Friday, May 07, 2010

Beware the Spammers and the Scammers and the Clever Advertorials…

Bearing Gifts…or…
The latest attempt to have money siphoned out of our pockets…

Hi Guys,

I received an envelope on Tuesday, which had upon it a second-class stamp. Nothing strange there, I hear you say, but it came along, delineated with our company address that to all intents and purposes appeared to be hand-written.

Fortunately for us we have an eye for this kind of thing at the Keep, after all we use fonts and printing all the time here, so it seems sound sense that we would detect a font, albeit a good “hand-written” styled one.

I am always cynical about letters and companies professing to be able to make your profits increase in hundreds of percent and telling us all that advertising doesn’t work.

Well let me tell you that advertising in the right way, with the right products, with the right media, is what it is all about.

We all need to market and brand ourselves and anyone that thinks differently is certainly not correct in that assumption.

Now with all that in mind let me discuss with you the letter in question, or rather the content of the envelope, which was addressed to, Timothy Perkins, Wizards Keep Limited – a give away, especially when looking at the post mark, as there is no one on this planet except my Mum and Dad, if Mum is in the room, and my mate’s Mum, sadly no longer with us who ever calls me that.

The only folks to use my full name are the cold callers to the home and the company – a give-away that this call will be a time waster, so I disappoint folks time and again by cutting the conversations short, in a courteous way none the less, to ensure my time is not wasted, even if the caller’s is – tough!!!

Oh yes, and a certain colourist also calls me by my full christened title too, but I see that as a term of "endearment", or at least a bit of fun!

Anyhow back to the story here; it contained what looked like a torn out page from a newspaper – I suspect that having no header lines showing, which newspaper it was, or page number (although there was a date) was another give-away.

Now, and here is the trick to this little misleading “advertorial” cold calling via the printed page, on the top of the folded page, when I took it out of its envelope was a post-it note.

It read (again in the same “hand-written” font – but meant to look like it was from someone I knew (but by now we were pre-warned):

Timothy, (give-away, guys- told ya already)
I saw this and thought of you. This guy is brilliant. Have a look at his website.

Well aside from the font and use of my full title mistakes I looked at the postmark and know no one from the area, let alone anyone that would sign it simply, J…In fact only one person on this planet would sign anything like this and only at certain times, so no clues to folks here.

Having scan read the page, which was double sided, I decided to look at it further, as it reminded me of a similar claim for free gifts purporting to make you instantly better at doing what you do and making you masses of money, from a fraudster in the States a while ago.

These along with the ones, which say your work and reputation are such that you are being honoured by having you sign up to be on the most acclaimed business address on-line lists and catalogues, which are bestowed upon the most prestigious of similarly elite companies, are commonplace at the Keep, which as I am sure you will agree is quite an honour for a guy who creates sequential stories amongst other stuff, if you were to be egotistical enough to fall for it all.

They all claim to be from companies donating their services for free…that is until you delve further and there is always a catch and therein lies the rub…because no-one and I mean no-one does anything like this for FREE…ever!!!

Well this one was no different, because after looking up the guy in Google and his company I was directed to not a website, as the address implied, but a sign up page, which asked for your card details…

Now before I go on, is anyone here reading this little missive going, “oh no!”, “alarm bells ringing”, “this is bad!!!”, or similar…Well guess what me too.

Who in their right mind is going to send off for 6 x CDs which will change your life, just like winning the lottery (please read sarcasm here), and give away card details, to someone with the long list above of tell-tale signs of a potential scam…?

No website, even though you are directed to it, but a sign up page with provision to add your personal card details – I THINK NOT Squire, sorry.

Also, at this point, I will direct you here to another writer that has also had a similar earlier invite from Mr. Chris Cardell and, which he writes about on his Blog here:

Science Writer, Brian Clegg’s Blog

There you will read lots of comments following on from his Blog on the matter, with its similar “newspaper clipping” albeit with a much more misleading photograph with the guy in question, Chris Cardell, stood with UK Dragon’s Den top entrepreneur, Duncan Bannatyne.

There is also a link to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), which has ruled against Chris Cardell, hence, the obviously slightly amended version I have received containing the new photograph of the CDs on offer, instead of the one on Brian’s Blog, which you can read about below by following the link to the ASA website.

ASA Adjudication on Cardell Media Ltd

It all goes to show that these things can be deceiving and, more importantly, convincing in their application.

Oh, one last little joke before I leave you, at the bottom of the first page of the supposed newspaper (please read – printed on newsprint – and we can all do that, just go along to a printer) it reads; (Continued on Section A Page 2)…and guess what…?

You’ll never guess what, when you look on the back of the page it reads; (Continued from Section A Page 1).

Now there’s a novel thought, sequentially numbered pages and marked just in case you cannot find page two on the back of page 1, excellent use of numerology and literacy/reading skills there for those of less than academic qualification…but I thought he was targeting UK businesses, are we not supposed to be able to do this without the use of such devices…?

Maybe there is a new illustrated book for me there, “How to turn over the pages of a newspaper and find the next page correctly!” – What do you think?

I’ll let you have further details about this, if I learn more.

Is this a scam, or just plain and simply the worst exploitative way of hard advertising? I leave that for you to decide, especially if you also receive one of these, or similar.

Until next time, be vigilant to these kinds of things and above all, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 7th 2010


Lew Stringer said...

The lengths that these scammers go to becomes increasingly sophisticated, - but obviously not sophisticated enough. LOL! Well done Tim on making people aware of these wasters. Unfortunately there'll always be some who fall for things like this but if your blog raises awareness a little it all helps.

Even some legit sales techniques sound dodgy. I had a call from my bank and the first question they asked was "For security purposes I need you to give me your account number". I refused, saying "As you called me it's firstly up to you to prove YOUR identity". She didn't understand my point so I hung up. A few days later they wrote to me instead, mentioning the call. So it was legit, but to me it still seemed like a back to front way to do business.

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Lew and thanks.

Yes, as I say it is up to other folks to consider whether or not this is a scam, or just plain bad avertising of the hard sell type.

I have had similar experiences with banks and the like, especially since in the inception of Wizards Keep in 2005.

I did exactly the same, as you and think that in today's world of identity fraud it is incredible that those that warn of it most, are often the main culprits for putting you in a position of worry about it, by such calls.

Policy here at the Keep is; no details given over the phone, or Internet, no matter what and if you need to ask who we are, what we do, or if they can check our current details in any way, then don't bother - you are wasting you time.

"Can I just check your address details and date of birth - et al?"

"No, I am sorry you can't - as I might not be me!"


Thanks for dropping by...