There’s no doubt you’ve heard about the voiceover scams going around; I recently received an email about a voice-over job that caused me to relive a scam that I almost fell into. Thanks to my colleague, Doug Turkel, for allowing me to share part of his blog content.
You may have seen an email similar to this, but if you haven't – pay attention! The information in this blog could save you from a very big, and quite possibly, expensive headache. Here’s what the email said:
"Hello and how are you doing today? My name is Jamie Bridge. I found your profile while surfing the internet, and found it interesting. We are currently seeking voiceover artist for an upcoming audition in your area next month. Kindly respond to this email if you are interested. I look forward to reading from you so we could proceed with further details. Thanks, Jamie"
After reading it, I quickly hit the delete button. Here's why:
- "I found your profile while surfing the internet … and found it interesting"? There's usually never any mention as to which profile (on which site) they're referring to, and isn't that the same 'wording' you see when your spam folder is full from those adult sites?
- “We are currently seeking voiceover artist for an upcoming audition in your area next month." Currently seeking a voice over artist? Shouldn’t it read: Currently seeking voiceover artists (plural) - see the difference?
- "I look forward to reading from you so we could proceed with further details." This is poorly written! (Reading from you?) If this were a real notice you would have been given many details about the voiceover job, as opposed to having someone tied to a keyboard waiting for a response so that they can THEN give you the details.
- And finally, "Thanks, Jaime". This, if anything, should be the kicker to tell you this is a scam. No email signature and no contact information whatsoever; this usually means that the email is coming from outside the United States.
If you replied to an email like this, you'd most likely begin a very long game of email-tag; which is another indicator that this is a scam.
A legitimate email would have told you that they found you while doing a search for voiceover talent, or on one of the P2P (Pay to Play) sites. They’ll probably tell you they have a narration or a commercial they would like to have you submit an audition for and they would probably tell you the length of the project as well. Contact information along with a company name, phone number and website would most certainly be included. In most cases the script will be embedded in the email or attached. And finally, they would likely ask you to submit your audition with a quote; not ask if you’re interested.
This voiceover scam is so typical and similar to how the other scams are run, but the outcome is always the same: Overpayment! I'll explain that later on.
Let’s now go back to July of 2010, where I almost fell into the scam.
I was emailed by a Jim...(something) last name began with a 'T', claiming to be from Great Britain. Jim stated that he had a :30 tv commercial, for a new energy drink, that he was looking to have the produced audio aligned with video. After replying that I was interested a script was sent; I voiced and produced a demo and submitted with a quote (about $2000 USD). A day or so later I was notified that I was selected for the job with the proposed quote; as you could imagine, I was a very happy dude. I was then asked to provide an itemized invoice- which I did; then the check came:
When this showed up in my mailbox.....I was very excited...until a few things caught my eye:
The amount (more than I quoted)
RE: James Simpson (who's that?)
Immediately, I emailed 'Jim T' about these issues and got this as a reply (paraphrased):
The amount: The client paid me the full amount instead of cutting several checks; just remit the balance of the check (from my quoted amount)- Bell #1 (Overpayment)
Different fonts: He couldn't give an answer, only to claim that's the way the bank cut the check- Bell #2 (only banks can make out a Cashiers Check, the font is consistent.)
RE: James Simpson: I was told that this was the energy drink representative (so what's that name doing on my check? I have no dealing with him at all.)- Bell #3
I contacted 'Jim' with my concerns about the validity of the voiceover project and would be happy to submit the check once this check cleared.
'Jim's' reply to that was that the project was already in delay and would I submit the return-payment immediately; 'Jim' guaranteed the checks validity. During this process I began researching (while the endless emails were going back and forth imploring me to make the return-payment); I called the financial institution, where the check was drawn from, and was told that they had no record of this check. I did find it odd that a British business would pay from a U.S. bank (located in Atlanta, GA). The bank did ask for a copy of the check and contact info from anyone associated with it- which I happily surrendered. The last email I recall sending to 'Jim', I informed him that I've reported the incident to the proper authorities- I haven't heard from 'Jim' since.
Moral of the story?
1- Avoid the endless emails about a project before getting a script;
2- No contact info in an email? DELETE;
3- When dealing with a company outside of the U.S. insist on eletronic payment;
4- And never, EVER, send money back (because of an overpayment).
I hope this information helps to prevent you from becoming a victim of these voiceover scams. The bad guys are always going to try to steal money from you; the more we spread the word, the harder it will become for them to succeed.
by Rich Brennan