Scammy ploys

Beware of free events – you always pay!

Last week, a free event advertised on Instagram penetrated my early morning fog. It was about how to become a mega speaker/coach/author and make money. I won’t lie—it intrigued the hell out of me. No details were given as to where the event was going to be held, except for… in Johannesburg.  I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw, after signing up, that it was at Gallagher Estate. Not so far away.

I enticed my daughter to sign up too. We discussed the event, fully aware that it would involve a lot of bullshitty selling pitches but we’d learn as much as we could. We both don’t have issues with public speaking but it’s the how to get out there that stumps us.

I envisage giving talks about my experience with melanoma last year and maybe selling some copies of my book—Out Damned Spot—along the way. After all, according to CAN/SA South Africa has the 2nd highest incidence of skin cancer in the world after Australia and in particular one of the highest incidences of melanoma worldwide, as far as Caucasians are concerned.

People should care and be aware, shouldn’t they?

My ex-boss once told me that if you learn ten per cent at a workshop, seminar or conference, you’ve done well for yourself. I was planning on snatching at least that or more.

We got the odd email with snippets of information about the event. One of them said we were to dress for success. I pondered… heels? Did that mean heels? I’m not a heel-type of person.

Then a ticket for the event magically winged its way into my inbox. I briefly scrolled through it, looking for the exact venue. Gallagher Estate is huge: there are five halls, each with their own little (I use the term loosely) seminar rooms. There was no exact information. I figured it would be divulged closer to the time.


The night before, I consulted Google—it would most certainly shed some light on the exact location of the venue.

But it turned out to be an Eskom moment; no light was shed at all.

My lovely husband took pity and agreed to help with my search for the exact venue. He started with the ticket, “Scroll down, Gin. Scroll down,” he commanded.

I scrolled.

There was bloody nothing and I knew it but my eye hooked on a bit of information in small print. Roughly summarized, thou shalt say nothing afterwards about the event. Hmmm… why would that be? Wouldn’t they want a person to rave about it on social media—at least? Or is it that they don’t want you to rant?

Now Mr Foxx, I don’t want to be an author, I am one. One of the things that writers do is research. I also happen to be married to a physicist and they are professional researchers.

Suffice to say we uncovered enough information to dull the edge of my enthusiasm for the event.

Then, only after reading the enlightening stuff, I watched a snippet of the video that accompanied the event advert. The camel’s back broke. Sent my daughter a text and told her not to bother getting up at the crack of dawn, we were not going.

Spent more time pondering… if people have so much money to throw away on being coached, what are they actually trying to achieve in the first place? Call me naïve, but I was also slightly shocked that he’d pay celebrities mega-bucks to appear on his shows and then ambush them. Or pay them to say how great he was.

I was slightly disappointed but vastly relieved at the same time. At least nobody was going to brainwash me into buying stuff.

My daughter scoffed, saying that she’d have been with me and would have kept a tight rein on my credit card.

I’ll have to find another way to up my marketing skills.

The same day, I was trawling through my junk mail, checking that there wasn’t anything important when I came across one of those nasty threatening emails

I am a hacker who has access to your operating system.
I also have full access to your account.
I’ve been watching you for a few months now.
The fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.
If you are not familiar with this, I will explain.
Trojan Virus gives me full access and control over a computer or other device.
This means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on the camera and microphone, but you do not know about it.
I also have access to all your contacts and all your correspondence.
Why your antivirus did not detect malware?
Answer: My malware uses the driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours so that your antivirus is silent.
I made a video showing how you satisfy yourself in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched.
With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks.
I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.
If you want to prevent this, transfer the amount of $500 to my bitcoin address (if you do not know how to do this, write to Google: “Buy Bitcoin”).

Blah ad nauseam blah…

After I’d picked myself up off the floor laughing (remember I have a writer’s imagination), I felt a bit miffed that sick weasels waste time trying to threaten people with ridiculous shit like this. How many people do they catch? Are people really so paranoid and stupid? I suppose if you’ve been “satisfying yourself” you might be a bit worried though. 

Was further amused to read a blog on the very same topic this morning—Tom Kane hits the nail on the head. The only problem is, I don’t think our police would be very interested. They have bigger crooks to catch.

How many times do we have to tell you? Don’t fuck with us writers.

Sponsoring a Sibo title


You or your company can commission or sponsor a book in the Sibo Series?

You can sponsor a brand new Sibo title or one of the existing titles in the series.

Branding is printed on the inside front cover.

You have a say in the text of the story (if it’s a new title) and illustrations (i.e. any specific information you would like woven into the story line or graphics you would like portrayed).

The smallest print run is 3000 – although you can order less and have your branding attached to the front inside cover in sticker format, instead of being printed. (There is no limit to a large print run, and they do not go in batches of 3000 e.g. you can order 4000 or 16250!)

30% discount is given on orders of large quantities. (To give you an idea of prices – in 2017 a single Sibo book sells for R60.00. . 3000 books would cost ~R180,000 plus tax however the discounted price would be ~R126,000 plus tax – these prices are subject to change – please contact the publishers.)

­ These 3000 books would then obviously belong to you, to either sell (at the recommended price or less) or give-away as you wish. If you need help in this regard, Ginny does have connections with the Science Centres in South Africa.

It should be noted that whilst you or your company may sponsor or commission x amount of copies of a title – please do understand that this title still remains part of the Sibo Series. It may also be sold in various retail
outlets (without your branding).

If you should want a book that BELONGS solely to you/your company this would have to be negotiated differently.

Whilst we are prepared to write stories on all sorts of different topics please do take note that The Sibo Series has a “green” theme that runs throughout all the books. Our aim is to convey messages in a gentle non-threatening
way, empower young children, help to change their mindsets, and give them confidence to go out and make a difference themselves. (Not to scare the pants off them!)

Titles in the series that have been sponsored/commissioned to date:

  • Sibo in Space – written to celebrate 2009 being International Year of Astronomy – 8000 copies sponsored by SAASTA/Dept of Science & Technology.
  • Sibo Sizes Things Up – commissioned by SAASTA for their nanotechnology awareness drive in 2010. 8000 copies sponsored.
  • Sibo Likes Life – written to celebrate 2010 being International Year of Biodiversity. 10,000 copies sponsored by SAASTA.
  • Sibo Mixes Things Up – written to celebrate International Year of Chemistry 2011. 3000 copies sponsored by BASF – The Chemical Company.
  • Sibo Saves a Stray – private sponsors 2012 – Michele & John Hattingh (1000 copies)
  • Sibo Fights Malaria – commissioned by the University of Pretoria Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control and The National Department of Health (8000 copies) – 2014.
  • Sibo Looks Right – crowdfunded – but sponsored mainly by NASH NISSAN (800 copies) ebook freely available on web site – 2016.
  • Sibo on the Move – commissioned by Gautrain (10,000 copies) – 2016. (This book recently won a Golden Quill International Award in the ‘writing’ category.

PLEASE NOTE – this does not prevent anybody else from sponsoring the same titles again.

We are also currently looking for a sponsor(s) for the following ideas for Sibo books.

  • Bullying
  • Manners
  • Sports
  • Communication
  • Immunology
  • Housing

If you are interested please contact either Ginny or Lets Look Publishers squiggle[@] / imfundo[@]