The Virtual Assistant industry is now being specifically targeted by con artists and scammers.
A couple of the main cons they are hitting Virtual Assistants with is laundering money and passing counterfeit checks. What they try to do is get you to work with them as an intermediary, telling you some variation of a convoluted scheme involving "their client" being "interested in working with you" and ultimately wanting you to receive money on their behalf where you keep a share and send the rest to them, or you getting paid for both of them but handling the funds through your account only, and sending the rest to them.
One who has been especially prolific is Todd Mayer, supposedly from the U.K. Of course, I’m sure that’s not his real name, and more than likely it’s actually a ring of con artists rather than one person. Once "Todd" realizes we’ve all got his number, he or she or they will probably change it to something new (just like he’s now started putting an address in his phishing emails when Virtual Assistants weren’t biting because they had no way of verifying if he was really who he says he is).
Anyway, "Todd" has been a very busy little beaver writing to all of us Virtual Assistants. New Virtual Assistants are especially vulnerable because they often are so deperate for clients they will jump at anything, and several have fallen victim to this con because of it.
But "Todd" obviously doesn’t realize just how small the Virtual Assistant world is, and how much we all compare notes.
If you receive any variation of this type of email from anyone, steer clear:
"Hello, my name is Todd Mayer . I run a consultancy firm here with registered address 6353 Cronin Street, SE15 6JJ. A client of mine who is due to arrive in the United States in few weeks time is interested in your virtual services. Can you tell me a little more about your mode of operation? If interested, please reply. Thanks, Todd Mayer"
See, he’s getting a bit more sophisticated in his con. Virtual Assistants weren’t biting because they are getting savvy to these cons, so now he’s trying to figure out how we operate so that he can devise his scam to fit into that pattern. Basically, to get better at tricking Virtual Assistants into accepting counterfeit checks, cashing them and then sending him money. He’ll be long-gone by the time your bank alerts you that the check you just cashed was counterfeit and you’ll be stuck with paying for not only the check, but also any bounced check fees that begin racking up. That’s how those con artists scam you.
So be smart. Don’t let big $$ signs cloud your judgment (this is how these cons get away with so much–by using people’s greed or need against them, and if something is too good/too easy to be true, it usually isn’t). NEVER let clients rush your process. NEVER act as an intermediary or "middleman" when it comes to money (no legitimate business will ever need a Virtual Assistant to accept monies on their behalf). Be selective about who you work with. Always stick to your standards and policies. Do your homework, and make sure you have some way of verifying a client is who they say they are.