A Durban woman, Carla, contacted me about a freelance typing advert she’d seen online and was keen on responding to. "Part time admin assistants to help with invoices, data capturing, and other offices related work. FROM HOME. Salary - up to R800 to R1000 per day.”

She wanted my advice because she’d been asked to pay R200 for the “training materials” she was told she needed to get started.

The woman making the offer, who gave her name as Vicky Taljaard, responded to Carla’s request for more information by saying - in an extremely badly written email - (which is Red Flag Number 1):

“The position for Online FREELANCE/ Typist that you inquired about does require you to have a computer/laptop/tablet or smartphone with email access,you will work for 35 different company's ..

“You will be processing orders from your own computer via your email.

"You will be paid R150.00 to R200.00 for each order you process.

"There is a “One Time Fee” of R200 to begin - this is the cost of the Training Materials which give you the step-by-step instructions on how YOU get started.”

I told Carla to stay well clear, because it was a scam - all she’d get was advice on how to go about scamming others in the same way. That’s the typing job - placing adverts to dupe others into parting with R200, only to find out that there were no companies wanting to outsource their typing jobs. The only way she could “earn” R200 per “job” was to become a scam artist and catch others, I told her.

When Carla was wavering, Taljaard turned on the hard sell: “I’ve  been doing this from 2015 I take R19600.00+pm and I'm only doing this…” she told her. If that’s true, she’s successfully enticing more than three people a day to part with R200 in the hope of getting some real, paying work.

Anyway, Carla still wasn't convinced that I was right about the “opportunity”. Hope is a curious thing. “Do you think there could be that small chance that this is legit?” she asked.

I asked her to email Taljaard and to ask her a set of questions: name some of those 35 companies, what was her - Taljaard’s - role in the deal, and why are those companies outsourcing such basic functions as typing?

I told her that if the Taljaard woman did not answer those questions, it would be proof that it was a scam.

She didn’t - Red Flag Number 2 - but still Carla wasn’t ready to believe it was a scam.

Okay, I said, I’ll give you R200 and you go ahead and pay it to Taljaard for those so-called training materials.

She agreed, and then came the proof of exactly what I told her the “job offer” really was - cut and paste articles from the internet about work from home opportunities, but nothing specific about those 35 companies needing their typing done - just advice on how to go about copying what Taljaard had done.

In an email to Taljaard, Carla wrote: “The documents that you sent me seem to be a template for adverts the same as the one that I responded to. It appears that you have charged me a fee for showing me how to extract money from other people, just as you have done to me."

She didn’t get a response, and neither did I when I emailed Taljaard this week.

This scam is being repeated all over the world, and has been going on for years.

I find it particularly sad, given that many of the scam artists were once victims themselves, and they know what it feels like to realise you’ve been scammed.

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