A few lessons from almost being scammed


A few lessons from almost being scammed

A few lessons from almost being scammed.

I had an interesting experience this week… and in hindsight… I realized I learned a few valuable lessons from it.

The short story was that I almost fell prey to a pretty elaborate scam.

It’s a scam that apparently has been targeted at speakers.

It started with an email request. It was to invite me to speak at a conference in London in two weeks. The person gave me the specifics for the event… right down to the room for the talk and defining the types of people who would be in the audience. Plus, they let me know how they’d found me and referenced the website of an organization I’d spoken for last year.

Now, I’ll admit that it’s a bit of a stretch that someone would ask me to come in speak in London on such short notice… BUT… as a speaker… I’ve had crazier things happen. Plus, I’ve lived in England twice so it’s a second home to me. So the thought of getting to go over and visit friends made my heart jump a bit.

More importantly, one of my BIG dreams is to help launch a million dreams… right? So getting to go overseas to inspire some big dreams in London was HUGE for me! As a result, I followed up to say that I’d be open to talking with them about the event.


Now, this one almost goes without saying, but it’s important to mention.

As you go after your BIG dreams… make sure you’re still doing your due diligence!

If an offer to do something that you’d love to do comes in… dig in. BUT… do some serious research as you progress. I like to call this moving forward with “Cautious Optimism.” I mention this because sometimes we can get so caught up in the momentum of a potential opportunity… that we throw caution out the window. And that’s dangerous. We need to pursue our dreams… but we need to be wise as we do it. (I say this with some extra juice… because I have some serious battle scars from times when I didn’t do this!)

So… as an example… in this case… I started to research the speaking opportunity. I did some Google searches around the university and those all checked out. I tried to uncover the conference that this professor was mentioning, but I couldn’t find anything on it. That was a bit of a red flag but in this day and age… not having a high-Google ranking doesn’t always mean something doesn’t exist.

Then I Google searched the phone number that this contact had given me… and it had one hit and it was to Colleen Francis’s blog: EngageSelling.com. Check it out by clicking here! Colleen did a great job of warning speakers about this elaborate scam that has targeted speakers, plus she had numerous comments from other speakers who had been hit by it.

When I compared the scam that Colleen referenced in her post to the email I received from “Professor Smith,” there were enough similarities to raise a huge red flag.

So I followed up with a quick email to my contact to say the following:

Hello Professor –
Thanks again for reaching out about this opportunity. I appreciate it.
However, I have to let you know that I have a concern. I did some research
about your university and your conference, and as I did I came across a scam
warning associated with the phone number that you are using.
Here’s the link: http://www.engageselling.com/blog/?p=1137
So I am concerned that there are a number of similarities between your offer
and the scam that is highlighted here.
Please let me know your thoughts on this.
If this is you, please discontinue corresponding with me.
If this isn’t you, then I’ll look forward to continuing our discussion about
this event. One of the ways that I’ll be sure that this offer is not a scam
is that you will not request my credit card for any processing of any fees
or visas.
And if this scam is not associated with you, please forgive me for my
concern. But I’m sure you can understand.
Thanks so much!
Let me know.
If this isn’t you, I’ll look forward to moving forward expeditiously!

I did get a response which spoke to them not understanding my e-mail, so I just got back to him to ask him to check out the link. And… if he wanted to move forward without asking for my credit card, then we could pursue the conversation.

And… then… I didn’t hear from him again.


Now, I have to admit that I was a little steamed by the interaction. I was a little ticked that I’d wasted time on something like this and I was a little bummed that I wouldn’t be headed to London in the next two weeks.

But… when I initially went into investigating this opportunity, I’d told myself that I’d boundary my time as I did it.

So I only spent 15 minutes on the initial research and I probably only spent about 10 more minutes on the email correspondence. So it wasn’t a huge investment of time. It was more the disappointment of having it not come to reality.

I just offer this second “A-ha” as something to think about as you’re moving forward on some of your BIG dreams… because sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by a bright and shiny object.

I’ll tell you that this request came in on a day where it was really important for me to get other things done. (Isn’t this when we tend to get hit with the BRIGHT AND SHINY OBJECTS!!?!) Even though I was busy with the important stuff, I really wanted to spend a lot of time on this because it was new and exciting. (Ever been there?)

But I’ve learned from this in the past too. So… I let myself dig in… but I set up some boundaries so I didn’t spend half a day on it.

I’m glad I did… especially because it turned out the way it did.


So after my last email… I didn’t hear back from him/them and I thought the whole thing was done.

But then yesterday… I realized I was still a little miffed about the situation. I also recognized that I was really harboring some serious resentment towards these folks that tried to scam me for some quick cash.

As I thought about this… I realized that this resentment was wearing on me a bit… and more importantly… I realized I had to let it go. No… better said… I had to let them go.

So I sent one more e-mail.

Now, some of you might think this was crazy… but I’m betting that most of you will understand what I was doing… and why I was doing it.

Here’s what I sent:

Professor –
Hey, I didn’t hear back from you on this. So I can either surmise that
you’ve found another speaker for your event or that you are utilizing this
strategy for gaining people’s credit cards.
If it is in fact the latter, I want to encourage you to stop.
Hey, we’ve all been in tough situations and we’ve all been tempted to make
money in less than ethical ways. So I understand.
But again, I’d encourage you to put your creativity towards something more
productive, legal and righteous.
You’ve obviously got some great skills and you’re not afraid to work hard.
And I’m betting that you’ve got some serious pressures to push you in this
I’m just hoping and praying that you’ll find a new way to put your amazing
creativity to work!
I’m betting that as you do, you’ll be wildly successful and you’ll be able
to sleep better at night.
Either way, I wish you all the best!
Plus, know that no matter what, God loves you BIG time! And… Just in case
you feel like anything you’ve done in the past is unforgivable… It’s not
true. His love for you is freakishly huge and His grace is big enough.
Heck, if it’s BIG enough for me… It’s definitely big enough for you!
That’s all.
No need to get back to me. I just pray this gets through to you.
Be blessed.

Now… again… some of you might think I’m crazy… but most of you won’t.

Plus, I can say that it would have been crazy to give him my credit card. It would have been crazy to stay steamed at him and let that resentment just boil. It would have been crazy to waste more time on the darn thing.

But… for me… it wasn’t crazy to send one last email.

Heck, these people are obviously not afraid to work… and they are pretty darn creative. Just think what could happen if they put that to good use! Yeah… I’m betting they’ve got some BIG dreams too… and I’m betting with a little guidance and a whole lot of grace… these guys could use their gifts to flippin’ bless the world’s socks off… instead of trying to scam people out of a few bucks.

I’ve got to tell you that I felt great after sending that email. It just felt right. I’d forgiven them but I hadn’t forgotten what they’d done. In the process, I even said a prayer that they could become more of the people that they were created to be.

BUT… again… I say… I tried to love them well… but I didn’t give them my credit card!

Lastly, I don’t tell you this part of the story to showcase my graciousness or anything. Heck… I’ve got a LONG way to go in this department. Nope… I just offer it as a reminder that we all need some grace… don’t we? I NEED it. You need it from time to time too!

So… part of that deal is that since we all need it… it also feels really good to give it. Even when you’re almost scammed!

Make sense?

Well… those are a few lessons I learned this week from almost being scammed!

So… at this point… I’m not headed to London in a few weeks… but I’m betting that trip will come!

Now… back to some of those things I needed to focus on this week!

Keep dreaming BIG,


PS – How about you? Have you ever learned a thing or two from someone who maybe didn’t have your best interests in mind? Did it have to do with going after your BIG dream… or with just with living life? Click on comments and join in the convo.

  • Laurel Farrell
    Posted at 12:22h, 08 January Reply

    Oh yeah — lots and lots of bright and shiny objects around here — and most of the stuff that I most need to attend to is tedious and I don’t mind being distracted from it!

    Good Lessons! … and I’d argue that you shouldn’t be giving anyone your card number regardless. Could they not simply withhold any expense they’re paying on your behalf from your fee?

    … of course I’m the one who nearly got sucked into rescuing Andy Hermanson from being stranded in London. Due diligence uncovered that he was actually in Urbandale:-)

  • Angela Maiers
    Posted at 12:56h, 08 January Reply

    Great post, Mitch!
    We want to believe in the best, and unfortunately there are people both on and off the web hoping that we don’t questions their motives and counting on our good hearts.

    Great advice to be live and work with “Cautious Optimism.“ Thanks for lookin’ out for us!

    Happy New Year!

  • Eric Boatwright
    Posted at 13:56h, 08 January Reply

    Can I borrow some of that grace you have in your heart? Thanks for the Godly perspective on forgiveness.

  • Sunni Swarbrick
    Posted at 08:28h, 10 January Reply

    Great post, Mitch! Thanks for taking the time to share.

    Love the insight and your advice on working with ‘Cautious Optimisim,’ and your reminder on grace.

    Happy New Year! (=

  • mitchamatthews
    Posted at 09:48h, 10 January Reply

    Thanks Laurel, Angela and Sunni!

    You guys have some AWESOME BIG dreams brewing… so thanks for taking the time to check out the post and comment!

    Love it!


  • Jill
    Posted at 10:12h, 10 January Reply

    Excellent post Mitch and great lessons too!

    Good reminder to set boundaries on your time when the “bright & shiny objects” show up! They do always seems to arrive when I’m working on something I’ve been procrastinating on!

    Happy New Year!

  • Jodee Bock
    Posted at 12:18h, 10 January Reply

    Thanks for your insights, Mitch! Always great to connect with you. I have been a victim of “SOS” (Shiny Object Syndrome) way more times than I care to admit, but it’s all learning on the journey.

    As I become more aware of my own thinking, I notice more and more the symptoms of SOS and also “Stinkin’ Thinkin'” that have brought me results that sometimes I’d rather blame on someone or something else. I find that sometimes I want to believe so badly that the trip to London (whatever that may be for me) is real and I have found myself in resentment and victim mode until I realize that it’s really a big learning opportunity. In your case, you were able to teach what you learned.

    Thanks for sharing the lesson!

  • Pingback:Do you want to become a professional speaker? | Big Dream Gathering
    Posted at 16:41h, 11 January Reply

    […] A few lessons from almost being scammed! (mitchmatthews.com) […]

  • Tim
    Posted at 23:31h, 12 January Reply

    Great story! I really appreciate your candidness and sharing the WHOLE story. This really encourages me to expand my view on opportunities to encourage others in their lives…even when I get SPAM! 🙂

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