The internet, like the automobile, broke on the cultural scene with great promise, and great danger. But even the advent of self-propelled vehicles may not match the bittersweet challenge of the interwebs.
Sure, information is at our fingertips like never before. Dick Tracy’s 2-way wrist-TV is a reality. Common labor-intensive tasks that previously took hours are now finished in minutes.
The downside? Phishing, scams, spam, fraud, betrayal of trust, Nigerian bank accounts, and the dark web.
For voice talent, the plus side is the democratization of opportunity. You can live in Sioux Falls, and make a living with your voice these days. Before, you’d have had to live in NYC, LA, or Chi-town. Finding work, auditioning for work, and delivering work is all done digitally. All good.
The bad? Posers. Thieves dressed up all purty, sporting lavish websites, and promising to make you sacks of money in a weekend coaching/demo session. Then there are the charlatans asking you to make you pay for the “privilege” of getting a job where YOU make sub-par wages, and THEY pocket the substantial difference, AFTER you pay an escrow fee. Finally, there are the snakes waiting in the bushes to foist a legitimate-sounding voiceover opportunity into a fraudulent scam…preying on your trust and naiveté.
That last one is the one I’m here to show you in the flesh today.
As soon as I got the email I wondered. But it came through the reputable Germany-based Bodalgo voice casting site. No more had I rec’d the missive, than I got a warning from Bodalgo’s reputable owner — Armin Hierstetter — saying it was a scam…fraudulent.
Before getting a fair chance to warn others, the scammers had already move on to a rash of emails to WoVO members.
So, just in case you haven’t seen this yet. Here’s the text of the original email that’s making the rounds:
Subject: General message
Hi, i am Marie Scott. I am a Casting Director. I am seeking a natural, talented voice over artist for a one days recording. The recording is basically going to be used on an online website. Indicate interest by replying to marie.[email protected] for more details.
For those who responded, the follow-up email was this:
Thanks for your response. It is a $850 voice over (Assignment) for you. A new corporate client of mine wants to create their online website and a voice over artist is required to enhance the website experience.This assignment is for either professional or non-professional as a script will be provided. You don’t have to be worried about your experience; we have specialists, and Contract Studio Engineer who will bring the real perfection to your job. It’s a 1 day job and shouldn’t take more than 1 hour.
Job Location: The recording will be held at a rented studio close to your location, so you don’t have to worry about traveling, the name and address of the studio will be forwarded to you before the date of the recording. You can come along with anybody of your choice on the day of the Recording, your mom, dad, friend, body-guard or anybody so that you could feel more comfortable and relaxed but there will be provisions for just one extra person.
Company: SP Media Production
We are creating an animated marketing video to be distributed through web and social media. The overall video is approximately 10 minute in length with the Game Show host part being about 5 seconds. The Game Show Host voice must be boisterous, fun and entertaining.
Expectations: You need to be in a good mental and emotional state of mind. Basically this is all that is required of you, Kindly, get in touch with me as soon as possible if you will take the job (Interested) so that more details will be provided to you and we can continue from there. Please, no time wasting. The job is private and confidential so I am handling it personally.
Let me know if you will take the job to commence with next arrangement. Please I’d like you to check your email on a regular basis; I might have updates for you.
No, Sorry, Marie…I’m not going to get into touch to hear your nefarious scheme that would doubtless involve you sending me a bogus check for $2250, so that I could deposit that, pay the “rental” studio $850, and send you the balance from my bank account (or some other ludicrous scenario). I won’t “kindly” do that.
That word right there – kindly – is my biggest red flag. I’m not going to name countries, but English-speaking citizens of a certain Asian country routinely include that red-flag word in their pleas. There are other inidicators. Google SP Media Productions, and the only thing that comes up is a photo studio.
Plus…what’s all that about bringing your mom, dad, and bodyguards? Taken as a whole, the entire appeal is very unbusiness-like, and much of the phrasing is suspect: “…This assignment is for either professional or non-professional as a script will be provided…”
As voice-actors, we’re not special…the predators are out there on the internet for all sorts of professions and trusting individuals. It’s too bad, really…it’s made us all a little more wary, and less trusting.