Here Comes the Chump

Cheetah Chase | By Hein waschefort (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsYou’re never too old to be taken for a chump.

Predators are everywhere.  If we’re lucky, we aren’t targeted as their prey.  Most of us believe that we are too savvy, too smart, or simply not gullible enough to fall for a scam, but the truth is that victims can be found everywhere.  The realization that you’ve been duped is not only embarrassing; it also has an erosive effect on our ability to trust.

A couple of days ago, I applied for a position on Elance, a freelance contractor website. After being advised by the client that I had been selected to interview for the position, Elance de-listed their ad. Yes, folks, that should have been clue #1. I contacted Elance support and they advised me to skip the interview. After thinking about it, I figured that no harm could come from an interview.

Are you spotting a trend of denial here?

The interview was conducted via Yahoo chat. I was surprised that it was chat only and not voice or video – or simply over the phone – but I went along.  The job description was vague as were the answers to many of my questions. I was given an assignment to write a paper. What they were looking for seemed more like a request for a blog post than an assessment of my abilities. It wasn’t a difficult task, so I wrote the paper and submitted it with a long list of questions about the company, their hiring process, and their use of Yahoo Email rather than a branded Email account.

You’re probably thinking, “Run away, Ray! Don’t be a victim!” | Dr Richard Murray [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout this process, I Googled the company they claimed to represent, but could find no negative information. It was an innocuous container company with good earnings and no Internet hate directed in their direction.

This morning, we were scheduled to chat again, and my “trainer” was eager to move on to assignment #2.  I indicated that I would prefer that she address my questions before moving on.  She said, “Okay,” but her answers remained evasive.

They were sending me a check to purchase equipment. I said that that seemed like a ludicrous way to go about it and that, if this was their practice, they could do better by buying in bulk and shipping the equipment. When I mentioned that I hadn’t been asked what my current office set-up was, and that I had no idea what they wanted me to purchase, she provided a list: desk, laptop, 4-in-1, printer/scanner/fax/copier, a bar code printer and cards (which I searched for and found costs about $2,000), accounting software, and a number of other items.

The check would arrive tomorrow.

“Are you okay with that?” she asked.

That’s when I realized that I had been Googling the wrong thing. It wasn’t the company that I should have been questioning – as they probably don’t even know what’s going on – it was the process that was suspect.  I quickly found an explanation of the scam.

They “accidentally” send you a check for much more than the price of the items that are to be purchased, then quickly ask you to wire them back the difference. By the time the check bounces, you’re out-of-pocket for the purchases and the funds that were returned, if you were gullible enough to actually send a wire.

It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it happens all of the time. That’s why scams and con artists will always be around. It’s a profitable occupation for those who have no soul.

I ended the conversation.

Bug in Spider Web | By User:CommonGuy (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsMy escape may not have been graceful or timely, but it was an escape nonetheless.  It’s disturbing that I came as close as I had to becoming the antelope to their lion.

Being unemployed or underemployed, as is my case, can play with your mind.  As you explore each new opportunity, you must remind yourself to be patient, confident, wary, and remain true to yourself.  Reacting as if desperate, even if the situation is a desperate one, can only lead to trouble.  Trust your instincts.

Don’t be a chump.



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Ray Colon

He works with numbers for a living, but don't judge - boring accountants need love too. His blog has no niche (unless writing about things that are important to him is a niche). Some folks cringe when he gets “all political” on them, but he does it anyway when he's in that kind of mood. Sometimes, he writes something nice about someone, but you shouldn't get used to that. His first book, the one he hasn't written yet, is not available on Amazon. Subscribe to Ray's Blog via RSS  or Email.

12 thoughts on “Here Comes the Chump”

    1. Hi Kitt,

      Likewise. That some people seem to only be able to make it at the expense of others is sad; that they too often succeed is tragic. Getting by, to them, means getting over. Since we can’t wring their necks, we can seek satisfaction in knowing that karma is real… and she packs a wallop! 🙂

    1. Hi TiTi,

      Thanks, I survived, but you’re right, it does suck. When I ended it, I was tempted to curse ’em out, but I stopped myself from doing that because I’m sure that I would have been the one who remained upset hours later. They clearly would have shrugged and moved on. Similar to the topic you wrote about yesterday, Keeping Your Blogging Cool, we have to manage how we internalize things, so that we don’t drive ourselves bonkers.

  1. Wow, glad you nearly escaped being a chump. I nearly got chumped for rental apartment, sight unseen for a city I was relocating.

    The rental company asks to wire rental deposit to a mysterious address, etc. somewhere in England (for a rental in Canada). Made no sense to me. I couldn’t talk to the person by phone.

    Anyway, in the end I dropped the person cold and told them I would report them to the police. Just so they wouldn’t bug me anymore.

    I worked in the legal sector for the courts and for some private firms, so over time, one sees the worst of what human beings do to one another. It is SO easy to fall prey with legitimate sounding companies, claims,..yet no legitimate company tries to do business only by phone/email with no photos of their business, business registration with the legal authorities, etc.
    Jean recently posted..Injecting Life and Identity: Outdoor Public Art in the PrairiesMy Profile

    1. Hi Jean,

      It’s not like me to leave comments unanswered. I’ll not let that happen again.

      You sure did escaped being duped with that rental. Unfortunately, I’m sure that those folks have gotten away with that kind of scam with others.

      Thanks for your nudges for me to get back to blogging. I finally posted an update today.

  2. I’m seeing so many scams by people trying to rip off the under/unemployed. I was offered a “temp” job by someone a friend knows. The woman seemed upbeat and relieved when we met in person and offered me “any hours I wanted.” A few days later I see the same job advertised locally and that she needs help now, today! After not hearing back I finally pin her down in an email and she says she is paying $5.00/hour but there “may” be a better job in the future. It’s hard not to be bitter. It’s easy to see why so many fall for too good to be true scams when in real life everyone seems ready to “low ball you.” Meanwhile companies cry they can’t find “any good people.”

    1. Hello Lady,

      My apologies for not replying to your comment sooner.

      There’s a lot of truth about the difficulties that the unemployed/underemployed encounter as they try to get back on their feet. It isn’t enough to be skilled, talented, or experienced, it’s just as important to be vigilant. And it’s not just the “too good to be true” bogus offers, it’s the run-of-the-mill jobs that turn out to be scams that are even more aggravating.

      Bitterness does not take us very far, but I agree, it’s tough not to succumb to that impulse. First, I stopped counting the number of resumes sent out and the number of interviews attended. Then I stopped looking for a conventional job altogether. Why continue to try to impress these employers and their gatekeepers? Why not focus on impressing clients instead? That’s the path that I’ve chosen to take for now. I’ve posted an update today that describes what I’ve learned over the last six months.

    1. Hello Inner Chick,

      Better late than never, I hope. I’ve been absent from this blog for about six months, but I do appreciate your stopping by to read and comment.

      Your wish of, “Hopefully next time, it will be the REAL deal.” did actually come true. Today, I’ve written about what has happened since I wrote this post, and I’m happy to report that that initial freelancing experience was not to be the norm moving forward. I’ve made some wonderful contacts, and the results of my efforts are improving each month!

  3. I’m so sorry this happened to you, Ray. But so grateful you were open enough to share this cautionary tale. I think what you wrote at the end is very true, very common. Desperation makes us do unwise things. It keeps us from thinking straight and intuiting properly.

    Good thing your stronger self kicked in when it did! Thanks for putting it out there for everyone to learn from.
    Lynette Benton recently posted..Good Works – Guest Post by Margy RydzynskiMy Profile

    1. Hi Lynette,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve been off of the blogging path for several months, but I hope to become more active once again.

      Desperation is a [expletive deleted], for sure. Once we allow our hopes to outweigh our spidey sense, we’re in trouble!

      Things have improved since I wrote this post, so desperation is playing a lessor role — but it’s still there, waiting… Knowing that it’s there, helps to keep it at bay. 🙂

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