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Scam Alert: 'Frank Mayfield' & Pals
Still Scamming - Don't Cash Checks!
 
By Bobbin Beam
Voice Actor
November 29, 2010
 
Earlier this year, VoiceOverXtra published details of a suspected scam that targeted many individuals in the voice over community (see Scam Alert: 'Oops, We Sent You An Overpayment. Please Refund).
 
I was one of the many voice over artists contacted in that scam. 
 
And unfortunately, I've found that this scam continues - even with the same names.
 
I recently received a package from "them" - with a New Jersey return address - complete with a job offer and bogus money order. 
 
Beware!
 
WHAT'S GOING ON?
 
Scams run rampant on the web.
 
We've all been aware of, or have received, the old Nigerian Lottery schemes where you could gain millions of dollars from some dead king's fortune, inherited by a guy needing to shelter the money from rogue or corrupt governments, if you'll only cough up some bucks to make the bank arrangements ... yada yada yada.
 
Or, you get overpaid by a phony credit card or check.
 
You’re requested to return the over-payment, and later you learn you've lost everything since the credit card or check they sent you was illegitimate.
 
And you must repay the bank or credit card company. Nasty stuff!
 
Now, these scams have morphed into a sophisticated, almost convincing cloak of legitimacy.
 
THE FIRST SCAM
 
To refresh your memory, or if this is the first you’ve heard the names Charles Thamesmead, Frank Mayfield or The Tanner Group, review the earlier VoiceOverXtra series, staring with Part 1.
 
I am pretty good at sniffing out scams. But the bogus job offer last spring included a detailed script/storyboard with the copy to voice about an energy drink.
 
And "Mayfield" wrote convincingly in good English grammar, and seemed to pose pretty well as a production coordinator
 
So I accepted the gig.
 
HAD DOUBTS
 
But I did have reservations about it, so I sent an invoice in advance that was forwarded to a Mr. Arola.

In my final email to Mr. Mayfield, I requested payment in advance via PayPal, certified bank check, money order or cash - ONLY in the amount of the talent fee.
 
If a check was indeed to be sent, I told him,  I would have to wait several weeks to be sure it cleared.
 
And I didn't hear from Mr. Mayfield again.
 
MANY GOT THE SCAM
 
News about the scam ran quickly through the online channels that the voice over community use to stay in touch.
 
And a number of voice actors revealed that they, too, had been snared in varying degrees (described in the VoiceOverXtra series).
 
Fast forward to this past October ... 
 
AN ENVELOPE ARRIVES
 
I had all but forgotten about the scam, when to my surprise, I received an envelope addressed to me via the U.S. mail with an uncancelled UK postage stamp, and a return address from New Jersey!
 
Inside was a U.S. Postal money order in the amount of $2,300 as “payment” for the energy drink spot. Remember the first scam?
 
The money order looked real. It had been printed on check paper, had all the right colors, and even a foil stamp.
 
But the serial number on the money order looked like it came from a photo copy.
 
CHECKED IT OUT
 
Curiosity got the best of me.
 
I took off for the local Post Office and presented this money order to a clerk, who promptly was going to cash it for me.
 
But I told her I was not certain it was real, and thought she’d better double-check it.
 
She showed it to another clerk who said the money order appeared a bit different.
 
The clerk took it to a supervisor, who thanked me for turning it in.
 
WAIT ... THERE'S MORE
 
Unfortunately, that's not the end of this story.
 
Last week, I received a phone call from a production company on the Eastern seaboard that had Googled around and found the Frank Mayfield scam story I had posted on my blog last July 21.
 
This very concerned producer told me his company had been contacted by "Frank Mayfield" regarding two video projects, priced at 60K each.
 
One project was on AIDS, the other Breast Cancer.
 
DEPOSIT DIDN'T COME
 
The U.S. producer had to hire a lot of people to get the project on track, but didn’t want to begin until he had a money deposit in hand. 
 
The producer had a signed estimate from Frank Mayfield and even received a call about the project from "Ben Bruce" of the Tanner Group, which was purportedly assisting in marketing.
 
Well, the producer never received the "deposit" check and the project was not begun.
 
WHO'S NEXT TARGET?
 
Mayfield does have the producer's bank acount and routing numbers. However, the bank told him it can't do anything about it with just this info.
 
Beware! 
 
The saga continues - with apparently higher stakes.
 
Note: If you've recently been contacted by Mayfield, Thamesmead, Bruce, the Tanner Group - or experienced a similar scam, please share the details with us in the COMMENTS below, or write info@VoiceOverXtra.com. Your story could save others from a disastrous loss.
 
ABOUT BOBBIN ...
 
Bobbin Beam is a very active voice talent, based in the San Diego - Los Angeles area, who specializes in projects for broadcast and business. She also writes a very entertaining and informative blog, Bobbin's Blog.

Web: www.bobbinbeam.com

Blog: http://blog.bobbinbeam.com
 
Email: bobbin@bobbinbeam.com
 
 
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Comments (9)
Michelle Ann Dunphy
12/2/2010 at 5:32 PM
I also got email by Charles about the hybrid energy drink and got that "fishy" feeling. Glad I didn't follow through!
Ralph Hass
12/2/2010 at 12:58 PM
Thank you for the chuckle, Bettye:
"If you don't have agents yet ... well... you're not in the biz."
That is a whole nother topic.

Thanks for the detail here, Bobbin. I myself am waiting to see what happens after speaking on the phone with a gentleman in India on October 20 in regards to some long-term voice work. Emails have been exchanged since that time, but nothing concrete has been put into place as I have requested a contract. Still waiting to see what, if anything, will transpire following up his late October email, which started:

"Hi Ralph,
This may sound bit unprofessional to you but I can offer you a gold mine. If you choose to record for me I will offer you 5$ per license and we have like 10,000 licenses waiting to be ordered."
Linda Joy
11/30/2010 at 12:19 PM
Thank you so much for posting!!
Linda Joy
Paul Strikwerda
11/30/2010 at 8:43 AM
Thanks for putting us on the alert, Bobbin! This time last year, I almost fell victim to a similar scam, but my check supposedly came from The Timken Company in Canton, Ohio. You can find the dreadful details in my blog:

http://www.nethervoice.com/nethervoice/2009/11/27/scam-alert/

In this blog, I'll also tell you about the Sweetwater Trading Post offer I received that was too good to be true.

Another scam to be aware of is the "coaching/teaching scam." My wife teaches flute & piano, and she's been asked to "arrange lessons" for foreign students. Many of her colleagues have received the same bogus request. Last year, I received the following email:

"Hello,
"My name is leesa James,I am a consultant working with the Films federation in Kenya in Africa. I want to know if you are available for service? Cause currently the Films federation are seeking for a acting coach who will train thier actors for a movie project.

"The training will go on for four months, The actors that you will be training are six in numbers consisting of four females and two males.

"You will be recieving $15,000 every week as your salary, including $10,500 which will be used for accomodation and feeding for the players. Plus an additional $7,500 which will serve as training and transportation fee.

"The actors will be comming over to your place for the training cause the Films federation are aware of the fact that they will get the best training in the Us. The Films federation will simply make the funds available for the training.

"If you will be available for this coaching position? get back to me in order for me to provide you with more information about this coaching position.

"Regards, leesa James"

Here's the deal. These scam artists are contacting businesses found on Craigslist, newspaper, and online advertisements about hiring a company to perform services. The scam artist then sends the company a fraudulent check before services are performed and tells the company accounts payable has made a mistake and instructs the business to cash the check, keep $500 for the inconvenience, and Western Union or Money Gram the rest to a UPS box. The UPS account is registered under a false name. The checks are not legitimate, and if cashed, the individual is responsible for the full amount.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to businesses that advertise on Craigslist, in newspapers, and online:

- Get as many details from the consumer as possible before you begin work.
- Investigate checks that appear to come from someone other than the person that hired you to do the job.
- Never cash a check from anyone that tells you to keep some of the money for your inconvenience and wire the rest back.
- Check with your local Better Business Bureau if something just doesn't seem right.

The FBI informs people on how to become "Scam Smart" and on how to report Scams and CyberCrime:

http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/

Our voice-over colleague Mahmoud Taji has dedicated part of his website to voice-over scams:

http://www.voiceemporium.com/scam-alert/

As full-time freelancers, we don't always have time to play private investigator. That's why it's so important to keep our community informed and report scams to the authorities.
Debbie Irwin
11/30/2010 at 7:02 AM
The folks are just despicable!
Thank you for continuing to keep us in the loop to not get duped!

Lisa MG
11/30/2010 at 6:44 AM
I've found this article very interesting and would like to know more about the email format in which these scams come. Sounds like these kind of scam addresses would fall under any name in the world other than the aforementioned - which is bad news for freelancers!

It is vital to be cautious of such content. This article would train people further into detecting the latest scams at their early stages.

I have subscribed to your newsletter for a better recognition in the voice over market. Please do keep informing us on the pitfalls of voicing via scams, that are so easily misleading. Thank you!


Bettye Zoller
11/30/2010 at 2:03 AM
I gave this to one of my agents to sniff out. They nipped it in the bud. Found the people to be fakers. I suggest always give jobs like this to your agents. If you don't have agents yet ... wel l... you're not in the biz. Agents help us in so many ways, budgets, pricing, scams, more.
Steven Lowell
11/30/2010 at 1:54 AM
If you have any email addresses for them, please write me. I can do a great deal with them.
Steven Lowell
Voice123
steven@voice123.com
Carl Bobb
11/30/2010 at 12:28 AM
Thank you! It's a pity when the natural creativity of someone is wasted by committing crimes and people are injured by another person's sin. Please keep us posted.

Best Wishes,
Carl Bobb
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