Watch Out for This Income-Killing Online Writing Scam

Businessman taking the baitIt’s an exciting time, when you finally start to get some traction as a freelance writer.

You land a client or two, and start writing. Maybe you score a gig with a popular blog, or you’re writing for a big website.

Having highly visible bylines often leads to emails from prospective clients. They’re impressed by who you’re writing for, and they’d like to hire you.

Unfortunately, what they’d like to hire you to write is not always legit.

I’ve gotten shady requests many times because of the visibility of my Forbes blog, and I know I’m far from alone.

For instance, here’s a discussion thread we recently had in Freelance Writers Den:

 

The shady request

One member got this prospect nibble:

A marketing consultant contacted me, who represents a client looking to build relationships with writers who regularly contribute to blogs and online publications in their field. I’m sort of confused about what I’m being asked to do. Here’s some of our interaction:

I asked: “You’re looking for writers to publish articles on third party blogs and online publications that mention your client’s products? We’d brainstorm an article idea, I’d write it and then pitch it to appropriate sites for publishing? How does the pay work? Do I only get paid if it gets published?”

They answered: “Yes, that’s essentially the gist. This seems to work well with writers that contribute regularly to specific publications, because they’re able to use relationships that are already established instead of pitching new blogs. So for example, if you came up with an article that fit any of the pubs you currently write for and [the topic] supported a relevant client mention, then you wouldn’t have to worry about pitching new sites.”

Does this sound ethical? Is it okay to get paid by a publication and also by a corporation that was mentioned in the piece?

Is she just asking for me to use her client as a source, when appropriate? And is it wrong to accept pay for that? This whole thing sounds a little weird to me.–Tamara

Ignoring the rules

Not every business owner knows the rules of journalism: that the reporter needs to be impartial in what they write, and can’t ever profit from what they are saying is ‘news’ or a good resource in a story.

Still other businesses *do* know the rules. But they prefer not to play by them.

What this client is asking is flat-out unethical, if you haven’t guessed.

They’re asking to brazenly use you, and your existing client relationships, to market their business, on the sly. That it puts your reputation in danger? Well, clearly they don’t care.

If you’re a paid writer for a blog or website, links you include should only be useful resources you decided, independently, are valuable and relevant to the story. Getting paid to pop in links to companies that want visibility on one of your client’s sites…that’s a Bozo no-no.

The perils of double dipping

When you’re being paid both by your client, and by the sources you include in your posts or articles, it’s known in journalism circles as double-dipping. You can’t get paid on both ends.

Basically, these sleazy companies are both cheap and lazy. Instead of hiring a PR firm and pitching their company as a source to reporters and hoping they will take an interest — which is what they’re supposed to do — they’d like to cut to the chase and simply buy your interest.

The problem has become so widespread online that many big outlets are making writers sign a contract attesting that they are not including paid links. At Forbes, they make us re-sign a pledge not to do it every single quarter.

Let me quote from the policy update I just got from them:

Link Schemes

When you link somewhere for perceived search or monetary benefits rather than usefulness or credit, then you are participating in a link scheme. Link schemes are against Forbes and Google guidelines. They are very simple for Google to detect, and they will adversely affect your website as well as forbes.com’s ranking in Google. Examples include:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
  • Article marketing or guest posting containing links with optimized anchor text in articles – anchor text example: “There are many wedding rings on the market.”
  • Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
  • More info at: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356

Forbes has zero tolerance for link schemes. Should we or Google discover you are engaging in this practice, your publishing rights on forbes.com will immediately be terminated.”

If your client discovers you’re double dipping, you’re likely going to be done writing for them. I know Forbes has let writers go over this, and I’m sure they’re not the only site on active patrol against paid-for mentions and links, either.

Why are big websites on the warpath about this? Because if it became known that their useful posts were in fact full of paid links, their reputation as a news source would be ruined, too.

It’ll be hard to get editors interested in your query letter if word is on the street that you’re for sale to the highest bidder, as far as the content of your posts.

Compromise on the cheap

When the writer above asked for more details on how much pay this prospect was willing to put up to get their link slipped into posts on big sites, this was the response:

“My client is looking for editorial placements in articles that willingly came from the authors of those articles. While we are willing to pay for the collaborative time and effort, we’re not looking for sponsored content, advertorials, or paid disclosures.

My client is looking to team up with trusted authors to make them aware of some great free resources they offer and see if those resources might be a good fit for any upcoming content the author plans to write. These articles/posts would not be promotional in nature or only focused on the client. We’re just looking for a link in the form of a helpful reference within the article.”

And there you have it. They don’t want to pay for a sponsored post or article — which might run them $500-$1,200, and would make clear they bought the mention.

No, they’re looking to ruin your career and get you fired on the cheap. They’d like to slip you $50 or $100 for a link and call it good. (I’ve gotten similar offers to accept paid posts on this blog from link-seekers, at similar rates. No, thanks.)

You’ve got to love the way this prospect spun what they’re doing, too. Especially how they make clear that if you were to disclose that they paid you for the link — which is what you should ethically do — then they’re not interested.

If you’re desperate for money, look at taking a part-time job while you build up your finances.

No matter how tempting it might seem to take that extra cash for slipping in a link, say no. If you’re thinking your client need never know…trust me, they will find out.

Gotten any shady online writing offers? If so, leave a comment and share what happened.

 J-School: 4-Week Journalism Crash Course. Grow your freelance writing income. Usefulwritingcourses.com
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61 comments on “Watch Out for This Income-Killing Online Writing Scam
  1. Lisa V says:

    I was just approached by a blogger who wants to use a few of my posts for a book she’s putting together with other bloggers. I haven’t asked about compensation yet, but, assuming there will be some, does this sound legit? I’m new to blogging, and I’m not so sure I want her making money off of my material. Do you think it would be worth the exposure (I’m working on getting a novel published in the meantime), or should I say thanks, but no thanks? What questions do I need to ask?
    Thanks.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’d need to know a lot more about the situation, Lisa — but it’s not usually about payment, but credibility and exposure, when you agree to have a post of yours in someone else’s collection.

      One thing you might ask about is, I did one ebook with 40 of my blog’s guest posts, and gave all those authors the chance to a) claim it in their Amazon author profile and b) affiliate sell it to earn 50% commissions through my site. So those are things you might ask about, where if you promote it, you would earn some.

  2. J Raju says:

    I happen to land on this post when I myself mailed Mrs Carol for her service and she guided me here. Thank you for this share.

    Being part of digital agency, I keep track of our client’s competitor. I have seen many client’s competitors link on top tier publication and wonder how they do it? Obviously they are paid post.

    I mean to say that Your post and links don’t hurt the publication reputation if content is relevant and link is placed naturally. In coming years, Paid Guest Posting will be in demand. That time, I wonder how many mails you be reading in a day that seeks your guest posting service.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m getting several requests to throw paid links into my posts every day, at this point, since you ask, J. I always refuse.

      If you paid me $1 million for your link, it wouldn’t be enough to compensate for the loss of my journalistic career that will come when magazines learn I’m for sale, and that my ethics have been compromised.

      Paid posts that say “Sponsored post” at the top are another matter, and are fine. And certainly, there’s plenty of legitimate demand for ghostwriters for sponsored posts — I wrote a package of articles at one point for a sponsored section UPS did in Entrepreneur, for instance. But paid posts have to be clearly marked and not passed off as reporting or editorial. Sometimes, brands get linked and mentioned — because the reporter thinks they’re a good resource. Independent of being paid to say so.

      I think companies such as yours like to delude themselves that the “links don’t hurt your reputation if the link is placed ‘naturally'” because they don’t care what happens to me as the writer or to that publication — they want to justify corrupting the newsgathering process because ultimately, they only care about getting ink for themselves.

      I can tell you that most online sites of major publications are now having journalists sign a sworn statement that they are NOT accepting paid links — and they are aggressively firing anyone they catch at it.

  3. Alicia Rades says:

    Great article, Carol! I particularly love that you point out that it would hurt the publication’s reputation, too. I think this is something I’ll add to my article on the topic (I actually have written about this several times). I really only talked about the writer’s relationship with the client and the publication, but it’s important to realize why publications are so against it as well.
    Alicia Rades recently posted…50 Attention-Grabbing Blog Post Headline TemplatesMy Profile

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hello Carol,

    I have a client who has given me a lot of freelance writing work. However he runs an SEO company and I sometimes don’t feel quite right working with him.

    He asks me to insert some specific keywords and anchor text in the articles and then pays bloggers to publish those articles.

    (Of course it’s ghost writing so my name is never published.)

    I am never told when or where those articles will be published.

    However a quick Google search reveals the published articles. And I find that roughly in only three out of ten articles, the blogger discloses that it’s a paid article.

    I comfort myself by thinking that’s not part of my job. That’s the moral responsibility of the publisher/blogger to reveal paid articles.

    Nevertheless I do feel guilty about being a part of a dishonest system.

    Do you feel I’m just over thinking it? Do you think as writers we should be responsible for such matters?

    Besides, the pay is a mere $7 for a 600 word article.

    I’m looking for new clients and I’ll surely ditch him when I start getting better gigs.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I don’t usually allow anonymous comments…but I think this story is important.

      It’s one thing to be well-paid to do something unethical. But when you’re paid a pittance? It’s a lose-lose situation. It sounds like work you’re not able to use in your portfolio, and you’re contributing to a deception. Here’s hoping your marketing yields you better clients soon!

      BTW — I’d ask $.50-$1 a word for sponsored post ghosting of the type you’re describing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for the reply.

        I’m not giving my name because I once held a full time job with the same SEO company and my name is published on their site as a content writer.

        Thus anybody can Google my name and find out which company I’m talking about. I don’t want to take names and decry company’s internal policies.

        You see my future employees may think I’ll do the same with them after leaving their jobs.

        But do you think as a writer I’m responsible if the blogger does not disclose that it’s a paid article? As I said I’m not told when or where that article will be published as such I have no say in such matters.

        Yes I know you advice writers to not to do even $20 articles. But I thought I’ll graduate to higher rates when I’ll gain more experience.

        • Carol Tice says:

          I totally get why you wanted to be anonymous.

          Whether you’re officially responsible depends on what deal you signed, I think. But you’re always responsible to your own conscience. And I’ve found steering clear of ethically gray areas that make me feel sick to my stomach has been good policy in running my freelance business.

  5. Dale says:

    These are popping up all the time on job boards now.

    I actually had one just the other day where the job posting asked for ghost writers. Then they sent a request to add links to articles at sites I currently write for.

    I replied “No thanks, I’ll pass”, and got an email back asking why the sudden change of heart – as if they don’t know…

  6. Thanks for posting Carol. I got the same email today. Luckily I remembered reading your post.
    Carol Brennan recently posted…Working From Home Tips: How Online Business Owners Can Avoid Cabin FeverMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yes, folks like this often are mass-mailing — because they know they may have to hit hundreds of high-visibility bloggers before they find one ignorant or desperate enough to risk their career for them.

  7. NoahDavid says:

    Wow – I had no idea this was even a thing! Thank you for bringing it to our attention. As a friend once told me, full disclosure is almost always best, and the internet allows so many ways to evade complete transparency. Thank you for protecting your hard-working readers.
    NoahDavid recently posted…How to Focus and Create Insanely Useful ContentMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hey — busting scams is one of my favorite parts of this job, Noah. I really started the blog to help writers avoid scams and get paid more. That’s it.

  8. I heard from one of these recently too! It took several emails back and forth to even figure out what they were asking for. They made it sound at first like they wanted me to write blog posts for their clients and then said something like “but these will be on the other sites you already write for, right?” Um, no. Those are other clients paying me to write for them. Obviously.

    If they want to hire writers to pitch relevant guest posts for their clients, that would be different (as long as the writer’s upfront about the connection), but even that would have to have the right pay structure to be worth considering because it’s more work than writing for a blog you have a guaranteed place on.
    Kristen Hicks recently posted…On Content Marketing Semantics: Can’t We Just Get Along?My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Exactly, Kristen — these scammers are looking to piggyback on your existing, hard-won relationships with big blogs, instead of building their own reputation. Writers should steer clear of this — no paycheck they could offer will be worth the potential reputation hit to you. Also, it creates confusion with your client about what you’re really about.

  9. Dan Stelter says:

    Interesting…I’d actually seen a writer who does this as his primary service. He has relationships with a number of big blogs and tries to get you published on one of them. He only charges a fee if you get published.

    Carol…what are your thoughts on that? Is it ethical for the writer to offer that? I have no personal interest in that, but am curious.
    Dan Stelter recently posted…Writing a Blog? 51 Ways to Revive Your Lifeless Business BlogMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, openly pitching a blog on behalf of a client is legitimate PR work. If he’s only charging a fee for success, he’s ripping himself off, since you should charge for your time in that scenario, in any case.

      He tries to get you published under *his* name, or ghosting for a client? Or by dropping links into posts he’s writing for those blogs? I’d have to know more details about how it works to know whether there’s something ethically shady there, or whether it’s just normal PR work, similar to ‘placed article’ work for trade journals.

  10. Thankfully I haven’t encountered any clients like this and now I know to avoid them. There’s a lot of grey area when it comes to online work.
    Timothy Torrents recently posted…The Differences Between Teaching English in Taiwan and Freelance WritingMy Profile

  11. Cherese Cobb says:

    I’ve never heard of this unethical practice. Thanks for the heads up 🙂

  12. EXCELLENT post! Carol, how about a webinar on ethical social media practices? Writers aren’t the only ones being targeted by sleazy companies. If you haven’t already seen it, watch the Frontline story on, “Generation Like”. It’s about a 50 min. video on YouTube and was a real eye-opener for me.

  13. Christine says:

    Thanks for posting this, Carol. I agree that there are some shady practices out there. I haven’t personally experienced this (I don’t think) but I’m sure as I put myself out there more, it may happen and I need to be weary.
    Christine recently posted…The Gap Between Where You Are and Where You Want to BeMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, hopefully wary and not weary!

      It sounds like the Problogger job ads are full of this — just another reason I’m not a fan of any of these mass job boards. You don’t know if what you’re being asked to do is on the level or not. There are a lot of shady offers going on online — so I hope this post helps people hone their nose for detecting scams.

  14. Susanne says:

    Carol,

    Thank you for the heads up. I am so new to this world that information of this nature is invaluable.

  15. Sabita says:

    Thanks for the great advice Carol. I wasn’t aware of the extent of such practices though I’ve seen job ads pertaining to these.

    To me, it seems like a lot of hassle to include links for no reason. And nothing should be done when it puts off your credibility as a writer.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Exactly. It’s just not worth damaging your reputation. Once it gets out that you’re for sale, there are going to be a lot of great markets you’re not going to be able to write for.

  16. Rossi Writes says:

    This is a very interesting article. I’m new to blogging and used to work as a journalist. My impression is that many people start blogging with the idea that they will be given stuff for free and they don’t have the same ethical constraints as journalists. The companies are now so used to dealing with ‘bloggers’ who would do anything for a free product, that they are starting to try it on with proper journalists. My blog is not monetized and I see it as a useful way to hone my writing whilst documenting my life as an expat in Italy. I have thought several times what would be the correct way to monetize it. I’m still searching for the answer, however one thing I’m sure of – I wouldn’t like to start simply churning content just to get stuff for free.
    Rossi Writes recently posted…Exploring Vicenza: Souvenir ShoppingMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Rossi —

      Yes, many people suffer that misimpression, that blogs are a magical land where ethics aren’t important. In fact, readers will desert you if you lie to them about your relationships.

      If you want to know more about ethical ways to monetize a blog, I did a post about how I earn from this blog that you might find useful.

      I can also recommend A-List Blogging’s KickStart Your Blog course for learning all the fine points — A-List is where I learned to build this blog. 😉

      Since we’re discussing disclosure and transparency here, instead of that being an affiliate link to A-List above, it’s a link to my affiliate page, where I disclose that everything on the page is an affiliate link, and provide more information about why I recommend the product. That’s a method I actually learned in A-List, which I like a lot. Allows you to leave links in your posts to affiliate products without having to interrupt what you’re saying in the post. But somewhere, there has to be disclosure, or you’re in trouble.

  17. Wow! I had no idea. Thanks for the warning. I probably would have fallen for it, not understanding the implications.
    Leslie Colin Tribble recently posted…ExploringMy Profile

  18. This describes all 3 gigs I have applied for on ProBlogger:

    eg: the 1st emailed back after I sent a link to samples and said “thanks for your article submission, please send a list of sites you would be publishing our articles on” – as in they wanted, for the price of writing, the respondent to do illegitimate link-building for them as well.

    I snapped back a response saying “that was NOT an ‘article submission’, those were samples, please do NOT publish them under your name”. Shady indeed!

    • Carol Tice says:

      The bad news is, they’ll probably publish them anyway, if they can find a way.

      What these business are *really* buying in these situations are your relationships with top blogs.

      And those are priceless. Don’t sell them for $30 or $100. SO. Not. Worth it.

  19. I had a company ask me to include links to their products in articles on my blog. I said no thanks, because my blog (which focuses on the workplace) has nothing to do with their product (furniture), and I surely wasn’t going to write junk articles to wrap around their links. Their website wasn’t very professional looking either. Oh, and they offered $32 per article.

    I suggested I’d be willing to write articles for THEIR blog, but that idea wasn’t of interest.

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Carol, that these schemes are for the cheap and lazy. How about paying market rates to hire good writers and marketers to develop useful content that’ll drive readers to YOUR site?

    My blog is not monetized, and my income comes solely from the businesses who hire me for writing and consulting services. However, I feel a loyalty to my readers. They don’t need junk content.

    BTW, I write for an HR website that doesn’t pay me (it’s a labor of love and a marketing effort combined) and sometimes companies ask if I’ll write about a survey they’ve published. Usually I say no, unless I’ve checked out the info and believe readers of the site would be interested in hearing about it, and even THAT can be tricky, because I have to watch that I’m not slanting my writing to influence the company to later hire me. A couple of times, these articles led to paying gigs with the company, which ups the ethical ante, and again, I’m not getting paid by the HR website. Still, I’ll disclose in the piece that so and so is a client, and then I’ll focus my analysis on the survey results, period. That’s about as far as I’m willing to go, and I don’t do that very often, either, because of what you said earlier—my reputation as an honest deliverer of info is at stake, and I’m not willing to risk it.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Writing about new research if it’s newsworthy and relevant is totally legit — I’m with you on that, Crystal.

      You should know that even if you write a free blog, I believe inserting a paid or affiliate link into it without disclosure violates FTC rules. You’d still need to disclose that.

      As I noted above — disclosure is your friend. It’s hiding relationships that gets you into trouble.

      I get a million of those ‘stuff a totally unrelated link onto your post please’ requests. I once even got one asking me to go back to a popular post I’d done AGES back on Forbes, and insert a new link to their company! Um, no. We call that Ministry-of-Truth level changing of the past. Not playing that.

      • A lot of people think that just because online content can be edited more easily than printed, they can change anything online and pretend it’s the original (or delete it and deny it was ever there). WRONG. The same technology that makes it easy to change digital data makes it possible to scatter copies of the original version far abroad to be found eventually; tech-savvy people can even easily recover most officially “deleted” data.
        Katherine Swarts recently posted…Putting on Your Own MaskMy Profile

        • Carol Tice says:

          Well, that’s a different issue altogether — plagiarism, where this scam is about pretending you’re impartial and working for a client, when you really have a double agenda.

          • Actually, that comment was in reply to your experience being asked to add a new link to the Forbes article.
            Katherine Swarts recently posted…Putting on Your Own MaskMy Profile

            • I guess you meant by “plagiarism” the practice of freely sharing other people’s articles, which wasn’t really on my mind when I mentioned that copies of an article might turn up somewhere else after the writer thought no one would find out that the original had been edited. Of course, I also know about “online publishers” who copy your articles without permission and then put on the faux shock when you prove less than appreciative of the “free publicity”–but is it technically plagiarism, as opposed to copyright violation, when they leave the original writer’s name on the article?
              Katherine Swarts recently posted…Putting on Your Own MaskMy Profile

  20. I was just offered money to put links in my Huffigngton Post blog. Of course I refused (and the guy acted surprised, like there was no reason not to do it).
    Steve Gillman recently posted…More Than a Thousand ArticlesMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      You know — I’m glad I dug you out of the spam, Steve (sorry about that!)

      This is yet ANOTHER level of issue. You’re not being paid by HuffPo — so, you might think, what’s the harm of taking paid links?

      But I’m betting HuffPo’s policy forbids it, and they’d ban you. Even on free exposure-type sites, they’re wanting you to be objective and not be taking money under the table to say, “Look, this company is so interesting!”

      Paid links undermine the quality of everything online — which is why Google is cracking down on it, big-time.

  21. Ew, this business practice is so slimy. You have to wonder how the people pitching this don’t feel embarrassed about what they’re doing!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Some people seem to lack that ‘shame’ gene, I find, and don’t care how they get their biz in the news, as long as they do. For more on that, read the book, “Trust Me, I’m Lying:Confessions of a Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday.

  22. Hi Carol, valuable insight here. I was actually approached by someone similar and turned it down.
    I do have one question though, say you are approached by a company looking for honest reviews of their product(s) — is this the same situation?
    I was approached by a rather big name publisher to review a copy of their new book a couple of months back, and was quite excited to be on their radar. I never did end up reviewing it, time-constraints and similar, but I probably would’ve if I could’ve.
    They never offered me monetary compensation. They just said they’d send me a copy of the book and would like a review on it. (The review was going to be on my own blog — not one I write for — that I have since shut down to focus my efforts elsewhere.)
    Is this equally as shady?
    Thanks for the post!
    Jake Mcspirit recently posted…10 Effective Steps To Ending ProcrastinationMy Profile

  23. Wow! Thanks for bringing this to our attention – I have to say that this isn’t something I’ve ever encountered myself, but I’m glad you highlighted it. I never knew about the perils of ‘double-dipping’, and it seems like an easy trap to fall into if you’re relatively new to freelance writing for the web.

    Thanks for sharing this, Carol. Very useful information, as always 🙂
    Steph Simpson recently posted…How to Avoid Becoming Overwhelmed as a FreelancerMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      That’s exactly what a lot of sleazy businesses are counting on, Steph — that you have no journalistic training, have bootstrapped your way onto a big blog, and now they can use you. Until it’s discovered and you get fired, that is.

      • Here is the scam I just encountered: I get an e-mail from a Joseph ‘Butt-something’ ( can’t remember exactly the name, but it had ‘butt’ in it), and he was offering me “$1,000 for 30-40 business articles of 300-400 words, and he’s going to send me the $1,000 overnight, he’s really in a hurry, he just needs my address.”
        Hmmm…. I e-mail him back and ask exactly what kind of business articles? Does he have 30-40 titles? And what is the exact number, etc., and I’m wondering if he only wants my address, how exactly is this a scam? I call my friend and we talk about it, both puzzled by how this works, because it is just fishy.
        “Joseph” is right there e-mailing me back, never exactly answering any questions, just wanting my address. I finally tell him that I can’t fit it in my schedule right now (a big fat lie, because I’m actively marketing). Then the next day, Writer’s Digest comes in the mail and has an article on scams! The deal is, he sends a check, and then cancels the deal so you send him a refund, BEFORE the bank figures out that his check isn’t going to clear. AHA!

        Beware!
        Debbie Curtis recently posted…Palomino Hill Writing SerivcesMy Profile

        • Irene Ross says:

          This guy has been operating around the globe for years, and no one has been able to catch him. His comes under different names, such as Tony or James or Bill and uses all different pitches such as “Looking for a travel writer” or “Looking for a health writer” or “Looking for a book author” and he does seem linked to seemingly reputable websites. Then, once he hooks you, he’ll tell you that for “efficiency and speed’s sake” to submit to his private e-mail (which should be a HUGE red flag! Luckily, he’s never gotten me into one of his scams, but he tried twice and he does prey on writers. Pay very close attention!

        • Carol Tice says:

          Debbie, a lot of us in the Den got that reach-out as well, including me.

          I wondered what the angle was — thanks for running that one down for us.

        • Scott Doyle says:

          Debbie,

          Thanks, I’m so glad I found this. A Joseph Butt found me on Freelanced, and wanted me to write 15 “Religious” articles for $1,000. But then rushed a $3,000 check to me, asking me to forward the balance to his publisher. I’m going to make a copy of the check just to protect myself, and then report him to the website as well.

          • Carol Tice says:

            Yikes! Yeah, we think that’s a scam, Scott. I believe the check bounces after you ‘forward’ that $2000, and you’re out the money. And get paid nothing for your writing.

            • Scott Doyle says:

              Thanks, Carol. I reported it to Freelanced and to their credit they immediately suspended his account and sent a fraud warning toall applicants to the two positions he’d posted.

              I don’t know if the check I have is useful evidence and could be traced, and who might bother investigating a relatively small-time scam like this. If anyone has ideas, please let me know.

              • Carol Tice says:

                We don’t think it’s small-time, and since he sent a check by mail, that’s mail fraud and a federal matter — you could start with the US Post Office.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Watch Out for This Income-Killing Online Writing Scam"
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