Scams these days are getting more and more complex and it's easier than you might anticipate to get caught out. Here's how one veteran of our industry came close to being a victim.
One of the brutal and sad truths of coronavirus is that in times of desperation, scammers become more predatory, looking to capitalize on weakness. Just this week, Anete Lusina wrote an article on how to avoid scams and how it's easier than you might think to get caught by one. In the comments, I included a story of my own, which I'll quote here:
Great article, Anete. It's far easier to get scammed than people think. Though there are still invitations from foreign princes, many scams these days are significantly more advanced. One that I see a lot of people fall for is the overpayment scam, particularly when people are selling their equipment. Twice in the last year, I've seen someone sell a piece of equipment, the person overpays "by accident", then after the seller sends the item, they dispute the transaction, get the money back plus whatever the person sent them for overpayment, AND get the item.
I'm about as paranoid as they come with online security; I use LastPass, 2-factor authentications, VPNs, the lot, but 5 or 6 years ago even I got caught by a minor phishing scam. I was working with a new client and a scammer saw the images, found the director of the company I was working with, found his email address, created one remarkably similar, sent an email to me with a PDF of a new campaign brief, and as soon as I clicked it, I lost access to my emails for an hour. Had I not had all my extra measures, this could have been much worse. Stay vigilant, folks.
Too many people in all industries find comfort in the fact they can spot obvious scammers, but it's not an area that rewards you for confidence, but rather skepticism and vigilance. It's not remotely uncommon for scammers to send you money that (for a brief time) you could even spend, only to sting you later. In this video, Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens goes through a scam attempt by someone posing as Esquire Magazine which had him sign a contract before he realized what was happening. Morgan has been in the industry a long time and it should go to show that if you take your eye off of the ball, even briefly, it can hit you square in the face.