize profusely and immediately send them a check for the amount they owed the Japanese company. The “debt collector” would be asked to deposit that check into their own account and send 95% to the company, keeping 5%. In reality, the person the “debt collector” contacted would be another scammer in the same ring, and the check would be fake. This means the “debt collector” just sent the “Japanese company,” a large amount of money from their own account, and if they did not have sufficient funds to cover that amount, they would be liable for it, as well as any fees associated with writing a bad check or making a withdrawal with insufficient funds. The $4,000 per month salary would never show up.
This scam uses the names and descriptions of what appear to be legitimate Japanese companies, and relies on the image of Japanese people as both rich capitalist “salarymen” and gentle, easygoing, generous souls who always aim to live in peaceful harmony with others. And while both good jobs with high salaries and respect and harmony are valued in Japanese culture, so is intense study and hard work. Nobody, no matter how rich, generous, and eager to make things easy on others they may be, is going to pay a random stranger $4,000 per month to spend an hour each day doing something they could just as easily ask an employee who is already on the payroll and being compensated for their time, to do.
The Federal Trade Commission will send you Covid-19 relief funds.
Anyone who has ever searched seriously for a job knows the job search becomes a job itself. You spend time updating your resume and cover letter template, researching companies, and writing and sending out complete cover letters with that resume attached. You may even walk, ride the bus, or drive around town, stopping into places with signs announcing they’re hiring to drop off resumes and fill out paper applications. Some places call you for an in-person interview, necessitating another trip.
This can require you to spend money on everything from a new suit for interviews, to coffees and lunches out on days you don’t have time to go home, to copying and printing costs for your job search documents. It would be great if you could get a little grant to cover these costs, rather than paying from your own pocket. And when the job offer doesn’t come fast enough, some money to meet the expenses you need a job to cover would help too.
All of this would make it very tempting to respond to an email from the Federal Trade Commission, offering to send you additional Covid-19 relief funds. Don’t. These emails are from scammers trying to collect your bank account information. The Federal Trade Commission does not disperse Covid-19 relief funds. Those come from the Department of the Treasury. There is no additional nationwide Covid-19 relief stimulus payment coming as of the writing of this article, and were that to change, you would get your money the same way you received previous payments.
A spell can be cast, cards can be read, or someone can intuitively tell you what your financial and career future will be.
The arrival of Fall means Halloween is coming soon, and with it an interest in anything mysterious, including tarot cards, psychic readings, and spells.
Spiritually, all of these activities are dangerous whether money is involved or not. When you reach out into the spirit realm and ask for any type of assistance from anyone or anything who wishes to assist you, the response you get is going to be from an entity who serves the enemy of man. These entities are demonic, and they only wish you harm. They may disguise themselves as helpers, but in the end, they only wish for your destruction. I practiced Wicca off and on for twenty years before I learned this, so don’t be fooled by what might appear to be early success.
Anyone here on this earth who offers to perform any of these activities for you for a fee is also a money scammer. There is simply nothing you, or any other human here on this earth can do to secure you a job beyond the plain old-fashioned practical steps to getting a job you already know.
You can train for a whole new career by signing up for a series of seminars or a business coaching program.
The hunt for a second job or side job can start to feel like you’re not qualified to do anything but what you already do, and there are no steady jobs hiring there. While most of us consider ourselves blessed to be artists, we often wonder if we shouldn’t go back to school or complete the necessary training for a second career. And this may be the right decision for you. Just make sure the training program you are going into will actually lead to a career.
“Training programs” that offer nothing but a collection of advice, information, tips, and tricks are often scams. Always start with the job you hope to have some day, and work backward from there. Learn what degrees, licenses, apprenticeships, vocational training, and other experience that profession requires, and use professional organizations in that field to build a list of possible training or career preparation programs.
Avoid anyone who insists you can make large sums of money, easily enter a competitive field, or will have secrets that make it unnecessary to work hard simply by paying for their course or using their own special method. And remember that no independent training program you are asked to pay for, or academic degree, comes with a hundred per cent guarantee of employment or entry into a specific career. If someone wants to prepare you for a job and then pay you to do it, they will offer you an apprenticeship, internship, or other training that they provide.
The life of your dreams can be yours if you’ll just join my team.
Multilevel marketing schemes show up in every work scam article because they show up in every season, every year. And they are out there again, preying on those growing frustrated or disheartened with their job search.
It would be wonderful if their claims were true. Buy a kit, talk everyone you know into buying the products or services from you and/or signing up under you to sell the products or services, and make all the money you could ever want. And you’ll get to use these amazing products or services, experience all the miracles they bring, and make a new group of friends that will become a second family to you as a bonus.
Only they never are. At best, you might find a workout, or a vitamin supplement, or some clothes or makeup you like, and get a nice discount on them. You might even earn enough commission to make some or all of the services or products free to you, and a little extra cash initially. If that’s all you’re looking for, by all means, join the company.
Just remember that these benefits are typically short-term. Suppose I sign up for a makeup and skincare MLM. I might earn enough commission to make my makeup free to me, and some cash to go get my hair done this month, but in two more months I will have to purchase more products to stay active in the company, and if I don’t have any customers at the time, that purchase will come out of my own funds. If I earn $100 in free makeup, and an additional $100 to spend, but wind up ordering $250 worth of stuff I do not truly want and will not use eight weeks later in order to keep my representative status, I didn’t earn $200 in free merchandise and cash. I spent $250 to get $200 in merchandise and cash, putting me $50 behind.
No matter what type of job you’re looking for, it can be stressful. It can be tempting to take what looks like a more gentle, less stressful path to your goals. And the combination of stress and the high pressure tactics used by most scammers can make it easy to miss many of the red flags. Look out for yourselves…and your fellow Utica musicans and other artists looking for jobs this fall.