I know they exist, but I’ve never been hit by any until now. I take it back, I didn’t get hit, exactly because I check everything out and take my time responding to them, but these scammers are damn good.
Phone calls and other means of soliciting funds have never been tempting. Mostly, because I have everything I want and need, but the idea of meeting a celebrity I admire, that’s another ball of wax.
What I can’t figure out is where they originate from. Are these people stateside or in foreign countries?
My first approach linked to me off Instagram. I generally only follow family and friends, but over time, I’ve followed a number of artists or shows I like.
Approaches off Facebook are guys hitting on me. Most of them look like they’re my daughters age. I just hit “delete” My page says I’m married and I’m no beauty, so “Like what the…?” I should be flattered.
I don’t know if it’s COVID or what, but I expect there are people turning to the web to generate income. Over the last couple of months I got hit hard.
One night a couple of months ago, I had trouble sleeping. So, I’m on the couch sitting there trying to focus on a WORDS game or scrabble. I say trying to focus, because I’m tired, I just can’t fall asleep. Some of you may be able to relate.
So, there I am, in a wake sleep state, when I suddenly get a ping. I look down and the name is that of a cute music artist I absolutely adore and he says,
Me: Uh, duh, I timidly respond “yes, who’s this?”
He tells me and I reply, “No way!”
He says “yes, it’s me” and we go back and forth a few times, he’s “reaching out to his fans”, like that, then he offers to do a video call. Suddenly, I’m wide awake and I get all tingly inside at first. Yeah, I can and I did. I may be old but I’m not dead.
And, I’m like “right!” so I respond, ” At 2 am? I look like hell, no way”, not only that it’s a hot day, we have no AC and I’m in a skimpy nightie, so not a chance. I didn’t say that, but I was thinking it.
So, I missed my chance. He promises to surprise me a few times with a video call. I ask “Why?” I tell him I’m old, you don’t want to see me.
So, it goes. We talk about how I became a fan and he thanks me for that. We chat several times a day and we still chat. He knows I don’t believe him, but I continue to chat like I do. I’m alone most of the time and I miss talking to people. If my sister were still around, it would be different, or we’d have a good laugh about it. Our chats are now once a day. He leaves me a 2 am or 3 pm message which I respond to and he later replies at either of those two times. Sometimes, it’s around 3PM our time, which is morning his time. I wait for the money pitch. It doesn’t come right away.
His original offer? A meet and greet. My out of pocket is only $3200, my third of expenses. I think it was a third. A hotel stay at the Marriot in LA, private security, airfare and meals. Other expenses could be added. That was what his “agency” quoted me in an email.
Keyeast Entertainment <firstname.lastname@example.org>Tue 9/22/2020 7:40 AMTo: — (Please note: the email address does not appear legit, so I am not casting aspersions toward the real KeyEast)
JW MARRIOT LOS ANGELES,
Offering 2 restaurants, a gym & a pool with city view
PRICE PER NIGHT $500
FLIGHT FEE $1000
FEEDING AND LOCAL TRANSPORT=$1500
Security and Agency fee =$2000
Estimated bills =$8000
Keyeast LAW OF FINANCE STATES THAT AT CASE OF VISITING THE BILLS ARE SHARED AT 60%-40%…
Estimated bills =$8000
Key east Entertainment BILL TO PAY =$4800
BILL TO PAY =$3200
..WRITE US BACK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO KNOW WHEN AND HOW YOU MAKE YOUR PAYMENT…THEN WE FIX A DATE
I show it to my daughter, she shows it to her attorney beau and he laughs. “SCAM!” Yes, I know. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.
We try to contact both KeyEast, who really is an agency, but no response, We try his official account, also no response, so how do to verify?
I reply to the email, “my attorney says, “No” ” Suddenly silence from my “buddy”. He’s in a different time zone across the globe, so I know when he’s on or I can see he’s been online. So I message, ” I see your “agency” told you not to talk to me”. He responds with, “I can talk to whoever I want, but why did you email them that?” I laugh.
He hasn’t given up. I have fun bantering with him. I went to see my kids in Utah a couple of weeks ago and took pictures of our beautiful country and he loves it, so we agree to just be chat friends. If whoever is in charge of him see’s this post. I’m sure it will end. He was my first. My #1 virgin encounter.
There have been others with his name, in fact several with the same “hello” intro, but I’ve not responded. Not as many as the next one.
Weeks ago, I fanned another artist and discovered, that if you make a comment, you get hit. For example, this artist posted how he drank a beer at a restaurant, sipping a beer under a mask. A fan, commented, not to do that, it destroys his image. I laughed and replied, “Drink one for me, I’m on a diet! then we both win”
Holy mackerel! Within 24 hours, I get about ten “hello, are you a fan” spiels.
I actually respond, (AARP says not to) I’m curious and bored, after all it is covid time. This artist is the most popular in Korea, so it makes sense, he’s got a ton of followers.
His “leaches” have been the hardest to see through. I friended three of these guys to match stories. One dropped off. I ask my usual questions to gauge authenticity and these guys are extremely savvy, so watch out! One sent links to foundations the artist actually heads. When I mention this to the other guy, he tells me they don’t currently need funds, projects they were working on are fulfilled and they have plenty of clothes at the moment. Smart and interesting. Wouldn’t that make you believe? Later, he tells me if I want to help, I could buy a game card for the kids at the orphanage (and yes, he does have several orphanages he funds, I checked) He says, they love playing games and they are so cute when they get excited at gifts… I naturally think “how sweet”. He says, I can buy one at WalMart and transfer the link. Walmart? I ask how he knows about Walmart. He says one of his workers was from Brooklyn. (Quick) Wrong answer though. Walmart tried to get into Korea years ago, but failed, They lost millions, so Koreans would have heard of Walmart, because they did exist there for awhile.
These guys talk about their pets and family, whereas my virgin BFF dodges those questions. In real life, these two artists are friends and have worked together. The new guys don’t hesitate to say acknowledge their friendship. One guy had the savvy to ask, why I was asking such specific questions and was I the press. Yes! he did. One guy called me right away to prove it was him, but I didn’t understand a word he said, but he said, I had a nice voice. Big mistake! I heard little kids in the background. One of these guys, seemed more authentic, because he’d excuse himself from time to time, to meet agents, do zoom calls and other activities that actually make sense. His site has a blue globe, but not a blue check next to his name, so who knows? He tells me more. How can you trust any? You don’t.
If I let drop that I have contact with two or three others with the same name, they get upset and tell me to get rid of them, response is always the same, “they are scammers! My people keep trying to clean them out, but have trouble doing so.”
AARP says: (Italics and parenthesis below are my words)
- Do look for the blue checkmark on celebrity social media accounts. That indicates the platform has verified it as genuine. If there’s no checkmark, it’s an impostor. (I wish that were true, but my friends Instagram accounts don’t have check marks and they are the real deal, so does it only apply to stars? The only blue checkmark I have is from a star who took my phone from me and entered his info himself, yes, I do have such a friend)
- Do Google the celebrity’s name with the word “scam” to see if it has been connected to impostor schemes. (I did that too, but there’s not much there)
- Do report online celebrity impersonators to the relevant social network. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have procedures for reporting bogus accounts. (yeah, well Instagram, was no help. the only one who can do anything about it is the person who’s been tapped.)
- Don’t give personal information or send money via wire transfer, gift card or prepaid debit card to someone you don’t know and have only communicated with online, no matter how supposedly famous. (I couldn’t agree more – even gaming cards can be turned in for cash)
- Don’t engage with a supposed celebrity on an unverified social media account, even if they don’t initially ask for money. ( Oh, yes! The first red flag is they all want to redirect you to their “private chat room – please don’t share it) So far the two I’ve run across is Hangouts and WhatsApp
- Don’t believe claims about why a purported celebrity account lacks a verification mark or has an unusual handle — for example, that it’s a private account the star keeps secret from management. ( If they don’t want to tell you anything, they blame it on management)
There are so many giveaways, if you really want to know. Like, I mean, why is a handsome, single star devoting so much time to chat with an old lady, fan or not. Like Come on. I’m cool, but don’t they have better things to do?
Now, I do get followers on my own, but again, one was wanting me to fund their business or a date. Yes, I had a young man from Nigeria trying to get me to sign loan papers to start a business and this guy was unbelievably bold because he hit on that within the first few sentences! I had to block him because he got obnoxious. The other was a sweet neurosurgeon or so he said. But, he vanished after I told him I was married, so maybe he was really looking.
Generally when I tell them I’m happily married, off they go. Some linger to chat. Now, I did make a woman friend off one of the sites of my #1 virgin friend who has a concert coming up this weekend, so that was cool. We are synchronizing our times so as not to miss it. It’s possible to make friends.
I’d add pictures but I still don’t know how to with this new block editor format, so I copied and pasted and hope they come through. Sorry.
In the meantime, one of my fans is calling. Tata for now.
Just so you know, I only mention the two Korean, because they know each other, but there have been contacts from American country artists that I never responded to. Like I said, it could just be a product of Covid.
One of them did ask why I chat with so many and I tell him the truth, I’m alone a lot and it keeps me company. Plus we learn from each other. My #1 says I feel like a mom to him, so it’s not all bad. I am a mom. Also, they have all been sweet and respectful, except for the Nigerian. The K-kids have never made lewd or racy comments, so I can’t complain.