Beware – You Can Create A Whole New Person on the Internet

As more people lose jobs or income, more and more scams–or less than honest opportunities– are appearing on the internet.  As a professional writer, who personally knows a lot of other writers, let me say that you should NEVER believe everything you read.  As someone once said, “Don’t believe most of what you read, and only half of what you see!”

Talented writers, professional motivational speakers, and website entrepreneurs can be very creative.  They can even create a whole new person and make you believe that they exist.  Unfortunately, anyone can say anything on the internet as long as it doesn’t lible someone else.

What does this have to do with gift business owners who are Creative Gift Entrepreneurs?  A lot!

How many times have you received emails telling you how wonderful a particular product or service is and how great the person behind it is?  We all have at one time or another.  Most of us regularly receive emails offering to put us on page one of the search engines if we only hire them to optimize our website.  Or how about the minister wanting to buy large quantities of a particular gift if you’ll only let him know how to pay you?  There are many scams– and the internet is a gold mine for scammers and those who are less than honest.

Innocence or Deceit — Which is it?

A person, who wants to impress potential customers,  can even create a whole different personality and resume for themselves in order to lure you into their web of deceit.  Sometimes it’s very innocent as in the example of the gift basket entrepreneur who has created a “twin” to handle the marketing aspect of his business or the business owner who has created an “assistant” to handle the customer service and email responses.  There’s nothing wrong with either of these creations.

But other times, it’s not so innocent, particularly if the person is trying to take your money for a product or service that doesn’t exist.  The statement “Buyer Beware” is very true of any internet website or email wanting to sell you something.

How to Protect Yourself?

How can you protect yourself?  It can be difficult as folks, who do this, are truly creative entrepreneurs.  Their background and experience and even testimonials can sound so convincing that any of us can be easily fooled.  But, unless you are personally familiar with a particular person, product, or service, ask someone that may be more familiar with what you are considering.  Does their resume include speaking and writing experience?  If so, ask for references and check them out.  Do they include testimonials?  If so, ask for names and phone numbers and check them to see if they actually exist.  Even then, a reference may be a “friend in on the kill.”

If it is a website, check the domain name and see when it was first registered.  You can do that easily at or any other website where you can buy domain names.  If it is brand new, I would be a little suspicious.  It could be legitimate or it could be someone out to make a fast buck before disappearing.

If it is an opportunity or product related to your own industry, it’s easy enough to ask others who are familiar with the industry what they know about a particular person, product, or service.

But, as I said, anyone can say anything or even create a whole new persona on the web.  I could tell you that I’ve published ten books about the gift basket industry and they’ve each sold over a million copies.  That would be a lie but you would have to do some research to discover that it is untrue.  I could tell you that I’ve been a speaker at The Basket Connection Convention in Orlando and again in Atlanta and that I was a regular staff writer for our trade magazine, Rave Reviews, since it began.  That would all be true and could be checked out with anyone who is familiar with our industry.

So, if you are considering spending money for a product or service that you are unfamiliar with, check it out.  It could be the best thing since sliced bread or it could be someone anxious to take your money in exchange for little or nothing.

3 thoughts on “Beware – You Can Create A Whole New Person on the Internet”

  1. For some reason, CBS does not have the video of the piece. They have extras online. This is a recap of the piece:

    Joel from Liberia, West Africa, sent a message asking for business or financial assistance. Ben in America, hated scams and wanted to see how the scam would work so replied, “how can I help”? Joel asked him to send electronics to a place in New Jersey and somehow they would be resold and the profits split. Ben proposed that he had a photography business and asked for some photos from Joel. Joel sent two sunset photos that were far from good. Ben sent a $60 camera to Joel. Joel sent better photos back. Ben had to find a way to compensate Joel so produced a booklet titled “By D Grace of God” with Joel’s photos and went on YouTube to sell them, thinking it would only be a few dozen copies to friends and families. People around the world purchased. $1,000 was raised. Ben told Joel that he had to donate $500 of the $1,000. Ben didn’t think Joel would do it. Ben wired the money to Joel. Joel did donate the $500. He helped 5 local schools. Ben traveled to see Joel. Joel is married with 7 children living in poverty. $500 is like a year’s salary. Liberia is one of the poorest nations in the world where half the country survives on less $2 a day. They’ve sold 6,000 copies of the booklet. They are now reinvesting the money into the country granting micro loans, helping schools, etc.

    I will still have my guard up for what looks like scams and more than likely the vast majority of what we see on the internet are scams, I have to say this kind of changed my perspective a little.

  2. O.k. another “CBS Sunday Morning” piece this morning that was an eye opener, but in a good surprising way. They likely don’t have the video up on CBS yet, but this is the website of the two individuals it was about. An American guy set out to see how the scam worked and what happened after:

  3. Even with a 4.1% unemployment rate in the US, which hasn’t been seen since the tech years of 2000 in the US, there are always going to be criminals. What has happened with technology, and is still happening, has been like the Industrial Revolution. It used to be that we only had to worry about criminals in our geographical area. Now, it is the whole world.

    What really concerns me are the new computer generated programs that can make it look in a video that someone is saying something they didn’t. It is already hard enough to get to the actual truth for a lot of news stories. This will make it impossible. I had seen what one company could do a couple of weeks ago on their website. It was unbelievable. There was a piece on this subject for the last “CBS Sunday Morning”. The example they used wasn’t as good as the one I saw online but it wasn’t bad.

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