Friday, January 17, 2020

Fraud Mania

What on earth is going on? So many times lately I have opened my email and been greeted with another warning of a scam.

Last week, my church (St. Luke's Episcopal), cautioned the parishioners that someone was soliciting funds in the name of our priest.

Western Writers of America sent out a group email stating that someone named "Jacqueline" was fleecing members under the guise of our organization. My AARP bulletin has dire articles in both the magazine and the newsletter.

My week was capped with both a print and email warning from my local health organization about fake third-party billing.

Last year, I was invited to attend a conference in London (all expenses paid) and speak about my historical specialty: African American history. They were going to pay me $25,000. That was way too much money. Which I needed, but never mind. It was the wildly inflated amount that aroused my suspicions. If they had offered about $5000 for an overseas appearance I would have been inclined to take it seriously.

The letter was off. Just slightly. There were some phrases that were not constructed in accordance with standard American usage.

 Nevertheless, I was wistful enough to do some research. I was so happy, so flattered. They said such nice things about me. So I checked. The cathedral was real. The Bishop was real. And then I emailed the church secretary. Church secretaries know everything. It was a fraud. Their next step would have undoubtedly been the classic "ask" for my bank account number so they could mail my expense check.

I have no idea how beginning authors manage to pick their way around in the publishing industry. There were so many really crooked people when I was starting. It's a thousand fold now. There are fake agents who have never sold a book in their lives, fake publishers who expect authors to put up seed money, fake reviewers, fake publicists, etc. The list goes on and on.

I'm grateful for all the breaks I have received. Grateful for the wonderful friends I have made through the years. And more grateful than ever for stumbling onto a wonderful agency at the very beginning of my career who put me with editors who really care about books.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Yup, Charlotte. There be sharks in these waters.

My band got a similar invite to the one you received. A festival in Sweden wanted us to cover for someone in their line-up who had cancelled. Would we do it?

All expenses would be paid, we'd play to 60-minute shows over a 5-day period and everyone in the band would be paid $2000 (mind you there are ten of us). It was too good to be true.

And alas, that was the case.

Thanks for the post!