Dodging A Bullet…
This wasn’t going to be today’s post.
I had one, nearly ready to go about reframing.
But I dodged a bullet yesterday. Metaphorically of course. Walton-on-Thames is quite a peaceful sort of town, although it has it’s moments. But I was very nearly the victim of a scam.
It’s been a long time in the making, and I’ve wasted a bunch of time and energy on it, but luckily, I haven’t lost any money. Others haven’t been so lucky.
Let me tell you about it.
There’s an old adage, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is“. Well, this ‘opportunity’ looked too good to be true from the outset. A nice rebranding project with a decent (but not unrealistic) budget.
There were red flags though. My ‘client’ wanted to communicate by a specific Messaging App – Wire. (I’m including all the details in case it rings bells with other people in a similar situation). This then switched to his personal Telegram, as the company was having ‘server issues’. Why not email? Not a problem I thought, I’ll screenshot everything, get a contract signed, and get a 50% deposit (my default for new customers).
My ‘spidey senses’ were tingling. Got a very believable brief, and set of deliverables. Went backwards and forwards over the messenger App – often with significant delays on their end – explained away by “sorry, I’ve been ill – Covid!”, not unrealistic in the present circumstances. Specced out the job. Checked out the competition. Wrote a contract (and got it signed). Researched the category (Industrial Drones for Agricultural surveys). Learned quite a bit about that! But didn’t start any ‘real work’ because I hadn’t received the deposit yet.
Red flag 2 (well, probably 8 if I’d been really on the ball) – They wanted to pay me in Bitcoin. Well, that’s a new one on me. But doing my research (again, a big chunk of time) it seemed ok. And Bitcoin was riding high, what with Mr Musk investing $1.5 Billion. So this could be “the future”. So, did my due diligence and I opened a Bitcoin account (anybody want to know about cryptocurrency, I’m a bit of an expert in that too. That and agricultural drones.). I researched the category, opened an account with what I considered the best ‘exchange’ and got a ‘wallet’ (see, I know all the right words!) After waiting an age, my account was verified, and I could receive money.
The final red flag There was a problem. Due to the surge in people opening Bitcoin accounts on the back of all the publicity, my ‘client’ had the amount they could transfer out of their wallet limited. They had a solution though – if I opened an account with the same wallet – and I won’t link to it here, but I’m happy to tell you about it if you want to message me – the funds could go through. Well, I was NOT going to click that link. But I could google the company right? First few results on Google, all good reviews. They’d taken care of that. But digging a little deeper I got to a Reddit thread, discussing someone going through my exact same situation. Everyone on the thread was saying “it’s a scam, don’t do it dude” – but the guy in my shoes was saying “If they’re paying me – how could it go wrong” and determined to proceed, because he “really needed the money” (well, we all do, but I certainly don’t need to lose any money). Digging deeper, I found somebody that had been ripped off, and lost a substantial sum of money. His story echoed mine, step by step. He’s reported it to the Police, Action Fraud, his bank and The Financial Services Authority. (I have since done the same).
So, luckily, bullet dodged. Lesson learned.
As I say, a whole lot of time and energy wasted, and some money not coming in that, to be honest, I’d started ‘counting on’. Oh well. But to echo the post I was going to write… let’s reframe that.
- I haven’t lost any money
- I’m a bit more streetwise about scams and security
- I know a LOT more about Bitcoin – and have a safe, secure Bitcoin account.
- I know a fair bit about agricultural drones – more interesting than they sound
- I’m available for other work!
My perfect client
So what kind of ‘other work’ am I up for? I love working with SME’s who are either starting up – and need their brand strategy defining – or companies that have been around a while and need to take the next step – and for whom a consistent, coherent brand will help them on that journey.
I’ve been thinking very hard about who my ‘perfect’ new client would be (all my existing clients are perfect of course!) and come to the (obvious) conclusion that Climate Change is the biggest issue facing us today, and “The Green Economy” is where I could make the most difference. I would absolutely LOVE to work on an Eco brand – something in the Electric Vehicle (EV) category – whether the vehicles themselves, or associated technology such as charging. I think there is a huge potential in Hydrogen as an environmentally friendly technology – and would love to be involved in something that would help the Hydrogen Economy come to fruition. So if your organisation is committed to making a positive difference to climate change, I’d love to be involved. Drop me an email.
Or, thinking about it, if you work for an Agricultural Drone company, and need a rebrand 🙂
So, I went off piste a little at the end there. And this blog post is a little more ‘freeform’ and unplanned than normal – due to – circumstances. But to get back to the main point, we ALL work hard to earn our money, don’t let someone rip you off!
If you’ve been a victim of something similar, please feel free to email me. And please report it to the following people: Action Fraud (National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting) and The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).