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Scam Update: Voices.com
Suspended 'Con Artist' Account 
 
Note: An online scam running through the voice over community apparently began with a job posting on Voices.com in early May.
 
It now appears that the job poster - Charles Thamesmead or Frank Mayfield ... several names are involved here - didn't really want to hire a voice talent. Rather, the goal was to 'phish' for names and email addresses for conducting the scam.
 
As described in earlier VoiceOverXtra articles, voice talent were to be issued overpayments in bogus checks, and then asked to refund part of the money. To date, we are not aware of any voice talent who took the final bait and "cashed" a check.
VoiceOverXtra asked Voices.com for a comment, and below are details of the scam timeline and actions taken ...
 
 
By Scott Lumley
Job Posting Manager, Voices.com
July 22, 2010

On May 10th, Charles Thamesmead posted the job with our service for his Hybrid Energy Drink.
 
The job did look a little odd to me, due to the lack of script, but I honestly have seen jobs posted with even less information that were legitimate, so this really did not ring any alarm bells.

The job garnered a lot of responses, but was never awarded to anyone via our service and it closed on May 31st.
 
Nobody was selected for the job and no deposit was made for any talent via our Surepay Escrow service. That happens sometimes. We encourage voice talent to keep projects on our site for their own protection, but we donít require it.
 
MONTHS PASS, AND THEN ...

Nothing else happened for the job until about July 6th, when I received a phone call from a voice talent advising me that Mr. Thamesmead had selected her to produce, write copy for, hire talent and essentially build from scratch this rather complex commercial.
 
It sounded fishy to me, and I advised her to take appropriate precautions regarding the job.
 
I told her she should at the very least get a substantial deposit up front from her client, or that she should have him run it through our escrow system.
 
She was very excited and I congratulated her on that, but the whole job offer felt odd to me.
 
A SECOND CALL

The same day, about an hour later another voice talent posted a job where she indicated that she was hiring voice talent to assist her with the production, copy writing and voice work for a job for an energy drink.
 
I immediately called her and asked if the email had come from Mr. Thamesmead, and she advised that it had.
 
I explained my earlier conversation and told her that he had sent the exact same email to another voice talent.
 
She thanked me for advising her of that, and asked me to cancel the job she had posted, which I did.
 
ACCOUNT SUSPENDED

I spoke with David Ciccarelli, CEO of Voices.com, and advised him of the situation.
 
We immediately suspended Mr. Thamesmead's account and asked him to contact us so we could determine what was occurring with this job.
 
He never did.
 
GUESSED THE SCAM
 
I was unsure what this client was doing, but David theorized that he was going to send an advance to voice talent that would be in excess of the negotiated amount, and then request that the voice talent send the excess to him directly.
 
The original check would then bounce and the voice talent would be out several thousand dollars.
 
That turned out to be exactly what this individual was attempting to do.
 
MORE TALENTS CALL

From that point onward, I received several messages every week about Mr. Thamesmead asking about this energy drink job.
 
My response was always the same.

1) The client does not appear to be legitimate.
2) He has been suspended from our site.
3) We recommend that you do not do business with this gentleman. If you do, please use caution.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

If thereís anything positive to say about this incident, itís this:
 
The vast majority of our voice talent seemed to recognize the job posting for being a "too good to be true" situation and immediately backed away.
 
The one voice talent who was sent a cheque took steps to confirm the legitimacy of the cheque before the client could burn him.
 
Iím glad that happened. Itís a small and tight-knit community in voice overs, and word spreads fast.
 
Iím thankful that nobody in our community lost thousands of dollars to this con artist.
 

 

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Comments (1)
Paul Strikwerda
7/23/2010 at 7:58 AM
I am happy for two reasons:

1. The scammer was exposed, thanks to colleagues using common sense
2. voices.com took the appropriate action

This is what I want to know:

- The job posting was obviously fake, and it did not take a lot of imagination to figure that out. If you and I could spot a scam like that, why didn't the red light go off at the HQ of voices.com?

- Voices.com says that any project has to meet the requirements of their "24/7 job approval system". What are those requirements? Is there an extensive background check for voice-seekers in place, or can anyone from anywhere post any job on the site? What measures have been taken to ensure that voice-seekers can trust that projects posted on voices.com are actually legit?

- It is a known fact that scammers, once exposed, set up shop somewhere else. Why aren't voice-casting sites working together, exchanging information about scams and scammers? Instead, they have left it to a voice-over colleague in Egypt, Mahmoud Taji, to post scam alerts: http://www.voiceemporium.com/scam-alert

- All these questions have been asked before. How many more scams does it take, before we see some serious action?

It would be wrong to only point the finger at casting sites. Con-men (and women) can get away with what they're doing, because naive, trusting people are falling for their schemes. Some voice-seekers are still making 3 of the 10 classic mistakes when it comes to responding to on-line job offers:

1. Blind Bidding
2. Making Assumptions
3. Not doing your homework

You can find the complete list in my article "Why you're leaving money on the table."

http://www.nethervoice.com/nethervoice/2010/04/21/why-youíre-leaving-money-on-the-table
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