I suppose this post would apply to any freelance business owner, not just virtual assistants. Taking on freelance jobs we open ourselves up to being targeting by scam artists. Since we are generally contacted by potential clients asking us for more information, they tend to view us as easy targets. Take my experience this week for example. A Mr. Larry Ellison sent me an e-mail saying that he was looking for virtual assistants to write articles for him. (I’m positive this was not the Larry Ellison who is the CEO of Oracle) He requested that I write two, 400-500 word articles and submit them to him in order to be considered for a large writing project he was involved in. For me, this e-mail had red flags all over it. This blog, as well as the Home Office Warrior e-zine has plenty of examples of my writing ability and style. And the fact that the e-mail claimed the project was so big he would be needing 10 VA’s to write for this huge project also had the BS detector in my head ringing loudly.
I wrote a polite response, asking if he could give me a little more information about the nature of this writing project and his business. I also directed him to this blog for examples of my writing ability. The response I received proved to me that this was just someone trying to get free content from unsuspecting virtual assistants.
Then there are the contacts you receive from ‘businesspeople’ asking you receive and cash checks from their ‘customers’. You keep a percentage of the check for being their receivables clerk and send the rest to them. How many times have you heard of this particular scam?? Either the checks are stolen or bogus. Either way, it leaves anyone falling for this one in hot water.
So what is a virtual assistant or other freelancer to do? Always err on the side of caution. If it feels fishy, it most generally is. Keep the phrase, “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is” in mind. A true potential client is going to be more than satisfied with previously written and published writing samples. A true potential client is not going to hesitate to tell you more about their business and what they are looking for from you and why. A true potential client is not going to ask a complete stranger to handle their money. Don’t let your desire for a new client overrule your common sense.