Hey there! Remember last month I talked about giving yourself a present? Rather than continuing to give yourself lots of bad habits, it’s time to gift yourself some good ones. Because you deserve. I deserve. Frankie deserves. That guy two cars ahead of you in the Starbucks drive-thru deserves it.
Last month I gave myself and my family the excellent habit of having a fresh salad prepped and ready to go in the fridge all the time. And that habit is solidly going, still. We’ve eaten a garden of salad in January, and I’ve been thrilled to keep this good habit going to make it a part of our #healthmatters lifestyle.
So, February starts tomorrow. What good habit gift am I giving us this month? It’s the gift of organization. (Are you looking around your house at piles of everything? Then this gift is for you, too.)
A few weeks ago a commercial for a new report came on the TV and it was talking about how you can organize your clothing more efficiently by folding. I laughed and told my husband that I thought that was pretty stupid, and I didn’t have time to fold every little sock and shirt we owned. A few days later, someone shared a completely different story about the same folding topic.
I thought maybe the organizational gods were trying to communicate with me, so I listened.
What did I find? There is this whole system out there called KonMari and was created by Marie Kondo. I’m sure many of you have already heard about this, but I was a complete newbie.
The first question you might be asking is, why would organizing clothing be good for my health? It seems silly, but it makes sense. First, you’re getting rid of everything that you don’t wear - that doesn’t bring you joy. Is your closet full of “I’ll wear that when I lose weight” clothing? Or “I just need to sew a button on that and it’ll be fine” clothing? Mine was. And let me tell you, there is absolutely no joy in seeing clothing that you used to be able to fit into.
So you unload the junk. And you breathe a little easier. And then you nicely organize those things you have. Does it take time? YES. Oh, yes. When I started, I thought to myself - I’m not going to keep this up. But I had to start in order to get that good habit gift going for February. So I folded. And folded. And folded. And what I found was, when everything was organized, everything had a place. Nothing was shoved in a corner. Nothing was lost or mismatched.
I feel more at ease doing laundry now. Rather than waiting for the weekend to wash everyone’s everything, I wash a load every couple of days. And I fold. And honestly, you kind of have this Zen moment with folding. It becomes a peaceful, quiet thing to do when your brain has become fried with thoughts from all the work at home stuff you’re doing.
And once you start on organizing your laundry, you’ll have that itch to organize everything else. This month I have two closets and a junk drawer that I’d like to have bring me joy rather than terror each time I open them.
Because my mental #healthmatters.
What good habit are you gifting yourself for February?
I (Frankie) am not a big reality TV fan. I've watched a few shows, but usually end up getting frustrated because of too much drama or I find out it's very scripted and pretty fake. But, Scott and I happened on a show this weekend that really made me think about some things.
The show is called The Wheel. If you aren't familiar with the show I'll give you the synopsis from the Discovery Channel website, "THE WHEEL dares six participants to survive in six distinctly grueling landscapes across South America. With every turn of the wheel, each survivalist is dropped into a new isolated location, exposed to the world's deadliest terrains including freezing tundra, rugged mountains and treacherous rainforest. Participants don't know when or why the wheel will turn - nor that their stint at each spot is determined by the rotation of the moon. Equipped only with light survival packs and SOS devices that can be used at any time to quit the challenge and call for help, they must fend for their lives by procuring food, water and shelter. And when the wheel turns again, they will be thrust into a new location, forced to use a completely different set of skills to survive."
I watched 2 episodes and I was hooked. I'll probably find out later it's fake and the camera crew secretly give the participants food and water, but that's not what I like about it. It isn't the survivalist part; it's the giving up part. Each person has an SOS device that they can activate at any time and quit the game. A crew will come immediately to extract them. The trick is the participants don't know when the wheel is going to turn and they will be extracted anyway and given a slight reprieve before being dropped into the next location. So, what if you give up and The Wheel was going to turn that night? How bad would that be?
*Spoiler Alert* (in case you watch the show)
In the first episode one person did give up and The Wheel turned the next day. OH MY GOD! I would have been so pissed at myself. One more night and this person would have been picked up and taken to a new location. These locations aren't next door to each other either so it takes a day or two to get there. You get a little break. You can catch your breath and start over in a different place. I bet the person that quit is still kicking themselves. I would be.
Life is a lot like this show. We want to work from home, start a new business, get fit, etc… We set all these goals and make all these big plans and at the first sign of trouble or the first setback, we give up. We push our SOS button and extract ourselves from the game. I've done it. I know you've done it. And how many times after you quit do you kick yourself because maybe your big breakthrough was right around the corner? Maybe the next day you would have landed that first real work from home job, reached a fitness goal, or FINALLY got your first customer at your new business. How disappointing is that!
So, what do I take away from all of this? Know your limits, but don't give up before you've completely exhausted all your avenues. Your turn of the wheel may be just a few hours away and even if there isn't a huge breakthrough, at least you'll have a few minutes to catch your breath, look at things from a new perspective, and start over in a new place.
If you want to work from home and are looking for jobs, read this blog. This is not one of our typical blogs. This is going to be long, with a lot of information, but Frankie and I thought it was absolutely critical that we share with you how online job scams work, and how easily you can fall victim to one if you’re not careful.
Stay with us through this whole process because you’re going to walk away feeling so much more confident the next time you look for a job online.
We are going to dissect an online job scam for you, taking you through the whole process. Why this one? Why now? Because it came into my mailbox a few days ago, and let me tell you, these people are pretty good at perpetuating a scam.
So, grab your cup of coffee and let’s dig into the guts of online scam.
What do online job scams hope to get from you?
This is the first question we need to address. What’s the point of a scam? Well, for jobs, we believe there are three main reasons for luring you in. First - money. They’re looking for cash, and they believe they can trick you into supplying it. Second - they’re fishing for data. If you apply to a job that’s a scam, you’re sending them your name, email, address and phone number. They can compile lists, and sell these lists to people who will then send all kinds of spam email to you. Or perhaps even regular mail. A third, and not as likely reason, is that they want to get work done for free. You do some “test” work for them and they don’t hire you. They get the work done, and didn’t have to pay anyone.
Who are online scammers looking for?
Anyone. Everyone. The more the better. But, the people they most want to find are those that are trusting, hopeful or desperate. When you are very trusting or hopeful, you ignore signs that are telling you that something is wrong. Being trusting and hopeful are actually good qualities. I’m extremely hopeful about a lot of things, but I also have to be aware and cautious.
As far as desperation goes, scammers love to prey on desperate people. You’re broke, you have to pay your bills. Along comes this too-good-to-be true job that will solve your problems. No matter how much money you may need, you should never walk into any situation blindly.
So, let’s go. Let’s talk about this recent job scam.
Step One: Introductions
I received an email for a job invitation over the weekend from a legitimate job site I’m registered with and have used for many years. It’s not unusual to get an invitation for a job. Here is the meat of the email:
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this email. It’s legit. It’s coming from the job site because the scammers have registered and posted a job there.
This job looks legit, right? At least as far as you can tell from the email. But, there’s a red flag there. Want to guess what it is? It’s the wage. How many customer service people do you know that earn $25 to $30 per hour. (And if you do know them, you should have them put in a good word for you, because that’s a great rate for being a CSR!)
Now, it’s possible that there’s a job like this, but not probable. Still, it warrants further investigation. So I logged into the website and read the full job description. Unfortunately I can’t post it here because it has been deleted. (We’ll get to that in a minute.) But I can show you this part of it. (And I’ll tell you why in a minute, too.)
It sounds like a pretty legit job description. And why would a scammer go through all the trouble to write all of this up for a fake job? Couldn’t they just put a short line or two? Yes. And a lot of them do. This one really put in a lot of effort.
So, now we have a great wage and a decent job description. So far, so good. So what do I do next? I look at who is posting. Again, the original post has been deleted, so I can’t show you what it looks like, but I can show you what I look like when I post a job on the job site:
And when you click on my name in the job post, a window pops up, telling you when I registered on the site. What jobs I’ve posted. Or paid for. Or have gotten reviews on. It gives a history. In our scammer post, there was a picture of a woman, a first name and last initial, but no history.
Now, this isn’t always a red flag, but it’s something to keep in mind. Scammers create an account and try to get as much as they can before they’re found out. So they’re never going to have a history.
What was tricky about this post was that it contained an actual image of a woman. So I decided to search the image. (Thank you, Google.) And I found her. It was her LinkedIn photo, and she was a Sr. VP of HR for a huge international Corporation. I reviewed her. I reviewed their website. I reviewed their job postings.
Remember that job description above? It was exactly what the Corporation has on their website for customer care rep. Hmmm…. This all seems so legitimate. So maybe this is a real job. Highly unlikely, and it’s at these times that all sorts of alarms are going off with Frankie and I. (Well, they start going off the minute we open an email.)
DOUBLE RED FLAG
Why would a company with it’s own corporate hiring department go on a remote worker job site? Doesn’t seem very likely, but who knows. Maybe they’re trying something new.
TRIPLE RED FLAG
The Sr. VP of HR for a multinational corporation would not be posting on this website.
Step Two: Provide a False Sense of Positive
So, we have an invite. The pay is great. The description is excellent. There’s a photo! This must be the real deal! It’s everything I could have ever hoped for! Oh joy! ;) As the applicant, you are thrilled. Your life is going to change for the better! You've shut off your scam radar and are now invested in this.
So what happens next? You apply. And so I did. Let’s just see what happens when you apply. What was going to come next?
Step Three: Sealing the Deal
The next morning at 4:51am EST I received a message from Ms. Sr. VP.
I’ve removed the name of the Corporation because they are merely victims of this story, and they don’t need to be brought into the scammer’s mess anymore than they already have been.
I hope you’re having a blessed weekend? Okay, I can forgive a punctuation typo. It happens. But “blessed?” No. No corporate executive ever tells any stranger in an email to have a blessed weekend unless you’re working for a church or televangelist.
DOUBLE RED FLAG
The email address is a version of the company name and then @usa.com. Usa.com does provide email addresses for its users. And companies do use email addresses that aren’t personal emails for recruiting. But rarely, extremely rarely, do they use any non-company address for correspondence.
I play along. This is fake. It has got to be fake. But it’s good. Why so good? Why so many details? I reply back to the automatic message sent via the job website. But it doesn’t get through. Apparently the job was deleted.
Typically when the job board deletes a scammer post, they let the applicants know so that the applicants can be aware and protect themselves. But that didn’t happen. Which made this all the more interesting. Most likely the scammers got out before they got caught and reported.
So I sent my email to @usa and waited.
Step Four: The Reveal
33 hours later I get a new email (sorry it's so small):
This was the best part of the scam (if there can be a best part). Attached to this email were two PDFs. One was a list of all employment laws. The other was eight solid pages of everything I wanted to know about the Corporation and the job with Corporation letterhead. It told me I was going to get $25/hr during training and $30/hr afterwards. I can work morning, noon, or evenings. It even told me that their local techs were going to come to my house and install a whole set of office equipment for me: Macbook, Shredder, Laser Printer, Laminator, plus all the software.
It was detailed like crazy. I’m guessing that they took it from the actual Corporation. Perhaps someone that used to work for them has been masquerading as the Corporation to scam people. Who knows how they got their hands on this information.
I’m all in at this point. It keeps getting better. The next day I add“Mr. Michael” to my Google Hangouts chat. I’ve removed his last name because he is a real person - another executive at the Corporation. I found him on LinkedIn. (I search everyone and everything!) This discussion was hilarious for me, and I was chatting with Frankie at the time about it. I probably should have milked it further to see what information I could pull, but let’s face it, I had REAL work to get done.
Within 30 seconds of adding him to Hangouts, “Mr. Michael” contacted me. How many execs do you know that respond back within 30 seconds? None. Ever. :) Here’s where it all comes together.
Like my short answers? If you are suspicious of anything, do not provide information. Keep it short and simple.
And here is where the grab happens. Here’s where you find out what they really want.
A-ha! Now we know what this whole ruse has been about. $313. That’s the final red flag. I have worked for some pretty big companies in the past, and none of them have ever told me I had to pay for the software on my computer. And don't you like all the rambling and repeating sentences? Nice copy/paste.
They are tricky about it. $313 is an odd number. It’s not like it’s $500. It’s a sizable amount, but not so much so that someone couldn’t get it together and send it off to...who knows where.
So I finally have to call the bluff:
And this is where “Mr. Michael” just falls apart. The horrible grammar of ending every sentence with an “ok” is bad enough. But we’ve brought God back into this scam (I’m sure that’s a sin) again. It’s over, Mr. Scammer. I should have had him call me so I could see what number (if any pops up) and what the person on the other end sounded like, but I was done.
I asked him about the weather in Houston arbitrarily, because the real Michael isn't anywhere near Houston. :) I just wanted to see what the response would be.
So, there it is. A beautifully crafted online scam. The scary part about this is that there will be plenty of people that will get suckered into this process and hand over a bunch of money for the hope of having a job with good pay.
Look, not every job out there is a scam. There are REAL, LEGITIMATE work at home jobs for you out there. We are living proof of that. And we have never paid hundreds of dollars to any mysterious chat box to get our jobs.
Be careful. And please share this with anyone you know who is looking for remote work. And if you find something and you’re not sure about it, stop by Facebook and ask us. We’ll be happy to dig into things for you. Maybe we find something and maybe we don't.
A great rule of thumb is this: Never pay for a job!
(As a side note, I have reached out to The Corporation on Facebook and have just connected with the real Mr. Michael on LinkedIn. I want to send him all of the information so that he and the company are aware that his identity is being stolen (along with Ms. VP) and that of the Corporation. Always report scams.)
I (Frankie) have been doing so well. I can't tell you the last time I was really sick…until yesterday. I went to bed Tuesday night feeling fine and as soon as I opened my eyes yesterday morning, I knew it was over. My long stretch of sitting back and feeling badly for others because they were so sick was a speck in my review. I knew from the moment I opened my eyes, it was my turn now.
At first my throat was just a little scratchy and my nose a little stuffy. I went to walk because I was still delusional and thinking maybe things would get better as the day went on. I also kept working and didn't go to the doctor thinking it would probably get better. Oh boy was I wrong. By last night I was desperately wishing I'd taken my son's advice and gone to the doctor. This ain't allergies folks. This is some full-blown something or other (probably strep throat) and it's not fun.
I took some Nyquil hoping to just make it through the night so I could hit the clinic up first thing this morning. No such luck. This stuff is stronger than Nyquil, guys! I woke up at 1:30 am feeling the worst I can remember feeling in a very long time. And what am I doing…writing this blog.
I already had a personal blog for today, but this takes precedence. Y'all will get that one next week. What I want to say this week is, listen to your body. You know it better than anyone else. I knew yesterday morning that I needed to go to the doctor and probably get a shot. I'm pretty prone to strep throat when my stress levels are high and I know what it feels like, and that's exactly what I feel like.
When we work from home sometimes we tend to work while we're sick and put off going to the doctor because we can do it "the next day" or we can "take it easy" and "work through it". Don't fall into that trap. Know your body, know your warning signs and take care of you. Everything else will wait. You aren't good to anyone when you're sick.
I'll be headed to the clinic as soon as the doors open.
Sometimes it can be hard to find time to do a few extra things in your life for yourself. Even sitting down to read this blog, you might not have a couple of minutes. (But keep reading!!)
But our #tipoftheday is all about grabbing a moment to read. Maybe you’re frustrated, or sick, or overwhelmed, or scared, or have been struck with some anxiety, or are standing in the longest line of your life. Now is a good time to stop, take a few minutes, and read.
Reading can help in several ways. You can be inspired to create something new. You can be whisked away into a fictional story which gives you a break from your stress. You might find yourself learning something completely new that will help you deal with all of your chaos. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, a magazine, an eBook, a novel.
Take a moment to rest your brain and feed it with some interesting, or educational, or happy ideas. Even 15 minutes can help you refresh yourself and get back on task for the rest of your day.
Frankie and Andrea take turns sharing stories. Just good talk over a cup of coffee.