Do not be fooled by a new webinar scam that has surfaced. The scam goes something like this:
You will be contacted by a person or organization offering to pay you a handsome sum for a webinar ($500 to $1000 USD — or more).
You will be invited to communicate with the organizers via phone, e-mail or Skype. If you agree to a phone or Skype session, they will keep you on the line, telling how great their organization is and the great results they get for their clients. This introduction could go from anywhere between five and twenty minutes. If you only agree to e-mail, they will likely push for a phone or Skype meeting. They want your undivided attention to engage you in their hype.
You will then be invited to give a webinar for them. If you agree, this is where the scam goes into full force…
You will then be told that you will be billed or sent an invoice for $10,000 (or some other outrageous amount) which you must first pay, in order to take part in their program.
So, first they will offer to pay you, then it will be flipped around so that you have to pay them, in order to “be registered”, “be affiliated” or some other such nonsense.
Do not be fooled. The entire purpose of this scam is to get you to give up your hard-earned dollars and give them to someone who does not care about you, your professional development or your content.
But wait… It gets worse…
You may then be told that they DID told about the costs from the beginning. If you challenge them on this, they will swear up and down that you are denying it. They will claim that they have been perfectly transparent and either you weren’t listening or you were negligent in not paying attention. They may go so far as to indignantly proclaim that you are insulting their professionalism and ethics.
They’ll try to make you feel guilty… when all along, this is part of the scam. The idea, of course, is that you’ll feel bad and then cough up the money that you already promised to pay. Do not worry, you are not crazy. You didn’t promise anything. This is part of their hook.
Do not be taken in by this, or any other con artists.
Here are tips to avoid being taken in by a webinar scam
- Check out every organization or individual who invites you to do a paid webinar for them. Legitimate organizations who are interested in 21st century technologies will almost certainly have a valid website.
- Be wary of e-mails coming from a public, free service. Ask yourself, “Why is this person not writing to me from a professional e-mail address?” I say that with tongue in cheek though, because I also use a Gmail account for some of my work… But not all of it. And I am highly searchable on the web, with books published on Amazon with papers published in peer-reviewed journals and I have a list of clients dating back more than a decade. My point is: Investigate these new “friends”. Make sure they are legitimate and well known in their field.
- If the client is unknown for you, treat your webinar as any other paid speaking engagement. Get a signed contract and a deposit for your services. I regularly charge new clients a 50% deposit for a presentation, regardless of whether it is live or virtual. Real clients will put their money where their mouth is.
- Develop a “virtual speaking contract” or “webinar presenter agreement” that outlines your fee and what your clients can expect in return.
- Trust your instincts. If a deal feels “off”, then it probably is. At the very least, it is likely not a good fit for you. Decline invitations that do not align with your professional values, ethics or area of expertise. Don’t waste your time (or your money) on business deals that feel “off”. There are other clients waiting for you who would love to work with you.
You are a professional trainer, speaker, e-learning instructor or virtual presenters. You deserve to be treated as a professional… and get paid for your knowledge and expertise… not pay others to promote you!
Sarah Elaine Eaton, holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Calgary, Canada, where she currently holds the title of Adjunct Assistant Professor. She teaches courses in education and e-learning. She is the founder of Exceptional Webinars where she works with organizations and professionals to help them design and deliver top-notch e-learning programs and webinars.
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