I hope by reading my tale you will be more alert to the unscrupulous characters lurking on the internet. Also it is my desire that you will be forewarned, empowered and confident enough to listen to the warning bells I ignored.

Like most of us I think I am pretty ‘savvy’ when it comes to being taken in by persuasive sales people or TV commercials. Imagine how angry and red faced I felt when I realised I had been scammed out of £450.

I love surfing, but it is all too easy to believe everyone is as honest you. I learned my lesson the hard way. I hope to save you the heartache I went through.

This Is How It Happened

When I retired, I decided to take advantage of new technology and spread the word about my book, TG and the Rainbow Warriors. What an adventurous time I had joining Twitter and ‘tweeting’ away with the best of them. My goodness, it was so exciting following and being followed. One of my followers was an education magazine.

Looking back, there were signs, but I just didn’t listen to that niggling, warning inner voice. The bells tinkled from very early on. It all began with a direct message. Would I like to advertise my book with the educational magazine? It seemed a perfect way to get coverage of my children’s book on healthy eating and self-esteem, out to hundreds of schools. I refused, explaining that I didn’t have the funds to advertise.

But they didn’t give up, lowering the price right down they offered loads of extras. When I wouldn’t commit without speaking to someone about my concerns, the director offered to speak to me directly. He was convincing. He said that he was busy interviewing all day but could spare me a few minutes in the evening. We chatted for over an hour. I had checked them out and their website looked eye catching and professional.

The director was charming. He was interested in healthy eating, offered to tweet for me so I could sell more books. I should have been a teensy bit suspicious when he said his daughter’s favourite food was broccoli! He offered free design for my advert and a flashing banner on their website linking through to mine. All for the very reasonable price of £245.

Yes, I Know, Too Good to Be True

I wanted to believe it. With a little subtle pressure, I was induced me to take out a full page spread for very little more money. I was instructed to pay promptly by BACs (Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services) to secure my place in the magazine as it was getting close to going to print. A reminder that when you do BACS transfer instead of a credit card or PayPal payment, you have put the money in someone else’s account and it’s up to them if they wish to refund it. My charges by now had grown to £450!

Then the Bells Started to Ring Louder

Where the director had been so seemingly helpful, the ad designer/editor was extremely short in her dealings with me. Everything suddenly felt so rushed. After I had accepted the advert design, replies to my emails become shorter with longer gaps between, until there was radio silence.

I gave them the benefit of the doubt. After all it was very close to publication date, they must have been so busy. Although the advert wasn’t quite as I would like it, my message would get out there. Eventually the bells were loud and clear. I hadn’t received a printed or digital copy of the magazine as promised. No tweets had been sent out. I have subsequently realised that the magazine does not exist. I was scammed.

So my advice to you is simple. If it seems too good to be true is usually is. Don’t be rushed in making decisions. Fraudsters tap into your emotions and dare I say vanity. If you do pay, use a credit card or PayPal. Last but not least listen out for the warning bells and follow your intuition.

Although the whole episode caused me frustration, tears and hurt pride, I did manage to have some fun and there was a silver lining. But that will be another story.

Have you ever been “scammed” by a smooth talking online seller? Do you follow your intuition and listen to the inner warning bells when making a tough decision? Please join the conversation below and share your experience.

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