As you may know, I am a published author. Three books to date, still working on that fourth.
Every so often, somebody contacts me with the goal of getting me to pay them to do some useless service.
This is an old scam which appeals to every author’s vanity. But I’ve seen it enough times I don’t fall for it. Any more. (That’s another story…)
Recently, I was pitched by a company that makes really bad pitch videos supposedly headed towards Netflix. Here is our exchange:
On September 10th, I received the following unsolicited email:
I responded: “Which book? I’ve written three and am working on a fourth.”
To which, Jossie responded: “I have here the book entitled “Rebuilding on the Fly: How Brian Burke Doomed the Leafs to More Disappointment” and “The Beatles are the Greatest Rock Band of All Time and I can Prove it”. Jossie” [I added those links to promote my books.]
I responded sarcastically: “Both of those might be Netflix TV series? Wow!”
Keep in mind, I have only ever published non-fiction books. Also, they are not the kinds of books that could be adapted into TV shows.
This elicited a long response:
It goes into detail:
This is the point at which anyone unfamiliar with the scam should run away. I really hope that, if you are a struggling author, and someone offers to provide you unsolicited services for you at exorbitant prices, you run away.
Riley: “Is that in USD?”
Jossie: “Yes, that is in USD. Jossie”
At this point, I posted about this on Facebook and got some assistance with how to continue the conversation. My friends suggested a few strategies to waste Jossie’s time.
To start, I wrote the following:
So, I want to get started, but I have a few concerns.
The first concern is about the pandemic. What kind of precautions are in place to film safely? Will I be in the same space as the actors?
Jossie: You do not have to worry about the pandemic. Our production team will take charge of that. Can we process your payment today so that we can jumpstart with the project? Let me know the best number to reach you. Jossie
Riley: But I do have to worry about the pandemic. Can you at least assure me that I will not be in the room with others through this process, and that anyone who has to be indoors will be wearing a mask until they absolutely can’t?
Jossie: I can assure you 100% you will be safe because it will be your publicist who will be representing your from the start of the process until the end. Jossie
Riley: Glad to hear it. Who are we looking at to have in the pitch video? We need someone with gravitas, regardless of which book we’re going with.
Jossie: I will take note of your suggestion and inform production on what you want. Anyway, when they are done with the video, we will present that to you for your approval before we will submit that to the acquisition team of Netflix. Jossie
Riley: And will I get revisions?
Riley: Great. One other important matter: who’s on your Board?
Jossie: Can we talk over the phone so that I can answer all your questions?
As you can imagine, I did not want to give out my phone number to this person. I could give them a fake one but then it would be over.
But the funny thing is that it is very easy to find my phone number online. So if they had just searched for a few minutes…
Anyway, it continues:
Riley: I need to know who I’m dealing with. This is important to me if I’m going to trust you.
Jossie: I completely understand. Our Board members are Brandon Peters, Feb Petterson, Michael Brown, Tom Aspen and Alex Jordan.
Google them. I did.
- Brandon Peters is a “Sr. Marketing Consultant”
- Feb Petterson doesn’t seem to exist
- Nor does Michael Brown
- Tom Aspen is mentioned in one of their very fake looking testimonials
- And then there’s Alex Jordan (more on them in a moment)
Riley: Are they all men?!? I can’t find their pictures online but three of them seem like men for sure.
There was no immediate response so I send another email:
Riley: I don’t think I can can work with a company that doesn’t have any female representation on the board.
Jossie: Alex Jordan is a woman.
Riley: Excellent! Do you have her bio? This is very good news. I want to work with progressive organizations.
Jossie: I will be sending it shortly. I have to ask permission first.
Riley: Oh of course. I’m ready to go. Just one last thing: can I see a sample video? Are there any that previous clients have allowed you to share with future clients like me? Thanks! You’ve been so helpful.
First, I got the bio:
No sign of her on the internet, which is weird because she is an author and supposedly the founder of an extant business. Anyway…
Riley: Thank you! Sounds accomplished
Jossie: You are welcome! Let me know when you are ready. I am excited to work with you and jumpstart with the project.
And then, Jossie sent me the sample video.
Are you ready for it?
Riley: So how did this go over?
Jossie: It is now on negotiation process with the acquisition team of Netflix and the author. Jossie
Riley: Wow, that’s incredible.
It’s really incredible. Hard to believe, almost.
Then, later that day, I got a new email:
Riley: Ooh, I like the sound of jump starting it. What do we do next?
Jossie: Can we process your payment today so that we can start with the project. Please give me the best number to call you today so that I can forward you to our Finance Department. Jossie
Now, I have worked for companies which deal with old people. and if there’s one thing old people misunderstand about modern technology, it’s that they think email is more secure than the phone. (It’s not.) So I decided to have fun with that.
Riley: I pay over the phone?
Jossie: Yes, Finance will be getting your card details. I will forward you to them. Jossie
Riley: My card details?
Riley: What kind of card?
Jossie: You can use any credit or debit card…Jossie
Riley: I don’t know if I’m comfortable giving that information over the phone. You don’t have a secure payment system?
Jossie: We have other options. Can we talk over the phone? Please send me the best number to reach you.
Riley: What are you going to tell me over the phone that you can’t tell me by email?
Jossie: Our Finance Team will be the one talking to you and discuss to you some option. They wanted to talk to you over the phone for verification purposes too. Jossie
Riley: Verification of what?
Jossie: I do not know exactly what they will be asking you. It is between you and the Finance Team for confidentiality. Jossie
Riley: And they can only speak to me by phone?
Jossie: Yes, that is right.
At this point, I had to attend to some family issues where I would be without internet, so I let it drop. It was 6 days since they first emailed me, which seems like a good waste of their time.
But here’s what I know:
Bookwhip.com has privacy protection from a Canadian registrar (Tucows). But the website says “In partnership with JRZ Outsourcing Services and Pearson Media Groups.”
JRZ Outsourcing Services is based in Mississauga, Delaware and the Philippines, according to their website. (Delaware is a US state with a lot of shell corporations, FYI.) Their website is with GoDaddy and also has privacy protection.
JRZ Outsourcing Services’ Mississauga Office:
JRZ Outsourcing Services‘ Delaware Office:
The office in the Philippines appears in a shopping mall.
Pearson Media Group is based in Anaheim Hills, California. Their website is with Namecheap and there is privacy protection for it as well. At least it’s in an office building.