Since 2008 I've experienced a number of scams, particularly when searching for jobs. Inevitably I've posted something about lessons or tutoring, or responded to ads about various jobs and I've received all manner of things back. This is usually through Craigslist, which I think has decreased since they started requiring payment for job posts (thanks Craigslist team for being proactive about this!).
However, it doesn't stop hardcore scam artists.
It doesn't stop people who, with only a hope and prayer, respond to praise that supports the pipedream they've nurtured for years.
It doesn't stop people like me, from falling pray to jerkfaces who say they will pay me for writing and then clearly won't.
Let me introduce you to Alex Hammer. Alex has been asking people for post for various websites since at least December 2011. When you contact Alex with your impressive credentials, hoping against hope that you can somehow get money for your writing, you may receive something from him directly. You may receive something from one of the equally duped editors he has "hired" informing you about a writing trial.
The trial goes as follows: 10 days (2 weeks of 5 business days) and 24 posts. Supposedly, if you as a writer were able to get through the trial, you would be compensated at $15,000 annually, plus any advertising revenue attached to your posts.
The trial made me a little nervous, but after I spoke with the editor (a woman who was genuine from the get-go and very excited about having me on the project), I decided I would try it. After discussing it with my parents, I decided to ask her some questions about compensation etc. She openly admitted she didn't know, and suggested those questions should be sent to Alex. When I asked my questions about contracts, direct deposit or paypal, and linking to my blog etc, I received this response from Alex:
You've turned in a couple of mature articles but the burden is on you to
make things work. We provide superior opportunities to superior
We'll see if you measure up.
This came after I received tons of praise from the editor for my writing. He didn't answer my questions. Concerned, I forwarded this response to the editor and asked her what she thought about this. She said she wasn't sure and that it was better for her to talk to him. She gave me some answers that seemed reasonable after having a conversation with him, so I continued sending posts to her.
Then yesterday late last night I received an email from the editor urging me to look up information about him online. It turned out Alex has been doing this for some time. If you look at this site in the comments section, you'll see another writer warning about this scam.
Editors for him weren't getting paid because like the writers, they had a trial of sorts (5 writers through the trial and they'd get compensation - which could be over 10 weeks of unpaid work!). Writers weren't getting paid even after the trial, so they stopped posting.
Today I received additional communications from Mr. Hammer, as follows:
You can send your posts directly to me. I think your writing is good.
So I replied:
I don't think we'll be working together from now on. I'm not interested in never getting paid.
He then replied:
I hate when writers jump to conclusions. It is not attractive. You can reach me at [deleted phone number because I'm a nice person even to scam artists.].
So I came back with:
I've been scammed with my writing before [not quite true, but I was fishing]. I would need more details
about compensation and legal documentation before I can trust you. I'm
sure you understand.
And his lovely response:
No I don't. I'm providing you this opportunity to speak with you because
your first two articles had depth and were well written. That is the
only reason. [Keep in mind when I tried to call him earlier about an "interview" he made no effort to return the contact, and typically people you want for a job you, well, actually try to connect with them!]
My final word:
I'm sorry. This feels like a scam to me. Unless you can prove unequivocally in writing this is not a scam, I cannot work with you.
He never responded.
It should be noted that beyond the fact this man has been preying on people's intellectual property, as well as their hopes and dreams of being successful writers, he is a "winner" in other ways. He was actually a candidate for the governorship of Maine, and has had his Twitter account suspended because of his fantastic people skills.
I will say this. Despite dealing with this person, there was one thing that worked out. I made a friend in the editor. I won't say more about her plans or about how I fit into them at the moment, only that her confidence in me (and gushing love of my writing) has been a breath of fresh air that has reinvigorated me in ways I didn't think I'd experience so soon.
The moral of the story is, even when you step in shit, if you look around, you'll see there's a beautiful pony.