There are scams lurking on pay-to-play sites and you need the information below to avoid being a victim, especially if you are new to the voice over industry.
Scam artist are everywhere. I’m not saying Pay-to-Play sights are scam artists, although some voice actors may subscribe to that opinion. I am actually talking about scam artists on Play-to-Play sites.
From Voices 123’s website, I received this email.
I am Kit Reem, and am seeking for a voice over talent for a two (2) days game host show voice over project. If you are interested contact for more details as soon as you can via firstname.lastname@example.org.
RED FLAG 1: This is the hook. Once you reply the scam is under way. The following email will not be on the Voices 123 portal, rather a direct email to your inbox. Ask yourself, “Why not communicate on Voices 123?” Because it’s likely a scam!
Thanks for your response. It is a $900 voice over (Assignment) for you, . A new corporate client of mine wants to create their online website. This assignment is a copyrighted script that will be provided. We have specialists, and Contract Studio Engineer who will bring the real perfection to the job. It’s a two days project and wouldn't take more than 45 minutes max to record for each of days.
Company: Outfront Media Inc
The job and the recording will be held at a rented studio close to your location, so you don't have to worry about traveling, the name and address of the studio will be forwarded to you before the date of the recording.
We are creating a marketing video to be distributed through web and social media. The overall video is approximately 20 minutes in length with the game show host part being about 8 Mins also. The voice must be Smooth, Friendly fun and entertaining.
Sample Script:(This is an idea of what to be expected)
(VO) Uh, I’m no rocket scientist but I’d say…traffic congestion.
(VO) Well, I’m no rocket scientist but that’s a no brainer. Mass Transit is the better option
Expectations: You need to be in a good mental and emotional state of mind. Basically this is all that is required of you, Kindly, get in touch with me as soon as possible if you will take the job. More details will be provided to you and we can continue from there. Please, no time wasting.
Let me know if you will take the job to commence with next arrangement. Please I'd like you to check your email on a regular basis, I might have updates for you.
RED FLAG 2: Once you confirm your interest in the job, they will ask for your home address, home phone number, and cell phone with the following instructions:
I received your email indicating your interest. I would not be able to send you the script because my client has copyrighted it and confidential is of utmost importance. Therefore the script shall be release a day before the project. I hope you understand?
As part of my working policy and ethics, I receive part payment from any client before I proceed with any job and balance you immediately after the job, this is to identify a serious client and ascertain the job. So I will get in touch with our client and part payment will be mailed to you, until you receive and confirm payment before the recording will hold. Your total pay for the job is going to be $900 as discussed. Part payment of $400 will be mailed to you first and you get the balance of $500 on the final day of the recording. I hope you understand?
Do send me your payment details for issuing a check as to which our client is to mail out your part payment to you in the details below:
Complete Mailing address (No P.O Box):
Phone numbers (Cell and Home):
After you confirm the part payment which should serve as transportation and mobilization.
Get in touch with your required details as soon as you can. The date of the Recording shall be communicated to you once I get all the details. Concerning the date of the recording, you have the opportunity to choose the two most convenient days for the recording between 23rd and 26th of Sept and do indicate it in your next reply.
RED FLAG 3: Partial Payment will be mailed to you and you will receive the remaining $500 balance after the final day of recording. This is all about establishing trust (that you are committed to the FAKE job). And then, the SCAM:
I will like to say congratulations to you on your new job. I want to assure you that everything would work out fine as planned. Kindly get back to me to reconfirm your interest in the job.
Venue: FAKE ADDRESS
Date: (Dates your chose)
Time: 1pm- 2pm
As said in my previous email, your initial payment would be made out to you. Payment will be sent out and awaiting confirmation of this from my client. Once you receive the payment, you are expected to cash and deposit it into your bank account. After which, you deduct your initial payment of $400 to guarantee your participation in this project, and then send the remaining balance to the consultant engineer who will take care of all technical aspect of the job and studio rental with other planning. Your remaining balance of $500 will be given to you on the final day of the recording. I hope this is clear?
As soon as I receive a confirmation from you, I would let you know when to receive the payment. I look forward to your email. Also do reconfirm the information.
How did I know it was a scam?
1. “Once you receive the payment you are expected to cash and deposit it into your bank account…” Why is the payment coming to me? I haven’t completed the job.
2. “Deduct your initial payment of $40 to guarantee your participation…send the remaining balance to the consultant engineer… for planning and studio rental…” Again, as the client you should handle all booking of the studio, payment to the studio, etc… This should not involve the voice talent to make payments to book the studio. There are times when studios will be booked for you as a voice talent but you should be aware if you they are asking you to make payments to book the studio.
3. “The remaining balance of $500 will be given to you on the final day of recording.”
I am writing to inform you that gig payment has been issued and should deliver to you today You can track your payment here at www.usps.com with tracking numbers XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and I also like to remind you that you are paired with the Consultant Engineer, as soon as the payment arrives, I want you to proceed to having it Deposited at your bank for confirmation/verification as soon as possible and it will take about 24hours for funds to clear at your bank and once cleared, deduct $400 as your pre-payment for your services and have the rest sent to the Consultant Engineerwho will take care of all technical aspect of the job and studio rental we are going to use for the recording with other planning. Your remaining balance of $500 will be given to you on the day two of the recording.
RED FLAG 4: You become the transport of the money, deposit it in your bank and send the remainder of the payment to an address to a “consultant engineer”. If you ask the name of the engineer they will not answer…why? There isn’t one and they want you to deposit the check so it will bounce.
RED FLAG 5: Why are they not booking this with the studio themselves?
During this time they will incessantly text you confirming if you deposited the check and repeatedly ask when you will get the money to the “consultant engineer”
This is where your Spidey Senses should start really tingling. There are things you should immediately do:
1) Check the address. Google it…yes! But just because it’s in Google doesn’t mean it’s there. It could be a former address of a studio.
2) So, go to the physical address. Scout it out. Is there a studio there? Ask questions of businesses next door or the same vicinity about the studio., through a phone call or other method. Be safe if going to a physical address. (Turns out, 4 years ago there was a studio there, but it didn’t exist anymore.) BINGO! FRAUD!
3) Do Not Deposit The Check.
4) If You Deposited The Check, GET TO THE BANK FAST TO ALERT THEM OF THE SITUATION!
5) Alert The Proper Authorities.
The Pay-to-Play voice over websites are a marketplace for voice talent and producers, but there are also scam artists in the marketplace as well.
1) Be aware of the partial payment to you. Don’t accept it.
2) Never give money on behalf of a 3rd party to book a studio, arrange a “consultant engineer” or anything. The client, not the voice over talent, should handle all this.
3) Trust your gut!
Oh…. did I get scammed….NO! I trusted my gut. But what I found was just because there is a marketplace, such as Voices 123, to become successful as a voice over talent doesn’t mean there aren’t scam artist lurking to take advantage of your voice over ambitions. Best of luck and success!
Scott Dickson is a voice over actor and owner of Scott Dickson Voiceover, LLC. Additionally he is a Brand Marketing and Advertising professional with over 15 years experience working for top recognizable brands such as SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Southwest Airlines, and March of Dimes. As a marketing professional, he has worked in diverse business sectors including travel & tourism, not-for-profit, and higher education.