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Scammers and Sidetracks: How to Avoid a Modern Day Telephone Con

Updated on September 9, 2012

I came so very close...

Don't be a sucker like I almost was!
Don't be a sucker like I almost was! | Source

Sidetracked by Scammers

Have you ever been sidetracked from your main objective in life, which I was terribly excited and motivated to start such an endeavor, and the last thing I expected was to be scammed-in the worst, most effective way possible. We writers and authors are a sensitive lot, and most of us desire some form of positive reinforcement from others, whether from peers, family, or even editors. I am surely not alone, at least I hope not. So here I am-starving artist and such-starting a new business at:,

when suddenly, out of the proverbial blue, I receive a telephone call. A woman who calls herself Rhonda, tells me that I have been selected to join the

Based on my writing skills, of course. 'Rhonda' goes on to say that she will be conducting an interview by phone to see if I am worthy of such an honor. Confused as to where she obtained my name, yet thrilled at such an opportunity, I eagerly accept the offer and begin the interview.

~By now, of course, I've completely digressed from my original business idea and dive in to the waters of our discussion with enthusiasm. This may be the chance of a lifetime! It could not possibly be a scam, thought I, not remembering that I had no idea where she found my name in the first place.~

Without a thought, I become fast friends with Rhonda and laughingly engage in marvelous conversation.

And so we begin...

World Wide Who's Who Scam

Beware! | Source

The Interview

Rhonda was oh, so complimentary and encouraging that I opened up to her with abandon, certain that she had adored my writing here on HubPages and was thoroughly convinced of my future as a bona fide writer. I would be a welcome addition to her organization, she effused.

Me? Oh my Gawd! I have arrived!

Oh, Laurel, it's time, you've come into your own, at last.

May I say that I was higher than any kite could possibly fly?

Continuing our conversation, she continued to gush over my writing potential and after a number of questions, my new best advocate said that I had been accepted! Oh, my. Now it was my turn to gush with glee.

I even teared up, honestly.

But then, the kicker.

I was to receive a plaque with my name inscribed, a statue made of glass in my honor, a scroll, and a copy of the most recent edition of her World Wide Who's Who directory-with my name included, of course-all for the price of just $99-.

I was so blind to this scam at the moment that I agreed and gave her my credit card number without a thought. Without a thought, I repeat, and now, with hind-sighted shame.

So Common these Days!

Nigerian Scams are all the Rage!
Nigerian Scams are all the Rage! | Source

And My Eyes Slowly Open...

I am a relative newcomer to the Internet and this scam was perfect for me, a naive woman who tends to believe in the goodness, the trustworthiness of this human race. I do not intend here to excuse my actions, but to indicate what a perfect victim I almost became.

I began to think about this requirement of payment. For recognition? Who in her right mind would pay for such a thing? A plaque would be nice, a glass figurine for the mantle, and a scroll, even lovelier, but why give money to this registry for my name in a book that no one may even read? What had I gotten myself into? And why on earth had I given her my credit card number?

And so, I began to do a bit of research and to listen, finally, to my family's admonitions.

Taking Action

As soon as I became aware of my idiocy-or naivete-I began to research this 'organization', and found numerous Who's Who scams all over the web. I was flabbergasted! I often think I'm quite the smart, intuitive type, and I fell for this? Good God, what was I thinking?

My ego, that was it-my tenuous identity as a writer had been stroked lovingly, I thought, and I had eagerly waited, drooling, for more.

Oh, Rhonda, how could you do such a thing? How cruel, how mean and inhumane!

But no, I realized, I had proved to be the perfect mark. A sure thing for the scam artist.

What Have I Done??
What Have I Done?? | Source

Don't Worry, Everyone's a Target!

Have you ever fell victim to an online scam?

See results

Credit Cards and Such

My first step was to phone the credit card company I use and cancel my then account. I snipped my card and will be sent another 'in 3 to 5 business days'. I told them of the situation and they were sympathetic, though I think I heard a bit of derision in their voices, but that just may be my imagination...

I then called the local sheriff and reported this incident. He was kind enough, but told me this sort of thing is so common that he would only take a report because I almost gave them the money willingly-no crime was committed. Sad, but quite true. I laughed with him as he offered, "I'll give you 25 bucks and tell you you're good!" For a sheriff, quite the funny guy, actually.

In Retrospect

It's all in the hindsight, is it not? How amazing it is how apt some of us are to believe what we wish to believe. These scammers are good, exceedingly good at what they do. And often, very often, they succeed. I survived this by the skin of my teeth. Do be forewarned, though, these people are hungry for your money and will do anything to get it.

$99- may not seem like much, but when they succeed with, say, 10 people, well then, do the math.

Be smart!


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    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      You too, Genna? Thanks for reading, and for complimenting my hub. I agree with you about the trust level, mine has been sorely damaged, but it has also taught me that one must be extremely careful on the Internet. Quite a lesson.


    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Excellent hub! I've received e-mails from these Who's Who scammers, and often wonder how the heck do they know who I am? Please don't feel bad; this happens to many of us, eventually. My trust levels have plummeted, unfortunately, but I think in some ways, this is not unwise with all of the scammers out there. Thank you for this candid hub! Up + :-)

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      justateacher, that one was good, no? Oh yeah, they almost had you good! You would have been completely out of cash if they'd had their druthers...

      I completely sympathize, and understand your gullibility since gullibility is one of my personal qualities..

      Thanks for commenting.

      Lucky Cats, so nice to see you here, as always! Wow, your brother had been missing for over a year? Then you were perfect prey for the scammers. Yep, I'm also glad about the credit card-and was beginning to worry about the new one since it hadn't arrived in '3-5 business days. Well, it came today-6 days later. Whew! Thanks for your lovely words, hope to see you again.


      Austinstar-'Paranoid' ought to be my middle name, aware is not-so being aware is something I need to work on, badly.

      See you sometime/somewhere,


      Hi Olde Cashmere-first of all, thanks for the positive votes. I appreciate them quite a lot!

      My hubby and I were talking about this-well, maybe yelling about this, and he told me to take it like a man'-

      'Rub some dirt on it' said he! You know, get up and quit whining about scammers and get back up on that horse and keep writing!

      Thanks for the visit, OC, I love this kind of interaction on HP-it's amazing!


    • profile image

      Olde Cashmere 

      8 years ago

      Treat it as a life lesson lorlie6. You are now wiser and more experienced because of what happened to you. Now, by sharing your story, the eyes of many readers will be opened to such scams. Voted up and useful :)

    • Austinstar profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      Don't beat yourself up over it. Just remember to be paranoid. It works for me.

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      8 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Lorlie...well, in terms of your trusting nature, you said, ", a naive woman who tends to believe in the goodness, the trustworthiness of the human race." So, you see here, in your own honest words, is why you believed that the scam could be real recognition of your writing ability. So, don't chastise yourself, Lorlie...I would have felt the same way as, I am sure, many many others would. Sadly, we live in a very predatory, opportunistic society/world right now; people are acting without any conscience; preying off others. It's very sad. I answered that I came very close to being scammed...on more than one occasion, I must admit. On the phone, and with that obnoxious knock on my front door...almost bought all those magazines, almost paid the overseas phone bill for my ailing brother in Europe (specially this one, during a time when I could not find my younger brother for over a year), I a glad you caught it; glad you cancelled your credit card and glad you're sharing your experience w/us so that we can avoid the same trap. thank you, Voted UP Useful, Interesting and there should be an 'educational.'

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 

      8 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      This happened to me years ago when I was a young, naive mom and was really getting started writing "real" poetry. I was called and told that I only needed to write four or five poems and then they would be published in a book and I could win literary awards. The catch was that I had to pay a certain amount (I believe it, too, was around $100) for each poem to be published. Then I had to pay another hundred or so to buy the book. At first I was thrilled! If I would have had the money, I probably would have been stupid enough to do it. Then I sent in one poem that was so childish and bad that I sent it in just to get feedback. I was told that this poem, too, was great and could be published. I knew then that I had been had...

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Just Ask Susan, I thank you for your comment, and yes, you-anyone-could be in the same boat! They are amazingly convincing and soothe your writer's ego perfectly. 'Smooth operators', they are!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Mynde-I'm proud to say I didn't lose any money at all! Your story is awful, what a terrible thing to do to the elderly. They are preyed upon the most in this country, too-I think.

      Thank you for coming by to read.

    • Mynde profile image


      8 years ago from Lithuania

      Luckily, you did not lose a big amount of money. This article reminded me about a situation in my country, where people were losing thousands. Criminals always targeted old people as they were not smart enough. A person called someone at night (because at that moment people could not think clearly) telling that their son had a car accident and is in a hospital in critical situation and in order to survive needs a quick surgery or some kind of very expensivemedicine. A caller introduced as son's friend and told that he will soon arrive to pick the money. And you have no idea how many people fell for this scam. There was time when you could see this kind of story almost every day on the news. Terrible.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Ouch, I feel so bad that this has happened to you. I've been lucky but you never know I could be in the same boat any day. Some of these people are so smooth. I guess that's what makes them good scammers.

      Glad that you wrote this as a warning to others that may be approached in the same way as you have.

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Hi Jester98-Yep, it's an easy trap if they're good at it, and my scammer was excellent-smooth as silk. As you said, 'never again'!

      Thanks for the visit.

      Green Lotus-Ahh, yes-ego. Mine was all puffed up and eager to pat itself on the back! Thank God I changed my card immediately, they'll not touch that.

      I still am embarrassed and ashamed to some extent, but I'll get over it-sounds like it's far too common to be worried that I'm the only one!

      As always, thanks for reading!


    • Green Lotus profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Yes this is an important Hub! Too bad you had to become a victim in order to write it...but you were very smart in realizing your mistake so quickly and cancelling that card!

      I've been taken in by a similar Who's Who thing. It was years ago, before credit card scams became popular, but it too was ego driven.

      Our design company has even come down off its high horse. We used to spend so much work, energy and "entry fees" for yearly ASID contests. Even if we won, we soon realized the publicity we received was fleeting and the whole thing never really paid for itself. The ego gets in the way of so many things :(

    • Jester98 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great info. I hate scammers!! I was duped once and never again!!

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Hi SG-You did, too? Lordy. You're right, they must be on some sort of tear right now, I hope others see this now so they won't be sucked in. I hope they're ashamed, but I seriously doubt it!

      Thanks for coming by.

      kelleyward-Thanks so much for the votes and shares, I really appreciate that and hopefully more folks will be forewarned.

      Take care, too!

      Marcy-Decades?!! Wow. Once I did my research, I did find there were tons of who's who scams everywhere, but didn't really pay attention to the dates. Initially, I thought they were the academic who's who-I have a pretty fair record in that department-but had a 'hinky' feeling about these folks once I began listening to my own intuition. I usually do, but it took some time!

      Thank you for commenting,


    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      8 years ago from Planet Earth

      The Who's Who scam has been around for decades. It's sad, because it detracts from the real Who's Who academic and other honors (some of which ask for payment if you order the directory, too). How low for them to prey on people through things like writing on this site.

      Thanks for the heads-up on this!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to share this important information. Voted up and shared. Take care, Kelley

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow! I had a call from these same people but the con artist was named Lauren. They must be doing a campaign right now LOL.

      Seriously, this is so great that you published this hub about this disturbing group. We are all human and there is nothing better than to be told you are doing a good job and that is the hook they use. They are the ones who should be ashamed!

      After having my credit card number stolen and used on the Home Shopping Network a few years ago, I'm very protective of it now and when these scammers insisted that it was a one time offer on the phone only, they gave themselves away. Stanford?

      Rated up and I'm sharing!

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca


      Glad to be your follower, though it took far too long!


    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Laurel-'a houseplant' LOL that's a great one! Lesson learned and message heard. Thanks.

    • lorlie6 profile imageAUTHOR

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Mmargie1966-great year, btw! Thanks for coming by-yes, we sensitive, trusting sorts are at high risk, all right. Thanks so much for sharing this, I do hope it gets around to everyone!

      Denise-What a wonderful and timely comment! Wow, you certainly were almost hooked by a monster. Jeeze, if he was looking for a companion only, he should consider a houseplant-on the other hand, no-poor plant! ;) But marriage? That, as you said, is terribly cruel and gives me pause. There are so many lonely and desperate women just waiting to hear such things-I feel terribly for them. What to do but try to warn them of such baloney. I hope I've done a bit here to discourage all of us from this nonsense. I've sure learned a hard lesson!

      Take good care, ladies,


    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Lorlie6 stop admonishing yourself and relish in the thought of how many people you are helping to alert with this candid confession. OMG, I can only feel for you. I agree with all who have interacted with you regarding this: they are cons, they are excellent in what they do, you are, as is all of us, the perfect prey for them, and it can happen to any of us.

      Perhaps my target area might not be the Who's Who, but another form...but, it can happen to any of us. Just yesterday I received two messages from Skype. One was a person I knew and the other was an unfamiliar man, but with ALL of the 'new' links I have added myself to I initially thought it was a hubber.

      He sent a message offering such sweet praise and I immediately felt that same feeling, "oh, someone sees me for who I am-kind, sweet, blah blah blah" I glowed as I read his recognition of my character traits until, as I continued through his message, I read, "like to get to know you better, looking for a companion to marry..."

      I thought, "who and the blazes is this creep? He doesn't even know me and is throwing a marriage proposal out there?" Red flags were flying and I deleted it and blocked it.

      I happened to be on the phone with my daughter, Cara, (hubber: cardelean), at the time and told what had happened and she agreed with me that this was a blind cast for unsuspecting and lonely females. I was sickened by, not only the cruelty of this gesture/con, but also by the fact that I had come close to getting hooked and further, enraged that other women would be caught in this net of deceit.

      It made me pause in gratitude that I have shown progress through my own (sick past) of neediness, but sad that there are so many people out there who are using the internet as a form of crime.

      Thanks so much for sharing this hub. Perfect timing for this subject. Voted UP/U/I Take care.

    • Mmargie1966 profile image


      8 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      What a well needed hub! I have come close to being scammed twice! We trusting people really need to be careful.

      Great job warning us all! I voted up and useful...and I'll share too!


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