Voiceover Scam Update
Earlier this year VoiceoverXtra published details of a suspected scam that targeted many individuals in the voiceover community. I was one of the many voiceover artists contacted.
Scams run rampant on the web. We’ve all been aware of or have received the old Nigerian schemes where you could stand to gain millions of dollars from some dead king’s fortune inherited by a guy needing to shelter the money from rogue or corrupt governments, if you’ll only cough up some bucks to make the bank arrangements…..yada yada yada. Or you get overpaid by a phony credit card or check. You’re requested to return the over-payment and later you learn you’re out everything when weeks later, the credit card or check was illegitimate. And you must repay the bank or credit card company. Nasty stuff!
So many unsuspecting folks get fleeced, which is why I suppose these scams continue to proliferate. And now they’ve morphed into a somewhat sophisticated, almost convincing cloak of legitimacy.
To refresh your memory or if this is the first you’ve heard the names Charles Thamesmead, Frank Mayfield, or The Tanner Group, check this article out:
I am pretty good at sniffing these scam things out, but since there was a detailed script/storyboard that arrived with the Energy Drink copy, and other factors, like “Mayfield” sounded and wrote in good English grammar, and seemed to pose pretty well as a production coordinator – I accepted the gig with reservations, because I’ve seem plenty of scams. I, too, sent an invoice in advance that was forwarded to Mr. Arola.
In my last email to Mr. Mayfield, I requested payment in advance via paypal, certified bank check or money order, or cash ONLY in the amount of the talent fee. If check was indeed to be sent, I would have to wait several weeks to be sure it cleared.
But I have to say, the level of sophistication with scams like this has improved. I have been able to spot ’em a mile away. With this one, the person’s ability to write in clear English (no grammar or typo issues) and posturing himself convincingly as someone knowledgeable in production! Plus, the script looked legit.
All this activity started and seemed to end during July, 2010 after the news ran quickly through the channels the voiceover community uses to stay in touch: Voices.com, VoiceoverXtra, Voice123, Voiceover Universe, Yahoo voiceover Groups, Voice-Overs.com Forum, etc.
October, 2010. I had all but forgotten about this scam, when to my surprise I received an envelope addressed to me via the U.S. mail with an un-cancelled English postage stamp and a return address from New Jersey! Inside was a US Postal money order for $2,300 as “payment” for the energy drink spot.
The money order looked like it was real. It had been printed on check paper, had all the right colors, and even a foil stamp. But the serial number also looked like a photo copy. I must say my curiosity got the best of me. I took off for the local post office and presented it to a clerk, who promptly was going to cash it for me. I told her I was not certain it was real and thought she’d better double check it. She showed it to another clerk who said it appeared a bit different. The clerk took it to a supervisor who thanked me for turning it in. Imagine!
Raising the Ante
Well that’s unfortunately not the end of this story. Last week (now mid-November)- I received a phone call from a production company on the Eastern seaboard that Googled around and found the Frank Mayfield scam story on my blog I posted July 21st .
This very concerned producer told me his company was also contacted by “Frank Mayfield” regarding 2 video projects 60K each. One on AIDS, the other Breast Cancer. This U.S. producer had to hire a lot of people to get the project on track but didn’t want to begin until he had money deposit in hand.
They had a signed estimate from Frank Mayfield and actually received a call from Ben Bruce from the Tanner Group.
They never received the “deposit” check but Mayfield does have his bank acct. number and routing. (But the bank told him they can’t do anything with just this info)
So the saga continues but on to the next target, video production companies where the stakes are much greater.