How To Write to the Authorities About Being Scammed

Okay, my friends, here’s my promised second post for today.

I’m presuming that you’ve read Post #54, and that you’re ready to report a scam literary agency (or publisher). For the purposes of this post, I’m going to use the term “agent” but what I’m saying applies to any type of writing scam.

Here are the steps to take to produce a cogent report that will gain the attention of the authorities who review it:

1. Organize your materials. Make copies of every bit of correspondence you had with the scammer, every email, snail mail, etc. If parts of their website are germane to your complaint, cut and paste those parts into documents. Identify each document briefly at the top of the page, i.e., “Contract Received from ImAScam Literary Agency.” You may need to request copies of cancelled checks from your bank, etc., to add to your documentation.

2. Go through your documentation, and make notes, like a brief chronology, so you have all relevant names, dates, and places handy.

3. Write a cover letter addressed to the authority in question. Make sure you use spellcheck. Keep your cover letter concise, and to the point. It’s okay to use phrasing about your feelings during the experience, but don’t rant on and on about how angry you are. Start at the beginning, describe how you encountered the scammer, what they said to you, how much you paid, who your contact was, what promises were made to you, etc. You’re writing a summary of your experience.

When the wording on the site or correspondence is clear, point out where the website or correspondence was deceptive. Explain how much money you paid, in each instance, and what the money was allegedly for.

Explain briefly what attachments you’re enclosing with your complaint: copies of cancelled checks, an agency contract, correspondence via email or snail mail, etc.

Try to keep your letter brief, two pages or less. Your letter is basically a guide to the documentation you’re sending, which is the most important part.

After you’ve finished the letter, spellcheck it again, proofread it, and then put it, and the documentation into an envelope and address it. One of those manila envelopes is probably a good size.

Then send it. You might want to send it Priority Mail, which includes an envelope and isn’t very expensive. I’d suggest paying the few extra cents to add on “tracking” so you will know for sure when your document is received.

Okay, next post is coming right up.

Stand by.

-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware


  1. Another simple way is to file a complaint through The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)site:

    It is a joint operation between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C)- all very well laid out and if nothing else makes some very informative reading.

  2. I would add — when printing out your E-mails, please set your mail reader to print out “all headers.”

    Good job, Ann and Victoria!

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JUNE 15, 2006

What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed, Revisited

JUNE 15, 2006

Important Announcement! Attention, Writers!