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#MilWordy Update: 125,846 words (5,676 words/day to complete)

To set the stage: I have been applying to freelance positions, especially copy-editing and proofreading. I have been doing this through a particular website and this website has rules and terms of service and escrow accounts for the safety of all concerned.

I received an offer for an interview off of this site. I was completely down for the job and very excited. The precise was that it was a series of horror short stories with queer themes that needed some final edits and a second set of eyes to catch copy issues. This is one hundred percent my cup of tea. I applied. Did a lovely cover letter (which I counted towards my MilWordy, thank you very much). And today, I got the invite for the interview. It was in Skype, which made a lot of sense too. My last job had a Zoom interview. It’s pretty much par for the course when you’re living in an area that’s not exactly in lock-down, but is still heavily encouraging people to stay home.

I got into the Skype meeting and was informed that the interview was going to be via text. A little unusual, but damn if it didn’t sound lovely. It would contribute to blind hiring. And I can only think that this is a good thing. Especially for a copy-editing job. You’d want to see someone’s day to day grammar and spelling. And it’s a bit of a cheat, but rather than doing full testing, chat sounds like a good option for seeing that.

There were a few misspellings in the chat from the rep’s side of the conversation. Part of me assumed that that was actually going to be a part of the testing portion in the end. Something along the lines of “now go back through this chat and point out all of the areas where there were misspellings or improper grammar.

And there was a well-known corporate logo on the top, from a top publisher. Which was also believable because they have been hiring and there are open positions on their website.

There were two lists of questions for the application/interview portion. Seemed automated as you typed “DONE” at the end, but that didn’t trigger any warning signs for me. (Can you see where we’re headed? Can you?) I came from an office which did structured interviews. We had a set of questions which were asked of each employee and they were graded by three different people. If I’m doing a quick blind hire for an immediate position fill for a part-timer? Sure, I’ll automate those questions so I don’t have to retype them every Gods Be Damned time.

Then, there was a pat on the head and “please check back in half-an-hour.” Presumably so the real humans could look at the responses that the chat-bot had elicited.

And half an hour later, we’re offering you the position. Part-time, per project. Here’s the hourly rate. Do you accept?

Since the rate they quoted was above my bottom line rate? Yes.

Then, they were going to send me a contract via email. (Funny that they hadn’t asked for my resume by this point, but it’s posted on the site they offered the interview from.) Also, I assumed that the contract would come through the website system as per the TOS of the system.

You’ll be in training next week. It’s paid training. Don’t worry.

You would think that this was a flag, but it’s really not. I have taken the week long compliance training gauntlet for every company I have ever worked for. As an independent contractor, taking the things are a pain, but sure as shinola, I am going to charge you for it.

Then, they were all about what programs and equipment they wanted me to have available. Well, no, I don’t have those proprietary systems. I’m sure there are people who do. Also, why did you specify a particular brand of printer? Seriously? Whatever. Maybe there’s a connection between the scanner and the data entry system you want me to use to track my time or something.

Then, came the swing that set off all of my alarm bells.

“Can you afford this equipment or would you like company assistance?”

Well obviously, I am not going to pay for a $5000 suite of equipment and software! I want the company to provide that shit.

Okay. We’re going to send you a check to pay for the software and a MacBook Pro. And we’ll set you up with a local retailer with whom we have a long-term relationship. Still, not a terrible thought, though a little weird. Everything’s been weird in the Corona Times. Maybe their original supplier has issues. Maybe they have a small business initiative to get a tax credit. Especially if the check is made out to the retailer and comes along with a pre-filled order form or something like that. The retailer is responsible for the IT portion of setting up all of the software and doing all of the patches for the OS. Cool. Cool. (And if you think companies *don’t* have long-term relationships with retailers in order to get a deal, you have been sleeping.)

The thing is, the company should pay the retailer directly. Like, call up and pay with a purchase order or a credit card. They should not send a check and then ask the employee to buy the stuff. That sounds a lot like the wire-transfer fraud that used to happen on eBay all the time. The one where they send you a check that’s for more than the stuff is worth. You send back the other portion. Then, the check turns out to be a fraud and you’re out of the money. So, I was side-eyeing it a bit. But I was still willing to roll with it.

The proper answer to “we’ll help you with the costs” is: here’s a company laptop with these highly specialized programs. You’re going to be required to sign for delivery and we’ll have complete access to everything that happens on the laptop in order to track your time and the use of the machine.

As someone who has had a company laptop, you just sign your life away in blood and move on. (Ask me about the walkie-talkie that could have seen my paycheck docked sometime. Seriously. I bought stock in the damned company the thing was so impressive.) Then, when you’ve finished the project, you return it. Certified mail or FedEx as the company pays for it. The IT team sign. You sign. Everyone agrees that everything is in order and life goes on.

Then, my new friend and employer says: “all I need from you is trust and diligence.”

Um, wait, what?

“Do you have your mobile banking app?”

Excuse me? No. No, I don’t. I also don’t have a contract yet. And I haven’t been asked to fill out a W-9. Or, you know, any of the paperwork that you need when you start with a company. Or, barring that, at least a contract that spells out that I am an independent contractor and will be getting X number of dollars an hour.

You know what this is? It’s a scam. It is a scam that is taking advantage of 1) freelancers 2) people who don’t have a job or 3) people who are new to the working world.

So, what did I do? When they pressed me to get an on-line banking account because “how else will I cash the check?”

Listen, ass-wipe, I will take the fucking check to the bank. Wait for it to clear. (That’s two weeks.) And then, when the bank verifies that you are not going to bounce the check and that it’s not a fraud, I will have the money. Free and clear in my checking account.

So I “removed myself from consideration”. I reported the client to the freelancing website for attempting to “pay me outside of the site” and thereby violating the terms of service. Then, I wrote an email to the major publisher that was supposed to be the hiring agent and let them know what was happening and asked that the information be passed on to their security team.

If you found this interesting, or you’d like to support my content, please consider buying me a coffee.

  • Goal: Finish 2 books & 12 short stories — 3 short story complete. 1 in edits.
  • Goal: Keep a journal, even if it’s only one line per day — And we were successful. It wasn’t a long entry, but it was an entry
  • Goal: Take a photo every day and make myself a book at the end of the year. — Got two photos of the cherry blossoms
  • Goal: Complete MilWordy. — My words today was mostly a blog post.
  • Goal: Blog every day. — Fourth day in a row.
  • Goal: Modified eBay goal: List $200-$300 per day. Got $220 worth of listings today.

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