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.