Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monkey Business

Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt.

Robert DeNiro in Ronin (1998) 

No matter what your field is, the risk of being scammed always represents a consistent possibility.
Rates grow in such activities as acting, singing and the performing arts in general.
How easy it is to take advantage of people when their sight is blurred by the inebriating fumes of dreams.

It might happen, then, that along the path we will meet people who will make an impression on us for their alleged expertise, their networks and connections, their ambitions and plans. They will convince us that our skills are unique and that they need to be properly employed. These people, often disguising their fraud under big names, will offer us sponsorship, will promise us fame and the possibility to join the big shots. All they want from us is a symbolic token to prove our bona fide: money. And after we've been brainwashed by all their promises of fame and wealth, their absurdest requests will sound perfectly logical.

We're naive.
Yet, we're no idiots: sooner or later, they will show themselves for who they really are. We will realize that something makes no sense. We will see that their behaviour lacks professionalism, and that an artificial and well-designed scheme hides behind a nice facade in Art Deco' style.
They're very well organized and, as soon as they smell you might no longer be buying it, here comes the long-awaited reward: an audition, maybe a modest sum of money - a bait for you, an investment for them - maybe their production company's stocks, maybe your name on a newspaper article or a billboard.
And back we fall into the pit, until we realize that the company is not part of any stock market, that the articles were never written by a journalist, and that anyone can put their own name on a billboard; you just need to pay.

Old rules, although cliched, still retain a lot of wisdom: when it's too good to be true, it's simply not true.

Have you ever been scammed?
Can you share?



  1. Nothing beats good old fashioned hard work. There are no shortcuts. I've never been scammed, but I've seen it with close friends. It really is so sad! True post, Jay. Absolutely spot on.

  2. In the writing field there are tons of scams, unfortunately. A lot of established writers advise us not to fall for those "We'll publish your book for nothing" scams. If you think it's too good to be true, then trust your instinct. So far I haven't been victim of writing scams. Sadly, I was victim to "magic creams" scams, LMAO! ha ha ha ha ha :))

  3. My elderly mother-in-law in London was very nearly defrauded by a scary all-too-plausible construction scam. I've only been taken in by miracle weight-loss cures! And by my own delusions that finishing my novel was going to pay my way out of my day job . . .

    1. Morgan,
      That's good for you. I guess when you're scammed, the first though coming up your mind is, "How stupid how was!".

      I figured every woman, at some point, becomes the victim of a "magic cream" scam!

      Well, maybe you shouldn't call it delusion; I think dream would be a better definition.

  4. I'm with you, Jay. My theory has always been, "If it doesn't 'feel' right, it most likely isn't right." It's kept me out of many a pitfall that I've seen others work to dig themselves out of.

  5. Years ago (before blogging!), I entered this flash fiction competition and paid the required £3 fee. Next thing I knew the website disappeared after the deadline! I worry that those who entered not only had their monies taken but their stories plagiarised too (I'm not so worried about my story then - it was crap!). Oh but the humiliation of it all! :-(

    These days I never ever ever enter paid competitions anymore!

    Take care

  6. I haven't been, but I've heard warnings at conferences about agents who charge reading fees and things like that. Sad that people would take advantage of other peoples' dreams.

    (By the way, sorry if my comment posts twice!)

  7. Several close calls, but nothing significant - mind you I call scratch cards scams : )

    1. Sure, Jasmynne.
      That should be a magic rule never to be forgotten!

      Well, a 3-pound scam is still acceptable. Plagiarism is definitely never good, but I've seen much worse than that!

      The same happens in the acting world...

      I'm afraid, then, I've fallen into the scratch card scam a few times!!
      I let them do it, you know? It makes me dream a bit for as little as $1 or 50c...

  8. Hello Jacopo,
    surely we all were and some people still ARE being scammed and accept it by "you know who",
    and we tried to SHOUT about it to people but they were DEAF and IGNORANT.
    I'm sorry for being harsh to those poor naive souls, we used to be the same way.
    Regards, Bogdana from Moscow - we used to be friends on that evil nonsense-network.

    1. Bogdana,
      Your comment is absolutely spot-on.