About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about a job offer scam in which fraudsters impersonated Acorn TV.
The scammers’ M.O.: they messaged writers on Twitter and Instagram, claiming to offer an opportunity to write stories for Acorn TV and earn an improbably large amount of money. If writers expressed interest (and why wouldn’t they), a two-part “texting interview” on Telegram followed, at the end of which the writer was offered a job agreement and description. Although I never heard from anyone who accepted, the presumed goal was to steal personal details, such as Social Security numbers and bank account information.
The same scammers are at it again. This time, they’re impersonating Minno, a Christian streaming service for kids.
The M.O. is identical: a Twitter DM with an invitation to write stories, followed by a two-part “text interview” (on Skype this time). The “Minno” and “Acorn TV” scammers are clearly following the same script–right down to the odd placement of a hyphen after the name of the Senior Vice President:
As with the Acorn TV scam, the “Minno” interview was followed by a job agreement to be signed and returned. (At this point, suspicious of the odd interview format and possibly also of the poor English on display below, the writer contacted the real Minno, which confirmed that they have nothing to do with any of this, and it’s all a fraud.)
More evidence that the two scams are the same: the “Benefit and Job Requirement” document that accompanied the “Minno” agreement letter. There are some differences, including the amount of money supposedly on offer, but as you can see, most of the text of “Minno’s” document is identical to that of “Acorn TV”. The English-language lapses in both strongly suggest that the scam is based overseas.
(Likely fake) names associated with the Minno scam: Melinda Butler (the social media recruiter), Timothy Martins, and Desiree Isaacson. Desiree has reportedly been messaging people on Instagram as @freelanceronly32. Note how Melinda’s Twitter bio echoes that of Deborah O’Toole, who recruited for the Acorn TV scam. (The fraudsters seem to have a weird affinity for the number 32….)
Clearly the Acorn TV job offer scam wasn’t one-time operation. And if the fraudsters can do it twice, they can do it (and maybe already are doing it) again. Be on your guard against any freelance writing offer from a streaming service that arrives out of the blue via social media.
In fact, be wary of any unsolicited job offer or opportunity that arrives via social media messaging. Be skeptical if a potential employer refuses to do an in-person interview. And never, ever, share your personal information, unless you have fully verified that the person or company asking for it is legit.
UPDATE 4/5/23: Here’s a DM solicitation by one of the Minno scammers. Note the similarity of their bio to the ones above.
“You are entitled to writing materials and strategic content writer workstation”
A workstation? I thought this was a “work from home” remote position. What am I missing?
Also, everyone’s an author nowadays. Hell, even my cat has written books. Nonfiction is her specialty: “Purr Yourself To Good Health” and “Just Ask For What You Want & Other Advice For Young Cats” were recently published under her own imprint. So these scammers must see a great opportunity to bilk lots of people. Fortunately, my cat doesn’t respond to offers like this.
The author who sent me the screenshots asked about the “workstation”. Turns out it’s supposedly a laptop that the scammer promises to provide. Of course it’s all fake.
Well thanks for the heads up, although I’ve parted with some money already and I am supposed to ba a part of the LA Festival of Books, which means I would have showed up looking for the Readers Magnet booth and it would not be there? I will contact them today,
The booth will probably be there. It just probably won’t do you any good to be included. See my blog post: https://writerbeware.blog/2022/04/08/junk-book-marketing-book-fair-representation/
I appreciate this blog so much as I am a self published author getting calls almost every day from Authors Press, Litprime and Readers Magnet. I’d prefer be to know if all of these companies are scams. One of them has $700 of my money and a promise of being included in the Festival of Books in LA. Help!
All the companies you’ve mentioned are scams. There are many others as well. See this master list: https://writerbeware.blog/scam-archive/
Reputable agencies, publishers, etc. only very, very rarely contact authors they don’t already work with. A good general rule of thumb is to assume that any out of the blue solicitation is a scam.
I always think that scammers could write a book themselves; they are clever at times. I did see that and should have warned people, but I am too focused on what I am doing at times. Sorry. I could have told people that “Acorn TV” does not commission television programes it is simply a conduit for the remaining parts of once well know ITV production companies. The older writers here will know those companies well. When Acorn advertises “exclusives” it is simply because ITV did not want to pay for the series or one off.
Q: “If writers expressed interest (and why wouldn’t they)….”
A: The read WRITER BEWARE
Thanks for sharing the warning.
Just one more reason I’m glad I deleted my Twitter account.
They always find a way don’t they.