Beware Of Scammers!



 

Please allow me to vent.

Last Wednesday, I was shocked when a company owner sent me an email to confirm a pitch email sent to her by a certain Rachel using the email address mixie3stp@comcast.net.

If you’re not a blogger, a pitch email is one that bloggers send to companies for promotions so that we could show more product reviews and offer more giveaways on our blogs.

 

Now it’s not unusual for companies to receive pitch emails from bloggers. But my problem here is that this person claims that she organizes reviews and giveaways for BayAreaMommy.com! Below is the exact email she sent to that company. The second part of her email (the italicized part) was completely copied and pasted from my Media Kit/PR Friendly page which basically spells out how I do product reviews and giveaways here on my blog, and shows my stats for the previous month.

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From: mixie3stp@comcast.net [mailto:mixie3stp@comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, June 29, 2012 7:10 AM
Subject: Inquiry

My name is Rachel and I organize product reviews and giveaways for the Blog called bayareamommy.com

The Blog mainly focuses on product reviews on great products for moms and children, as well as frugal living.

The Primary demographic is the San Francisco Bay area.

We were interested in doing a review on a product of your choice.

We can do a review and giveaway, or just a review – this is entirely up to you.

Here is some information on the reviews and giveaway as well as some stats:

PRODUCT REVIEWS
Reviews written are 100% my opinion. I will not recommend any product that I believe is not worth recommending. Products sent for review will not be returned. The review will include:
– company and product details
– images taken from your website
– images of the actual product received
– 2 links to your website or blog (please let me know if you need me to include more links and/or specific anchor keywords)
– links to your company or product Facebook page and Twitter profile (kindly provide this information in your email)
– purchase information

GIVEAWAYS
Giveaways are an effective way of driving traffic to and generating interest in your website and products. Should you opt to do a giveaway, I will run it for 2 weeks starting on the day I post the product review. I will be using Rafflecopter to manage the giveaway and I will email you the winner’s details after the giveaway ends. I will include the following as entries:
– visit the company website and comment on a product thus increasing traffic to your site
– “like” the company Facebook page
– follow the company Twitter page

Kindly include in your email a list of other options you would like to be included as entries. We ask that you ship the prize to the winner within 14 days of receiving the winner’s information. If you are giving away a gift card/code, we ask that the amount cover the cost of one product including shipping.

THE NUMBERS
Bay Area Mommy’s statistics have only been improving every week!

Stats updated as of 6/2/2012

Alexa Rank: 44,621 (Worldwide); 9,821 (US)
Unique Visitors: 9,612
Pageviews: 40,130
Klout Score: 53
Twitter Followers: 9,620
Facebook Fans: 17,307

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My reaction: WHAT??!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t think someone would actually stoop to this level! And for what? Free stuff??? Ugh!

My mind was filled with questions! How many companies has this person emailed using MY BLOG’S name and stats? How many companies actually sent her products for review and are now expecting to see a blog post about them on MY BLOG? Who is this person? Why is she doing this? At 7:10 in the morning??? Is there a way for me to file a lawsuit against her? Are there even laws against what she’s doing? How can I trace her?

For almost the whole day, I didn’t know what to do. I tried to keep my mind off of it but I know I had to do something if only to warn companies and my fellow bloggers about this kind of scam.

For almost the whole day, I searched the internet for any information I could get about this email address. Now, the username mixie3stp isn’t a common one so when I saw that one of the search results was a blog giveaway where the person commented with her Twitter name mixie3stp, I immediately checked it. And what do you know, the name of the person that commented is Rachel. And with her Twitter name and real name is her Facebook name and URL as well as her other email address which is mixie3stp@hotmail.com. And checking the FB profile of this person, I found out that she’s from Pleasant Hill, CA, about an hour from where I am based.

This person probably thought it would be nice to just email companies telling them she does reviews for a blog so that they could send her free stuff and she wouldn’t need to do a review because she doesn’t actually have a blog! And what better way to do it than to say she does it for a blog based in the Bay Area, where she’s also based? UGH!

I sent her an email to just express my dismay for what she’s doing. Of course, I don’t expect a reply. Anyway, I guess something good can still come out of this situation.

For one, it’s a warning to my fellow bloggers that there are people out there who are desperate enough to do this. I didn’t think this could happen to me but it did. This is something that can hurt my reputation as a blogger. As a fellow blogger has recommended, get an email address that has your domain name (xxx@yourdomainname.com). That way, companies are sure they’re talking to the right people.

And this also serves as a warning to companies. I mean, thank God this company owner noticed that the email wasn’t from my blog’s domain and decided to shoot me an email just to verify. Imagine if she didn’t. She would have sent an item to this Rachel and not get anything — no post, no promotion, no feedback, nothing.

I suggest, if you are a business owner, that you check the email address in the blog’s contact page/form and see if it’s the same as the email address from which you received the pitch email.

These few additional steps for both bloggers and business owners might seem like a hassle but it would benefit both in the long run since you’ll be preventing scammers or posers from victimizing you.

Do you have any other tips? Let me know.




Comments

Beware Of Scammers! — 20 Comments

  1. Wow, I never even thought about someone doing something like that! Now it makes me wonder how many unsavory, unethical people there are out there who pretend to be other bloggers, take stuff, and basically hurt the blogger’s reputation in the process. Thanks for sharing your story, I’m just sorry this happened to you!

  2. Wow! That makes me want to make my Media Kit private and send it only when I am pitching or getting requests! I guess a lot of the information is already public though – that is just shocking! I am sorry that happened.

  3. I bet you are seeing red right now! I have a domain email and I use it most of the time when contacting companies. But I sometimes use another email address to make contact, depending on how well my domain one is behaving.

    Thanks for the heads up! I can’t believe people would stoop so low!

  4. That is totally crazy! Whoever this Rachel person is should be ashamed of herself. The best thing you can do is use an email address from your own domain, agreed.

  5. Wow! It’s hard to believe that someone would actually do something like this! Time to put some disclaimers on my blog. Thanks for the warning!

  6. you need to file a complaint with the state attorney generals office
    also the internet fraud website, also the FTC

    then list your official and authorized business emails on your website, the trick here is to set them up so they do not receive email, it will block the spam to you that way, warn people to only deal with those authorized emails…. you will give them a confidential contact email in all correspondence, sounds real professional that way

    the easy way is to tell visitors, only accept emails sent from your site, @bayareamommy.com are authorized, you can also ask them to report all fraud

    you have to remember, when someone gets a pitch, they will check your site, so let them know, only emails ending in @bayareamommy.com are authorized

    • Thanks for the suggestions Joseph! I think I’ll be retaining the warning on my header for quite a while to make sure everyone knows not to talk with anyone that doesn’t have @bayareamommy.com.

  7. WOW! I can’t believe someone would actually do such a rotten thing! I am so glad that you found out who was doing it! People are so ignorant! Hey, I’d love to get stuff for free too, but I’m not going to do something like that in order to get it! Some People! This really makes me upset because it could just about happen to anyone that Blogs! I’m so glad that you posted this if only to vent, because it lets everyone know to watch out for this kind of thing! Thanks so much for sharing this personal information! I really do appreciate it and let’s all hope that person no longer does this again! Thanks, Michele 🙂
    Michele Ash recently posted..$218 COACH Madison Handbag GiveawayMy Profile

  8. Omg finally I find someone else she’s done something crazy to! That women is Rachel cotton aka Rachel munyon. She’s been trying to sabotage my eBay store and other sellers eBay stores for months! She really is a scammer!!!

  9. This Person Rachel Cotton, mixie.. has also been scamming on Ebay. She has about 9 usernames,she orders something, then claims it’s not as described.
    She’s done this over 30 times in the past month!!
    Police report her as the other sellers have also.
    Awful

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