Up Front and Personal: Money Scam

For trainers, consultants and coaches… This recently happened to me. I’m reporting on it so that you can be aware and recognize it for what it is: a money scam.

About 10 days ago, someone (I’m assuming it was a man. He said his name was Steve. He wanted coaching for 4 people in his family. Here are the emails he sent.

Hello, Am steve i would like to know if you are a Life coach….And if you do accept credit card as payment ? [Hummm… I don’t know this person obviously, he must have gotten my information on my website or is a referral. I discount the fact that “steve” is not capitalized and “credit card” is not plural. Even some of the most intelligent, successful people don’t sent perfect written emails or texts.]

Thanks for your respond, Actually, i got your info via online search,I’m a hearing impaired this is why am contacting you via text, i hope its fine? I would like to know if you work in areas of ,relationships,Childhood Issues/Abuse, stress management, Behavioral Issues and Anger management?? [So that is why he is contacting me by email.]

Here is my response: Yes, I work in all of those areas, some of them the result of other unresolved issues in childhood, trauma, abuse, etc. Stress, behavioral issues, anger, etc. are the result of unresolved trauma, etc. I have worked with hearing impaired before. What are your requirements so that I could be the most benefit to you? [I am erroneously assuming that this is for him. 99% of the time people contact me for themselves. The other 1% they usually call if it is for someone else.]

I have some questions…

Where do you live? Could you meet face to face? In person or on Skype or Zoom?Have you ever used NLP before to help you resolve issues? Have you done traditional therapy? Do you understand the coaching model with NLP – i.e. it is a through time process and one appointment cannot solve or change a life time of problems? And that I usually do not meet with a person every week. Depending on what you want to do, I can send you a questionnaire to answer questions I would normally ask a person on the phone or in person. This will help me understand you and what you want from us working together. It will help me determine what you need. Thank you, Steve. I look forward to hearing from you. [I need to know who I am dealing with, and what are the parameters of our relationship.]

I will like you to know the sessions is for 4 ladies in my family, so I want you to get back to me with total estimate for 2 times in a week 4 (Females) for 4 weeks and i want the session to be 1 hours in person,so i will like to know the total cost for the service asap [Okay, RED FLAG. First he is making the appointment for 4 other people to work with me twice a week even for an hour at a time. I just told him I don’t work with people every week and he wants me to work with them twice a week and for a limit of 4 weeks.]

My responseHow old are the people you are talking about? What ages? Do they want coaching or recognize the need for coaching? Are they available during the week? [This is not how I set allow people to set appointments with me but I want to play it out. I’m suspecting SCAM!]

Yes they are my Daughters and Nieces and i will be scheduling the appointment for them.basically i’m currently in the hospital right now due to my health issue and i’ve been advice to stay off internet and cell phone am just contacting you now cause i want to secure this appointment for my family as a surprise to console them and keep them busy while am undergoing my surgery so i hope you can handle them very well?? And they are open to the appointment. sharon 20yrs…..linda 18yrs……………Paula 24yrs…..shawn …..22yrs. [Okay, so if this is a surprise, then how can they be open to the appointment?]

 I will be undergoing lungs surgery in few days time.  i want you to know that the ladies will start their session on the 8th of May and I prefer Tuesday and Thursday 11:00,so i hope those time is open ? [To shorten, this goes on for a few more emails. Then we get down to money. I tell him that private appointments are paid up front. He wants to pay half now, which is several thousand dollars. He also starts to dictate when I am to start and at what time.]

OK i will be paying 50% upfront payment now to secure the appointment. Do you have a credit card machine/reader ?  [He must know that I take cards since I mentioned it earlier. He wants to know if I have a machine.]

I send him a credit card authorization and contract form via email. He says he cannot fill out because he doesn’t have a printer. (Of course he can fill out a Word doc on a computer.) I tell him he can text me a photo of the credit card. I need an address and code with it and a statement of record saying that he authorizes me to use his card for this amount. Keep in mind that each piece of this is done through email. Then the conversation moves to text. My known clients will send me a text if there is a change in card numbers. He asks me if I am ready to proceed. I say yes. Then he “asks me a favor.”” I will Authorize you to charge my card through for the sum of $6900,so once you cash out the funds i want you to keep $2800 for upfront payment your services and help me send $4000 for the refreshment,transportation and accommodation fees to the private driver via bank deposit who will be their guardian for the entire weeks of the coaching and due to am making this as a huge surprise to console them for my upcoming surgery operation, and i will like you to hold the remaining $100 as a tips for handling this for me,Thanks”.

I immediately post on Facebook and file a complaint with the FBI.

I have rules when starting a new client. These came out of making some mistakes early on. I’ve never been scammed like this but I’ve realized the error of my ways. When I coach others to set up their own business, having hard, fast rules for handling money is a must!

1.   I never allow someone to make an appointment for someone else unless that someone else is a minor.

2.   A new client must pay for their appointment through the website at least 24 hours before the appointment.

3.   I talk to the client a head of time to determine if what they want is within the scope of what I do.

4.   I pay attention to my feelings. After the first request, I had an uneasy feeling I couldn’t shake from this interaction. I played it out. When I sensed some resistance to following my guidelines, I waited for the other shoe to drop.

5.   I always follow credit card guidelines of getting written authorization

6.  I make sure that the person using the card is the owner of the card.

My business is small and personal but for larger venues, using merchant services to handle credit card processing is preferred. That way there is no question that all the rules have been followed.

If you think you have been scammed or an attempt is made, call the FBI and file a complaint. I was sent to ic3.gov. There is a form to fill out. Keep your records – any written correspondence. I sent the entire email and text log to the FBI. Also, research to see if your state’s Attorney General has a consumer protection division.

and report to them. Richard Bolstad also blogged about other scams. We think this was a money laundering scam. http://www.transformations.net.nz/trancescript/scams.html

Using intuition is key to prevent costly mistakes. Avoid letting the lure of new business and money override your your gut feelings.

Susan Stageman is a Master NLP Practitioner and Certified Trainer and Coach since 1988. She trains business and professionals on communication, behavior changes and self image issues. The next Leadership Practitioner starts June 23-24, 2018 in Dallas, TX. To be a great leader a person must be able to lead themselves. She is know for getting results and teaching with integrity. www.nlptrainingconcepts.com NLP Training Concepts, LLC