Just a thought… When a man deceives me once, says the Italian proverb, it is his fault; when twice, it is mine. [George Horne]
A few times a year I’ll share with you scams that are going around. Either they’re proliferating and making the news or – as in the case of the PayPal rip-off that was aimed at my sister (and later my aunt who’s selling a car online) – they’ve hit close to home. Forewarned is forearmed and all of that, right? Well, who would have thought that Rob and I would fall for one too? But here’s our story.
About a month ago, I got an email through this website. It’s easy to find me: the link is right there at the top of this page. Here’s what this email from a Bill Shreefer said:
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone Number: (773) 866-5300
Comment / Message:
Hi, Erin. I hope all is well with you. I produce audio plays out of the midwest, and I am currently looking for a voice that can fill the role of an older lady (late 60s/early 70s). This is for an audio play for drama students. If interested, will you please do a read of the audition piece below? In this role, you are the mother of a middle aged set of twins. One of the twins went bald due to a nurse’s mistake at the doctor’s office, and you are very upset. Please sound a little frazzled and shaky as you do the read, like you are upset.
Hmmm. Drama students. We knew it wouldn’t pay much, but we decided just to dive in. I gave him a couple of variations on the script, which was a couple of hundred words in length. Then Rob took his usual care with the audition: he took out the breaths, cleaned up any re-takes, put it in a file and sent it to “Bill.”
We waited for a response. Nothing. We waited some more.
I emailed to ensure he’d received it. No response.
That’s when I got suspicious and wrote to my friend (and experienced voice artist, who’s also married to one as well), Lisa Brandt, and said I thought we were scammed. Here’s her response:
I just did what I do when I get something like that and looked up the web address in his email – sbcglobal.net. It doesn’t exist I’m afraid. Also, if he had his own company he wouldn’t need to have a hotmail-looking address like Bill1265. That would make me suspicious.
I asked Derek what he thought because he has seen it all. He suggests asking for a reference (how did you find me?) and where you can hear their work – stuff that will make a scammer run. He thinks this guy was a scammer. Sorry. But it happens a lot or they wouldn’t keep doing it. You’re not alone!
Well, that pretty much sealed it. I wrote again with no response and then called, only to learn that there’s no one at that number and no such business. So it was fake from beginning to end.
Luckily for us, we didn’t lose anything but the time and effort we put into doing this stupid script for him, but my question is this: what’s the end game here? Did they get me to voice something they’re going to use without paying me? Because that’s pretty low.
The voicework industry is not a lucrative one (for the most part) and there are people who bid and will actually take the time and make the extensive effort to voice audiobooks for $150. It’s pretty desperate out there. So why would someone just steal the time and talent of someone else, when it can be bought so cheaply?
Like most victims of scams, I am guilty of not doing my homework. I should have followed up, but didn’t want to scare off a prospective employer with “too many questions.” (Don’t want to be seen as high maintenance, do we?) I should have checked the website or even Googled his name. (Maybe having “reefer” in it could have been a hint?) Anyway, live and learn. And who knows – maybe he didn’t like what I sent anyway! For once, I hope that’s the case.
Back with you here tomorrow.