Fake Writing Jobs: RealWritingJobs.com

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

One of many reasons I enjoy Twitter is that it’s relatively free of the spam that clogs other modes of online discourse. Oh, there’s the occasional author Twitspam (writers: Twitspamming is not, I repeat, NOT, the way to promote your new book), and the random pr0n Twitspam, but by and large–at least for me–Twitter is a fairly spam-free environment.

Which is why the Twitspams I’ve been receiving for the past couple of weeks really stand out like a sore whatever (here’s an example). They’re all the same: an obviously fake sender name, the words “Writers Needed,” a link, and a list of recipients. I’ve been reporting and blocking them, but when I checked my Twitterfeed today and found six of them, all sent within a few minutes of one another, I got curious, and clicked the link.

I found myself at RealWritingJobs.com–which, I was unsurprised to discover, promises that writers can earn lots of cash by writing articles, stories, blog posts, etc.. “Thousands of people online are discovering how doing simple writing jobs from home can be so profitable! See how they’re doing it by signing up now!” No experience necessary! Work at home! Make fat money (never mind that pesky earnings disclaimer)! All this for a mere monthly membership fee of $47 (although if you don’t read the Terms and Conditions, you won’t know that). Don’t want to opt in without seeing what’s on offer? Good news–you can try before you buy. In fact, you have to try before you buy. Would-be members must agree to a 10-day “risk-free trial,” for the oh-so-negligible cost of $2.95 (credit cards only). Naturally, this is a “limited time offering.” If you aren’t happy, just cancel within the trial period and you owe nothing further.

If this sounds tempting, it shouldn’t. For one thing, there are many freelance writing job-listing websites that charge absolutely nothing–zip, nada, zilch (here’s just one example). With such resources easily available, why pay? For another, reputable jobs sites don’t spam random writers on Twitter (or anywhere else). For yet another, you have no way of knowing whether the promise of lucrative writing gigs is anything more than a marketing ploy. What if most or all of the writing jobs turn out to be the financial and professional equivalent of pay-per-click content mills?

Ah, you may be thinking, but isn’t that what the trial period is for? If the jobs suck, you can cancel before the trial period is up, and only be out $2.95.

Maybe not. It’s more than probable that RealWritingJobs is running a recurring billing scheme. In this common online ploy, a company uses a trial period to induce consumers to provide their credit card numbers. Once the trial period ends, cards are automatically billed for membership and other fees on a recurring basis (like RealWritingJobs, companies typically bury this info in their Terms and Conditions, where eager or careless consumers can easily miss it). Although consumers are promised they can cancel during the trial period, they discover that they can’t get through to the toll-free number provided–or, if they do get through, they can’t speak to a live person, but can only leave voicemail messages that are never responded to. (Here’s a sample complaint.) Once the recurring billings commence (which, if the consumer didn’t read the Terms and Conditions, may be a complete surprise), it is extremely difficult to stop them. Many people wind up canceling their credit cards.

Another risk, when you sign up for an offer or trial that requires you to provide credit card information: third party billing scams, in which the company with the offer or trial turns your credit information over to an Internet marketer, which then signs you up for memberships you didn’t ask for, resulting in surprise charges on your credit card. (If you’re a cell phone user–and who isn’t–you may be familiar with this as “cramming.”) And indeed, according to RealWritingJobs’ Privacy Policy (which I’m betting that few people who sign up with it bother to check), “We may use the personal information that you supply to us and we may work with other third party businesses to bring selected retail opportunities to our members via email. These businesses may include providers of direct marketing services and applications, including lookup and reference, data enhancement, suppression and validation and email marketing.” (My bolding.) At the very least, signing up with RealWritingJobs is likely to bring you an explosion of spam.

Writers: always be cautious of a business that spams you (and always suspect spam if you receive a solicitation out of the blue). Never trust an offer that sounds too good to be true. Always research any offer you’re thinking of accepting (and be aware that dodgy companies are anticipating this; RealWritingJobs has seeded the Internet with fake reviews that cleverly incorporate the word “scam”), and never fail to read the fine print (all of it. Even the boring parts). And don’t pay for a service you can get somewhere else for free!

113 Comments

  1. So glad I decided to do a little research on RealWritingJobs.com". Recently they reached out to me on Twitter and I was interested in what they had to say until I saw I had to pay them first! BIG RED FLAG!! I shouldn't have to pay someone first to pay me for a job. They have since been blocked and any future emails from them will be marked as "spam".

  2. Thank you for posting this Victoria! I almost fell for it until I saw the dodgy website.

    I tweeted last night with one of these: #AmWriter after reading this:http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2013/03/12/100-twitter-hashtags-every-writer-should-know/

    This morning I get a follow and after following back, I receive a DM telling me about these fabulous writing jobs. Completing surveys, blogging, reviewing movies, books, etc.

    If it's too good to be true, it probably is!

    Thanks again!

    Best regards from South Africa

  3. I am so glad you wrote this post! I was sent on of those links and was scratching my head. "This looks like a fake website… or is it?" You've clarified that for me and I really appreciate you helping the world out with sharing your sleuthing.

  4. Warning to others. Realwritingjobs.com is the managing front for another one of their scams http://www.thewritestuffonline.info They (Thewritestuffonline.info) were running an ad on Craigslist for writers wanted in Wilmington, NC to work from home (of course!). Looked at the bottom of their web page and TA DA there it was "Realwritingjobs.com" as the primary for the website.

  5. This post is 5 years old and this week I still got digitalwriters direct message me on Twitter. Glad I found this review. I am not desperate for a writing job nor am I ready to give out my cc on a whim. The very fact that they ask for my cc right off rings alarm bells right away. Thanks for sharing.

  6. What kind of a monster does one have to be to make a dollar in the modern world? I am unemployed, and socially withdrawn. Sometimes I wonder if I am autistic. Anyway I got to these people's writing jobs website by following a link from this page:
    http://www.adultaspergerschat.com/2011/05/how-to-love-someone-with-high.html
    The link is reached by clicking on a picture with the heading "Self-Employment Opportunities for Adults with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism." I did not initially understand the expression on the face of the woman in the picture. She has her cc out and is sitting at her laptop. After reading your article, and the five years worth of comments, the expression is priceless. Thanks for writing the article, and maintaining the thread.

  7. They're back. They are tweeting as @WritingSpot, they have a link in their profile to EasyLifestyles and yup, all the way through to Real Writing Jobs, which is so obviously a scam site…why is it that scam sites all look the same?

  8. Many thanks for this article!

    I received the same Twitter offer and decided to check it out and found your post.

    Lots of these scams out there, unfortunately, and for struggling writers (just starting out myself) it can be really frustrating to filter these "too good to be true writing offers"

  9. Thanks to all you all saved me from being scammed again on online
    Humbly thanks much to each and every one here!
    Thanks again!

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