Freelance Content Writer. WTH scam is this?

So out of the blue I get this email:

OK, I’m listed on some freelance sites. But has anyone ever heard of this? It looks too scammish for me.

I thought that sort of thing was for creating “link farms” to fool Google into indexing pages full of hyperlinks by adding a thin veneer of content on top. I could be wrong, though.

And nothing you write will pass all their requirements. Or so they will claim. They get content, you don’t get paid.

Work Schedule: From 10am - 17pm NY Time

Well there’s the scam, it’s never going to be 17PM no matter how long you work.

But it’s 17 o’clock somewhere.

There was a story a while back surrounding one of those “assemble stuff at home” opportunities that supposedly makes money selling you kits and then refusing to buy the finished product because it doesn’t meet standards or they only buy in lots of <some large number which is more than you have>. The researchers contacted one of those companies and arranged to assemble a radio at home including soldering joints and stuff. The researcher had the radio completed by a team of electrical engineers to a high standard - much higher than the average person who used a soldering iron a few times could do. Guess what, the radio didn’t meet standards and they wouldn’t pay for it.

Time for a drink then.

So how is this supposed to work? It says renumeration is fixed at $4000/month. Then it says you won’t get paid for articles until all errors are corrected. Then it says don’t “bid” unless you can meet all their requirements. Wtf?

My guess is that either you will write a bunch of stuff for them and when your first paycheck is due, you will never hear from them again or your first “assignment” will be to cash a check for them, Western Union them the proceeds, and then write an article about wiring money.

Maybe in Never-Never Land. It’s almost seventeen hundred as I write this, though.

Mr Worf, inform Starfleet Command: We have engaged the Borg.

Having been bemused by this whole affair I decide to contact them and gather more information. I let them know that I was an experienced writer who could be interested in doing the work…for the right price.

So read the below and tell me the person who is on the other end is not on the pacific rim somewhere. I’d be astonished if they weren’t.

The below is verbatim except where I’m changed my real name to my handle and removed some, to me, personal identifiers.

So, they want you to write 500-700 words on the Texas Lottery website that are captivating and engaging enough that people would be sharing it on Facebook? And once they’ve given you the green light, they give you 5-6 assignments like that per day? Crikey. If it’s legit, it sounds kind of high-maintenance.

Whois result is odd - seems to have Russian domain servers and a fake physical address. The phone number he gave doesn’t match the phone number displayed on the website, even in area code - 773 is definitely Chicago, 212 isn’t. Going by Google Street View, 2502 S Sawyer is at least a storefront, though it didn’t look really occupied the last time someone from Google drove by.

Oh and from the “satisfied customer” blurb on their website? “dotnet-host.com” is of course not an actual website, and they didn’t even code that URL correctly.

Plus the “TRUSTe” icon at the bottom doesn’t link to that website, same with the other tiny icons down there.

The phone number appears to be for a cell phone and the address links to a Hispanic legal services company next door to a nail salon.

And you might want tocompare noteswith this free-lancer.

Looks like they like you more than her - she only got offered 2500 a month.

Hey, the pay for me, baby!

Follow up, I received this somewhat oracular note this morning. Just a few minutes ago, in fact.

5-7 articles a day? About subjects they give you? With no writing errors – even plugging and chugging into a spelling and grammar checker would cut into productivity at that pace. And it has to be good enough to increase their Facebook viewership?

Well, duh. He has mastered correct comma usage, she has not.

Honestly, I do 8 per day in about 4 hours right now. So the workload doesn’t strike me as excessive. The scam part of it does, however.

Call me silly.

I’m guessing they want to count a month as 30 days, obligating you to 180 articles. With a 600 word minimum and a $4K paycheck, that works out to less than four cents a word.

If you can crank out 108,000 words per month on a variety of topics on deadline, you really should be getting more for your work.

With a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’ ?