How to Spot a Fraudster
Hodge, Crusader for Justice, has given me kind permission to post this very interesting list of tips for spotting the bad guys, the scammers, the big promise – little delivery types who waste your time and weasel your money.
It’s just plain good advice for anyone who doesn’t want to lose their shirt to a huckster…
Common Features of a Fraudster
* Bearer of gifts
* Never there
* Excessively secretive
* Permanently short of money
* Living beyond their means
* High roller
* Bad business record
* Imply victim is stupid if asks explanation of anomalies in fraudster’s patter
* Believe themselves to be a victim of conspiracy
Key tips to managing a Fraud
* Manage problem
* be decisive
* Have an action plan
* What do you want to achieve?
* Identification of culprit(s)?
* Zero tolerance policy?
* Call any advisors you have early
* Gather evidence
* bottom out problem / black hole
* Asset search
* Reality check on expectations
* The money is rarely found overnight
* Expect endless/pointless delays
* Often late instruction of lawyer / change of lawyer
* Bury head in sand
* Sit on the problem
* think it will go away
* think it won’t get worse
* Be emotional
I’m looking at the first list, and hanging my head in shame. Yep. I have dealt with people who fit almost every single item on it. It’s like some kind of amazing light going off…entertainer, promiser, dictator, bearer of gifts, short of money, bad business record, living beyond means, high roller…etc.
Gasp! I could paint that portrait!
And I hang my head even deeper in shame because I am the person who sits on the problem, hopes it goes away, and hopes it won’t get worse.
I simply must be more assertive.
This might be a good list for you to print out and keep on hand. There are so many people around the art and entertainment bizz with big promises, weenie little payoffs, and gargantuan ripoffs.
Don’t get charmed, don’t get dazzled by connections, don’t assume a list of credits means much. Unauthorized pop culture books and small press publications are often meaningless in terms of professional reputation and connections.
Just because someone wrote about JK Rowling doesn’t mean JK Rowling knows them, approves of them, has worked with them, cares about them, or wants aspiring creators to sign a contract with them.
Beware geeks bearing gifts. I don’t know what it is about that particular trait, but almost every fraudster I have ever encountered has been excessively and inappropriately chummy and giving right from the beginning. Like, with actual presents. In one case, amusingly enough, a present which had been bought with a canceled check.
If someone comes to you claiming to “represent” a list of luminaries, do yourself a favor. Check it out. It’s not hard.
If you want to know a person’s record with a pro you respect, most pros will be happy to tell you if they actually know someone or not, and if they can recommend that you work with them. If they can’t, their agent can tell you, and sometimes it is much easier to contact an agent than it is to contact a creator.
Don’t hesitate to check up on name droppers. Access is currency, and people will claim friendships and working relationships on the flimsiest of acquaintances. Worse yet, friends of pros who have an itch of avarice will try to weasel their way into gigs and connections by claiming the pro friend is “working with” them on a project.
“It’s nice that you claim you’ve known that pro friend of yours for so many years. Now, does that pro friend know how you are representing yourself to others?”
CHECK IT OUT.
Do not believe photos on a blog. Anyone can pop into a photo with a person and snap a shot.
Do not assume that someone is telling the truth when they say they “work with” someone. Do not assume that credits in a book are proof of that, either. An agent can sell rights to a story or article or picture without the people involved ever having any contact.
A person claiming to be an “art agent” can simply buy stuff from an artist and resell it for any price he likes.
Claiming the artist “works with” him is sort of like claiming you “work with” Tiffany’s because you bought a bracelet there. That doesn’t make you a gemologist.
Look, it’s easy to brag about people you “know”. If the braggart is such a hot ticket, then the people being bragged about will also be happy to let the world know they are in the “crowd”.
If the bragging is all one-sided…it’s a clue.
“So, you know all about Stephen King? Well, what does Stephen King know about you?”
Do your homework.
I really do know Neil Gaiman. No, really.
Atomic Bear commented: Good information Colleen. Thanks for posting it.
I have been following The Writers Beware blog the last few years and they have lots of great information for writers about Scam publishers, agents, contests, etc. I have learned a whole lot on how publishing works and considering how Graphic Novels are getting bigger and bigger all the time, we creators have to be on our guard. The ladies who run the blog are professional writers and provide some great info.