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.